NYT article on climategate: Ends with Mann innuendo

Posted: January 2, 2012 by tallbloke in flames, Incompetence, Legal, media, Philosophy, Politics

Leslie Kaufman’s previously expected article on the hunt for ‘FOIA’ has been published. As usual with such pieces, it avoids any discussion of the contents of the new emails released by ‘FOIA’ by saying that the scientists at the centre of the climategate controversy have been cleared by the investigations and inquiries which have taken place. This anachronistic, yet still standard boilerplate in my opinion marks the journalists who dish it up as being either incredibly lazy or incredibly biased or incredibly tightly constrained by editors who are fearful of backlash from politicians or even litigiously minded professors. We hear and see the same thing in Nikki Fox’s piece for the BBC and daily from the pro AGW bloggers.

It is a fig leaf which will shrivel and disintegrate under the light of truth.

Michael Mann gets quoted at the end of the piece, saying:

It seems to me the authorities wouldn’t have acted without some actionable intelligence…They must know something that we don’t yet know.

Besides the injury done to natural language by this comment, and its febrile overstatement of the bleedingly obvious, this appears to me to be fanning the embers of the libel by Greg Laden which Mann retweeted. I’ll add it to the dossier for discussion with my own legal eagles.

The two biggest hitting quotes in the piece are from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and DeSmogBlog:

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

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

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

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

Yet Brenden DeMelle, executive director of DeSmogBlog, a Web site devoted to debunking what it describes as misinformation campaigns by deniers of climate change, suggests that the encrypted file is merely a desperate attempt to distract people from the fact that the scientists were vindicated.

“It is sort of bait,” he said. “It raises questions on what else is out there. In the end, uncertainty is their product.”

No Brendan, uncertainty is the true state of affairs in climate science, as the scientists themselves admit in the emails put into the public domain by ‘FOIA’ – in stark contrast to the certainty regarding human influence on climate change touted by the same scientists via the IPCC and by their press releases, which are frequently uncritically republished by environmental journalists.

That is the really big story about climategate which the media chooses to avert its eyes from and block its ears to and say nothing about.

  1. Brian H says:

    Well said!

    Except, it’s “its ears”, unless you really mean it’s “it is ears”, as shortening “is” is the only thing “it’s” ‘s good for; that’s its raison d’être.


  2. tallbloke says:

    Damn, Brian gets a grammar point back. After I’d successfully managed to get within half a dozen words of the end of the post and keep errant apostrophes out of the first its too 😦

    Corrected, thanks for the proofing. 🙂

  3. tallbloke supporter says:

    Yes TB – you have put your finger on it. Uncertainty is the story and they just look the other way.

    One has to wonder what is the point of these “news” articles? Who are they writing for, who is reading them and being informed by them? My feeling is there is a small band on the internet who follow the blogs and have already got most of the info. they need or want in far greater depth than they do from stories such as this in the NYT. Without the predisposition to look for it, who will actually read and note LK’s commentary?

  4. tchannon says:

    Gets mentioned by Montfort here

  5. tallbloke says:

    Quote of the week for me is from Roger Harrabin of the BBC:

    Now I’ve looked very deeply into Climategate and I can’t find any smoking gun at all. But I’ve also followed the enquiries into Climategate, and in my view they were all inadequate. So if you were looking on from the outside, from a suspicious viewpoint, you would be continuing to say, ‘There is a scam. They are cheating us. The enquiries haven’t looked into the issue properly’ — because they haven’t.

    My bold. H/T bishop Hill

  6. kramer says:

    I can’t find the comment button in that NYTimes article. If they turned comments off, that was a smart move by them…

  7. Michael Hart says:

    Conjecture about FOIA and unreleased emails may be fun but is distracting and, ultimately, not very helpful. I’ll leave the wishful speculation to Mike Mann. Indeed, he seems to have made a career out of it.

  8. Stuck-Record says:

    Mr Harrabin’s admission is, like all of his duplicitous utterings, not to be taken seriously.

    Don’t recall him making that point at the time.

  9. Jeff Westcott says:

    My take is that the timing and content of Kaufman’s article primarily reflect tight editorial control, but also a subtle, yet discernible move away from the NYT’s here-to-fore hard core warmist position. First, the article was published on a day no one reads the paper. Second, the title included the word “leaker”, not “hacker”. Third, you, Steve, and JeffId were each quoted in the same article, and that in at least a neutral light. By comparison, Mann’s and Greenpeace’s quotes looked foolish to any informed reader. I think JeffId may have had more of an impact on her than he realized.

  10. tallbloke says:

    Jeff W, welcome. Yes I think you’re right. It’s slow progress though, and I can’t help but give them a friendly shove in the backside with my toe to hasten their return to the light of truth, and remind them not to stray further from it again. 😉

  11. Bishop Hill says:

    Stuck Record

    Check Harrabin’s reports on the Russell panel and his interview with Phil Willis. Harrabin’s reporting has been bad on many fronts but he was OK on the inquiries. Whether this change of tune was as a result of reading the emails or the fact that I had uncovered his activities on CMEP is anyone’s guess.

  12. Tallbloke
    I’ve wanted to ask this for a while. You surmised that the British Police came to you home to get hold of a virginal copy of the FOIA second upload. We know that Gavin Schmidt/RealClimate was the recipient of a copy of the first set.

    Did any cops visit Schmidt to recover the Realclimate servers? The Realclimate servers even unlike your computer which was just a receptacle for a download, was the actual target of a hack and therefore presumably much more valuable.

    Why did Schmidt or Mann provide the cops with actionable intelligence in that instance?

  13. tallbloke says:

    Shubb, if there should be a ‘not’ somehwere in that last sentence let me know.

    I can only imagine the Norfolk police didn’t want to get into the international computer collection and redelivery business. 😉

  14. manicbeancounter says:

    It is worth repeating that alarmist bit of climate change is a prediction of 3 plus degrees of warming with catastrophic consequences. It is this that mitigation policy is justified.

    The criticism is not just it is all hoax (though a minority may say that). Many would skeptics would claim that
    1. There is no substantiated evidence to suggest there will be extreme warming.
    2. Even if there was extreme warming, the projected consequences like hurricanes and melting glaciers extremely alarmist.
    3. Even if this was the case, there is no practical policy that could constrain the warming AND incur less cost than just adapting the the rising sea levels, increased droughts, increased flooding etc.

    In other words, it is not an either/or question. Climategates 1 & 2 confirm the doubts and exaggerations. On this basis those who take a polarized view are wrong. The theory involves multiple questions of magnitude and likelihood. The policy questions of economic magnitude, practical politics and public policy implementation in a world of shifting priorities and political spin. So precarious is the whole structure that, like in the 20th century totalitarian regimes, any deviation from the agreed line is treated with extreme rebuttals, so that the majority keep believing.

  15. CanSpeccy says:

    “actionable intelligence” That’s scarey. Isn’t it what the US military consider justification for taking out Afghan wedding parties with drone-launched Hell Fire missiles? It suggests a worrying state of mind.

    One thing that stands out in the emails, as you mention, is that the correspondents are, for the most part, undogmatic about the evidence and its interpretation. There is talk about missing heat, for example, and about unconvincing published claims, etc.

    This it seems to me, is very much to credit of those concerned. Whatever the public facade, privately they are still thinking as scientists, not ideologues.

    Should skeptics not be more effusive in their praise of the climate science community for this evidence of integrity in the hope of eliciting more of it, even perhaps a little in public?

  16. J Martin says:

    manicbeancounter said;

    “It is worth repeating that alarmist bit of climate change is a prediction of 3 plus degrees of warming with catastrophic consequences”

    Ironically they probably got that right, it’s just that they had the graph upside down (as usual, Tiljander, Yamal etc.). Where they have got it wrong is the timing, so -3C in 15 to 20 years time perhaps.

  17. conversefive says:

    Maybe FOIA, knowing what is in the encrypted emails, is blackmailing some person or persons in high-level positions ????

  18. Sorry about that. There is indeed a ‘not’ in the question.

    Why did Schmidt or Mann not provide the cops with actionable intelligence in that instance?

  19. Zeke says:

    ‘Still, Mr. Condon said he did not believe that “FOIA” is a serious person. At times, he said, he has assumed that the leaker is a mischievous student.

    “No adult with sensitive information would release it that way,” he said. “It’s pranklike behavior.”’

    This is a dumbfounding conclusion to weave into her narrative. The blogger from the NYT pretends not to understand that the developed world should have to pay trillions in “climate debt” and that “no adult” would be concerned about the methodology and disposition of the protagonists making the scientific claims behind such a policy.

    Do adults care about trillions of dollars from western nations going to the UN? Do adults think about where 2% of their nation’s GDP might be going? Do adults have any concern about the rising threat of a scientistic elite misdirecting the nation’s energy production based on flimsy claims?

    She is entitled to her blogging content, of course, but she really should not take Mr. Condon’s word for what adults would do. And perhaps sometime in the future, when she is ready, she may talk to a few herself.

  20. tchannon says:

    See mention etc. on WUWT

  21. tallbloke says:

    Conservefive: we can only speculate. Hence my comment that Mann saying the police know more than we do is stating the bleeding obvious. No shit Sherlock!

    Zeke: I recall JeffID has wavered this way and that on his speculations. Leslie Kaufman has chosen to present one of them.

  22. Aussie says:

    Roger, someone the other day posted a link to what is called Unileaks. They claimed that they were going to release Climategate emails (a little bit after the fact) and they provided a torrent link for what seems to be just climategate1 and 2. On that site there was a long code.

    Unileaks is a new organization with aims similar to Wikileaks but centred on the universities. To date they do not have much that is a smoking gun on any academics. With regard to the Climategate emails they are claiming that the leaker sent them a link prior to the second release and that they were still factchecking when the release took place. It is not easy to verify if they are telling the truth.

    Considering the nature of Unileaks, I am going to speculate that the release is a leak and probably from someone very high level who just had enough of the alarmism.

    [Reply] Aussie, can you copy the ‘long code’ here? Wouldn’t it be fun if it was the key to the encrypted directory… 🙂

  23. Fred Harwood says:

    HASH: 09C4BA5AFD9E2A7724937DB92BF6B6A3D0C32558

    [Reply]I think that’s just the has code with which you can verify the torrent download they are offering here http://www.unileaks.org/node/ClimateGate.htm So this won’t be the code for the encrypted directory. Or it’d be a very strange coincidence if it was. 🙂

  24. Fred Harwood says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, TB. I saw Aussie’s note, your [Reply], and did what you suggested:

    “…copy the ‘long code’ here?” from the Unileaks site and respective page. I have not looked further, or done more, and have not downloaded the files linked on that clearly public page.

  25. tallbloke says:

    No sweat Fred, stand easy and see my update to the note I put under your previous comment.
    Excitement over, for now. 😉

  26. George says:

    “uncertainty is the true state of affairs in climate science”

    I can’t count the times I have read the words “considerable uncertainty” or “significant uncertainty” in various documentation surrounding climate change.

    “While many of these are comprehensive with regard to detail, considerable uncertainty still exists in …” (from AR4)

    “Considerable uncertainty will remain about projected climate change at geographical and temporal …” (from AR4)

    “There is still considerable uncertainty concerning the change …”

    “There is considerable uncertainty about the volume of carbon stored in …”

    “there was considerable uncertainty about the emissions profiles represented …”

    “There is considerable uncertainty in projections of future CO2 …”

    “considerable uncertainty in future rainfall changes …”

    “considerable uncertainty in the magnitude of internal climate variability. …”

    “These sensitivity estimates have considerable uncertainty, as CCSP 3.3 …”

    “The IPCC AR4 (2) concludes that thermal expansion can explain ≈25% of … and 50% for 1993–2003, but with considerable uncertainty. …”

    “There is considerable uncertainty about the rate of future ice sheet melt and its contribution to sea level rise …”

    So on one hand we have people saying that it is all settled and everyone is positive that this is coming to pass and point to all these documents but when you actually look at the documents themselves, they all have this giant caveat of “we don’t really know if this will come to pass or not, we have ‘considerable uncertainty'”.

    The problem seems to be that these policy makers and journalists never actually read beyond the executive summary of these documents where any mention of uncertainty is carefully scrubbed and buried deep in the document.

    I would suggest this journalist talk to Dr. Judith Curry on the subject of uncertainty as she has seemed of late to have taken up this particular issue as something of a crusade. Many postings on the subject at her blog.

  27. Matthew W says:

    “It seems to me the authorities wouldn’t have acted without some actionable intelligence…They must know something that we don’t yet know.”

    Should we presume that Mann is not ignorant of the Greg Laden retraction??
    Why then would he make that comment??

  28. Aussie says:

    Roger thanks for clarifying what that “code” means. I actually think that they have posted after the fact and do not seem to be aware that there are resources available where we can search both lots of emails.

  29. tallbloke says:

    Aussie, no probs. You are probably right. Maybe they had the sense to wait until the heat was off. 😉

    I see Steve McIntyre has started an analysis of one of the threads of mails he has put together from the Climategate collection. Essential reading for everyone who needs to get up to speed with the content of the mails, as opposed to wasting time chasing Chimaeras around the net.


  30. hro001 says:


    We know that Gavin Schmidt/RealClimate was the recipient of a copy of the first set.

    Did any cops visit Schmidt to recover the Realclimate servers? The Realclimate servers even unlike your computer which was just a receptacle for a download, was the actual target of a hack and therefore presumably much more valuable.

    Well, I’m not so sure that we do know this! Gavin has changed his story many times; so at this point, I’m not sure which (if any) we should believe! See:

    Of Climategate, constabularies and Copenhage: Gavin Schmidt’s ever-changing story

    And as I also noted a month ago, when asked by Revkin (circa July 6/2010):

    “whether a criminal investigation was ever conducted into the Real Climate hack. [Schmidt replied]:

    It would have been up to us to report it, and I didn’t think it was worth it – If you recall, we were kind of busy. ;)”

    Frankly, this just doesn’t wash! If I might be permitted to quote my own post:

    Setting aside the fact that this alleged hack for the purpose of uploading a file “into the enemy camp” prior to intended distribution elsewhere is devoid of credibility … Since this alleged RC “hack” occurred in the very early hours of Nov. 17, 2009 almost three days before any emails were actually released into the wild, couldn’t Schmidt have saved himself (and CRU) an awful lot of trouble by simply giving his good friend Andy a call and saying “Hey, Andy … have I got a scoop for you! Wait till I show you what those idiot contrarians have done … and I’ve got the logs to prove it. Here, let me show you.” Yet he didn’t do this – and the best he could drum-up (beginning on Nov. 20/2009) was an ever-changing story.

    [ italics fixed on author request — Tim]

  31. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    Following the discovery in 1997 that CO2 lagged T, the direct link between T and CO2 was broken, the team had to establish another TSI amplification mechanism to account for the end of ice ages and calibrate CO2 climate sensitivity to post-industrial warming.

    The latter was the incentive for the creation of fake hockey-sticks. They were encouraged by rapid ocean heating little realising that this had nothing to do with CO2.

  32. tchannon says:

    I spent some time looking at the ice core data.

    Both Vostok and EPICA show T leads CO2.

    Looks like there is a plot on my own WP site.

  33. tallbloke says:

    Yup, temperature leads co2 at all timescales. Funny how many people haven’t been made aware of that considering how long it’s been known.

  34. Tenuc says:

    Thanks for showing your WIP graph Tim, which helps clarify cause and effect. Would it be possible please to do an analysis from the data of periods when CO2 lags temperature and by how many years and vice versa?

    I’m trying to get a feel for the scale of the issue.

    BTW. I hope you survived today’s storms OK, we were luck, but our neighbours had a couple of trees down.

  35. tchannon says:

    It would be a lot of work Tenuc, is not current.

    Sniff, Why should I, you’d only try and find something wrong with it. Moan, disk search. No idea how valid this is, about the same date and was already exported

    Now guessing this is based on a resampled dataset, the ice cores are irregularly sampled which makes life difficult and the tools available for irregular are not very good, so I resample and use ordinary stuff. I thought opinion put the lag at 400y, oh well maybe that was different data or more likely I am wrong. Err.. why is this on a tread about something else? Okay, standard humans.

    Absolute timescales on ice cores are very dodgy hence relative to the same data is about all that can be done.

  36. Tenuc says:

    Thanks Tim, perfect… you’re a treasure… 😎

  37. “was the actual target of a hack and therefore presumably much more valuable.”

    Well, I’m not so sure that we do know this!

    As per the sympathy-mongering version of their own story, we do! 🙂 🙂 For all I know Tallbloke’s computers were hacked into and the second set was uploaded. He happened to be a sceptic and off we went.

  38. tallbloke says:

    Speculations on a postcard to the usual address. 🙂

  39. […] list, since he repeated Greg Laden’s libel against me and added some further innuendo in the NYT article by Leslie Kaufman written following the raid on tallbloke […]

  40. […] noes, what will Leslie Kaufman blather on about […]