Climategate 2.0

Blog topic: 
Hacked University of East Anglia mail - ClimateGate
A few weeks ago, a new release of a large amount of e-mails from the same source (University of East Anglia) has surfaced in Russia again. It is most likely from the same original batch because the last of the new e-mails is from 2009. I must admit that it requires a lot of prudence and self-control to release only part of the e-mails, and then sit on the rest for two years. Indeed, the guy thought of how to maximize the damage (in fact, more thought than the original Guy Fawkes).

The most curious thing is the fact that in addition to the 5000 or so e-mails there is a single password protected file with more than an order of magnitude more e-mails. I wonder at which occasion will the password surface, and what treasure trove does this larger file hold. I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of those climatologists, knowing that there is another noose on the loose.

O.k., so what do I think about it?

I think that in general, the implications of the e-mails should be separated into two, their direct implications on the climate science and their implications to the sociology around it.

With respect to the science, I don't think the new batch of e-mails will have any particular effect. They don't contain any significantly new scientific discussions. The previous batch totally discredited the hockey stick. You cannot kill something twice and as far as I am aware, the new batch doesn't contain anything equivalent on some other scientific "result". In any case, as I previously wrote, the scientific truth does not depend on the particular behavior of individuals. Thus, the new e-mails, just like the previous batch will have no impact on the science of global warming.

Nevertheless, the e-mails do have interesting ramifications to other aspects of the debate. As I wrote in the previous climate gate, the e-mails reveal behavioral patterns which are not surprising at all, neither to myself nor to my colleagues. I have definitely seen how editors reject papers without even sending to reviewers, or how PR lynches are organized. The difference is that the e-mails simply portray a more vivid picture, one which should also be clear to laymen as well, and that is that climate "science" has more politics and unfair game to it, than it has real science. The new e-mails simply shed more light on this behavior. Nothing new in this respect.

Perhaps the lowest form of behavior in terms of moral and scientific conduct is to hush dissenters by any means possible, including mostly non-scientfic ones.

One "nice" example for this behavior is how the main alarmist characters dealt with Chris de Freitas, an editor of the Climate Research journal, who, god forbid, accepted an article written by Soon and Baliunas. The alarmists could not accept this. So they thought of different possible actions, including asking all the other editors to resign as a protest. One alarmist even suggested to exert pressure by approaching the Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, where de Freitas works (more about it here).

Of course, if climate science and the people doing it were pure, the e-mails should have been used to remove a few bad apples. Decent climatologists should say that we don't accept coercing editors, we don't accept manipulating data, and anyone that does that should be shunned. This didn't happen with the first batch, so I am not optimistic it will happen following the second batch of e-mails. We have seen the whitewashers work overtime two years ago, and they would do so again. But frankly, I don't care. True, it takes me longer to publish each paper, but as Henrik Svensmark and I discussed a few months ago, the fact that the cosmic ray climate link is so viciously fought against has two advantages. First, it implies that all the discoveries in this exciting field are left for just a few of us to discover. The second advantage, is that vicious fights will only make the final victory sweater.

From my own perspective, the e-mails also supplied a voyeuristic peak into how a scientific lynch gets organized, specifically, one in which I was the subject of attack. Here's the first roundup e-mail.
This eventually led to this "scientific" correspondence, as well as other non-scientific doings I'll probably write someday in a book.

Anyway, I have to return now and do some real science.


Comments (1)

  • anon
    Kevin Marshall (not verified)

    The public relations image of climate change is that there is are large groups of the world’s top scientists, who all reach very similar conclusions via the highest scientific methods. Opposing them is a small number of disparate cranks, or people who are paid to exaggerate or lie. There is a huge gulf between the groups. There is no middle ground for those who doubt the evidence, or say the jury is out, or say there is some truth in the consensus, but the magnitude and likelihood of the predictions appears to be overstated. The Climategate 1 emails suggested that doubts existed amongst key scientists, and the consensus was a small group. Climategate 2 emails, like the one above, showed that the published science is not a result of objective peer review, conducted to the highest standards, but a highly partisan activity.
    At a minimum, the emails suggest that the polarized opinions are a misrepresentation of the state of affairs. There is room for doubt and alternative opinions to be heard, as the CAGW case is far from being substantiated by the empirical evidence. It seems to me that purer science (with all its doubts and ambiguities) needs to assert itself, over the highly partisan views at present. Peer review needs to get back to checking that the thesis of a paper is substantiated by the argument or empirical results.

    The threat of holding some 200,000 other emails I am not so keen on. It seems to be a threat that exposure (or imprisonment) will lead to further revelations. It is a dangerous game that FOIA is playing, but they have thought this through carefully. It is safer to stick to the science and the empirical evidence than to engage in such brinkmanship.

    Jan 14, 2012