Year 3, Month 1, Day 6: I Can Haz Latin?

The New York Times reports on the hunt for whoever it was that leaked the CRU emails:

Some have noted that in 2009, the online trickster used the initials R.C. and linked to a zip file named “FOI2009,” an apparent reference to Freedom of Information statutes in both Britain and the United States.

(Much of the criticism of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia centered on delays in responding to Freedom of Information requests, usually from climate skeptics, for access to all of their data and even their e-mails.)

This time, he signed his blog comments simply as “FOIA,” a common nickname for the leaker in online discussions of the e-mail affair.

Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington and a frequent spokesman for climate change skeptics, said the encryption of the file had challenged his thinking on FOIA’s identity.

Previously, he said, he had assumed the leaker was an employee of the University of East Anglia who had been troubled by the denial of requests for the prompt public release of scientists’ full data and e-mails under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act.

But a principled commitment to open information is not in keeping with an encrypted file, Mr. Ebell said. So he suspects a different kind of intelligence is at work.

“It is very suggestive of someone who has thought through how to cause the con men at the C.R.U. the maximum possible anxiety,” he said, referring to the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. “It is like knowing your building has a bomb in it that could be detonated at any time.”

I know this one won’t be published, but it felt pretty good to write. Sent January 2:

To gain insight into what contemporary “conservatives” are doing and thinking, just look at the accusations they level at others. While this habit is ingrained in Republican political strategists, and can be found in their remarks on issues across the full policy spectrum, it is spectacularly on display when it comes to the GOP’s rejection of the science of climate change. Who better to claim that climatologists manipulate numbers and information for financial gain than Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose administration raised crass, pecuniary data-mining to Cheney-esque levels? Who better to malign scientists as deceitful frauds than Newt Gingrich, primus inter pares in the Republican mendacity sweeps? When a spokesman for the Competitive Enterprise Institute calls climate scientists “con men,” it’s just another example of projection.

Unfortunately, the he-said/she-said stenography that passes for reportage in much of today’s media gives more credit to outlandish claims than to their refutation.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 27: Fool Me Twice…

The Washington Post addresses the new attempt to cobble together another “Climategate” from another batch of the same damn emails:

LONDON — The British climatologist ensnared in a major new email leak took his case to the public Wednesday, arguing that he and his colleagues’ comments have again been taken out of context.

The University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones was one of the major players in the controversy that erupted two years ago over the publication of emails which caught prominent scientists stonewalling critics and attacking them in sometimes vitriolic terms.

The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit is one of the world’s leading centers for the study of how world temperatures have varied over time, and Jones came under particular scrutiny following the 2009 disclosures — even receiving death threats over allegations that he was a leading a conspiracy to hype the dangers of climate change.

Sarcasm isn’t usually going to make it into print, but it felt good. Sent November 23:

Goodness! What a coincidence that another batch of hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s climatology team should be released just in time for this year’s Durban Climate Conference. One wonders if our nation’s journalists have learned anything from the last time this happened. The fortunate few who have access to the series of tubes known as the “internet” will discover that climatologists Phil Jones, Michael Mann and their collaborators were cleared of any wrongdoing by no fewer than six independent investigations.

Perhaps one or two reporters may sense a bigger story at work here: why are stolen communications from 2009 being released in the build-up for another important conference on global warming? Who’s behind the subterfuge? Who will benefit should these inconvenient scientists be discredited? Who gains from confusing the discussion, from delaying action on the climate crisis?

The losers, of course, are the rest of the world’s people.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 6: DFH Activist Judge Edition

The L.A. Times runs the story: a rare bit of good news for the overly-harassed Michael Mann:

A county Circuit judge in Virginia has sided with the University of Virginia’s effort to restrict the release of personal emails from one of its former faculty members.

The decision late Wednesday would allow the university to alter an agreement it had reached with the American Tradition Institute, which was seeking communications between Michael Mann, a physicist and climate scientist, and other scientists from 1999 to 2005, when Mann was employed by the university.

The American Tradition Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Colorado, is a nonprofit policy research and education group that has close ties to energy interests that have opposed climate legislation, including the Koch Brothers.

Mann, now a professor at Penn State University, is best known for his contributions to the so-called hockey stick graph that has been at the center of warnings that Earth’s temperature rise has been precipitous and historically unprecedented. It has been used as one of thousands of data analyses that have led the vast majority of climate scientists to conclude that man’s emission of greenhouse gases is trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Perhaps the Tea-Party nuts will start finding Gaylord Finch’s got granite countertops, or something. Sent Nov. 2:

It’s always amusing to see “non-profit” organizations that are closely affiliated with some of the most profit-hungry players in our economy. Groups like the disingenuously-named American Tradition Institute exist entirely to carry out the bidding of their funders — people like the Koch brothers. One wonders if the Kochs would enjoy the experience of legal harassment quite so much if they were on the receiving end.

For make no mistake, the ATI’s demand for emails from Dr. Michael Mann has nothing to do with scientific integrity, and everything to do with hindering the work of a climate scientist whose work might affect the profit margins of the fossil fuel industry.

Perhaps it’s true that hostility to science is a long-standing American tradition — but is the self-serving behavior of the extremely rich and powerful really worthy of adulation?

Judge Gaylord Finch’s decision is the correct one.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 14: Yet Another Installment of “Why Capitalism Sucks.”

The Wall Street Journal never misses an opportunity to mislead.

A fairly even-handed discussion of the most recent round of climate negotiations was derailed by a paragraph of heavy-handed editorializing, including allegations of “flawed science” in the IPCC reports and yet another reference to the so-called “climategate.” Let’s get this straight, starting with the second item: there have thus far been three separate and independent investigations of the leaked emails, and each investigation has completely exonerated the scientists involved. Completely. If the print and broadcast media had any sense of responsibility, this fact would have received as much publicity as the original non-scandal. With regard to the flaws in the IPCC report —in a document thousands of pages long, mistakes are inevitable. If a miscalculation of glacial melt rates invalidates the entire report, then by analogy, an error of fact anywhere in the Wall Street Journal must invalidate everything in that day’s edition, including the stock market reports.

Warren Senders

Month 7, Day 8: All Clear?

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an AP story noting that the third inquiry into “climategate” was due out soon. Of course, the results came out today, and of course the scientists from the University of East Anglia were completely cleared (just as happened in the previous two inquiries, which I suppose proves to the denialists that all the Boards of Inquiry are in the tank).

This report was the third such inquiry into the so-called “climategate” non-scandal, and the third inquiry to completely exonerate the scientists involved from any hint of dishonesty or wrongdoing. Even though the accusations leveled against the British scientific team were completely unfounded, the entire affair succeeded in making global warming less accepted by the general public. This is a tragedy: at the time when we most need widespread awareness of the threat posed by worldwide climate change, fewer people are prepared to take scientific authority seriously. Over ninety-seven percent of climatologists agree that global warming is happening, that human activity is to blame, and that if we don’t change our ways soon, we’re in for a world of hurt. If ninety-seven out of a hundred oncologists diagnosed malignancy, you’d probably take their advice. Climatologists are “planetary physicians.” We would do well to take them seriously.

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 31: Fire at Will!

It’s sad that “good news” on climate change is simply the information that the by-now-to-be-expected bad news is acknowledged to be true. Phil Jones and the rest of the East Anglia Climate Research Group have of course been exonerated completely by the British House Of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.

There were any number of things I could have done with this news. As it happened, I decided to send a paronomasiac screed to the Washington Post, which has provided a forum for the odious George Will, a man of disproportionate influence whose glib mendacity has gravely damaged our planet’s chances of survival. The chance the Post will print this letter is probably slimmer than my winning the lottery (I never buy tickets), but it sure felt good. Especially calling Will a calumnist.

Now that the British House of Commons has exonerated Dr. Phil Jones and the rest of his Climate Research Team from charges of scientific malpractice, may we expect more from the Washington Post than a solitary Associated Press article? By printing effluvia like “Climate Tantrums” (February 21) the Washington Post has become complicit in an egregious misrepresentation of science. I hope I may be forgiven the obvious pun: the deception is indeed Willful. George Will, the Post’s glibly erudite house denialist, should be required to apologize for his mendacious pedantry. A single mea culpa, however, is insufficient: like many a juvenile offender against the common good, the Post’s errant calumnist should spend a year in “community service,” working as an unpaid assistant to one of the climatologists whose work he has so freely disparaged.

Warren Senders