Climategate 3: Thank you Mr FOIA
SOMEONE hacked into the Climatic Research Unit, CRU, at the University of East Anglia and published thousands of confidential emails between leading climate scientists online in November 2009 . Many of the emails showed that leading proponents of anthropogenic global warming were having great difficulty justifying their own propaganda. One of my favourite emails is from Kevin Trenberth, Head of Climate Analysis at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, to the infamous Michael Mann complaining that there has been no global warming:
“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. This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather)…
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.”
While the hack was widely condemned by mainstream climate scientists and the hacker would likely go to jail for a long time - if only he could be found. For me, the stolen emails represented a first opportunity to see the extraordinary deceit and corruption within the mainstream climate science community; the very people running the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, at the United Nations.
Indeed I have always held the hacker in high esteem. He is one of my heroes. Along with Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) and Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), he is a great champion of science.
Anyway, yesterday the hacker provided several high profile bloggers, including Anthony Watts, with password access to some 220,000 additional emails!
WUWT will be publishing some of the new material over the next few days and probably also weeks and months .
In a covering email  the hacker explained he had done this because he was keen to off-load the remaining material and was not in a position to sort through the material and cull the sensitive and potentially socially damaging material:
“I prepared CG1 & 2 alone. Even skimming through all 220.000 emails would have taken several more months of work in an increasingly unfavorable environment. Dumping them all into the public domain would be the last resort. Majority of the emails are irrelevant, some of them probably sensitive and socially damaging.”
I have often wondered who the hacker was, and what motivated him. In this latest email he provides significant insights. In particular, like many readers of this blog, he is clearly concerned about the increasing misallocation of resources by government in the name of anthropogenic global warming.
He is acutely aware that the opportunity for any one individual in a community to be fed, clothed and educated depends to a large extent on the collective wealth and wellbeing of that society. Towards this end, the covering email is also a plea for the better allocation of the “assets” at our collective disposal.
Mr FOIA, as he calls himself, wrote:
“Wealth of the surrounding society tends to draw the major brushstrokes of a newborn’s future life. It makes a huge difference whether humanity uses its assets to achieve progress, or whether it strives to stop and reverse it, essentially sacrificing the less fortunate to the climate gods.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Clearly Mr FOIA also places a premium on the truth, writing:
“Even if I have it all wrong and these scientists had some good reason to mislead us (instead of making a strong case with real data) I think disseminating the truth is still the safest bet by far.”
Thank you Mr FOIA.
 All the emails, documents and computer code, from the original release in November 2009, can be downloaded from Wikileaks at
 I’m guessing that What’s Up With That will be a best place to find new emails as they are released. This morning the following was posted…
“In response to a polite media inquiry from Wall Street journal editorial writer Anne Jolis, Michael Mann rages — and then cc’s his response to Media Matters, Joe Romm and other allies in the warmest-media industrial complex.
The e-mail exchange is below.
from: Michael Mann subject: Re: From the Wall Street Journal: to: Anne Jolis , Joe Romm , Media Matters Erikka Knuti , DarkSydOTheMoon@aol.com, Dan Vergano , Bud Ward , email@example.com, AJ Walzer , “Paul D. Thacker”, Chris Mooney
I’ve taken the liberty of copying this exchange to a few others who might be interested in it, within the broader context of issues related to the history of biased reporting on climate change at the Wall Street Journal Europe,
Yours, Mike Mann
On Oct 23, 2009, at 12:42 PM,
Michael Mann wrote:
I am traveling through this weekend and have only brief email access, so can only respond w/ a very short email to your inquiry.
I’m sad to report that the tone of your questions suggests a highly distorted, contrarian-driven view of the entirety of our science. The premise of essentially everyone of your questions is wrong, and is contradicted by assessments such as the IPCC report, reports by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, etc. The National Academy of Science report (more info below) reported in 2006 that “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence…”.
The conclusions in the most recent 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment report have been significantly strengthened relative to what was originally concluded in our work from the 1990s or in the IPCC 2001 Third Assessment Report, something that of course should have been expected given the numerous additional studies that have since been done that all point in the same direction. The conclusion that large-scale recent warmth likely exceeds the range seen in past centuries has been extended from the past 1000 years in the TAR, to the past 1300 years in the current report, and the confidence in this conclusion has been upped from likely in the Third Assessment Report to very likely in the current report for the past half millennium. Since then, the conclusions have been further strengthened by other work, including work by us.
Please see e.g. the reporting by the BBC:
You don’t seem to be aware of the fact that our original “Hockey Stick” reconstruction didn’t even use the “Yamal” data. It seems you have uncritically accepted nearly every specious contrarian claim and innuendo against me, my colleagues, and the science of climate change itself. Furthermore, I doubt that the various authors you cite as critics, such as Pollack and Smerdon, would in any way agree w/ your assessment of this work.
Misrepresenting the work of scientists is a serious offense, [what irony! - jen]
and would work to further besmirch the reputation of the Wall Street Journal, which is strongly been called into question in the past with regard to the treatment of climate change. I’ve copied my response to a number of others who might wish to comment further, as I will be unavailable to speak with you until next week.
I’ve pasted below various summaries by mainstream news venues which reported
a couple years ago that the National Academy of Sciences, in the words of Nature “Affirmed The Hockey Stick” below this message.
In addition, here are a few links you might want to read to better familiarize yourself with what the science actually states with regard to the issues raised in your inquiry below: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/02/the-ipcc-fourthassessment- summary -for-policy-makers/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/national-academiessynthesis- repor t/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/10/hockey-sticks-round- 27/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/new-analysisreproduces- graph-of-l ate-20th-century-temperature-rise/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-tothe- latest-hockey -stick-controversy/ http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/a-new-take-on-anold- millennium/
Finally, let me suggest, under the assumption that your intent is indeed to
report the reality of our current scientific understanding, rather than contrarian
politically-motivated spin, that any legitimate journalistic inquiry into
the current state of the science, and the extent to which uncertainties and controversy
have been overstated and misrepresented in the public discourse, would probably choose
to focus on the issues raised here:
Yours, Mike Mann
___________________NEWS CLIPS ON ACADEMY REPORT_____________________
from BBC (6/23/06 “Backing for ‘Hockey Stick’ graph”)
The Earth was hotter in the late 20th Century than it had been in the last
400 or possibly 1,000 years, a report requested by the US Congress concludes. It backs some of the key findings of the original study that gave rise to the iconic “hockey stick”
graph.) from New York Times (Andy Revkin, 6/22/06 “Science Panel Packs Study on
At a news conference at the headquarters of the National Academies, several members of the panel reviewing the study said they saw no sign that its authors had intentionally chosen data sets or methods to get a desired result. “I saw nothing that spoke to me of any manipulation,” said one member, Peter Bloomfield, a statistics professor at North Carolina State University. He added that his impression was the study was “an honest attempt to construct a data analysis procedure.
Boston Globe (Beth Daley, 6/22/06 “Report backs global warming claims”): Our conclusion is that this recent period of warming is likely the warmest in a (millennium), said John Wallace, one of the 12 members on the panel and professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington. Los Angeles Times (Thomas H. Maugh II and Karen Kaplan, “U.S. Panel Backs Data on Global Warming”):
After a comprehensive review of climate change data, the nation’s preeminent scientific body found that average temperatures on Earth had risen by about 1 degree over the last century, a development that “is unprecedented for the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.”
and The panel affirmed that proxy measurements made over the last 150 years correlated well with actual measurements during that period, lending credence to the proxy data for earlier times. It concluded that, “with a high level of confidence,” global temperatures during the last century were higher than at any time since 1600. Although the report did not place numerical values on that confidence level, committee member and statistician Peter Bloomfield of North Carolina State University said the panel was about 95% sure of the conclusion.
The committee supported Mann’s other conclusions, but said they were not as definitive. For example, the report said the panel was “less confident” that the 20th century was the warmest century since 1000, largely because of the scarcity of data from before 1600. Bloomfield said the committee was about 67% confident of the validity of that finding the same degree of confidence Mann and his colleagues had placed in their initial report.
Associated Press (syndicate with 100s of newspapers accross the U.S. (John Heilprin, 6/22/06 “The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, perhaps even longer”): The National Academy scientists concluded that the Mann-Bradley-Hughes research from the late 1990s was “likely” to be true, said John “Mike” Wallace, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington and a panel member. The conclusions from the ’90s research “are very close to being right” and are supported by even more recent data, Wallace said. and Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a “Little Ice Age” from about 1500 to 1850.
Washington Post (Juliet Eilperin, 6/23/06 “Study Confirms Past Few Decades Warmest on Record”): Panel member Kurt M. Cuffey, a geography professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said at a news briefing that the report “essentially validated” the conclusions Mann reported in 1998 and 1999 using temperature records. The panel also estimated there is a roughly 67 percent chance that Mann is right in saying the past 25 years were the warmest in a 1,000 years.
Nature (Geoff Brumfield, 6/28/06 “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”) “We roughly agree with the substance of their findings,” says Gerald North, the committee’s chair and a climate scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station. In particular, he says, the committee has a “high level of confidence” that the second half of the twentieth century was warmer than any other period in the past four centuries. But, he adds, claims for the earlier period covered by the study, from AD 900 to 1600, are less certain. This earlier period is particularly important because global-warming sceptics claim that the current warming trend is a rebound from a ‘little ice age’ around 1600. Overall, the committee thought the temperature reconstructions from that era had only a two-to-one chance of being right. and says Peter Bloomfield, a statistician at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who was involved in the latest report. “This study was the first of its kind, and they had to make choices at various stages about how the data were processed,” he says, adding that he “would not be embarrassed” to have been involved in the work. New Scientist (Roxanne Khamsi, 6/23/06, “US report backs study on global warming”): It was really the first analysis of its type, panel member Kurt Cuffey of the University of California, Berkeley, US, said at a news conference on Thursday. He added that it was the first time anyone has done such a large-scale and continual analysis of temperature over time. So its not surprising that they could have probably done some detailed aspects of it better.
But it was a remarkable contribution and gave birth to a debate thats ongoing, thats teaching us a lot about how climate has changed. Science (Richard Kerr, June 30, 2006, “Yes, Its been Getting Warmer in Here Since the CO2 Begain to Rise”): In addition, none of the three committee members at the press briefing– North, Bloomfield, and paleoclimatologist Kurt Cuffey of the University of California, Berkeley- -had found any hint of scientific impropriety. “I certainly did not see anything inappropriate,” said North. “Maybe things could have been done better, but after all, it was the first analysis of its kind.”
– On Oct 23, 2009, at 10:41 AM,
Jolis, Anne wrote: Dear Dr. Mann, My name is Anne Jolis, and I’m with the Wall Street Journal Europe, based in London. I’m working on a piece about climate change, and specifically the growing questions that people outside the field have about the methods and processes used by climatologists and other climate-change scientists – and, necessarily, about the conclusions that result.
The idea came from the recent controversy that has arisen once again over Steve McIntyre, the publication of the full Yamal data used in Keith Briffa’s work. This of course raises questions among climate scientistis, and observers, about whether the socalled “hockey stick” graph of global temperatures , as produced by Dr. Briffa and originally by yourself, was drawn from narrow data which, and then when broadened to include a wider range of available dendroclimatological data, seems to show no important spike in global temperatures in the last 100 year .
I realize this is not exactly the silverbullet to anthropogenic global warming that some would like to read into it, but it seems to me that it does underscore some of the issues in climate science. Specifically, the publication of the data, and the earlier controversy over your work, seems to illustrate that best practices and reliable methods of data collection remain far from established, and that much of what is presented as scientific fact is really more of a value judgment based on select data. Would you agree?
I’d love to get some insight from you for my article. I’ll be filing this weekend, but I can call you any time it’s convenient for you on Friday – just let me know the best time and number. Please note that if we do speak on the phone, I will email you with any quotes or paraphrases that I would like to attribute to you, before publication, so as to secure your approval and confirm the accuracy of what I’m attributing to you.
Additionally, if you’d like to correspond via email, that’s fine too. I’ve listed below some of the questions and assumptions I’m working on – if, in lieu of a phone call, you’d like to answer and/or respond to these, as well as share any other thoughts you have on these issues, I’d be most grateful. Feel welcome to reply at length!
I thank you in advance for your time and attention, and look forward to any of your comments. All the best,
Anne Jolis Mobile: +44 xxxxxx
- Given that methods in climate science are still being refined, do you agree with policy makers’ and advocates’ use of data such as your own? Do you feel it is accurately represented to laymans, and that the inherent uncertainties present in the data are appropriately underscored? As a citizen, do you feel there is enough certainty in the conclusions of, for instance, the latest IPCC report, to introduce new economic regulations? Why or why not?
-What methods do you feel are the most accurate for predicting future climate change, for evaluatinag the causes of climate change and for predicting whether or what man can do to try to control or mitigate climate change in the future in the future? Why do you feel these methods are the most accurate? Do you feel they’re given enough weight in the current debate?
-What is your opinion of the value of Steve McIntyre’s work? Clearly he is not a professional scientist, but do you feel there is nonetheless a place for his “auditing” in the climate science community? Why or why not?
-Do you think McIntyre’s work and findings are likely to change the way leading climate scientists operate? Do you think his recent campaign to get Dr. Keith Briffa to publish the Yamal data he used is likely to make climate scientists more forthcoming with their data? Do you think his work will make scientists, policymakers and advocates any more exacting about the uncertainties in their procedures, methods and conclusions when they present scientific data?
-How would you respond to the critique that, as a key part of the review processes of publications in the field of climate science, as something of a “gatekeeper,” you have rejected and otherwise sought to suppress work that contradicted your work. Is this fair? Why or why not? How would you characterize your selection process for work that is worthy of publication? -Do you stand by your original “hockey stick” graf, even after the publication of borehole data from Henry Pollack and Jason Smerdon that seems to contradict your conclusions? Or work published in 2005 by Hans von Storch that seems to indicate that the predictive capabilities of the method you used in your original “hockey stick” would not be able to predict current temperatures? – Michael E. Mann Professor Director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC) Department of Meteorology Phone: (814) xxxxx 503 Walker Building FAX: (814) xxxxx The Pennsylvania State University email: firstname.lastname@example.org University Park, PA 16802-5013 website: http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/Mann/index.html “Dire Predictions” book site: http://www.essc.psu.edu/essc_web/news/DirePredictions/index.html
 Following is the entire covering email from my hero, Mr FOIA
It’s time to tie up loose ends and dispel some of the speculation surrounding the Climategate affair.
Indeed, it’s singular “I” this time. After certain career developments I can no longer use the papal plural
If this email seems slightly disjointed it’s probably my linguistic background and the problem of trying to address both the wider audience (I expect this will be partially reproduced sooner or later) and the email recipients (whom I haven’t decided yet on).
The “all.7z” password is [redacted]
DO NOT PUBLISH THE PASSWORD. Quote other parts if you like.
Releasing the encrypted archive was a mere practicality. I didn’t want to keep the emails lying around.
I prepared CG1 & 2 alone. Even skimming through all 220.000 emails would have taken several more months of work in an increasingly unfavorable environment.
Dumping them all into the public domain would be the last resort. Majority of the emails are irrelevant, some of them probably sensitive and socially damaging.
To get the remaining scientifically (or otherwise) relevant emails out, I ask you to pass this on to any motivated and responsible individuals who could volunteer some time to sift through the material for eventual release.
Filtering\redacting personally sensitive emails doesn’t require special expertise.
I’m not entirely comfortable sending the password around unsolicited, but haven’t got better ideas at the moment. If you feel this makes you seemingly “complicit” in a way you don’t like, don’t take action.
I don’t expect these remaining emails to hold big surprises. Yet it’s possible that the most important pieces are among them. Nobody on the planet has held the archive in plaintext since CG2.
That’s right; no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this. USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK. There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere.
If someone is still wondering why anyone would take these risks, or sees only a breach of privacy here, a few words…
The first glimpses I got behind the scenes did little to garner my trust in the state of climate science — on the contrary. I found myself in front of a choice that just might have a global impact.
Briefly put, when I had to balance the interests of my own safety, privacy\career of a few scientists, and the well-being of billions of people living in the coming several decades, the first two weren’t the decisive concern.
It was me or nobody, now or never. Combination of several rather improbable prerequisites just wouldn’t occur again for anyone else in the foreseeable future. The circus was about to arrive in Copenhagen. Later on it could be too late.
Most would agree that climate science has already directed where humanity puts its capability, innovation, mental and material “might”. The scale will grow ever grander in the coming decades if things go according to script. We’re dealing with $trillions and potentially drastic influence on practically everyone.
Wealth of the surrounding society tends to draw the major brushstrokes of a newborn’s future life. It makes a huge difference whether humanity uses its assets to achieve progress, or whether it strives to stop and reverse it, essentially sacrificing the less fortunate to the climate gods.
We can’t pour trillions in this massive hole-digging-and-filling-up endeavor and pretend it’s not away from something and someone else.
If the economy of a region, a country, a city, etc. deteriorates, what happens among the poorest? Does that usually improve their prospects? No, they will take the hardest hit. No amount of magical climate thinking can turn this one upside-down.
It’s easy for many of us in the western world to accept a tiny green inconvenience and then wallow in that righteous feeling, surrounded by our “clean” technology and energy that is only slightly more expensive if adequately subsidized.
Those millions and billions already struggling with malnutrition, sickness, violence, illiteracy, etc. don’t have that luxury. The price of “climate protection” with its cumulative and collateral effects is bound to destroy and debilitate in great numbers, for decades and generations.
Conversely, a “game-changer” could have a beneficial effect encompassing a similar scope.
If I had a chance to accomplish even a fraction of that, I’d have to try. I couldn’t morally afford inaction. Even if I risked everything, would never get personal compensation, and could probably never talk about it with anyone.
I took what I deemed the most defensible course of action, and would do it again (although with slight alterations — trying to publish something truthful on RealClimate was clearly too grandiose of a plan ;-).
Even if I have it all wrong and these scientists had some good reason to mislead us (instead of making a strong case with real data) I think disseminating the truth is still the safest bet by far.
Big thanks to Steve and Anthony and many others. My contribution would never have happened without your work (whether or not you agree with the views stated).
Oh, one more thing. I was surprised to learn from a “progressive” blog, corroborated by a renowned “scientist”, that the releases were part of a coordinated campaign receiving vast amounts of secret funding from shady energy industry groups.
I wasn’t aware of the arrangement but warmly welcome their decision to support my project. For that end I opened a bitcoin address: 1HHQ36qbsgGZWLPmiUjYHxQUPJ6EQXVJFS.
More seriously speaking, I accept, with gratitude, modest donations to support The (other) Cause. The address can also serve as a digital signature to ward off those identity thefts which are part of climate scientists’ repertoire of tricks these days.
Keep on the good work. I won’t be able to use this email address for long so if you reply, I can’t guarantee reading or answering. I will several batches, to anyone I can think of.
Over and out.