Climategate: A 2,000-page epic of science and skepticism --Part 1 & 2

Terence Corcoran

The scientists seem to have become captive of the IPCC’s objectives

Now that the Copenhagen political games are out of the way, marked as a failure by any realistic standard, it may be time to move on to the science games. To get the post-Copenhagen science review underway, the world has a fine document at hand: The Climategate Papers.

On Nov. 17, three weeks before the Copenhagen talks began, a massive cache of climate science emails landed on a Russian server, reportedly after having been laundered through Saudi Arabia. Where they came from, nobody yet knows. Described as having been hacked or leaked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, the emails have been the focus of thousands of media and blog reports. Since their release, all the attention has been dedicated to a few choice bits of what seem like incriminating evidence of trickery and scientific repression. Some call it fraud.

Email fragments instantly began flying through the blogosphere. Perhaps the most sensational came from a Nov. 16, 1999, email from Phil Jones, head of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), in which he referred to having “completed Mike’s Nature trick” to “hide the decline” in temperature.

These words, now famous around the world as the core of Climategate, are in fact the grossest possible oversimplification of what the emails contain. The Phil Jones email and other choice email fragments are really just microscopic particles taken from a massive collection of material that will, in time, come to be seen as the greatest and most dramatic science policy epic in history.

Whether the emails, containing more than 2,000 pages and links to thousands more, are smoking guns and direct evidence of scientific skulduggery is in many ways a secondary issue. The Climategate emails are an unprecedented and unparalleled record of attempts by scientists to crack the mysteries of the world’s climate. They are at the heart of a massive effort to understand the world’s climate history and create models and systems to predict climate hundreds of years into the future.

The emails are not a random grab of email records from one scientist’s computer or extracted in a coarse raid on the central computer facilities of one climate institute. Only by reading the emails in chronological order, from the first email sent March 7, 1996, by Russian scientist Stephan Shiyatov, from the Laboratory of Dendrochronology, Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, in Ekaterinburg, Russia — complaining to British scientist Keith Briffa about funding problems for his tree-ring research — does it become clear that the emails are part of a conscious and systematic assemblage of 13 years worth of vital communications among some of the world’s leading climate scientists.

The last emails were sent between Nov. 10 and 12 this year, five days before the whole cache was stolen. One of those last emails outlines an attempt to orchestrate a media blitz by scientists at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting. The strategy was aimed at shaping public opinion going into the Copenhagen talks that ended yesterday.

In between these two emails from 1996 and 2009 is a vast documentary record of more than a decade of drama, intrigue and history.

Throughout the Climategate emails, in addition to a few possible smoking guns, we get smoking tempers, scientific and political disagreements and arguments, larger-than-life personality clashes, intercontinental rivalries, global politics and personal drama, not to mention individual notes that seem to have been taken from an old John le Carré novel. The Russian role in the emails, and that of Mr. Shiyatov, becomes crucial later in the story. But in that first email, Mr. Shiyatov writes: “Of course, we are in need of additional money” to carry out their vital collection of remote Siberian tree-ring samples. “It is important for us if you can transfer the ADVANCE money on the personal accounts... Not more than 10,000 USD [in any one day]. Only in this case can we avoid big taxes and use the money for our work.”

The context for all this, much of it conducted over the Internet between sometimes warring camps in Britain and the United States, is the greatest scientific research story ever told, an attempt to accomplish two main objectives under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN agency set up in 1988 to orchestrate global reaction to the perceived threat of man-made global warming.

The 13-year email exchange, while often chaotic and disjointed, follows two main tracks that, in the end, must somehow converge. The first is to develop a convincing history of global temperature going back over thousands of years. The second is to develop models and scenarios that allow the scientists and the IPCC to forecast climate change to 2100 and beyond.
I have not read all the emails. But I have read hundreds of them, including every word of the first five years. Only by plodding through them in chronological order, I believe, is it possible to get a sense of them as a vast and genuine documentary record. One immediate observation is that the early years — from 1996 to maybe 2000 — seem have been organized and whittled down to eliminate the long trails of redundancy that pile up in email communication.

The emails in the later years remain cluttered and at times impossible to follow — as if whoever was collecting them ran out of time or had not finished the assembly work before they hit the Internet, whether by chance or by choice. It also seems possible that the emails were culled from more than one source, not just the CRU at the University of East Anglia.

By my reading, the emails contain many disquieting revelations about the state of climate science and the process. Other readers, investigators, scientists and activists on all sides of the climate issue will of course make up their own minds on this. But as the email story unfolds over the years, it is clear that the history of climate and temperature change over the past 10,000 years remains mostly speculative and largely unknown. The emails also imply that, in part because the past is so unknown, any attempt at long-range forecasts is, at best, uncertain.

Also clear is that the official science on climate change as we know it today, looking backward and forward, has been developed and controlled by the relatively small collection of scientists who wrote most of the emails. Working directly or indirectly for the IPCC, the scientists seem to have become captive of that organization’s objectives, which was to find “the hand of man” in climate records to justify plans to change the climate in future. The scientists, in other words, became engaged in the all-too-familiar business of decision-based evidence making.
Whatever the source of the emails, they are a dynamic record of how scientists sought to plot the past and predict the future of climate. In 1996, the first year of the emails, there is clear internal skepticism among these official IPCC-linked scientists over what would turn out to be one of the greatest sources of conflict, the role of paleoclimatology — the science of reconstructing world climate history over tens of thousands of years. More specifically, doubts existed especially over dendrochronology, the use of tree rings as a way to measure and document climate history. “I support the continued collection of such data, but I am disturbed by how some people in the paleo community try to oversell their products,” Tom Wigley, previous director of CRU and now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colo., wrote in August of 1996.

In Mr. Wigley’s view at the time, ice cores were unreliable and “correlate very poorly with temperature.” He said the link between ice core and temperature variation was “close to zero” and tree rings were less than 50% reliable. “The main external candidate is solar, and more work is required to improve the ‘paleo’ solar forcing record.” Another U.S. scientist, Gary Funkhauser of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, was also cool to the idea of tree rings as indicators of past temperatures. He wrote in September, 1996, that he tried “every trick out of my sleeve” to get meaningful climate records out of certain tree ring records collected by Russian scientist Stephan Shiyatov.

Over in Britain, however, scientists had other ideas. Tree rings could be the answer to the paleoclimate problem. Keith Briffa at CRU, among others, believed that tree-ring science could be the magic bullet that would prove what the IPCC wanted — evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” of a “discernible human influence on global climate.”

In October, 1996, Mr. Briffa told a journalist that there were signs that recent warming in Siberian Russia was setting records. “The trend seems to be accelerating. We are getting reports back from Stephan (Shiyatov), our man in the Urals, that it is warmer this spring on the Yamal peninsula there than ever before... It is a major warming, like nothing seen there for a thousand years.”

Soon, however, problems emerged over Russian data. What with sampling issues, missing data and other problems, by November of 1997 Mr. Briffa is struggling with results. While the Russian tree rings produce seemingly good results for past climate, results for the 20th century are a problem. On Nov. 3, he writes to Tom Wigley: “Equally important though is the leveling off of carbon uptake in the later 20th century.” The density of the tree rings also declines, a finding inconsistent with carbon-induced warming. “I have been agonizing for months that these results are not some statistical artifact of the analysis method, but I cannot see how.”

Another U.S. scientist, Gordon Jacoby, a tree-ring specialist at Columbia University, writes about another tree-ring scientist, Fritz Schweingruber, and his work in Russia. “He should not represent his data as definitive... His opinions are influential, but there is an accumulating body of ring-width data that clearly shows him to be missing important information with his style of sampling.” This kind of skepticism runs through the emails.

Meantime, as the email saga unfolds, scientists are occasionally distracted by political matters. Leading up to the 1997 Kyoto climate conference, a German scientist, Joseph Alcamo, presses Mike Hulme, then with CRU and now a professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, to drum up names for a list of scientists for an official statement on the dangers of climate change. “I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say ‘1,000 scientists signed’ or ‘1,500 signed.’ No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2,000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story.”

Mike Hulme, one of the more moderate scientists in the climate change field, appears to have declined to participate. Tom Wigley was even more adamant in arguing against a scientists’ statement. “Your approach to trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible,” Mr. Wigley wrote on Nov. 25, 1997.

At the time, as a top official at CRU, Mike Hulme was also a key player in moving the second track of the Climategate emails, the strange business of constructing economic, scientific and climate forecasting models for the next 100 years and beyond. The scientists appear to have been dragged into the economic prediction game by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, in turn assigned by the IPCC to construct economic outlooks for growth and carbon emissions. The exercise ultimately let to the production of one of the IPCC’s long-term climate gimmicks, a range of scenarios or story lines that produced different levels of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2100.

The scientists, who wrangle with this project for a couple of years, were lured into participating in what from the start was a loaded ideological exercise. In March 1998, Mike Hulme at CRU received a draft version of these 100-year forecast scenarios. Four scenarios were developed: A1, B1, A2, and B2. The exercise turns out to be a set-up for a campaign to undermine free markets, globalization and free trade.

In the 1998 draft, the A1 scenario is called the Golden Economic Age. It describes a period of “rapid and successful economic development,” brought on by the economic structures that have been successful in the past: free markets, global free trade, innovation. “Free trade enables each region to access knowledge, technology, and capital to best deploy its respective comparative economic and human advantages.” By 2100, it said, the developed world under free global trade, would have annual per capita income approaching $100,000 and the developing world $70,000.

The trouble with this Golden Economic Age, a name that was dropped in the final IPCC report on scenarios in 2001, is that it produced a lot of carbon emissions — thus making free trade, open markets and globalization a non-starter. The alternatives were variations on slower growth. Scenario B1, called Sustainable Development, involved “high levels of environmental and social consciousness” along with reductions in income and social inequality. Average per capita income would rise only to $40,000 by 2100. But the good news, from the IPCC perspective, is that carbon emissions were a lot lower.

The upshot of these scenarios, based on IPCC objectives of reducing carbon emission, is a deck stacked against free markets and globalization. In the emails, the scenarios make their way through a barrage of comment from scientists who, for the most part, balk at the process. In one small sample, Tom Wigley wrote to Mike Hulme telling him that “energy-economics models need to be revised” because they fail to take into account actual emissions between 1990 and 1999. In July, 1998, David Schimel, a climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote to Wigley: “I raised this issue at the scoping meeting ... where it was greeted with general agreement but it appeared to come as a complete surprise to many that scenarios should have a relationship to reality.”

Emails cataloguing the weaknesses in the scenarios project are numerous. Still, the project moved forward as part of the email exchanges off and on for a couple of years. While the scientists balked at simple numbers and sought qualification, the IPCC wanted precision.Geoff Jenkins, a former head of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction, where CRU is housed, wrote to Mike Hulme: “Getting away from single number answers is very laudable scientifically, but it presents policymakers (for whom the whole IPCC exercise is undertaken) with a problem.”
In the end, Mike Hulme appeared as one of the contributing authors for the IPCC’s 2001 Synthesis Report, including various 100-year scenarios. It concluded that carbon concentration in the atmosphere could rise to 1,250% above the pre-industrial year of 1750 under the free market A1 scenario, with temperatures rising as much as 5.8 degrees Celsius. Capitalism clearly ruins everything.

The 2001 Synthesis Report looked authoritative in its carbon and temperature outlooks. But one of the “lead authors” was Kevin Ternberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. Eight years later, Mr. Ternberth shows up in the emails. On Oct. 14, 2009, he wrote to Tom Wigley: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.” In other words, one of the lead authors of the 100-year climate forecasting exercise says there’s something wrong with the models — or the data.
If the emails show anything on the climate scenarios, it is that the 100-year science projections never really got settled. They were a product of climate and economic models that remained problematic all through the 13 -year email record. Equally uncertain were the attempts to reconstruct paleoclimate records going back 1,000 years.

Despite various technical problems gathering tree-ring data and fitting them to actual climate history, much hope surrounded the paleo effort. Keith Briffa, the British tree-ring expert overseeing the Russian Siberian work and other projects, wrote in early 1998 that Rashit Hantemirov, another Russian tree-ring researcher, “has done outstanding work putting together ... what will no doubt become a world famous sub fossil chronology in the Yamal area of northern Siberia.”

Yamal would indeed become famous, but for other reasons. What really rocked the paleoclimate work at CRU, and ultimately shook the IPCC, was a seemingly out-of-the-blue email on June 17, 1998, from Michael Mann to Phil Jones, then head of East Anglia’s CRU centre. Before then, no mention had been made in the email cache of Michael Mann, then adjunct assistant professor, department of geosciences, Morrill Science Center, University of Massachusetts. It is, in many ways, the email that rocked climate science.

Dear Phil,
Of course I’ll be happy to be on board. I think the opportunity for some direct collaboration between us (me, and you/tim/keith) is ripe, and the plan to compare and contrast different approaches and data and synthesize the different results is a good one. Though sidetracked by other projects recently, I remain committed to doing this with you guys, and to explore applications to synthetic datasets with manufactured biases/etc remains high priority. It sounds like it would all fit into the proposal you mention. There may be some overlap w/proposals we will eventually submit to NSF (renewal of our present funding), etc. by I don’t see a problem with that in the least.
Once the collaboration is officially in place, I think that sharing of codes, data, etc. should not be a problem. I would be happy to make mine available, though can’t promise its the most user friendly thing in the world.
In short, I like the idea. Include me in, and let me know what you eed from me (cv, etc.).

Exactly what those words mean is hard to know. It must be science talk. What is certain from the Climategate emails is that world climate science, and the Climategate emails, would never be the same thereafter. Mr. Mann quickly rose to be the dominant figure in the paleoclimate effort. He and associates, Ray Bradley at the University of Massachusetts and Malcolm Hughes, a meso-climatologist and Professor of Dendrochronology in the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, had just finished a paper titled “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcings over the past six centuries.” The core of that paper was a graphic that would come to be known as the graphic “hockey stick” presentation of the temperature over the past centuries.

With Mr. Mann on board, everybody else seemed to go overboard. In the emails, he soon elbowed out Keith Briffa as the prime tree-ring guru. The Mann hockey stick, and the science work behind it, would end up consuming thousands of email hours over the next decade and, as we shall see in Part II on Monday, now threatens to consume one of the scientific pillars of climate science.

Climategate Part 2 — A 2,000-page epic of science and skepticism

There's trouble over tree rings as the Climategate emails reveal a rift between scientists.

In the thousands of emails released last month in what is now known as Climategate, the greatest battles took place over scientists’ attempts to reconstruct a credible temperature record for the last couple of thousand years. Have they failed? What the Climategate emails provide is at least one incontrovertible answer: They certainly have not succeeded.

In a post-Copenhagen world, climate history is not merely a matter of getting the record straight, or a trivial part of the global warming science. In a Climategate email in April of this year, Steve Colman, professor of Geological Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told scores of climate scientists “most people seem to accept that past history is the only way to assess what the climate can actually do (e.g., how fast it can change). However, I think that the fact that reconstructed history provides the only calibration or test of models (beyond verification of modern simulations) is under-appreciated.”

If temperature history is the “only” way to test climate models, the tests we have on hand — mainly the shaky temperature history of the last 1,000 or 2,000 years — suggest current climate models are not getting a proper scientific workout.

Two scientists, one British and the other American, straddle the initial Climategate battle over recent global temperature history. Later, the same two scientists appear to abandon their internal disagreements and join forces to present a united front to fight off critics and put down skeptics.

In the United Kingdom, Keith Briffa, at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit — from where the emails appear to have been hacked or leaked — headed one of the main scientific projects. His specialty is dendroclimatology, the study of tree rings to reconstruct past climate records. In 1998, Mr. Briffa played a lead role as East Anglia’s CRU tried to fulfill its mandate from the IPCC, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: develop official global temperature data records.

In June 1998, a new player dramatically crashed the official CRU paleo world. As described on Saturday in the first part of this two-part series on Climategate, U.S. scientist Michael Mann was invited to become part of the official effort to create a history of global temperatures. Then adjunct assistant professor of geosciences at the Morrill Science Center, University of Massachusetts, Mr. Mann would soon come to dominate the IPCC paleoclimate effort.

Like all paleoclimatologists, Mr. Briffa and Mr. Mann both used various proxies. Actual temperature records exist only from the late 1800s, forcing scientists to use uncertain indirect methods — ice core samples, tree-ring measurements, rock formations — to determine what temperatures might have been 500, 1,000 and 5,000 years ago. Mr. Briffa focused much of his attention on Russia, where scientists scoured Siberia for tree ring data.

When Mr. Mann joined the UN global paleo project, he had already finished “Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcings over the past six centuries,” a paper written with Ray Bradley at the University of Massachusetts and Malcolm Hughes, a meso-climatologist and Professor of Dendrochronology in the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona. The core of that paper was a graphic that would come to be known as the “hockey stick” presentation of northern hemisphere temperatures over the past centuries. It was called the hockey stick because it appeared to show a flat temperature run and a sharp uptick in the last 50 years.

The main Mann-Briffa confrontation took place in the spring of 1999 after Mr. Briffa submitted a paper to Science magazine, critiquing elements of the hockey stick and presenting his own 2,000-year tree-ring-based paleo record.

Mr. Briffa sent Mr. Mann a copy of his Science article on April 12, advising Mr. Mann that he had “decided to mention uncertainties in tree-ring data while pushing the need for more work.” Earlier emails also show Mr. Briffa struggling with Russian tree-ring results and the reports of Russian scientists on their difficulties. Their findings often contradicted the idea that the world is warmer today than hundreds or even thousands of years ago. “Relatively high number of trees has been noted during 750-1450 AD. There is no evidence of moving polar timberline in the north during the last century,” wrote Rashit Hanntemirov from Russia in October 1998 — implying that warming has been common in the past and nothing unusual was happening today.

The reference to 750-1450 would appear to support the long-held scientific view on the existence of a Medieval Warm Period that might have been hotter than the 20th century. A couple of weeks later, another Russian, Eugene Vaganov, wrote in a paper saying that “the warming in the middle of the 20th century is not extraordinary. The warming at the border of the 1st and 2nd millennia was more long in time and similar in amplitude.”

Mr. Briffa, in his Science paper, proposed his own 2,000-year record as an alternative to Mr. Mann’s hockey stick, using other data, including collections from Sweden and Yamal, in Siberia. The paper raises issues that cast doubt on Mr. Mann’s version of climate history. Mr. Mann notoriously posits that the widely accepted existence of a Medieval Warm Period, and a subsequent Little Ice Age, are scientifically dubious phases that never happened. When Mr. Mann saw the pre-publication version of Mr. Briffa’s critical paper, he blew up. In an April 13 email, he wrote to Mr. Briffa complaining that his work is “very misleading” and that it is “a bit unfair” in the way Mr. Briffa presents Mr. Mann’s perspective.

Mr. Mann said another section in Mr. Briffa’s paper was “incorrect” and that it misrepresented the level of uncertainty in Mr. Mann’s work. “Our uncertainties are based both on 20th century calibration and independent confirmation from 19th century data. PLEASE MAKE SURE this is clear.” Mr. Mann asks Mr. Briffa to remove parts of his 2,000 year graph. Mr. Mann criticized Mr. Briffa for using tree-ring density data as opposed to the tree-ring width data that Mr. Mann had been using because he found density measures inadequate.

Finally, in an important concluding remark, Mr. Mann tells Mr. Briffa to “correct” his definitions regarding “global temperature and non-temperature proxies.” Mr. Mann prefers using the words “global climate proxies,” thus giving the impression that proxies from tree rings and other sources and actual temperatures are one and the same for IPCC purposes. What Mr. Mann appears to be talking about here is the use of what CRU head Phil Jones would later refer to as Mr. Mann’s “trick” and how he was able to “hide the decline” that Mr. Briffa’s tree-ring research showed 20th century temperatures to be cooler rather than warmer.

A series of email exchanges, some heated and involving a range of scientists, follows. It appears, moreover, that Mr. Mann had interfered with the peer-review process of Mr. Briffa’s article at Science magazine. One of Mr. Mann’s associates, Raymond Bradley at the University of Massachusetts, on April 19, wrote to Science editor Julia Uppenbrink, saying, “I would like to disassociate myself from Mike Mann’s view” regarding the climate warming article. Mr. Bradley sends a blind copy of this email to Mr. Briffa.

The conflict eventually makes it up to Phil Jones, the head of CRU, who writes a stinging letter to Mr. Mann on May 6. “You seem quite pissed off with us all in CRU,” said Mr. Jones. “I am somewhat at a loss to understand why.” Mr. Jones, in strong words, then rips into Mr. Mann. He accused Mr. Mann of “slanging us all off to Science.” We all have disagreements, wrote Mr. Jones, but “We have never resorted to slanging one another off to a journal ... or in reviewing papers or proposals.”

After a month of back and forth, Mr. Mann seems to offer an apology. In a mildly grovelling but self-serving and ultimately not-too-apologetic letter, he commends Mr. Briffa and others for doing such terrific work. “I appreciate having had the opportunity to respond to the original draft .... We have some honest disagreements among us .... Thanks for all the hard work and a job well done,” wrote Mr. Mann on May 14. Mr. Bradley, Mr. Mann’s associate in Massachusetts and co-creator of the hockey stick graph, sends a private response to Mr. Briffa: “Excuse me while I puke ... Ray.”

More clashes occur later that year over the tree-ring record. Mr. Briffa, in September 1999, is still battling Mr. Mann. “I know Mike thinks his series is ‘the best’, and he might be right — but he may also be too dismissive of other data and overconfident of his own.” He adds: “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data,’ but in reality the situation is not quite so clear ... I believe the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”

At this point in the Climategate emails, the stage has been set for a decade of high drama. Over the next 10 years, the emails become a zone of internal conflict and external battles to suppress criticism, ridicule critics and resist all outside interference with the official science story they had assembled: The late 20th century was the warmest in history, and the next 100 years could be a climate nightmare.

The Mann technique of aggressive intervention in the peer-review process over Mr. Briffa’s work sets the tone for what would become a major strategy as all the scientists within the IPCC loop waged war on any science and papers that contravened or questioned the official view.

The anti-skeptic campaign switched into overdrive with the arrival on the climate science scene of two Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. In mid-2003, after many efforts, Mr. McIntyre and Mr. McKitrick finally published a paper titled “Corrections to the Mann et al Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series.”

The public battles between Mr. Mann and the two Canadians are already on the record. The emails reinforce the worst of suspicions that the official scientific community did all they could to smear Mr. McIntyre and Mr. McKitrick, prevent publication of the work of skeptics, manipulate the peer-review process and isolate all skeptics as cranks. On May 31, 2004, Phil Jones, head of the IPCC-designated Climatic Research Unit, wrote to Mr. Mann: “Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised...”

Mr. Mann meddled in other ways. In January 2005, he called the editor of Geophysical Research Letters, the official science publication of the American Geophysical Union, to try to head off a paper by Mr. McIntyre. The editor, Steve Mackwell, defends the decision to publish and tells Mr. Mann that the McIntyre paper has been thoroughly peer reviewed by four scientists. “You would not in general be asked to look it over,” Mr. Mackwell told Mr. Mann. Later in 2005, Mr. Mann wrote to Mr. Jones on their troubles with the GRL journal after Mr. Mackwell’s term as editor was up: “The GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership.”

Mr. McIntyre, a mining exploration expert based in Toronto, and Mr. McKitrick, an economics professor at the University of Guelph, continued to dog Mr. Mann’s view of climate history. First they wanted release of the data behind the hockey stick graph and the computer code that produced various trend lines. When Mr. Mann and CRU declined or resisted, Mr. McIntyre began filing Freedom of Information requests in the United States and Britain. The emails portray embattled scientists fighting desperately to interfere with official FOI processes. One now widely-circulated email, by Mr. Jones, asked Mr. Mann: “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith [Briffa] will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment — minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.”

In this email, Mr. Jones is asking key scientists who worked on AR4 — the 4th Assessment Report on the science of climate change produced by the IPCC in 2007 — to erase all emails related to that report. Caspar Ammann is a scientist at the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric research. His area is natural climate variability and change over the past centuries and millennia and their application to climate change.

The emails take another turn against the IPCC scientists after Mr. McIntyre got his hands on some of the tree-ring data collected by Russian scientists in Yamal in Siberia. It appeared to Mr. McIntyre that Mr. Briffa, in producing another hockey-stick like result in 2007, cherry-picked tree rings. Mr. Briffa, once at war with Mr. Mann over climate records, now found himself aligned with Mr. Mann in defending the hockey stick. After Mr. McIntyre revealed his Yamal tree ring findings on his ClimateAudit blog, and Ross McKitrick wrote of the Briffa Yamal tree-ring issue in the Financial Post this past October, the emails again lit up with fresh rounds of defensive fire.

Within weeks, however, the private email battle would overtake the skirmish over the latest public McIntyre findings. On Nov. 17, with release of the Climategate emails, the 13-year battle over climate history and climate forecasting would be all over the Internet and the media.
The epic stories in the emails, in any honest reading, do not produce any concrete results or conclusions regarding the state of the science.

What exists now in the public domain is scientific conflict and uncertainty that goes to the heart of climate change science — past, present and future.

As recently as Nov. 28, a posting on the Mann-related website,, continues to claim the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age never happened. If that is a scientifically provable, then it might be true that the last 50 years have been the hottest in a thousand years, offering some support to the idea that man-made climate change is changing the climate in a significant and unprecedented way. But if the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age did occur, then the Earth may have been just as warm today as it was 1,000 years ago. If that’s the case, the hockey stick graph and the official paleoclimate record is at best uncertain or, at worst, a scientific trick.

It is, in my view, not possible for a layman, or even an expert, to make any assessment of the tree ring data conflicts — to pick one issue — based on the emails. Masses of computer code and data are imbedded in the Climategate documents, enough to keep a full science inquiry busy for months, if not years. Exactly who did what with which data requires a full investigation by competent scientists and official bodies.




Health topic page on womens health Womens health our team of physicians Womens health breast cancer lumps heart disease Womens health information covers breast Cancer heart pregnancy womens cosmetic concerns Sexual health and mature women related conditions Facts on womens health female anatomy Womens general health and wellness The female reproductive system female hormones Diseases more common in women The mature woman post menopause Womens health dedicated to the best healthcare
buy viagra online