“The growth of the technical skeptical blogosphere (pioneered by Steve McIntyre) has challenged traditional notions of expertise, i.e. credentials and sanctity of journal publications, through Climate Audit’s blogospheric deconstruction of many publications, particularly related to paleo proxies. “–Judith Curry.
By Robert Bradley Jr. — November 22, 2022
“There is no doubt that these emails are embarrassing and a public-relations disaster for science.” – Andrew Dessler, “Climate E-Mails Cloud the Debate,” December 10, 2009.
It has been 12 years since the intellectual scandal erupted called Climategate. Each anniversary inspires recollections and regurgitation of salient quotations. These quotations speak for themselves; attempts of climate alarmists to parse the words and meaning distracts from what was said in real-time private conversations.
And the scandal got worse after the fact when, according to Paul Stephens, “virtually the entire climate science community tried to pretend that nothing was wrong.” Whitewash exonerations by the educational institutions involved and scientific organizations– was a blow to scholarship and standards as well. The standard of fair, objective, transparent research was sacrificed to a politically correct narrative about the qualitative connection between CO2 forcing and temperature (see Wiki).
Fred Pearce’s The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth About Global Warming (2010) was a rare mainstream-of-sorts look at the scandal. Michael Mann is the bad actor, despite his I-am-the-victim take in his account, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012). 
On November 19, 2009, a whistle-blower or hacker downloaded more than 1,000 documents and e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University (United Kingdom). Posted on a Russian server, these documents were soon accessed by websites around the world to trigger the exposé.
These e-mails were part of confidential communications between top climate scientists in the UK, the United States, and other nations over a 15-year period. The scientists involved had developed surface temperature data sets and promoted the “Hockey Stick” global temperature curve, as well as having wrtten/edited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) physical-science assessment reports.
Branded “Climategate” by British columnist James Delingpole, the emails provided insight into practices that range from bad professionalism to fraudulent science. Bias, data manipulation, dodging freedom of information requests, and efforts to subvert the peer-review process were uncovered.
Some of the more salient quotations follow.
Man-Made Warming Controversy
“I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple.”
—Dr. Keith Briffa, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999.
“Keith’s [Briffa] series…differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s [Jones] does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably consensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series).”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Sep. 22, 1999.
“…it would be nice to try to ‘contain’ the putative ‘MWP’ [Medieval Warm Period]…”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, June 4, 2003
“By the way, when is Tom C [Crowley] going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Aug. 3, 2004.
“I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause, or her professional credibility.”
—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 30, 2008
“Well, I have my own article on where the heck is global warming… The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
—Dr. Kevin Trenberth, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Oct. 12, 2009.
Manipulating Temperature Data
“I’ve just completed Mike’s [Mann] Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s [Briffa] to hide the decline.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Nov. 16, 1999.
“Also we have applied a completely artificial adjustment to the data after 1960, so they look closer to observed temperatures than the tree-ring data actually were….”
—Dr. Tim Osborn, Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Dec. 20, 2006.
“If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s warming blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say 0.15 deg C, then this would be significant for the global mean—but we’d still have to explain the land blip….”
—Dr. Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, on adjusting global temperature data, disclosed Climategate e-mail to Phil Jones, Sep. 28, 2008.
“We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data.”
—Climatic Research Unit web site, the world’s leading provider of global temperature data, admitting that it can’t produce the original thermometer data, 2011.
Data Suppression; Freedom of Information (FOI) Avoidance
“We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try to find something wrong with it.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, email to Warwick Hughes, 2004.
“I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, Feb. 21, 2005.
“Mike [Mann], can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith [Trenberth] re AR4? Keith will do likewise…. Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his e-mail address…. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 29, 2008.
“You might want to check with the IPCC Bureau. I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 [the upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report] would be to delete all e-mails at the end of the process. Hard to do, as not everybody will remember it.”
—Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, on avoiding Freedom of Information requirements, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 12, 2009.
Subverting the Peer-Review Process
“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow, even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
—Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, disclosed Climategate e-mail, July 8, 2004.
Climate scientist Judith Curry reassessed her thinking about the state of climate science in response to the scandal. “Climategate was a turning point,” she remembered, where “pronouncements from the IPCC were no longer sufficient.” Curry explained:
Institutionally, Climategate triggered the formation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which has become quite influential in UK climate policy and to some extent internationally.
The skeptical climate blogosphere has thrived and expanded, largely triggered by Climategate (Climate Etc. was triggered largely by Climategate). Whereas the ‘warm’ blogosphere for the most part has waned (notably RealClimate), with the exception of Skeptical Science. It seems that most of the ‘action’ on the warm side has switched to twitter, whereas skeptics prefer the blogosphere.
The growth of the technical skeptical blogosphere (pioneered by Steve McIntyre) has challenged traditional notions of expertise, i.e. credentials and sanctity of journal publications, through Climate Audit’s blogospheric deconstruction of many publications, particularly related to paleo proxies. While the technical skeptical blogosphere seems to have provided the motive for the Climategate ‘hack’, the technical skeptical blogosphere has thrived, and many of these sites are followed by the media and decision makers of various stripes.
Today, the Internet is the primary check on the excesses of the politicized UN/IPCC process. Cancel and ignore as they might, the blogosphere is driving the climate-science debate in real time against the Malthusian establishment.
 “Words and phrases had been cherry picked from the thousands of e-mail messages, removed from their original context, and strung together in ways designed to malign me, my colleagues, and climate research itself,” Mann states on the opening page.
WUWT readers unfamiliar with the Climategate saga can view our historical archived posts on the subject here.