Climate Change Skeptics Get to Say ‘I told you so!’

November 22, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
The coal fueled Fiddlers Ferry power station emits vapor on Nov. 16, 2009 in Warrington, U.K. As world leaders prepare to gather for the Copenhagen Climate Summit, the release of hacked emails onto the Internet has caused a furor over the ethics of climate scientists. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The coal fueled Fiddlers Ferry power station emits vapor on Nov. 16, 2009 in Warrington, U.K. As world leaders prepare to gather for the Copenhagen Climate Summit, the release of hacked emails onto the Internet has caused a furor over the ethics of climate scientists. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Climate change scientists have been manipulating and fixing data according to bloggers that are spreading information contained in hundreds of hacked emails.

Bloggers say the 62 mb worth of emails were hacked from the Climate Research Unit (CRU), part of Britain’s University of East Anglia and released onto the Internet. A list of the emails is on a site called ‘an elegant chaos.’

“We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps,” said the hacker on the global warming skeptic site the Air Vent on Friday. “We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and document.”

The file contained data, code, and emails from Phil Jones, director of the CRU, to and from many people, including scientists involved in global warming and climate change studies.

The University confirmed the hacking, but denied that they provided any evidence of untoward data manipulation or a cover-up, saying that the e-mails had been taken out of context.

The University said in a statement that "the volume of material published and its piecemeal nature makes it impossible to confirm what proportion is genuine."

'Revealing' Emails

Global warming skeptic and editor of the Climate Research journal, Chris de Freitas, said the emails are quite revealing.

“I think it’s serious because there have been many different people claiming the so-called ‘objective experts’ have been not totally 100 percent with their claims, and certainly the data they have used to back up their claims,” he said.

De Freitas is an Associate Professor at the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is also the subject of many of the hacked emails that discuss ways to exclude and discredit him and his theories that are contrary to the global warming theory.

American climatologist, Michael E. Mann wrote in one of the hundreds of hacked emails, “It seems to me that this ’Kinne’ character's words are disingenuous, and he probably supports what De Freitas is trying to do. It seems clear we have to go above him. I think that the community should, as Mike H has previously suggested in this eventuality, terminate its involvement with this journal at all levels—reviewing, editing, and submitting, and leave it to wither way into oblivion and disrepute.”

De Freitas said he was aware of the animosity. “I don’t indulge in that sort of thing,” he said. “But now that the evidence is out… I was an editor of the Climate Research journal for 10 years, as you can see if you read the emails, they tried to get me out of that position because they thought I was being biased.”

In one email, scientists appear to admit they can't find the data to back up their global warming theory.

“Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

“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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

'Mike's Nature Trick'

Jones, director of research at the CRU, confirmed in a statement he did write one particular email whose mention of a "trick" in data modeling has made it a major focus of the discussions on the hacked e-mails. He said it was the focus of "a great deal of ill-informed comment", and had been taken completely out of context.

The email extract, which refers to studying average temperature variations over the last 1,000 years reads: "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct +is 0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998."

Jones said: "The word 'trick' was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward."

"Each curve referred to a scientific paper and a key gives their details," said Jones.

He said the "trick" just refers to using directly measured temperature instead of temperature calculations gained through other methods such tree rings, coral, or ice cores. "The green curve on the diagram included proxy data up to 1960 but only actual temperatures from 1961 onwards. This is what is being discussed in the email."


De Freitas said he does not hold much hope for the Copenhagen climate summit next month where sixty five world leaders are expected to convene. The representatives of 191 nations will seek agreement on a new global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Copenhagen will be a bit of a dog’s breakfast,” de Freitas said. “There’s no way you’re going to cut back emissions. Just look at New Zealand, they’re just climbing. No one does anything. If it is such a big problem, and of such concern, something would have been done about it.”

There are many important environmental and planetary problems, such as air pollution, sanitation, and health care, that aren’t controversial and quite serious, he said. “But we have this very narrow view of what should be done.”


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