Guest post by Dr. Tim Ball
It is important for the person who leaked the emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009 and 2010 to reveal themselves and release the remaining 200,000 emails. The public are increasingly aware of the inaccurate science and failed projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Those promoting the false science are pushing even harder as they lose ground, but a final disclosure would expose the full extent of the deceptions. This would force leaders to abandon policies already causing serious social and economic harm and develop policies based on proper science.
The IPCC failures are no surprise and inevitable because of the political rather than scientific agenda exposed in the first 6000 emails. Evidence from leaked information from AR5, the next IPCC Report, indicate they have not changed. Equally important, the people involved at the CRU and the IPCC think they’ve escaped responsibility with the release of the Norfolk Police Report. It was the engineered response they wanted and in its own way is deceptive.
On July 18, 2012 the Norfolk Police closed their investigation because of the “Realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law”. They also concluded the attack was carried out “remotely via the Internet”, which is not surprising and does not eliminate a whistleblower.
They further deflected the whistleblower claim saying there is “no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime”. It is very unlikely that a whistleblower would work from within the University and run the risk of easy exposure. Most people working at CRU would likely have external access, so they could continue work at home, or when traveling to the numerous worldwide IPCC climate conferences.
Canadian network engineer Lance Levsen after detailed analysis showed, convincingly, the source was someone within the university. He concluded, “For the hacker to have collected all of this information s/he would have required extraordinary capabilities…to crack an Administrative file server to get to the emails and crack numerous workstations, desktops, and servers to get the documents.” Access to the files is a major hurdle, but once inside there is a bigger challenge. Which files do you select? Whoever released the files knew which ones were significant. This required considerable knowledge of climate science as well as the politics and machinations of the people involved.
A comment posted on Anthony Watt’s web site encapsulates the problem. “It would take a hacker massive amounts of work to parse through decades of emails and files.” The commenter suggested a different scenario that involved hacking a single file. Such a file would exist because of “an ongoing process of internally collating this information for an FOI response is entirely consistent with what we find in the file.” The problem with this argument is that the emails appeared in November 2009, at which time both the CRU and the University of East Anglia were rejecting all FOI requests. In January 2005 Phil Jones “states that he will be using IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) to shelter the data from Freedom of Information requests.” In an email on August 20th 2008, Prof. Jones says “The FOI line we’re all using is this. IPCC is exempt from any countries FOI – the skeptics have been told this. Even though we (MOHC, CRU/UEA) possibly hold relevant info the IPCC is not part our remit (mission statement, aims etc) therefore we don’t have an obligation to pass it on.” It is unlikely anyone did much work preparing files to answer FOI requests. Even if they did, files for an FOI request are different from those required to expose corruption and still required selection.
Levsen reached a solid and logical conclusion “the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one”. “The simplest explanation in this case is that someone at UEA found it and released it to the wild and the release of FOIA2009.zip wasn’t because of some hacker, but because of a leak from UEA by a person with scruples.”
How did the CRU people and others exposed in the emails essentially avoid any accountability? Part was likely due to groupthink defined by Irving Janis. “Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision-making.” In his Report for a combined Congressional investigative committees on the “hockey stick” Professor Wegman identifies the insulation. “It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community.” Phil Jones said the banter was typical, which is a disturbing and instructive comment in itself.
Every time a serious problem occurred for IPCC official climate science or those promoting it, they hired professional spin doctors. Why do ‘official’ climate scientists need spin doctors? Answer, because they practice politics not science. Climategate, like it’s namesake Watergate, became exposed by the cover up, in this case disgraceful, atypical behavior disclosed in the emails.
After the November 2009 leak the University of East Anglia hired Neil Wallis of Outside Organization to handle the fall out. University spokesperson Trevor Davies said it was a “reputation management” problem, which he claimed they don’t handle well. Apparently they didn’t consider telling the truth. The leaked emails triggered a shock wave that required a top political spin-doctor. Wallis, a former editor at the News of The World, was later arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandals that led to the resignation of London Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, as well as Andy Coulson, Prime Minister Cameron’s press secretary.
CRU Director Phil Jones immediately called in the police, which established the event potentially as a criminal act. This raises the question of what he had to hide. If there was nothing in the files of consequence, then loss of the information had no currency. The British House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee perpetuated the criminal idea by referring to emails as “stolen” in their whitewash investigation of Jones’ behavior. They didn’t even take testimony from scientists qualified to address the problems with the science, yet still concluded the science was solid.
Terminology used is apparently important and possibly done on advice. Involving the police froze further disclosure of information and created the idea it was a crime. Calling it a theft or a hacking reinforced this with an implication for future legal action. Reportedly, hacked material or stolen information is not admissible in court, unlike information disclosed by a whistleblower.
A special police unit achieved the desired result of letting the investigation drag out past the statute of limitations and then concluded there was no evidence of an inside leak. It is critical to remember the implications went beyond the CRU because its members dominated and controlled the principle portions of the IPCC Reports. The person who released the information apparently knew this because it was timed to derail the Conference of The Parties (COP) 15 scheduled for Copenhagen in December 2009.
The first 1000 emails included some selected to expose behavior unacceptable even without knowledge of climatology. Others show how the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) science was conjured. Exposure of CRU members was necessary because they dominated and controlled the vital portions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports. The leaks achieved their objective of derailing the political program of COP 15. The COP was in a bind because their starting point and assumption is the validity of IPCC science.
COP 15 scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen Denmark offered the ideal opportunity for exposing the corrupted science. “The main contentious issues in Copenhagen where whether or not to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, which binds almost 40 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At the heart of the dispute, developing nations wanted to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and work out a separate new deal. But most developed nations wanted to merge Kyoto into a single new accord obliging all nations to fight global warming.” It was a critical meeting because failure probably meant the end of Kyoto and any attempt at replacement or modification. The leak was effective because Kyoto expired on December 31, 2012, despite further attempts at resuscitation at COP 16 in Durban.
Who, on the inside, had “scruples” about what was going on. Some of the clues lie in how the person attempted to release the information without personal exposure. The ‘leaker’ was determined to have the material out before the Copenhagen Conference. He sent it out through a Russian IP that reportedly prevented a trace.
George Monbiot of the Guardian actively sold the scientific material produced by the IPCC, which makes his reaction more telling. Reportedly shocked by the emails he said “why was CRU’s response to this issue such a total car crash.” George, the answer is because they were deceiving you, the politicians and the public. Meanwhile, you attacked scientists who knew what was going on and dared to speak out. I can attest that you were told.
The spin-doctors pursued the coverup by putting in place two investigation panels that separated out the science and limited their investigation with terms of reference. I know how this is done because I have refused to participate in such political deceptions. The trick is to pretend to remove the politics by establishing arms-length from governemnt committees to investigate and report. These committees are identified by their Chairs, Muir Russell and Lord Oxburgh. Conflicts and questions immediately arose about the integrity and independence of the committees, which the parties tried to address. The emails and their content were already arousing suspicions.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) and Muir Russell both said the Lord Oxburgh inquiry would examine the science. At a press conference on February 11, 2010 Muir Russell said, “Our job is to investigate scientific rigor, the honesty, the openness and the due process of CRU’s approach as well as the other things in the remit and compliance with rules. It’s not our job to audit CRU’s scientific conclusions. That would require a different set of skills and resources.” The Lord Oxburgh investigation was doomed from the start. “A member of the House of Lords appointed to investigate the veracity of climate science has close links to businesses that stand to make billions of pounds from low-carbon technology.”
The cover-up was easily detectable. Clive Crook, Senior editor of The Atlantic wrote a searing indictment of the whitewash. “I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even wilfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause.”
Worse, they concluded that what went on was within normal patterns of interchanges and activities between a group of scientists. It’s inconceivable that any reasonable person reading the emails, especially the second 5000, can reach such a conclusion. Meanwhile, we still don’t know who leaked the material.
It is helpful to study the details and consider the people involved. The final police report concluded it was not a whistleblower, but that challenges the evidence. However, it was a valuable conclusion for the coverup. Phil Jones, former Director of the CRU, knew the potential damage and legal implications of the file contents. Ironically, in order to claim the files stolen and a crime committed Jones admitted the files belonged to CRU. What would have happened if he denied they were files from the CRU?
There are several internal candidates, but I think the strongest is Keith Briffa. The person was apparently disaffected by the conflicts within the CRU, but also the implications of false data as the basis for world policy. Emails illustrate Briffa’s conflicts within the group. On October 5th 2009 Wigley wrote to Jones “It is distressing to read that American Stinker item. But Keith does seem to have got himself into a mess. As I pointed out in emails, Yamal is insignificant…….I presume they went thru papers to see if Yamal was cited, a pretty foolproof method if you ask me. Perhaps these things can be explained clearly and concisely — but I am not sure Keith is able to do this as he is too close to the issue and probably quite pissed of (sic). I think Keith needs to be very, very careful in how he handles this. I’d be willing to check over anything he puts together.” It appears Wigley is aware of the danger of Briffa doing something rash, like releasing documents. Jones forwarded the email to Briffa, which would likely only irritate him more.
Briffa’s dislike of Mann had a long history. On 22 September 1999, almost ten years before the leaks, Briffa confronted Mann in a long email that included the comment, “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago.” Treasonous words for Mann’s hockey stick paper that claimed no medieval warm period existed. Mann appeared to back off. He wrote, “Walked into this hornet’s nest this morning! Keith and Phil have both raised some very good points.” In reality, he puts Briffa down again. “SO(sic) I think we’re in the position to say/resolve somewhat more than, frankly, than Keith does, about the temperature history of the past millennium. And the issues I’ve spelled out all have to be dealt with in the chapter.” One cynical comment from Mann says, “And I certainly don’t want to abuse my lead authorship by advocating my own work.” It’s an interesting comment in light of his role in the IPCC 2001 Science Report and Summary for Policy Makers. It is also a concern the Wegman Report identified in Recommendation 1; “Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.”
On 17th June 2002 Briffa wrote to Dr Edward Cook about a letter involving Esper and Michael Mann, “I have just read this letter – and I think it is crap. I am sick to death of Mann stating his reconstruction represents the tropical area just because it contains a few (poorly temperature representative) tropical series. He is just as capable of regressing these data against any other “target” series, such as the increasing trend of self-opinionated verbage (sic) he has produced over the last few years, and … (better say no more)”Cook responds; “We both know the probable flaws in Mike’s recon (reconstruction), particularly as it relates to the tropical stuff…. It is puzzling to me that a guy as bright as Mike would be so unwilling to evaluate his own work a bit more objectively.”
Wigley didn’t help. Here is the first part of a belittling email from Wigley to Briffa on 10 January 2006. Thanx for this. Interesting. However, I do not think your response is very good. Further, there are grammatical and text errors, and (shocking!!) you have spelled McKitrick wrong. This is a sure way to piss them off. It appears to typify Wigley’s patronizing way of talking to wayward CRU members, especially those who undermined the elimination of the Medieval Warm Period.
Conflict continued as Briffa expressed his concern. Mann made some overtures, but on April 29th 2007 Briffa responded, “I found myself questioning the whole process and being often frustrated at the formulaic way things had to be done – often wasting time and going down dead ends. I really thank you for taking the time to say these kind words. I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same. I worried that you might think I gave the impression of not supporting you well enough while trying to report on the issues and uncertainties.” What damning commentary about what the CRU and the IPCC were doing?
Briffa may have worked with the Information Officer at the University who was under pressure for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. In March 2009, we learned Briffa was ill and he and his wife were cancelling meetings with people at the CRU. Did this give him time to think about what was happening? Maybe, but his treatment by Mann and the sinking ship was likely an impetus. Whatever the answer, any reading of the emails show they were anything but normal correspondence between colleagues. It became more than a scientific disagreement.
Because of Jones’ actions the Norfolk police, a regional force, involved the national government through the National Domestic Extremism Unit, which was surely another measure of the seriousness of what was involved in the files. This led to the University of East Anglia turning over all the files related to skeptics and their requests through Freedom of Information (FOI). Apparently, the police and subsequent investigations accepted the CRU claims that requests for information were politically driven and caused hardship that diverted them from their work. When police interrogated skeptics, they asked about political affiliations. Why?
The idea of politics as the only motive developed because the CRU and the IPCC made global warming a purely political issue. Besides, why has motive got anything to do with the requests for scientific data and methods, especially when funded by taxes and used to create potentially devastating policies?