This email in December 2003 shows what appears to be the genesis of the idea of setting up the RealClimate.org website.
There a BBC (impartiality – ho ho) connection. Roger Harrabin at this meeting at Tyndall (why was he there in the first place?) of the BBC apparently “…wanted something more pro-active.” according to the email.
#2974 is an email from Prof John Shepherd, a Tyndall advisory board member, to RealClimate’s Stefan Rahmstorf. Dated December 2003, it is a response to an email in which Rahmstorf has suggested setting up a website to counter sceptic arguments (perhaps the germ of the idea for RealClimate itself?). That’s not the point though. The point will be clear when you read Shepherd’s report of a meeting of Tyndall’s advisory board.
Many thanks for your very helpful comments. Essentially I agree on all counts, and indeed the “sceptics ask, scientists answer” web-page that you have set up is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind as a possible minimal response that we (Tyndall et al, and even maybe the Royal Society if it wants to get involved) might undrertake. Wherever possible this could/should refer to other reputable sites (incl IPCC, Hadley Centre, the ones you mention, etc etc) rather than duplicating the material. I would envisage that such a site could be maintained by a consortium of the willing, in this case involving (say) Tyndall, Hadley & PIK. We could then asked the RS (et al) to mention it and link to it on some sort of “sound science” page on their own web-site(s) (Rachel, do you think that this might fly ?).
We had an interesting debate on this at the Tyndall Advisory Board last week, and the consensus was very much in line with your views, except for the journalist present (Roger Horobin), who wanted something more pro-active. I am more sympathetic to his view than most of you, I think, but the question is what more would be useful, effective, and not too burdensome ? So far I don’t think I have identified anything, but I do think that the sort of web-page mentioned above would be a start, and so I am copying this to Asher Minns, for him to consider and discuss with John & Mike at Tyndall Central.
The date of this email is Wed, 03 Dec 2003
Academia moves slowly in most things. They had to build consensus and then search for money to do it, perhaps money that couldn’t be from NASA or other publicly funded research due to the conflicts of interest that would have created with such an outreach. They found money in the form of Fenton Communications, now Environmental Media Services.
According to whois RealClimate.org was registered as a domain almost a year later 19-Nov-2004 16:39:03 UTC
Domain ID:D105219760-LROR Domain Name:REALCLIMATE.ORG Created On:19-Nov-2004 16:39:03 UTC Last Updated On:13-Jan-2011 00:25:24 UTC Expiration Date:19-Nov-2015 16:39:03 UTC Sponsoring Registrar:Active Registrar, Inc. (R1709-LROR) Status:OK Registrant ID:ACTR1011142017 Registrant Name:Betsy Ensley Registrant Organization:Environmental Media Services Registrant Street1:1320 18th St, NW Registrant Street2:5th Floor Registrant Street3: Registrant City:Washington Registrant State/Province:DC Registrant Postal Code:20036 Registrant Country:US Registrant Phone:+1.2024636670 Registrant Phone Ext.: Registrant FAX: Registrant FAX Ext.: Registrant Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Admin ID:ACTR1011149427 Admin Name:Betsy Ensley Admin Organization:Environmental Media Services Admin Street1:1320 18th St, NW Admin Street2:5th Floor Admin Street3: Admin City:Washington Admin State/Province:DC Admin Postal Code:20036 Admin Country:US Admin Phone:+1.2024636670 Admin Phone Ext.: Admin FAX: Admin FAX Ext.: Admin Email:email@example.com Tech ID:ACTR1011143071 Tech Name:Betsy Ensley Tech Organization:Environmental Media Services Tech Street1:1320 18th St, NW Tech Street2:5th Floor Tech Street3: Tech City:Washington Tech State/Province:DC Tech Postal Code:20036 Tech Country:US Tech Phone:+1.2024636670 Tech Phone Ext.: Tech FAX: Tech FAX Ext.: Tech Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Name Server:NS1.WEBFACTION.COM Name Server:NS2.WEBFACTION.COM Name Server:NS3.WEBFACTION.COM Name Server:NS4.WEBFACTION.COM