Anti-Science Hackers Recycle Stolen Emails Prior to Durban Climate Talks

It turns out the fossil fuel industry is into recycling (who knew?).  The hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s climate centre have been re-released just prior to COP17, the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa next week. While ultimately all the climate scientists who were widely vilified on the internet at the time of the original email release  were vindicated in no less than nine different investigations, the “climategate” scandal managed to derail the Copenhagen climate talks quite nicely. The “climategate” emails worked so well in 2009 that the forces behind the initial hacking are trying again, because while one can no longer attack the science of climate change, apparently one can still try to attack climate scientists.  In this repost from “The Conversation“,  Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow, Cognitive Science Laboratories, University Of Western Australia, discusses the real climategate:

An ambulance pulls up behind you. You know it’s an ambulance because you can read AMBULANCE in your rear view mirror. But you can also read it when you look at the vehicle directly; because the human visual system has the ability to quickly correct complete inversions or left-right reversals of letters. In fact, a complete inversion is easier to read than letters that are rotated only partially.

This human ability to process complete inversions more quickly than just partial distortions, alas, lends itself to exploitation by ruthless propagandists who seek to create a chimerical world in which up is down, left is right, and good is smeared as evil.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the netherworld of attacks on climate scientists.

Remember “climategate”? The illegal hack of personal emails released just before the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 that some columnists pronounced to be the (approximately 132nd) “final nail in the coffin” of global warming?

Remember the “errors” in the IPCC’s 2007 report? “Amazongate”, “Himalayagate”, and so on?

What has happened to “climategate”?

What’s happened is this.

First, the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee exonerated the scientist at the centre of the tempest, Professor Phil Jones, finding he has “no case to answer” and that his reputation “remains intact.”

Then Lord Oxburgh (former chairman of Shell-UK) and his panel likewise exonerated the researchers, finding their “work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation” are “not valid.”

Another enquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, found the scientists’ “rigour and honesty” to be beyond doubt.

Two enquiries by his university also cleared Professor Michael Mann – who presented the first of now innumerable “hockey stick” graphs – of all allegations.

Ultimately the (conservative) UK Government concluded “the information contained in the illegally-disclosed emails does not provide any evidence to discredit … anthropogenic climate change.”

Not one, not two, but by now nine vindications.

This comes as no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the distinction between private chat and public actions.

And what has happened to the IPCC “Whatevergates”?

What’s happened is this.

First, the Sunday Times apologised and retracted its “Amazongate” story. There is no “Amazongate”; there is only the Amazon rainforest threatened by climate change.

Then the Dutch government accepted responsibility for erroneously informing the IPCC that 55% of the Netherlands are below sea level. In fact only 26% are at risk of flooding because they are below sea level, whereas the other 29% are, err, at risk of flooding from rivers.

And about a year after “climategate” broke, the BBC finally apologised to the University of East Anglia for its misleading coverage of the “climategate” pseudo-scandal.

All that’s left of the “Whatevergates”, therefore, is red-faced apologies and one indubitable IPCC error: the incorrect projection of the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers to 2035, as opposed to the more likely 2350. This error was drawn to the public’s attention by, wait for it, an IPCC author.

Can we now forget about “gate” in connection with “climate”?


Because there are too many real climategates that must not escape attention.

First, there was another batch of private emails posted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a “think” tank notorious even by American standards. Those emails — yes, a second hack — revealed the real climategate by being truthful, with one scientist stating: “Those who deny the biophysical facts of the world would deny … gravity” and “we’re not in a gentlepersons’ debate, we’re in a street fight against … merciless enemies. Colleagues … are getting threatened with prosecution by … [US Senator James M.] Inhofe.”

That is the second real climategate: the McCarthyite attempts by Senator Inhofe to criminalise climate scientists — attempts to criminalize those who, 35 years ago, predicted the temperature rise by century’s end to within 1/10th of a degree.

This is no isolated incident: Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, has launched several frivolous lawsuits — despite losing an earlier one — against the University of Virginia in what the Washington Post called a “war on the freedom of academic inquiry”“. And Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman evoked Pastor Niemoeller’s cry against the erosion of humanity under the Nazis: “First, they came for the climate scientists…”.

The real climategate involves active censorship within NASA by Bush appointees, which the agency’s Inspector General later found to have “reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science”.

The real climategate involves Bush White House staff replacing assessments of the National Academy of Sciences with a discredited paper by two individuals with no expertise in climatology. This paper, funded by the American Petroleum Institute, was so flawed its appearance in a peer-reviewed journal led to the resignation in protest by three editors and the publisher’s unprecedented acknowledgement of mishandling.

Those are not merely historical episodes because the real climategate encompasses the ongoing complicity of some media organs.

In Canada, the real media climategate involves the ongoing list of defamatory articles by the “National Post.” The tabloid is finally being sued by Professor Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria.

In Australia, the real media climategate involves the national daily newspaper, whose misrepresentations of science are legendary and, sadly ongoing.

Those real climategates are the tip of an iceberg of venality enveloping anti-science interests and their enablers.

And just a few hours ago, another illegal release of personal emails among scientists was dumped on to the world in the lead-up to the next climate conference in Durban. First Copenhagen, now Durban. When the science is so rock solid that it can no longer be reasonably doubted, all that is left is to steal private correspondence in a desperate attempt to disparage those who are trying to protect the world from the risks it is facing.

Joseph Welch famously brought down Joe McCarthy with a simple question: “Have you no sense of decency?”

This year has already witnessed multiple events that break climate records: the drought in East Africa, the worst drought in Texas’ recorded history, and record breaking storms and floods in the US south. Those events, anticipated by climatologists decades ago, should remind us that those who persecute and harass scientists, or mendaciously misrepresent their actions and findings, have no sense of decency.

That is the real climategate.

More Links:

There Is A Real Climategate Out There

Snippets of Stolen Emails Cannot Make Earth Flat

The Denial Tango: As The Waters Rise Around Me, I’ll Just Hold My Breath And Say It Isn’t So

I’m on vacation this week on the beautiful West Coast. On Saturday I attended TEDx Victoria, which had a line-up of interesting and thought-provoking speakers who spoke for 10 minutes about their special area of interest. Raffi Cavoukian inspired the crowd with his discussion of childhonouring: “being earth-friendly is the same thing as being child-friendly.” The last speaker, however, moved the crowd to tears with his stunning and disturbing pictures of the boreal forest and the destruction of the tar sands. Professional photographer Garth Lenz, whose Tar Nation exhibit is currently on display in Los Angeles, spoke passionately about the land and the people that the tar sands are destroying, and reminded us that we are all downstream, in this age of global climate change. He closed with the statement “there is nothing ethical about this”, and a call to action for everyone seated in that auditorium.

But more on the conference later. For today, as the Durban Conference on Climate Change approaches and there’s news that “Lord” Monckton and his traveling circus of oil-industry funded deniers are planning to attend, here’s a little ditty by an Australian group, Men With Day Jobs, The Denial Tango:



More links:

Tar Nation: Garth Lenz’s Photographic Exhibit

Centre For Child Honouring: Respecting Earth And Child

TEDx Victoria Men With Day Jobs

University of Calgary Prostitutes Itself To Big Oil & Gas

Canadian journalist Mike DeSousa first wrote three years ago about the anti-science group with the Orwellian name “Friends of Science” funding a PR blitz meant to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Friends of Science paid for their ad campaign out of a University of Calgary research account controlled by Professor Barry Cooper, but the university and the Calgary Foundation (who also received donations and transferred them to the research account) refused to release details at the time that DeSousa broke the original story. DeSousa appealed that censorship, and won.

DeSousa wrote last week in the Ottawa Citizen:

A pair of “research” accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channelling their money through the university.

All of the activities and $507,975 in spending were organized by the Friends of Science, an anti-Kyoto Protocol group founded by retired oil industry workers and academics who are skeptical about peer-reviewed research linking human activity to global warming observed in recent decades.

DeSousa has also revealed that an Alberta-based oil and gas company, Talisman Energy, helped to kick-start the elaborate public relations campaign with a donation of nearly $200,000.

The donation from Talisman Energy was the largest single contribution to a pair of trust accounts at the university that received $507,975 in donations to produce a video and engage in public relations, advertising and lobbying activities against the Kyoto Protocol and government measures to restrict fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Talisman is pleased to be a part of this exciting project and wish you success in the production of the video,” said the letter, dated Nov. 4, 2004, to university account administrator Chantal-Lee Watt, that accompanied a $175,000 cheque.

Something smells fishy around here, and it’s not just the leftover pickerel chowder in my fridge. Aren’t universities supposed to be bastions of learning and scientific inquiry? When did it become okay for a public university to accept private corporate funds to spread misinformation and lies? And then try to suppress the truth, only revealing it when forced to by access to information laws?

If you, like me, think something stinks about this, contact University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon by email at:

In the meantime, Friends of Science is at it again, bringing in journalist (and now climate expert??) Rex Murphy to the University of Calgary on September 29th. Murphy has been spouting his uninformed  views on climate change for a while now, and I’m sure the FoS is happy to have him spread more doubt on the science. Like the tobacco lobby, who for years delayed action on tobacco regulation by confusing the general public about the science linking tobacco and health effects, the Petroleum Lobby is busily repositioning global warming as theory rather than fact. Want to learn more? Head over to – they do a great job of separating climate fact from climate fiction.


More links:

University Funds Used in PR War, Files Show

Oil Money Funnelled To Climate Denier Group

Talisman Energy Kick-Started U of C Climate Skeptic Fund

Climate Skeptic Monckton Claims to Have Discovered Cure For HIV, Multiple Sclerosis

Introducing the new, amazing “MonckWOW”:

It turns out that the August and Exalted Lord Monckton ‘s scientific expertise (despite the fact that he has no scientific education) is not limited to being the world’s foremost climate expert — he is also a medical practitioner of the highest caliber.
He claims to have developed a cure for HIV, the flu, malaria, muscular sclerosis, and the common cold.

Check out the latest video from Climate Crock debunker Peter Sinclair. I found the most ironic part to be anti-science climate denier and journalist James Delingpole complaining about being “intellectually raped” by scientist and President of the Royal Society Sir Paul Nurse after Delingpole was unable to respond to Nurse’s “unfair question” on the scientific consensus on climate change.


Climate Scientist Heidi Cullen On The “C-Word”

Climate Quote of the Day:

But even though we don’t have all the answers — and maybe never will — we do know enough to act. And that is really the bigger point, the one I try to bring home when the phone rings. The recent National Research Council’s “America’s Climate Choices” report advised Congress that we know enough to get started on preparing for climate change and preventing the most severe consequences, and we need to get started right away. Almost anything we do to protect ourselves in the future from this hotter world we’re creating, will also protect us right now from many of the extremes Mother Nature throws at us. We can’t afford to wait.

Heidi Cullen, Climate Scientist in an article in today’s Huffington Post, The C-Word

Joplin, Missouri tornado damage

More links:

Climate Central

Dr. Fred Singer, Grand-Daddy of Deniers, Delivers Shoddy Lecture Based On Bad Science

Today’s guest blogger is Danny Richter. Danny is a Ph.D candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.  His research is centered on diatoms, a type of phytoplankton, and the role they play in the global cycling of elements important for marine life and the climate. In addition to his studies, Danny enjoys guiding occasional backpack, kayak, and canoe trips for the campus outdoor program.

As expected, Dr. Fred Singer’s recent talk at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA was very well-attended by climate scientists.Also as expected, he made a case that modern climate change is due to natural causes, and not man’s activities. He did not deny the climate is changing, and he even conceded that both anthropogenic and natural forces probably play a role, but he argued that natural causes are far more important.

Unexpectedly (at least by me), his presentation was unbelievably shoddy. While he deftly wielded lofty terms and discussed complicated situations with the fluency of one who has spent a lifetime in the realm of physics, close computation, and complexity, this was very obviously a front. The facade was toppled by the simplest of questions, such as what acronyms stand for, where the data were taken, and why he chose to omit other data. He could answer none of these questions.

Dr. Singer hates models. A lot. He makes no secret about this. Yet, for someone who so publicly hates models, you would expect him to present a lot of data. He did not. He rested his case on a paltry 7 data sets. Of these, he himself pointed out that 3 disagreed with his argument, and despite the fact that the data were published at a later date, he dismissed them for reasons that were quite opaque. Thus his entire argument for debunking anthropogenic climate change rested on 4 data sets.

Why only 4 data sets? Balloons are released from hundreds of sites around the world. Yet, when asked where these balloons were released from, he could not provide an answer. This is significant, because you would expect different results from weather balloons released, say, over land or over the ocean. Supposedly, these balloon data represented tropical data, as his argument focused on temperature anomalies in the tropics. Yet when asked specifically where they came from, he waffled about most data coming from North America and Europe. Both are decidedly un-tropical.

These 4 data sets represented a time slice from 1979 to 1997.  As he stated, weather balloon records go back to 1958. He even stated that the records agree well with satellite data over the period we’ve had satellites measuring these things (1979). Yet, when pressed, he gave no explanation for why, if the agreement is good, he did not include the weather balloon data from the beginning of the record.

Other gross errors included mis-labelled (and unlabeled) axes and comparisons of cherry-picked plots representing different time scales. First, if you’re going to try convince anybody of anything, you need to show that you’re competent. Undergraduates doing research get lampooned all the time for not labeling axes. Even for them that’s unforgivable. For an Emeritus Professor to do that is inconceivable. Second, if he’s not grossly negligent, then he’s outright lying. To say two plots are comparable when they’re not is lying, plain and simple.

In conclusion, while a high-schooler would have struggled to give a talk with the complex ideas he presented, if he had succeeded in giving this talk, that high-schooler would still have gotten a bad grade for the presentation. The fundamentals of scientific integrity were completely absent. He claimed to debunk the conclusions from the entirety of the 1,000+ page IPCC fourth assessment report with 4 measly data sets. On top of that, he didn’t even know where those data sets come from, nor could he explain cherry-picking the time-span they covered.

In a way, this was reassuring. As the grand-daddy of anthropogenic climate change deniers, if he puts together such a shoddy talk, it speaks volumes about all climate change deniers. On the other hand, that such a poor performer has been able, arguably single-handedly, to delay action on climate change in the United States for at least 3 decades is demoralizing. Where were the scientists then? Why didn’t they write pieces like this to call him out as the fraud he is earlier? Why am I, who wasn’t even born when he began denying the science (even though I have been alive for 9 years longer than the 1979-1997 period of data he based his conclusions on), still needing to call him out?

As a climate scientist, Dr. Fred Singer is a fraud. He built his admittedly good scientific reputation upon satellites and physics. He should have stuck with that. His climate change talk would not have passed muster for a professor, for a post-doc, for a graduate student, for an undergraduate, or even a high-school student. It is unfortunate that science has no equivalent to a lawyer’s bar exam, or a physician’s medical license. His would have been yanked long ago. Perhaps then, with the official stigma of a quack attached to his name, policy makers would have been quicker to recognize his unethical and just plain bad science for the snake oil it is.

Thanks to Lauren, Anais, Taylor, and Sandy for checking this to make sure I accurately recounted the details of the presentation.

More links:

Dr. Singer has ties to the U.S tobacco lobby. For example, the 1994 report “Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination” lists him on the report’s advisory board (click on the title to go to the report). The report condemns the EPA’s attempts to regulate exposure to second-hand smoke and rejects the science showing tobacco’s harmful effects (sound familiar?).

Also, the “Heartland Institute” (featured in the photo above) is one of Mr. Singer’s supporters in his fight against addressing climate change.  For more on this organization’s dubious record of promoting a junk science, pro-pollution agenda, and its alliance with the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry, go to

Bjorn Lomborg Joins Growing Group of High Profile Former Skeptics

I’m on a cross-Canada road trip these days, so don’t have much time to spend on my blog. Bjorn Lomborg’s u-turn on climate change is significant enough, though, to merit an on-the-fly posting:

From The Guardian last Monday, the headline:

Bjørn Lomborg: the dissenting climate change voice who changed his tune: With his new book, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg has become an unlikely advocate for huge investment in fighting global warming. But his answers are unlikely to satisfy all climate change campaigners.

The article goes on to describe how Lomborg, in his new book Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits, states that climate change must be addressed now (Lomborg has written in the past that climate change is a problem but not one that should be a top priority for governments). Now, Lomborg has changed his tune enough to say that “man-made global warming exists” and “we have long moved on from any mainstream disagreements about the science of climate change.” This last statement is particularly interesting because Lomborg has often been quoted by anti-science climate deniers in their arguments against the reality of climate change.

Climate Progress has an interesting and in-depth analysis of Lomborg’s shift in position, and Joe Romm isn’t convinced that Lomborg is anything but an opportunist who has only changed his position slightly. The substance of Lomborg’s argument remains the same, Romm argues, and quotes Howard Friel, author of The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight on Global Warming, who wrote recently on Common Dreams:

While spanning the globe for “smart solutions” to climate change and to improve the human condition, Lomborg ignores an obvious major source of human suffering, economic deprivation, human rights violations, and vast amounts of wasted money-that is, perpetual war and global military spending-which now totals approximately $1.5 trillion per year. While Lomborg argues on cost-benefit grounds, by citing a select group of climate economists, that it is too expensive for the world’s economies to reduce CO2 emissions, he voices no opposition to the state of perpetual global war and sky-high military expenditures.

Lomborg is not a responsible climate commentator, and it would be good if responsible news organizations finally figured that out.

It seems it is still good to be skeptical of the “Skeptical Environmentalist”, as Lomborg titled one of his books. Having said that, The Week published an interesting articled on the heels of Lomborg’s apparent change of heart entitled 6 Global Warming Skeptics who changed their minds. Here’s an excerpt:

With 2010 shaping up as the warmest year on record and unprecedented heat waves gripping the planet, global warming skeptics have suffered another blow with the defection of the “most high-profile” member of their camp, author Bjorn Lomborg. But Lomborg isn’t the first doubter to accept the scientific consensus that human carbon emissions are warming the planet and need to be curtailed.

The article goes on to list 5 other high-profile skeptics of anthropogenic global warming, including Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Click here to read the full article.

More links:

Green Groups Cautiously Welcome Bjorn Lomborg’s Call for $100bn Climate Fund

The Lomborg Deception: About Yesterday’s Front-Page Story in the Guardian

There’s No Debate Here – It’s Science vs Nonscience, And The Scientists Get The Vote

Those of you who follow this blog will know by now that I’m a big Bill Maher fan. This guy really “gets”  climate change. Here he is from June 6, 2010:

We have to pretend that there are always two truths and the side that doesn’t know anything has something to say. On this side, all the scientists in the world, and on the other side, Mr. Potato Head. There’s no debate here. It’s just scientists vs nonscientists…We shouldn’t decide everything by polling the masses…As in ‘Eat shit – twenty trillion flies can’t be wrong’…Mainstream media can you please stop pitting the ignorant vs the educated and framing it as a debate?…”


*Thanks to David Wilson for sharing this video link*

Nashville: Al Gore’s Mistress Revealed

When Al Gore and his wife Tipper recently chose to go public with the dissolution of their marriage, the blogosphere went wild as climate change deniers took gleeful delight in the news.  Showing extremely poor taste, these bloggers crowed about the failure of the 40 year marriage, and terms like “crazed sex poodle” surfaced (yes, really!). First, Mr. Gore was accused of having an affair with Larry David’s ex-wife Laurie, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, which she denied. Now a hotel masseuse has stepped into the limelight to accuse him of sexual assault (of which, apparently, there is no proof). Now, if these deniers were really interested in the science of climate change, and not merely sensationalism and smear tactics, there would be no personal attacks on the former Vice President, or anyone else for that matter. However, as anyone who is familiar with both climate science and the concerted effort by the fossil fuel industry to discredit the science and the scientists would know, personal attacks are one of the weapons in the deniers’ arsenal. For more on this, check out Peter Sinclair’s latest Climate Crock of the Week.

So, who is Gore’s “real” mistress? Gore is currently in Nashville training people to become champions for the climate, as part of The Climate Project. Given his dedication and commitment to the cause of climate justice and the environment, it is safe to say that he has not one, but two mistresses – Mother Earth and Lady Justice.


Al Gore’s website

The Climate

Climate Project Canada

Report: Gore Accuser Failed Lie Detector Test (link added July 17, 2010)

Climate Crock: Climate Skeptics Have As Much Leg to Stand On As Monty Python’s Black Knight

Peter Sinclair over at Climate Crock Of The Week has just released this video, which demonstrates how little fact or science the anti-science climate skeptics have to back them up. Yet just like the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, who refused to admit defeat even when dismembered, they keep on shouting that they really are legitimate opponents!