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The CRU hack
As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.
Nonetheless, these emails (a presumably careful selection of (possibly edited?) correspondence dating back to 1996 and as recently as Nov 12) are being widely circulated, and therefore require some comment. Some of them involve people here (and the archive includes the first RealClimate email we ever sent out to colleagues) and include discussions we’ve had with the CRU folk on topics related to the surface temperature record and some paleo-related issues, mainly to ensure that posting were accurate.
Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).
More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.
Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.
It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.
No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “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) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.
The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.
There are of course lessons to be learned. Clearly no-one would have gone to this trouble if the academic object of study was the mating habits of European butterflies. That community’s internal discussions are probably safe from the public eye. But it is important to remember that emails do seem to exist forever, and that there is always a chance that they will be inadvertently released. Most people do not act as if this is true, but they probably should.
It is tempting to point fingers and declare that people should not have been so open with their thoughts, but who amongst us would really be happy to have all of their email made public?
Let he who is without PIN cast the the first stone.
Originally posted by Gamma MO
If I hear one more person say "I don't care what the truth is, I just want to save the planet" one more time, I'm going to scream!
You are living in a fairy tale land if you honestly think wasting billions and billions of dollars on silly non-proven ponzi schemes such as pouring millions of tons of concrete in the ground and erecting huge steel symbolic twirly gigs (wind turbines) is really going to change the planet's climate one iota.
You are essentially saying "I don't want to think, I want to follow ... cause I get a nice warm fuzzy green feeling inside".
THIS is the problem with humanity. The sheep were ready for a new religion to come along to cast out their sins and make them feel noble and good.
CRU director admits hacked files genuine
In the most serious admission yet in the developing story of the hacking of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, its director now admits that the content of the hacked files is in fact genuine and did indeed come from his organization.
Dr. Phil Jones stated in an interview with Ian Wishart of Investigate magazine that he had known about the hack for the past three or four days. He had not called the police because he had not known which files were compromised.
He further confirmed to Wishart that his organization had changed all e-mail and file-sharing passwords, and had acted so hastily that Jones himself was briefly unable to access his own e-mail account.
When asked to explain the most damaging statement attributed to him thus far, about "using Mike's nature trick...to hide the decline," Jones said this:
No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.
Jones also protested that this was an e-mail he had sent ten years ago.
In a separate blog post, Mr. Wishart quoted an e-mail in which Jones declares his intention to influence a board of peer reviewers to keep an article questioning the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) consensus from being published. The letter is from Phil Jones to Michael Mann, dated July 8, 2004:
The other paper by MM is just garbage - as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well - frequently as I see it. I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is ! [sic]
The "De Freitas" referred to is presumably Chris de Freitas of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and a known AGW skeptic. For example, in May of 2009, Dr. De Freitas said this:
Predictions of future climate are usually based on global climate models. Up until now, these models have failed to consider variable energy from the Sun. The significance of this cannot be overstated as the Sun is the only source of energy to power Earth's climate, so all global climate change is directly or indirectly linked to it.
If this is a sample of Dr. De Freitas' commentary, then how Dr. Jones thought he would have sufficient grounds to deny Dr. De Freitas publication in a peer-reviewed report is far from clear.
The "Kevin" could be Kevin Trenberth of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. His name appears in about five other e-mails that also mention de Freitas' name, usually in a derogatory manner.
Dr. De Freitas is far from being the only target of the often scathing and dismissive comments in the e-mails received. Stephen McIntyre of the Climate Audit site is an object of frequent scorn.
The hacked archive is no longer available at its original source. It is, however, available at two other file-sharing services: MegaUpload and FileDropper.
Being responsible in your opinion I hope doesn't mean bankrupting the country. These jerks have created a hoax that they plan to bankrupt us with.
rom: Keiller, Donald
Sent: 02 October 2009 10:34
Subject: Yamal and paleoclimatology
Dear Professor Briffa, my apologies for contacting you directly, particularly
since I hear that you are unwell.
However the recent release of tree ring data by CRU has prompted much
discussion and indeed disquiet about the methodology and conclusions of a
number of key papers by you and co-workers.
As an environmental plant physiologist, I have followed the long debate
starting with Mann et al (1998) and through to Kaufman et al (2009).
As time has progressed I have found myself more concerned with the whole
scientific basis of dendroclimatology. In particular;
1) The appropriateness of the statistical analyses employed
2) The reliance on the same small datasets in these multiple studies
3) The concept of "teleconnection" by which certain trees respond to the
"Global Temperature Field", rather than local climate
4) The assumption that tree ring width and density are related to temperature
in a linear manner.
Whilst I would not describe myself as an expert statistician, I do use
inferential statistics routinely for both research and teaching and find
difficulty in understanding the statistical rationale in these papers.
As a plant physiologist I can say without hesitation that points 3 and 4 do
not agree with the accepted science.
There is a saying that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".
Given the scientific, political and economic importance of these papers,
further detailed explanation is urgently required.
Dr. Don Keiller.
‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.
Wrecking CRU: hackers cause massive climate data breach
Secretive scientists' source code goes walkabout
By Andrew Orlowski • Get more from this author
Posted in Environment, 20th November 2009 16:51 GMT
The University of East Anglia has confirmed that a data breach has put a large quantity of emails and other documents from staff at its Climate Research Unit online. CRU is one of the three leading climate research centres in the UK, and a globally acknowledged authority on temperature reconstructions.
CRU declined to say whether it would attempt to halt the data breach. In a statement a spokesman told us:
We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites. Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all of this material is genuine.
A 61MB ZIP file was posted on a Russian FTP server late last night, local time. It contains over a thousand emails, and around three thousand other items including source code and data files. Emails are peppered with disparaging remarks and a crude cartoon of sceptical scientists is also included in the archive - suggesting the hacker roamed wide across the University's servers.
A spokesman confirmed there had been a hack, and that staff documents had been published, but declined to say whether the University would be seeking to halt further dissemination of the data.
This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved the police in this enquiry.
CRU has been the centre of controversy for its roles in creating global temperature reconstructions, and maintaining the archive of temperature data. Recent temperature reconstructions characterise post 1980 temperatures as unprecedentedly warm, and downplay historical periods of warm weather. This is the so called "Hockey Stick" controversy, and many (but far from all) of these reconstructions involve key CRU staff.
In August, Phil Jones admitted CRU had failed to keep the raw data, which would permit outside parties to create their own temperature reconstructions. More recently, CRU dendroclimatologist Keith Briffa defended his sampling methodology which saw the inclusion of one tree core from the Yamal Peninsula create a Hockey Stick shaped graph, dubbed the "hottest tree in the world".
The documents also appear to highlight a chummy relationship between sympathetic journalists - particularly the New York Times Andrew Revkin - and activist scientists.
They're being discussed at Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit here - but there's no reaction yet at the blog frequented by the participants of "Hockey Team", as they have styled themselves, RealClimate.
It would be premature to comment further on the contents of the archive without establishing its authenticity. Some emails contain curious idioms and spelling - but perhaps that's what years of dendroclimatology do to the brain.
Climate Skeptics Pounce On E-Mails Hackers Got From U.K. Scientists' Files
By Mark Memmott
There's a storm brewing on the Web over e-mails that hackers got hold of in which some scientists at one of the world's leading research centers say things such as the need to "hide the decline" in data about temperatures. Skeptics who have doubts about whether humans are contributing to global warming are pouncing on the revelations.
As The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog says, "this should get interesting."
The Guardian lays out much of the story here. It writes that:
Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists over the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online. The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.
Australia's Investigate magazine reports here that Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit, says that he does not remember exactly what he meant 10 years ago when he wrote in an e-mail about the need to "hide the decline." He argues, though, that he was not trying to mislead anyone, but rather had likely been discussing how to add "instrumental data" from recent years to "proxy data, going back further in time, a thousand years."
It was apparently a blog called The Air Vent that first broke the news.
The BBC suspects it's no coincidence that the e-mails surfaced shortly before the December climate summit in Copenhagen.
Ed Morrissey at the conservative Hot Air wonders:
Do scientists use data to test theories, or do they use theories to test data? Scientists will claim the former, but here we have scientists who cling to the theory so tightly that they reject the data. That's not science; it's religious belief.
Top climate change body hit by hackers
By Jack Clark.
One of the world's premier institutions for the study of climate change has had its email systems hacked, inthenews.co.uk has learned.
The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has seen data and personal emails posted online.
Its director told inthenews.co.uk that "some" of the data was genuine.
"The person that hacked in took the files and put them in there. These are emails that have been taken from our backup server," Phil Jones said.
The files total 62 megabytes of data and contain personal correspondence between key climate change players, including Mr Jones himself. The Air Vent blog broke the discovery of the files last night.
A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia said: "This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved the police in this enquiry."
Climate-change sceptic Steven McIntyre, who features in some of the emails, has already posted a statement on website climateaudit.org saying "there are a few emails of mine that are 100 per cent genuine".
Speaking exclusively to inthenews.co.uk Mr Jones confirmed that some of the data is legitimate and genuine: "Some is, yes. We haven't checked it all."
He explained that the team at the CRU are now "going to try and do our work and ignore it as best we can".
The data has been removed from the Russian-hosted website on which it first appeared, and is now circulating the torrent networks.
Originally posted by Stormdancer777
found this on another forum
These need to be posted here before they disappear.
[edit on 113030p://bFriday2009 by Stormdancer777]
Originally posted by Libertygal
reply to post by john124
It doesn't do a thing to explain the discussions on refusing FOI requests, and even stating willingness to delete data rather than to release it.
They knew they would get busted.
[edit on 20-11-2009 by Libertygal]