The Times: Climate e-mail hackers “aimed to maximise harm to Copenhagen summit”

According to TimesOnline, investigators of the CRU email theft (dubbed SwiftHack or Climategate) have concluded that the release of the stolen material was held back for weeks in order to cause maximum damage to the upcoming Copenhagen conference.

This development, along with new reports of breakins and other attacks at the University of Victoria, should finally lay to rest the baseless rumour that the hacked email archive was assembled at CRU as part of a contingent FOI response and released by an inside whistleblower, a canard that was started by – wait for it – none other than Steve McIntyre himself!

First, here’s the latest on the CRU  SwiftHack (a.k.a. “Climategate”) investigation from the Times of London:

Climate e-mail hackers “aimed to maximise harm to Copenhagen summit”

E-mails alleged to undermine climate change science were held back for weeks after being stolen so that their release would cause maximum damage to the Copenhagen climate conference, according to a source close to the investigation of the theft.

Climate change sceptics obtained the e-mails by hacking into a computer at the University of East Anglia. Professor Phil Jones, director of the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has agreed to stand down during an independent review of the affair.

The first hack was in October or earlier, the source said. The e-mails were not leaked until mid-November.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the National Post reports that the University of Victoria has also suffered from break-ins, attempted hacking and other “dirty tricks”.

An alleged series of attempted security breaches at the University of Victoria in the run-up to next week’s Copenhagen summit on climate change is evidence of a larger effort to discredit climate science, says a renowned B.C. researcher.

Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and key contributor to the Nobel prize-winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there have been a number of attempted breaches in recent months, including two successful break-ins at his campus office in which a dead computer was stolen and papers were rummaged through.

University of Victoria spokeswoman Patty Pitts said there have also been attempts to hack into climate scientists’ computers, as well as incidents in which people impersonated network technicians to try to gain access to campus offices and data. However, those incidents took place at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, she said — an Environment Canada facility located at the university. As such, Environment Canada would be the investigating agency.

Perhaps the parallels to Watergate are not so far-fetched after all – although not in the sense originally proposed by those who first coined the term “Climategate”.

Meanwhile, in a transparent attempt to distract from the real issues raised by this latest assault on climate scientists, contrarians have put forth the preposterous theory that the CRU incident was essentially an “inside job”,  involving the release of an FOI data set assembled at CRU.

As recently as November 29,   L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal online wrote :

The emails, released by an apparent whistle-blower who used the name “FOI,” were written by scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England.

But surely the most absurd variation on this theory was offered by CBSNews blogger Declan McCullagh (as well as by the Telegraph, Junk Science and countless others):

Another [theory] says that the files had already been assembled in response to a Freedom of Information request and, immediately after it was denied, a whistleblower decided to disclose them. (Lending credence to that theory is the fact that no personal e-mail messages unrelated to climate change appear to have been leaked.)

McCullagh links to Steve McIntyre’s November 21 account of his receipt of refusal by CRU of his umpteenth FOI request or appeal. Curiously, that post doesn’t explicitly mention the idea that the hacked file set might be related to his FOI request. But McIntyre did state:

Given the tumultuous events of the past few days, the receipt of yet another refusal to provide station data pursuant to an FOI request may seem a little uneventful. But the chronology of this most recent refusal is, to say the least, interesting …

On Nov 18, 2009, I received the letter attached below from Jonathan Colam-French, Director of Information Services of UEA,  turning down my appeal.  The letter is dated Nov. 13, 2009. In the letter refusing the appeal, Colam-French says that he consulted a file on the matter.

Now consider the following chronology.

On Nov 17, 2009 at 9.57 pm occurred the first public notice of the 63 MB CRU file entitled “FOIA.zip” came at Jeff Id’s blog by a poster called “FOIA” …

The file contained emails up to and including Nov 12, 2009 (the most recent is 1258053464.txt) the day prior to the date on the letter refusing the appeal.

Housekeeping emails are absent from the file …

[Emphasis added]

McIntyre’s implication is that the “file” referred to by Colam-French is the very same file that was released on November 20. The dog whistle was heard loud and clear by commenter RPhelan:

Ahhh, Steve Mosher’s cryptic references to the significance of November 12 are becoming a little clearer. I wish the mole well.

Apparently, some people are willing to believe and  say anything to avoid the obvious truth staring them in the face.

Update, December 6: As seen in the first comment below, Andrew Bolt is now fingering Tom Wigley as the likely whistleblower. This is beyond cretinous.

Update, December 6: The Daily Mail reports that suspicion is falling on the Russian security services:

Suspicions were growing last night that Russian security services were behind the leaking of the notorious British ‘Climategate’ emails which threaten to undermine tomorrow’s Copenhagen global warming summit.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the explosive hacked emails from the University of East Anglia were leaked via a small web server in the formerly closed city of Tomsk in Siberia. …

The server is believed to be used mainly by Tomsk State University, one of the leading academic institutions in Russia, and other scientific institutes.

Computer hackers in Tomsk have been used in the past by the Russian secret service (FSB) to shut websites which promote views disliked by Moscow.

Such arrangements provide the Russian government with plausible deniability while using so-called ‘hacker patriots’ to shut down websites.

h/t to commenter Donald at ClimateProgress.

Update, December 8: I’ve done some Google searches on FOI vs.FOIA, with some interesting results. The actual searches were done using FOI or FOIA in quotes along with the phrase “freedom of information”, with the appropriate top level domain as site parameter.

UK (site:.uk):  FOIA: 35,560  FOI: 518,000

US (site:.edu): FOIA: 24,000 FOI: 3,850

US (site:.gov): FOIA: 324,000 FOI: 13,000

Canada (site:.ca): FOIA: 1,610 FOI: 12,000

Australia (site.au): FOIA: 1,410 FOI: 103,000

Conclusion: FOIA is by far the more commonly used acronym in the U.S. The rest of the English speaking world? Not so much.

This strongly suggests, of course, that the use of FOIA as the name of the subdirectory in the released archive was not made by an insider whistleblower, but rather by someone who wanted to suggest that erroneous conclusion. Nice try, though.

Thanks to Turboblocke for pointing this out.

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63 responses to “The Times: Climate e-mail hackers “aimed to maximise harm to Copenhagen summit”

  1. Consider – The emails were not a result of a hacker’s activity. But, they were also *not* going to be provided under a FOIA request.

    Perhaps, they are the residual emails of a batch which had already been *sanitized* from the CRU systems, in order to illegally prepare an incomplete response for a future (likely successful) FOIA request.

    Note that there is a very small percentage of personal-chatter emails that typically characterize close colleague’s communication. Therefore, this lack of small-talk emails points to a deliberate culling. They were going to “leave in” the harmless small talk.

    Theory: These are deleted emails from a sanitized batch which were foolishly or purposely archived and/or discovered by an insider or whistleblower (perhaps the sanitizer himself). The insider then had pangs of conscience or an axe to grind and released them surreptitiously.

    If so, he may enjoy protection under the UK’s Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998, which was enacted to protect whistleblowers.

    For an interesting clue to the possible identity of the whistleblower, see: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/climategate_which_one_blew_the_whistle/

    • The theory makes absolutely no sense. We now know that the CRU system was hacked weeks before this supposed FOI contingent response was supposedly assembled.

      Why do you insist on clinging to this obviously far-fetched and nonsensical theory?

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  3. Deep Climate:

    This is really interesting news if true. But it needs to be remembered that the cracker didn’t simply sit on the cracked material for weeks, but was assembling new material even as late as 11 Nov.

    Then again, maybe the cracker simply threw in a few new files after October just to confuse all of us?

    bi

    • Presumably these details will emerge with time. However, it’s possible that the hackers set about selecting and archiving the material in October, but decided to see if more emails “of interest” came in during the critical run up to Copenhagen.

    • To be precise, the last email message was dated
      Thu, 12 Nov 2009 14:17:44 -0000

      AFAIK the hack first appeared on 20 Nov, allowing the hackers 7-8 days to select its contents.

  4. The whistleblower theory is even stupider given the partially successful hack of realclimate in an attempt to distribute the documents. It would kill any claim to be acting ethically by a would be whistleblower

    That being said, theft of laptops etc from universities is pretty common, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if some of the other attempted break ins are simply petty theft.

  5. The mainstream news media and you primarily refer to the leaked emails. Much more important are the computer programs that also were leaked. The emails demonstrate the character of those who originally sent them; the computer code illustrates how the climate results were “massaged” to obtain the desired results.

    [DC:
    1) The emails and documents were hacked and stolen, not "leaked". You really should get oet over it.

    2) The emails and computer code demonstrate nothing of the kind. I've discussed the issues around peer review in the immediately previous post, and will probably discuss contrarian misinterpretations of the documents and emails aspects in the future. There are also plenty of other places to discuss these misunderstandings; this thread is for discussion of the bogus "whistleblowing" theory only.]

  6. The hacker used the name “FOIA”. That is US usage, in the UK we refer to the FOI Act or the FIA.

  7. A thief is a thief. If the fictional noble whistleblower existed he or she would have come forward. But the breakins and attempted hacks at U Vic point to a criminal conspiracy.

  8. The early attempt at hacking into RealClimate and uploading the file there proves that there are not only whistleblowers (if any) involved. But previous break-ins at UEA does not prove anything about the actual history of the documents. They seem to be compiled in connection (or analogy) with FOI requests, and there is enough questionable ethics in there that if I had been working with the request, I would probably have released them myself when the FOI request was turned down.

    The immediate effect is of course a gain for the denialists, but in the longer term, the real science will benefit from openness. It is exactly the war-like attitude towards contrarians displayed in the emails that lends McIntyre and spiritual relatives a justification they will not get be themselves. Contrary to common belief, I think this leak is the worst thing that could happen to McIntyre and Lindzen, but it will take quite some time before that becomes clear.

  9. “The emails and documents were hacked and stolen, not “leaked”. You really should get oet over it.”

    They were neither taken from the owners in a way that prevented their use by the owners, nor changed, so they were neither hacked nor stolen.

    They were leaked. Get over it. … and you can repeat gossip breathlessly, but it doesnt pass the common sense test.

    The only people / person who would KNOW there was something incriminating/embarassing in the emails/data, and where to find it, was someone who WORKED THERE.

    Sometimes the obvious is so hard to find.

  10. “The immediate effect is of course a gain for the denialists, but in the longer term, the real science will benefit from openness. It is exactly the war-like attitude towards contrarians displayed in the emails that lends McIntyre and spiritual relatives a justification they will not get be themselves.”

    Gee, if the Hockey Team figured that out 5 years ago, things would look a lot better for them now…

  11. The only people / person who would KNOW there was something incriminating/embarassing in the emails/data, and where to find it, was someone who WORKED THERE.

    Given that the “smoking guns” in the emails are weak fizzes, the person who stole or leaked them is either scientific illiterate and/or liar.

  12. PJ, you may wish to acquaint yourself with what “hacking” means. hint: it has nothing to do with whether data was modified, and everything to do with whether the computer system was accessed illegal.

  13. “They were leaked. Get over it. … ”

    This sounds like something Inhofe would say.
    Can you prove that they were leaked? Do you then know who leaked them? Why has this person not come forward? Oh, maybe because the only way they could have legally come by those emails is if they were cc’d on each and every one of them; so they then had to hack into the system to scalp them. If they did have legal access to the communal data drive/drives from which they took the the code and data. Then that may be covered under whistle blower legislation. But to then go and hack into at least one other server to disseminate it is not legal. Then again, whistle blowers usually go though journalists or reprot directly to officials. They have done neither those things. Hmm…

  14. Private emails stolen? This research was funded from taxpayers and was the basis for a global world tax. There is a big difference between two individuals exchanging private messages about their sexual fantasies, compared to a conspiracy to create a global tax of trillions of dollars and a world government.

    If the raw temperature data was made public, there would be no need to steal the emails. Accusing the people who stole the emails as immoral is akin to accusing someone of using self-defense in an arm robbery.

    [DC: Wow ... a "conspiracy to create a global tax of trillions of dollars and a world government". This level of Moncktonian delusion leaves me speechless.]

  15. The Cap-And-Trade is a multi trillion dollar tax. Just search for Coca-Cola:

    “Coca-Cola is spearheading a coalition of more than 100 companies pushing a United Nations climate treaty to bind the U.S. to cap-and-trade emissions regulation, commit the world’s wealthiest nations to a potential $10 trillion in foreign aid and, possibly, form a proposed international “super-grid” for regulating and distributing electric power worldwide.”

    A World Government is an essential component this tax. The founders of the United Nations have always wanted to be part of the World Government. Even the [unelected] President of the European Commission mentions Global Governance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEqFtVrAgSo

  16. DC wrote in response to Daniel Morin:

    Wow … a “conspiracy to create a global tax of trillions of dollars and a world government”. This level of Moncktonian delusion leaves me speechless.

    DC, what separates this fellow from most libertarians is the fact that he is so candid about his paranoid delusion. In my book he deserves to be commended for such honesty.

  17. Daniel absurd conspiracy theories aside, I do agree with you that Cap and Trade is probably not the way to deal with this. It worked for SOx in the USA, but that was a different ball game. What we need is is a carbon levy/tax/fee whatever you want to call it which takes into account the true cost of using FFs.

    You might be interested to know that even Alberta has a carbon levy ($15 a tonne) for large emitters. They do not advertise this of course, so you can now accuse them of being part of this hoax too.

    DC is being very accommodating by allowing you to troll with your nonsensical diatribes. Then again, they do show everyone how out to lunch you are. Might I suggest going and living on a compound in Waco, Texas?

    You and your ilk reminded of a line from The Matrix, “Me, me, me”.

  18. Apparently morin is just another acceptable way to spell moron …

  19. Giving money to politicians to solve a “weather problem” is just absurd. I do not trust politicians. Period.

    dhogaza, instead of calling me a moron, perhaps you should elaborate where I am wrong. I am seeking the truth, and as far as know, the truth does not come from the mouth of politicians. Anything related to politics, such as climate research funding by government organisations has a political agenda. Politicians are not interested in the truth; they want power.

    [DC: I'm stepping in now to stop this nonsense and give myself the last word.

    What is clear is that many of the the same people who think that the CRU email and document release was the work of a heroic whistleblower insider, also think that the emails confirm a conspiracy to engage in scientific fraud, and even a socialist world takeover. A surprising number of these people, such as Lord Monckton or Senator Inhofe, even say such things out loud.

    I don't think delusional is too strong a word for such beliefs. I don't intend to have any further discussion on these outlandish conspiracy theories as if they were rational propositions worthy of serious debate.]

  20. Aside from these statements in the Times confirming this was a hack, there are additional pieces of evidence suggesting this was a hack rather than the far fetched notion suggested by SM. Far fetched and may I add bizarre.

    1) Why would materials freely available on the web, i.e. documents, be subject to an FOI request?

    2) Why would grant proposals for funding bids from 13 years ago be subject to FOI requests?

    3) For the inumerate, why does the email numbering not run in sequential order?

    4) Why do many of the emails contain inconsequential information irrelevant to the ongoing FOI requests?

    This was a transparent and pathetic attempt to legitimize the unfounded appeals against the apparently just FOI denials by CRU.

    • (I know this was rhetorical but I’ll answer anyway.)

      The email numbering is not sequential because the emails from Mar 2006 to Nov 2009 were all hacked, then selected to produce the *very* small selection of 1,073. (13 years, many mailboxes, only 1,073 messages?)

      There are many tools that make it easy to select files on content, grep being the obvious one.

    • To follow that up, a few choice text strings get lots of hits. I imagine that we could come up with a few that would get most of them quite quickly.

    • Paul H, “3) For the inumerate, why does the email numbering not run in sequential order?”

      not checked them properly, but they look like unix timestamps, presumably either for when the mail was sent or received. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time

  21. So when did the UV hack attempts start? When I first heard about that, I figured copycat was more likely than coordinated attack — some guy sees the hoopla around the emails from the CRU hack and says, hey, maybe if I can get emails from climate scientists at this university we’ll have even more to find juicy quotes in… But this story gives the impression that these break-in attempts started well before the release of the CRU emails, meaning it isn’t a copycat attack.

    • My suspicion, which also has been suggested elsewhere, is that *all* universities and similar institutions with a climate science faculty/department have been subjected to internet siege for years. All we are seeing are the few (2 so far?) whose security was weakest.

      I just hope that the perps are traceable.

  22. The two break-ins in Weaver’s office took place late last year. The hacking attempts at Envi Canada’s Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis “took place within the past few months”. That included two people who tried to pass themselves of as network service people and who ran off when challenged
    (I forget now where I read that part)

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=2300282

    I gues it’s possible the breakins were plain thieves, but still…

  23. The emails were hacked from Siberia, at a university often used by Russian Secret Service to shut down dissident web-sites.

    I think it behooves our denier friends to wonder why one of the worlds largest producers of oil and gas, whose state media outlet ‘Russia Today’ is one of the worlds largest disseminators of anti-GW memes, and who has already laid claim to one-half of the oil and gas resources in the now-open-for-business Arctic, is hacking emails on their behalf. I mean, politics makes strange bedfellows, but isn’t there a limit?

  24. I’m going to throw this out there– b/c someone has to ask the question. Does anyone think that our clan of “skeptics” here in Canada (or the USA) may have an inkling as to who it may be? Some people are perpetuating this “whistle blower” hypothesis, which makes one wonder why they would insist on doing that? One could muse that such action means they may be trying to protect someone.

    Does Interpol have jurisdiction over said university in Russia?

  25. Some people are perpetuating this “whistle blower” hypothesis, which makes one wonder why they would insist on doing that?

    Insisting it’s a whistleblower helps with the storyline that CRU is guilty of scientific fraud and misconduct. Because whistleblowers uncover bad behavior.

    “An insider was so disgusted at the fraud and scientific misconduct that they had to make the evidence public” sells that storyline much better than “a felon stole carefully selected e-mails intended to discredit CRU”.

    Is it any surprise that it’s McIntyre who immediately jumped on the “whistleblower” fantasy?

  26. Ligne, OK, I plead ignorance on that one. I see now that the UNIX timestamps appear to match up with the dates. Thanks for clarifying that point.

  27. For what it’s worth, the first release of the hacked material I’m aware of was at Jeff ID’s website on Nov. 17, with a link to a file on the tomcity.ru that has since been removed. I saw that comment on Nov. 19 (I didn’t try the link at the time, though).

    The comment is still there.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/open-letter/#comment-11917

    The hackers provided a “sample” list with excerpts, which included the Daly “cheering news”, one email that was cited often in the early going.

    This also reminds me of some slight weirdness that I noted mentally but never commented on. The file name is FOI2009.zip but the top level directory is FOIA, as is the name chosen by the hacker.

    I’ve done Google searches on FOI and FOIA and can confirm that FOI is much more common in the U.K., at least according to search hits. See the update at the end of the post for further information.

  28. Two CRU scientists have received death threats. Since the FBI is investigating. maybe the threats came from the US?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/hacked-climate-emails-death-threats

    • My guess: either the threats were from within the USA or they were made against US-based scientists taking part in the email discussions.

  29. Paul H> no problem! i’m prepared to admit that required some rather arcane knowledge :-) i deal with them on a fairly regular basis, so i’ve got pretty good at recognising them when i see them.

  30. Two CRU scientists have received death threats. Since the FBI is investigating. maybe the threats came from the US?

    Yes, that’s the implication, or at least from people using servers in the US.

  31. Two CRU scientists have received death threats. Since the FBI is investigating. maybe the threats came from the US?

    Great, that should take their minds of doing science some more. Another small victory for the denialists.

  32. Lordy, your ramblings make no sense at all. Not a single thread of logic to be found anywhere. Just because the file was collected a month before it was released do not mean a “hacker” sat on it. A whistleblower could have sat on it for the same reason. A whistleblower could have given it to someone else for distribution.

    [DC: McIntyre and his supporters claim that the archive was assembled as a response to an FOI request. Then at the last minute it was decided not to release it, so a whistleblower took matters into his own hands. This is nonsensical on its face, but the fact that the hackers first showed up weeks before really puts paid to that ridiculous theory.]

    And then you make this ridiculous assertion that Climategate is somehow connect to break-ins at the University of Victoria. Do you offer any evidence that these are connect?

    [DC: The point is that Weaver's office was targeted - twice. As well the U Vic/Environment Canada facility was the subject of attempted hacking and other infiltration. There are a lot of interests out there who are looking to sabotage the regulation of greenhouse gases.

    There's no evidence it's the same gang that hacked CRU, so there is not necessarily a co-ordinated conspiracy. The break ins happened more than year ago anyway - not sure about the other incidents. But it is eminently reasonable to presume that this targeting is related to Weaver's climate work. Climate science and scientists are under attack.]

    Of course not. You offer no reasons at all how these could be connected, or why there must be theif and not a whistle-blower. Other than your dislike for Dr. Mcintyre which is already well-known. There is simply nothing here except rambling and until your final zinger “Apparently, some people are willing to believe and say anything to avoid the obvious truth staring them in the face.” Yes, you are too willing.

    [DC: Oh, so McIntyre has a PhD now? I must have missed that. As for the "whistleblower" theory, I suppose it's possible that a CRU employee hacked the system and assembled the archive off site. And then uploaded it to an obscure Russian server run by a Russian internet security company. And somehow gave it to someone who accessed other servers using an IP address in Turkey. Doesn't seem very likely, but at least it makes marginally more sense than McIntyre's theory. But that would be a mole, not a whistleblower.]

  33. There’s one thing I don’t get for the “information to respond to a FOI” hypothesis.

    Why would information gathered for a FOI request for the station raw data (as per McI and friends) include e-mails about tree ring data, journal submissions and the like? Why would draft versions of programs not used in anything that was publicly released be included?

  34. Why would information gathered for a FOI request for the station raw data (as per McI and friends) include e-mails about tree ring data, journal submissions and the like? Why would draft versions of programs not used in anything that was publicly released be included?

    They wouldn’t. It’s a hacker performing their own version of a FOI response, you might say, in the same sense that “liberating” means stealing …

  35. McIntyre has a new post up on the IPCC and HTD/”the trick”. I’m going to speculate that this gets misinterpreted by right wing news outlets and spun that the IPCC was involved in nefarious hiding the decline type activities.

    Contrary to McIntyre’s claims about what the IPCC disclose on the divergence issue, they do actually discuss this, albeit rather shortly, but provide the correct reference where it is discussed in detail:

    http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/CLIMATE/IPCC_TAR/WG1/index.htm

    DC, could you post on this? Not sure, but based on previous examples this type of post usually gets the mouths foaming.

    [DC: I was thinking of getting into this issue, but can't right away. I did notice that McIntyre mentioned the decline in tree-ring widths on CNN. But he never corrects all the others who blather about "hiding the decline" in temperature.

    It seems to me the issue with TAR is at most a labeling issue - the curves as presented and explained in the text were fine.]

  36. Paul H, Gavin provides some more info on McIntyre’s post in an in-line comment here.

    Good stuff, DC.

  37. I’ve had a chance to read to McIntyre’s post now. It’s pretty clear that selective quoting (a.k.a. cherrypicking) is being used to “hide” the fact that it is the mismatch of Briffa’s recon at earlier points that is being discussed in the email.

    In fact, McIntyre used the “fodder to skeptics” line in an earlier post, and at the time I mentioned this in passing to a correspondent.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Some of the most flagrant falsehoods are in McIntyre’s Nov. 26 post on the “decline”. I don’t know if anyone noticed yet, but McIntyre claims that Mann wanted to “hide the decline” in the Briffa recon IPCC fig. 2.21 to avoid giving “fodder to the skeptics”. Yet the referenced email is a discussion about the necessity of explaining why Briffa’s recon is *warmer* than the others, if it were to be included. The discussion doesn’t touch on the post-1960 divergence at all. McIntyre didn’t link to the actual email, so it’s not easy to check. What a surprise!

    Gavin’s comment points out the same thing:

    [Response: They are confused. The mismatch that they were concerned with is seen in the first figure where the Briffa and Jones reconstructions are substantially higher and lower than Mann's through the LIA (1500 - 1900AD). Note the line "Keith’s series .. differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on... ". It has nothing to do with the post 1960 issue. The full email is a much clearer read than McIntyre's cherry-picking. - gavin]

    I notice that RC has now linked to the actual email, so people can see for themselves. So I’ll do the same.

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=136

  38. Here’s Mann leading up to the “fodder” quote:

    I would be happy to add Keith’s series. That having been said, it does raise a onundrum: We demonstrate (through comparining an exatropical averaging of our nothern hemisphere patterns with Phil’s more extratropical series) that the major discrepancies between Phil’s and our series can be explained in terms of spatial sampling/latitudinal emphasis (seasonality seems to be secondary here, but probably explains much of the residual differences). But that explanation certainly can’t rectify why Keith’s series, which has similar
    seasonality *and* latitudinal emphasis to Phil’s series, differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably concensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al
    series.

    So, if we show Keith’s series in this plot, we have to comment that “something else” is responsible for the discrepancies in this case. Perhaps Keith can help us out a bit by explaining the processing that went into the series and the potential factors that might lead to it being “warmer” than the Jones et al and Mann et al series?? We would need to put in a few words in this regard. Otherwise, the skeptics have an field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith in the paleoestimates. I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have
    to give it fodder!

    Maybe I should do a quick post on this. McIntyre’s tripe is just the type of nonsense that will get out of hand very quickly. The depressing part is he may even believe his own twaddle, not that that’s any excuse.

  39. DC, I have been reluctant to read any of the-mails, but this particular thread is actually enlightening, and if anything, shows Mann, Jones, Briffa, Folland in a positive light (how about this quotation by Chris Folland: “We want the truth.”). They are arguing about how best to present and reconcile the different (and relatively new) proxy data and get a handle on what they mean. This has nothing to do with the “trick” at all. McIntyre’s gross misinterpretation invites a strong refutation.

    [DC: I'm working on it. I have a feeling this particular falsehood of McIntyre's is going to get disseminated far and wide. I hope I'm wrong.]

  40. DC, glad you’re preparing something. Gavin has another in-line comment if you are interested. Been busy with the American Thinker and Willis E. articles in my own neck of the woods, but there is a CA reader who pops in every so often, and it will be helpful to see a good explanation in one place.

  41. Pingback: McIntyre provides fodder for skeptics « Deep Climate

  42. An appalling column by Licia Corbella ibn the Calgary Herald; she libels Mann, as well as scientists in general:

    “…After all, what’s astonishing about what has now been dubbed Climategate is myriad, but the most important aspect is that evidence of scientific fraud with regard to global warming science has existed for a very long time, and yet prior to these bombshell e-mails it was just shrugged off by scientists who have become advocates for the theory of man-made global warming. This should always have been troubling…”

    http://communities.canada.com/calgaryherald/blogs/corbellareport/archive/2009/12/11/real-scientists-would-care-about-climategate-fraud.aspx

    Good comments though.

  43. Speaking of Willis E., this article from The Economist was a great read.

    So, after hours of research, I can dismiss Mr Eschenbach. But what am I supposed to do the next time I wake up and someone whose name I don’t know has produced another plausible-seeming account of bias in the climate-change science? Am I supposed to invest another couple of hours in it? Do I have to waste the time of the readers of this blog with yet another long post on the subject? Why? Why do these people keep bugging us like this? Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it’s shown to be wrong? At what point am I allowed to simply say, look, I’ve seen these kind of claims before, they always turns out to be wrong, and it’s not worth my time to look into it?

    Well, here’s my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further “smoking gun” claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you’re a crank and this is not a story. [emphasis in original article]

  44. Weeks have now passed.

    Is there any evidence, other than the university’s original statement, that the files were obtained via a hack (as opposed to being released by a UEA insider)?

    As far as I am aware, the only evidence of hacking is the presence of the files in places that the university didn’t want them to be.

    A university statement to the effect of [insert IP Address] broke into [Insert UEA computer system] on [insert date here] would be very informative.

    Without even a claim to that effect, there is nothing to distinguish this incident from a whistleblower situation.

    [DC: There is no evidence of a "whistleblower". Neither is there evidence that the release was the work of an insider who had access. The emails were clearly accessed from the central mail server, or an archive thereof, so insiders who would have had access to them would be limited to senior IT professionals. Even in that far-fetched scenario, that still is not a whistleblower.]

    BTW, did you ever issue an apology for linking the Andrew Weaver breakin (which turned out to be part of a campus wide crime spree) with climate skeptics?

    [DC: The supposed relevance of the "campus-wide spree" is yet another malicious canard from McIntyre. At the time of the break-ins and search at Weaver's office (and that of his assistant), there were no other break-ins anywhere nearby (there was one unrelated breakin at a building cross campus).

    The spate of breakins at the University of Victoria trumpeted by McIntyre and the National Post was much more recent and had nothing to do with the targeted breakins and searches at Weaver's offices, nor the attempted hacking of his research network. It is McIntyre and the National Post who should be apologizing, not that they ever will.]

  45. Without even a claim to that effect, there is nothing to distinguish this incident from a whistleblower situation.

    A whistleblower hoping for legal protection would not be likely to commit the felony of hacking into the Real Climate server – an act that would not be protected under any whistleblower protection law.

  46. “There is no evidence of a “whistleblower”. Neither is there evidence that the release was the work of an insider who had access. ”

    Neither is there evidence that CRU was hacked. Yet you report that they were hacked, and you criticize others for merely suggesting the possibility of a whistleblower.

    [DC: The university and CRU referred to "stolen" emails and a "data security breach". News reports reports (e.g. Washington Post used the more colloquial term "hack". These are not my "allegations", this is what happened as reported by the targets of the crime, and apparently accepted as fact by the authorities investigating it. I criticize the whistleblower theory because there is no evidence for it, and is only proffered to distract attention from the criminality of the event.]

    “The emails were clearly accessed from the central mail server, or an archive thereof, so insiders who would have had access to them would be limited to senior IT professionals.”

    I have read accounts to this effect on skeptical sites. It is supported only by conjecture, not evidence. There are numerous universities where this conjecture would be false. [This is my professional opinion as someone who has set up a fair number of mail servers in his life time].

    Moreover, the university has done nothing to dispute the nation that the emails were originally assembled by a duly authorized university representative in response to the freedom of information request. That still seems the most likely scenario to me. If so, then no additional access to the email server was required. If false, then we are dealing with a very curious sort of hacker: one who went to the considerable trouble of filtering out all the non-germane email.

    [DC: So now the university has to address every farfetched theory mooted in the blogosphere. The FOI "theory" makes absolutely no sense, like most of McIntyre's misinterpretations.]

    “The supposed relevance of the ‘campus-wide spree’ is yet another malicious canard from McIntyre. ”

    You are alleging that there is some sort of “Watergate” like conspiracy in which hackers are breaking into offices, stealing computers, and hacking networks as part of “a larger effort to discredit climate science”.

    If you are right, then I look forward to your presentation of evidence to this effect.

    Absent such evidence, it seems far more likely that you and/or Andrew Weaver are paranoid and/or delusional, and that this conspiracy is the manufactured result of that ailment.

    [DC: I have only alleged that Weaver was targeted, and that the break ins were not part of a general "crime spree". McIntyre's suggestion to the contrary was unfounded.

    I haven't alleged a co-ordinated campaign or that the CRU hack and the University of Victoria attacks were done by the same people. And to my knowledge. neither has Weaver. There are many opponents of climate scientists, and they do not necessarily act in concert. ]

    Which brings us back to my original point. more than a month has passed. It is all well and good to throw out allegations of hacking in the immediate aftermath of an embarrassing disclosure. But those who throw out those allegations in the heat of the moment have a responsibility to follow up with evidence.

    This evidence, which may yet exist, has thus far been missing. It is time for it to be brought forward, or the original allegations recanted.

    [DC: The crime was reported and is being investigated. It appears you are alleging that East Anglia has misrepresented the facts under investigation. If you have any evidence whatsoever that the university's version is wrong or misleading, please bring that to the proper authorities. In the mean time, I will not let you keep repeating these ridiculous accusations in this venue any more.]

    • This is bizarre.

      If this was in response to an FOI request it would have been done openly and no obscure servers would have been involved. Similarly, the files would not have been uploaded at The Air Vent; they would have been sent openly to national broadcasters and newspapers.

      As an “IT pro” you would know that filtering the files and messages for content is a quick and trivial task. If you need help, I can point you to tools that have existed for some decades now.

    • Oh, and the email files all have identical creation date-times, again showing that a piecemeal collection of emails was not made and that they were assembled as part of a process intended to obscure the process.

  47. [Snipped.]
    [DC: Once and for all - the goal was to disrupt the Copenhagen summit. And outsider hackers were certainly involved. You've had a chance to air your own farfetched theories - now that's finished.]

    “I haven’t alleged a co-ordinated campaign or that the CRU hack and the University of Victoria attacks were done by the same people. And to my knowledge. neither has Weaver.”

    “an alleged series of attempted security breaches at the University of Victoria in the run-up to next week’s Copenhagen summit on climate change is evidence of a larger effort to discredit climate science”

    It sure looks like Weaver is alleging that as part of “a larger effort to discredit climate science” he was the target of multiple break ins over a period of months.

    Do you think he was?

    If there is a great denialist conspiracy that is going around hacking into computers, and breaking into offices, I hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

    But right now it looks like professor Weaver and anyone who believes him are wearing tin foil hats.

    [DC: Whoever is responsible for the attacks against Weaver and his research network undoubtedly has likely attacked climate science in other ways as well. However, the "larger effort" (which is the reporter's term, not Weaver's by the way) is not centrally controlled by a single person or organization. Specifically, Weaver has not alleged, and neither have I, that the CRU hack and the U Vic attacks were done by the same entity. In fact, I consider that highly unlikely.

    Weaver hasn't even alleged that the same entity was responsible for the U Vic breakins and the attempted hacks at U Vic. This whole line of accusation is at an end, as well, unless you can come up with a bona fide direct quote from Weaver supporting your allegation.

    Moreover the tin foil hats are worn, and the conspiracy theories spouted, by the contrarians.

    A recent eye-opening sample from Gwyn Morgan, ex-CEO of Encana, Canada's largest oil and gas company.

    Here are my top five picks of the players who earned the Copenhagen affair such distinction:

    1. The award for Best Actor goes to the scientists at University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) whose leaked e-mails show a pattern of remarkably unscientific advocacy and outright deception. The CRU is ground zero for the whole man-made climate change theory and is the lone custodian of key global temperature data. The fact that CRU mathematical models failed to predict temperature data which shows no warming has occurred over the past decade has clearly rattled man-made global warming icon Phil Jones, who wrote: "The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world has cooled since 1998."

    These and some 800 other messages, available for all to read on the Internet, paint a picture of a conspiracy to cover up adverse data and discredit the work of those they label "global warming deniers." Yet inexplicably, the CRU scientists were able to convince the participants and media at Copenhagen that these were just innocent "out of context" exchanges.

    "Outright deception". "Conspiracy".

    Yes, that's part of an upcoming two-part series on Gwyn Morgan, so no need for readers to react to it here. If you must, keep it short.]

  48. “A whistleblower hoping for legal protection would not be likely to commit the felony of hacking into the Real Climate server – an act that would not be protected under any whistleblower protection law.”

    Was real climate hacked?

    It was my understanding that FOIA.zip was uploaded to the real climate server using a username and password created by legitimate real climate members.

    Has real climate said something to the contrary?

    [DC: Yes they have. Here's McIntyre's absurd speculation (that you appear to have bought as your "understanding"):

    One theory was that one of the CRU emails contained a login and password so that a CRU author could directly author posts and upload data to realclimate. There are at least 5 other emails containing passwords to one place or another. So the holder of the zipfile may have also had a RC password. To my knowledge, Schmidt has not commented on whether he had sent a password by email to CRU; it would be worth asking him.

    Now here's what really happened:

    At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server. They then created a draft post that would have been posted announcing the data to the world that was identical in content of the comment posted on The Air Vent later that day. They were intercepted before this could be posted on the blog. This archive appears to be identical to the one posted on the Russian server except for the name change. Curiously, and unnoticed by anyone else so far, the first comment posted on this subject was not at the Air Vent, but actually at ClimateAudit (comment 49 on a thread related to stripbark trees, dated Nov 17 5.24am (Central Time I think)). The username of the commenter was linked to the FOIA.zip file at realclimate.org. Four downloads occurred from that link while the file was still there (it no longer is).

    The use of a turkish computer would seem to imply that this upload and hack was not solely a whistleblower act, but one that involved more sophisticated knowledge. If SM or JeffID want to share the IPs associated with the comments on their sites, I’ll be happy to post the IP address that was used to compromise RC.

    The only question to be asked is whether McIntyre or JeffID have posted the IP addresses in question. Anybody know?]

  49. In the real world, manually filtering through emails and other text documents is a billion dollar industry (in which my brother was recently employed). Although software is used to accelerate the process, the bulk of the work is conducted by rooms full of employees (often attorneys) who have the mindless task of looking through email after email for anything that might be relevant.

    [DC: This is supposed to support your absurd FOI theory? There is no evidence that there was in fact a very careful filtering that would be required for a proper FOI request. For example, some CRU emails are missing but are present in a later chains. That's on top of the fact that it would be nonsensical to perform a careful FOI filtering before deciding on the merits of the request in the first place.

    On the other hand, quick-and-dirty initial filtering for keywords could easily have been used in this case.]

    “Oh, and the email files all have identical creation date-times, again showing that a piecemeal collection of emails was not made and that they were assembled as part of a process intended to obscure the process.”

    Are you seriously unable to think of an alternative explanation? My computer is full of zip archives, the contents of which have identical creation times. Am I trying to obscure something from myself?

    I think we can safely conclude that you are not an IT professional.

    [DC: In addition to being identical, the timestamps are also in the wrong time zone.

    I've had more than my fill of your repetition of McIntyre's speculation and falsehoods. I've been very patient with you, but enough is enough.]

    • What an arrogant ignoramus you are. I’ve worked in IT since the 70s.

      In the real world, people use simple search tools to search thousands of files for key phrases. Only a moron would spend hundreds of person-hours reading every file by eye.

      When you zip a collection of files, the original file details are retained unless you do something extra. In any case, the date is 1 Jan 2009 whereas the last file is from 12 Nov. That could not happen with a normal, simple zip.

    • I should have been clearer. It might well be that reading emails is a billion dollar industry when the legal profession gets involved, but this is not what happened with the CRU hack. This was a quick and dirty job.

  50. It was my understanding that FOIA.zip was uploaded to the real climate server using a username and password created by legitimate real climate members.

    Has real climate said something to the contrary?

    Legally it doesn’t matter if someone obtained a username/password from stolen e-mails, performed a dictionary crack, or managed to rootkit the server.

    Unauthorized use is unauthorized use, and in the US, at least, is a crime.

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