Climategate – Journalist withdraws and apologises

George Monbiot

George Monbiot: Image via Wikipedia

Hot Topic has an informative article covering the the Independent Climate Change Email Review chaired by Sir Muir Russell (see Climategate’s final fizzle). The report can be downloaded here (FINAL REPORT). It’s 160 pages and appears very thorough. But it will take a little time to read.

Listen to the press conference where the report was launched this morning (download mp3 file Audio recording of the press conference (mp3 format approx 14MB). I think this gives a good idea of the flavour of the report and the effort that went into it. There is also of Transcript of Sir Muir Rrussell’s opening remarks.

Hopefully this report will do a lot to help reverse some of the misleading press and internet coverage of this unseemly climategate affair.

One journalist who has already admitted to have been mistaken is George Monbiot. Back in November he called for professor Phil Jones resignation. Now he says  he was wrong to call, soon after this story broke, for Jones’s resignation? (See The ‘climategate’ inquiry at last vindicates Phil Jones – and so must I).

There were a few local bloggers who echoed Monbiot’s mistaken call – I wonder if they will now withdraw and apologise. At least Monbiot has the honesty to admit his mistake.

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34 responses to “Climategate – Journalist withdraws and apologises

  1. It’s a less than whole hearted note on Monbiot’s behalf – he makes the point that he still concludes Jones broke the law. Somewhat of a contradiction if you ask me.
    At least he is letting readers that follow his writing that he made a mistake previously and that he supports the findings.

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  2. ” Most seriously, it finds “evidence that emails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them [under Freedom of information law]“. Yet, extraordinarily, it emerged during questioning that Russell and his team never asked Jones or his colleagues whether they had actually done this.

    From Fred Pierce, h/t Climate Audit

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  3. Fred – we all delete emails from time to time. The inquiry found no evidence of deletion of any emails requested under FOI. That would have been a crime.

    Now, Fred. For a more balanced view what about reading the actual report. Or listen to the press conference – that covered the specific subject.

    Stop scoring own goals by relying on discredited sources.

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  4. Is Climate Audit a discredited source?

    Do you ever read it?

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  5. Yes and Yes.

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  6. http://climateaudit.org/2010/07/07/you-cant-be-serious/

    If you can’t read this and suggest that there is something odd going on, then I really think I have problems communicating any further with the inmates in this particular asylum

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  7. It is as I described. No problem for me.

    Interesting though that the last Mann inquiry actually requested copies of the emails Jones asked him to delete. He presented them – because he had not deleted them.

    Difference between words and deeds.

    And you haven’t listened to the press conference or read the report, have you?

    Yes you do have problems communicating. Your continual and sole use of discredited sources discredits your points.

    You keep scoring own goals.

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  8. Sensors indicate a lack of intelligent life on this planet.

    Beam me up, Scotty

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  9. Goodbye Fred. Please try to resist the temptation to return.

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  10. We all delete emails from time to time

    Ken, do you instruct your colleagues in advance of an FOI to delete emails?

    If so, you are a criminal.

    Don’t worry, I won’t be back.

    You are clearly a very deluded person. I feel frightened that nutters like you are allowed out.

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  11. lol… what an interesting, and pointless, interaction.
    I feel sorry for you, Ken, for actually trying to respond to only get a tacky Star Trek reply.
    “Deniers just keep on denying…”
    I’ve become convinced that the majority of these guys will never be able to think differently as new evidence comes to light. To return to your post, at least Monbiot isn’t too bogged down in mis-information..

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  12. Nobody cares what you think, Fred.

    You are a loser who rejects science and does breathtakingly stupid stuff like trying to link NASA to suicide bombers.
    You are an ignorant dolt who wouldn’t understand the value of a scientific education if it came up and slapped you on the back of the head.

    Do something productive with your life for a change.
    Go fight a cheese grater with your tongue.

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  13. Actually mothincarnate I think it is a fascinating issue. I fully realise that as a species we are intelligent but not rational. More rationalising. I think we have evolved to recognise patterns and it is natural to select evidence to fit our biases.

    However, the climate deniers seem pretty extreme at this. Maybe even more so that the creationists. And very emotional.

    I find that intriguing and wonder at the reasons. Pigliucci in his last book discusses some of the possible reasons for anti-science prejudices. The we have conspiracy theorists.

    But there does definitely seem to be a style of thinking common to deniers of all brands.

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  14. I think my comments re. “warmists” earlier are completely vindicated by this thread.

    You are unable to answer my questions, you just move on and shout “denier”

    This is the best resource on the internet to show sensible people what a true bunch of nutters the warmist creed are. Thanks Ken

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  15. Climate denial is a relatively young religion of sorts – I guess they tend to be the most radical.
    MT at Only in it for the gold, just posted a story of why Superman’s world exploded and why so few people survived, using this climate change example. It’s very clever.
    Ken did answer your questions Fred – you just went on a Twilight Zone voyage after than.
    Regardless of this whole affair regarding the stolen emails, the evidence for climate change and our contribution to that change are overwhelming and really don’t even need the work done by these few (although, they have been cleared of wrong doing and their work certainly is fascinating and adds to our understanding of climate).
    I’ve called you a denier because you’re grasping at shadows rather than conceding not only to the scientific evidence, but the change that’s obvious to anybody that’s been around long enough to remember how summers and winters used to be.

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  16. I see what is going on here. Both sides are so entrenched in their views that they will ‘bend’ or ‘ignore’ evidence to suit their position.

    It would be embarrassing to admit that they had been hoodwinked. The Emperor’s New Clothes children’s story springs to mind.

    Would the last ‘warmist’ to admit they were completely fooled, please ask for forgiveness – your request will possibly be granted.

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  17. Oh dear, another denier with his nose out of joint because the whole climategate scandal has been exposed for the hoax it is.

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  18. David Johnston

    The hoax is the hoax? Oh, I see…

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  19. Another sniper whose nose is out if joint.

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  20. “Both sides are so entrenched in their views…”
    I get so tired of hearing this mindless tripe from coffee table experts. This is not a spectator sport. It’s not blue v. red or east v. west.
    Ross, let me guess; you’re not a scientist? I suspect that you really have nothing to add to the discussion (as there really is very little debate going on).
    I’ll put it simply, as I have elsewhere. We know temperature trends have been increasing; http://climate.nasa.gov/
    We know that this trend is causing many bio-physical effects; (the link above has some), plus a wide range of examples I covered in my Innovation series (all the reference papers are included there), plus poleward shifts of climate zones (see http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm )… (all these changes with only a trend increase of about 0.83 degrees C I might add)
    So things are changing – so what, it could be the sun? Benestad and Schmidt (2009) (for instance) shot that out of the water, “Claims that a substantial fraction of post 1980 trends can be attributed to solar variations are therefore without solid foundation, and solar-related trends over the last century are unlikely to have been bigger than 0.1 to 0.2C.”
    If this trend was due to an increasing greenhouse effect, if would be most noticeable with trapped heat increasing at night; see Alexander et al. (2006), Klein Tank et al. (2006) or Alexander and Arblaster (2009) for examples of this.
    But that doesn’t mean that the greenhouse gases are CO2 or methane due to human activity; see Harries et al. (2001), Evans (2006), Griggs and Harries (2007), or Chen et al. (2007) which, amount others look at the longwave radiation and show that there is an increase in absorption of wavelengths associated with these two known greenhouse gases.
    On the other hand Ross, I am an environmental scientist currently employed to build an maintain an eddy flux tower to explore CO2, H2O and radiation fluxes between the atmosphere and environments. I am contributing to our ever increasing understanding of our environment.
    Look at AMSU ( http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/ ) it shows that we’re experiencing a record breaking year. The various biological indicators I’ve referenced on my own space paint a picture of biodiversity degradation as a result of changing cues which is further exacerbated due to our changes to landscapes. I’m not on a “side”. My views are based on the scientific understanding up-to-date. I haven’t entrenched myself anywhere – I’m concerned by the evidence.
    People like you talk about climate science as though it was a sport because you’re obviously bored and caught wind of a “debate” that has been created by groups with an agenda. Flora and fauna don’t have an agenda (beyond survival) and they’re telling us that the increasing greenhouse effect is having a detrimental impact.

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  21. David Johnston

    The reason I enjoy climate change debates or discussions is that the complexity of the subject demands that the entire range of discourse takes place. Personal emotional claims and scientific facts, and everything in between. The science is wonderfully intense, but the anthropomorphic aspects of climate change introduce the Achilles heel into the fray. Does science know how to place human activity into an equation that is not a quantum variable Heisenberg mirror? If scientists are human beings dependent on funding from sources corrupted by corporate greed, will science bite the hand that feeds it? Or if some government source of funds is the base of a scientific study, politics is the most corrosive acid known to exist. Ergo, futile waste of science that dissolves in the beaker of political pollution. Good luck to all of us.

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  22. You have to options; take a scientific stance, do the yards at uni and debate based on the research or trust the science. You can’t accept all the technological and medical wonders of the modern world and point out that scientists are just human and flawed, ergo take what they say with a grain of salt, when they tell you something you don’t like to hear.
    As i pointed out previously, flora and fauna don’t lie and the biological indicators are telling us of a changing world. Other species aren’t worried about biting any hand.
    Outside of this, it defeats the point of scientific investigation to cheat, lie and distort. Besides, most “peers” are competing and (like all humans) enjoy out-doing others. There is no one source of cash and climate scare is not a valid “cash cow”. Peers will out their peers for prestige and personal gain. No, the science is good and people who try that argument are simply incapable of arguing over the logic and current understanding (ie. if you don’t know enough to fault the results, you know enough to place human flaws on the researchers). It’s a pathetic argument.

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  23. …the complexity of the subject demands that the entire range of discourse takes place. Personal emotional claims and scientific facts, and everything in between.

    Nonsense.
    Personal emotional claims don’t enter into it.
    Stick to the science.

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  24. Yes David. But if it is true that governments employ scientists to “discover” what governments want to hear they have really cocked it up, haven’t they?

    It would have been better to stick with theologians. They are the ones who start with conclusions and then adjust the facts to fit.

    Those bloody scientists, they are always getting sidetracked by reality!

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  25. @mothincarnate Just a quick question about the Benestad and Schmidt findings if I may. There seems to be a bit of debate regarding the validity of their claims. I’m not privy to the “politics” (if you will) of the various parties in the debate, but it seems to me there is some fairly strong opposition to their findings, most notably from Nicola Scafetta. Obviously her papers with West must have reached different conclusions to those of Benestad and Schmidt. I’m at work at the moment, so can’t spare the time right now to read a couple of papers, so am hoping you or someone else here might be able to quickly clarify the situation, because to be honest I’m a little confused, and I don’t fully understand the climate/solar science behind it all.

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  26. I’m not aware of Scafetta – I’ll look into it.
    Basically Benestad and Schmidt conclude that solar activity cannot be the the driver for warming beyond 1980. There’s was one a number of papers that have looked into solar activity. The point remains that with an increasing greenhouse effect, the result will be most noticeable with more heat being trapped at night – which there are numerous papers that demonstrate as much and others that show that wavelengths of radiation associated with methane and CO2 are increasingly being absorbed by the atmosphere.
    We know of a wide range of biological systems and physical systems are being altered by this warming trend. I don’t know why there’s such a fight against science (as Ross mentioned above – so many people are picking “sides”). Ocean acidification has already impacted on many reef systems. It is very likely we’re going to find oil prices placing stress on most industries within the next 15yrs – why not start the change?
    These anti-science folk (not you Lats) do not offer anything useful to scientific understanding nor do they assist effective improvements – they’re is industry fueled inaction…
    But hopefully I’ll get a read of that paper today. I will mention that not all scientists agree, nor do all papers (hence why David’s, “biting the hand that feeds you,” is flawed – it is not a system of fear or of a buddy system). There is a paper I came by -I think it was Lu (2010) in some cosmology journal – which writes off the whole greenhouse effect. Other scientists will argue over this and weight it up. If he’s right, there will be a radical change in how we understand or climate… but more likely, it’ll have some glitch in it. The bulk of the work that has passed through this process tell us that the AGW effect is real and worthy of concern. See Anderegga et al. (2010).

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  27. Thanks for the response and info. My contribution to the scientific world has been minimal, my work in microbiology was in industry/public health, and I was very much at the coal face rather than getting involved in research. I spent much of my time at the lab bench testing food/water/dairy products to ensure they were safe for consumption. It was a practical, if not terribly glamorous, application of my degree 🙂 As I said in an earlier post I have now moved on from science and am pursuing a career in IT, but I still retain an interest in things scientific. I’d now regard myself more as an interested observer; much to my own disappointment I was never able to find that one field about which I was sufficiently passionate to dedicate myself to as a researcher.
    I have few doubts that human activity is having a detectable influence on global climate. But the waters do seem to be muddied by “infighting” within the scientific community. I sincerely hope that good data and good science will win the day.

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  28. David Johnston

    Dear mothincarnate, thanks for being bombastic. You prove the case demanding calm discussion of climate change. Yes, the science is compelling for the case, but science doesn’t need to become a conceited arrogant argument. The insecurity of people who are unsure of science is an impediment to clear action. Copenhagen was a victory of politics over facts, but so what? If humanity is ruled by tricky short sighted deals, perhaps nature will cull a huge chunk of the population by climate change calamity. The power measured in hurricanes, volcanoes, and other natural forces leave humanities weapons looking weak. It’s enough to make one go all herbal hippy and look at silly Gaia ideas, but that’s ridiculous, of course.
    Best wishes and kind regards to all who have hope in science becoming more widely understood throughout the world.

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  29. Cheers for the heads up Lats; I’ve managed to have a read of Scafetta and West (2007) and Scafetta and Willson (2009) – they’re pretty interesting papers and certainly raise some interesting arguments. There is a point in the 2007 paper that I agree with – climate response in Mann 2003 does disregard the high specific heat value of water, thereby overlooking thermal inertia inherent in climate response and thus developing an instantaneous climate response that just couldn’t happen. As for the argument over satellite data in both papers, I don’t know enough about the history of this debate to comment.
    What I will say however is that obviously climate systems are very complex with a whole range of factors to be mindful of. The 2007 paper has some interesting discussions regarding paleo-climate and human populations. There are some other papers that also look into this and suggest that mega-fauna loss (largely due to human hunting) may have also had a significant impact on climate. What is clear is that (off the top of my head) albedo, cloud, free water, greenhouse gases, aerosols, solar activity and even landmass and photosynthetic distribution all play a role. Anthropogenic activity also impacts of many of these.
    Scafetta et al. state that solar activity is largely causing climate change and that our greenhouse gases are at best a minor contender. Many others state that current climate change is largely the result of our contribution to atmospheric greenhouse concentrations and that in this case, solar activity plays a smaller roll.
    The best way to argue this is to look at how the atmosphere is responding to this warming trend which will make it clearer which is the major player in current climate change:
    Increasing solar activity would exaggerate heating – most obviously at lower latitudes and when the sun is at its highest – while an increasing greenhouse effect would see a much more even increase in temperature across latitudes – which would be seen as by greater increases in temperature at the poles. The latter has been observed.
    Increasing solar activity would increase day temperatures more than night temperatures – when this increasing energy can be released into space – while an increasing greenhouse effect would see an overall warming trend where nights are less able to release heat and show greater trending of warm nights. The latter has been observed.
    The northern hemisphere has the bulk of the landmass, while the southern is mostly ocean. Increasing solar activity would tend to cause a greater difference in climates between the hemispheres while an increasing greenhouse effect would lead to storm intensity increases and frequency happening across the globe. The latter is being observed with strange (once a decade, or once a century) storms occurring more often.
    I doubt that we have firm grasp on climate understanding. Paleo-climate is certainly open for debate because it is largely inferred indirectly. What we are seeing however is quite obviously an increasing greenhouse effect. We also know that human activity not only releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, but that we also remove more and more photosynthetic material (ie. mostly forests) which do much of the work of recapturing the CO2 part of these emissions. It seems a no-brainer to me that we are having an impact on climate change. Some have said that if it wasn’t for the thermal properties of water, we may have witnessed much greater warming – a good thing that it takes a lot of energy to increase the temperature of the oceans! However, it is naive to assume that this is largely the result of solar activity – we are fairly certain that the greenhouse effect is increasing.
    Reading Scafetta’s paper, you also get a clear indication that David’s assumption of science and scientists is wrong; most of willing to challenge each other and bite whoever’s hand that they need to. It is not a clear picture yet that we have of climate change, yet it’s clear enough to label us irresponsible if we continue to ignore it.

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  30. Hi David,
    “science doesn’t need to become a conceited arrogant argument”
    Indeed it shouldn’t, but as you’ve seen in some of the comments here, and my initial major response, there are a lot of people out there that treat climate science as a spectator sport.
    I think when the media largely distort the science and scientists, when scientists are receiving hate mail and when there is a strong anti-science movement, scientists need to put their foot down and actually defend their work and de-mystify scientific reasoning and understanding.
    I find myself getting more and more irritated by this so called debate because it provokes inaction at the expense of biodiversity and future standards of living.
    I feel that it is the job of everybody who understands the science to provide it clearly and also to provide hope – there are answers; this is not another dooms-day warming.
    I hope to help, as you say, “science becoming more widely understood throughout the world”.

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  31. In hoping to have science better understood by the population at large, bear in mind that the statistics bread-and-butter of science is a complete mystery to most people. Many people don’t even understand why insurance companies increase premiums or reduce coverage in really obvious cases. Under age25 drivers of high powered cars are not discriminated against – they just have much higher risks of making claims that they expect the company to pay out on.

    The other barrier to understanding is the sheer size of the numbers involved. You just have to see the USA deniers focusing on USA wide matters – without really comprehending that their very large country covers barely 6% of the planet’s surface. And invisibility. CO2 isn’t smog. London was able to reduce its massive pollution problem in the ’50s because people could *see* and feel and breathe the problem.

    Science publicists need to find light-hearted humorous ways of making a point (as against heavy-handed sarcasm) as well as PR people who can make concepts accessible to people with neither the knowledge nor the interest to pursue “real” science.

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  32. Mike from Ottawa

    I wonder how folk like McIntyre and Monckton would fare if their antics were wrung through the same process Phil Jones and Michael Mann have faced. For that matter, how many of the prominent denialists could survive a similar review?

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  33. Mike – good point

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  34. It’s a pity there isn’t some way to make an inquiry into the work of the most active deniers. One could I suppose do it through a professional body with experts analysing claims. But that would probably be counterproductive. Looks- how Monckton has climbed out of his tree and threatened legal action with Abraham’s analysis.

    I would hope that some of the news media would take on board current criticism of their role and carry out some sort of in-house investigation of what they did right and wrong during the climategate hysteria.

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