Some of the recently-leaked second tranche of emails to and from the Climatic Research Unit at UEA ...
‘I cannot overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the government can give on climate change to help them tell their story. They want their story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish’ - “Humphrey”, allegedly an official at Defra (Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
'Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden. I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept. of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data' - Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit who works with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
'I’ve been told that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is above national Freedom of Information Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process' – Phil Jones again. He's wrong, of course, if he thinks that the IPCC, a non-governmental body, can overrule the legislation of a sovereign state and demand the surrender of protected information. On the other hand if he means that the IPCC can merely ignore demands from national governments that it hand over its information, he might be right.
'Keep up the good work! Even though it's been a mild winter in the UK, much of the rest of the world seems coolish – expected though given the La Niña. Roll on the next El Niño!' - Phil Jones again, to James Hansen
'Basic problem is that all models are wrong, not got enough middle and low level clouds' – Phil Jones
'UEA does not hold the very vast majority of mine anyway which I copied onto private storage after the completion of the IPCC task. But for GODS SAKE please respect the sensitivity here and destroy the file immediately when finished and please do not tell ANYBODY I sent this. Cheers, Keith' - Keith Briffa, one of Phil Jones's colleagues at UEA
'The figure you sent is very deceptive' – anonymous scientist
'I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run' – another anonymous scientist
'What if climate change turns out to be a natural fluctuation? They'll kill us all' – another anonymous “expert”. We wonder why he wants to remain anonymous?
'Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary' - Peter Thorne, University of Iowa
'Would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for Kilimanjaro glaciermelt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?' - Geoff Jenkins, the Met Office
'The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what’s included and what is left out' - Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, and a lead author of IPCC reports. For the weak of intellect (by which we mean most supporters of AGW) he is saying, in effect, that the IPCC should decide what message it wants to promulgate, and select only evidence that appears to support that message.
'The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering' - Clive Crook, editor at The Atlantic, who described the earlier inquiries into the Climategate emails as 'ineffectual' and 'mealy mouthed'.
Meanwhile even the Global Warmers are starting to fight among themselves. A recent report by scientists in Oregon suggests that apocalyptic predictions about climate change are likely to be wrong. Forecasts that carbon dioxide levels will 'double' and cause temperature rises of 10 degrees centigrade are 'unlikely'. Instead, the maximum increase is likely to be 2.6 degrees.
The report concludes that there is 'less probability of extreme climate change than previously thought'. Writing in the journal “Science”, Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University said he and colleagues studied how changes in carbon dioxide levels during the last ice age affected temperature. It shows that figures used routinely by pressure groups are simply wrong. No surprise there, then.
The IPCC’s best guess is 3 degrees with an upper limit of 4.5. However, it also says that ‘values substantially higher than 4.5c cannot be excluded’, but Dr.Schmittner claims it would be ‘virtually impossible’ for a doubling of carbon dioxide to cause temperatures to rise by 8 or 10 degrees as some have predicted.
Dr.Schmittner is at pains to point out that he is in no way a climate change denier: he believes that temperatures are rising, but disputes the amount.
American journalist Christopher Caldwell, senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a regular contributor to the Financial Times, suggests that the new Climategate is a disaster for the world of science ...
With the UN conference on climate change set to open in Durban next week, 5,000 emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, have been uploaded to a Russian server. They seem to show climate scientists acting with a partiality that is alien to the scientific method. One of them worries that climate change “is being manipulated to put a political spin on it”. Another notes, regarding a planned study of tornadoes, that “getting people we know and trust is vital”.
The emails are not new: they come from the same trove as those released on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. That earlier batch included an email in which Professor Phil Jones of UEA suggested to Michael Mann of the University of Pennsylvania that he delete certain emails, and another in which a professor discussed bullying a journal that had published a dissenting paper.
Those sympathetic to the fight against climate change have dismissed the importance of these leaks. They are wrong. The emails weakened public support for the climate change fight. In the US they probably killed it.
Americans are running out of patience with climate change campaigning. The Pew Research Center recently asked Americans about a list of 22 “top policy priorities”. Climate change came almost last, behind such issues as moral decline, purging the political system of lobbyists and simplifying the tax code. The only issue voters considered less worthy of Washington’s attention was obesity – and one can see in any mall how little Americans are bothered by that.
Scepticism about global warming has spiked dramatically in the past two years. Pew also found that, after appearing on the public’s radar screen in 2007, the climate has become less important to voters with each annual survey. There are a number of possible reasons why. High unemployment makes voters hostile to the regulation of business. Scandals at Solyndra and other beneficiaries of Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan have shown an unseemly overlap between those who manage the government’s environmental initiatives and those who stand to make fortunes from them. “Green energy” has become the main avenue of US-style crony capitalism. Still, the emails leaked before the Copenhagen summit were more devastating than any of these things.
Should they have been? Defenders of the professors say no. Reading someone’s correspondence – let alone stealing it and publishing it – is disreputable under any circumstances. While some of the email scientists were partisan, panels have cleared them of practising corrupt science. All the emails have shown is that scientists are no less prone to vanity, rivalries and corner-cutting than people in other walks of life.
But that is everything. Voters in a democracy do not argue about science. They argue about the authority of scientists. And scientists’ claim to authority comes from the perception that, in fact, they do not let their vanities and rivalries influence their work. Where others pursue their grubby little self-interest, scientists pursue only the truth. The emails of 2009, however, showed that some prominent members of the climate-change establishment were not operating in a spirit of openness. Defending a scientist’s furtiveness on the grounds that “his science is good” is like defending a politician’s blunder on the grounds that he “did nothing illegal”. The emails were damaging because they undermined the scientists’ claim to be speaking as scientists rather than as interested parties.
If scientists are shown to be colluding to arrive at a given result, then the halo around science dissipates. Any voter who does not want to be duped must suspend his scepticism. He must listen to scientists with no more deference than he does any other interest group. When Professor Mann tells the Guardian newspaper that the email leaks are “right out of the tried-and-true playbook of climate change denial” he is correct. But he is also open to the retort that he would say that, wouldn’t he?
Until the replacement of the Italian government earlier this month, the climate change establishment was probably the most robust technocracy in the west. But the case for setting up anti-global warming protocols has weakened. Europe “led by example” in passing the Kyoto protocol in the 1990s, but its other great construction of the era, the euro, is not now adding to its prestige.
The public has grown weary of being scared into surrendering rights and money – whether through the Troubled Asset Relief Programme in the US or the European Financial Stability Facility. Technocracies are inherently fragile because their legitimacy rests on the denial of a universal truth: everybody makes mistakes.
In a remarkably grown-up piece of reporting for the Daily Mail, David Rose shed a remarkable but not entirely surprising light on another aspect of the leaked emails ...
Britain’s leading green activist research centre spent £15,000 on seminars for top BBC executives in an apparent bid to block climate change sceptics from the airwaves, a vast new cache of leaked ‘Climategate’ emails has revealed.
The emails – part of a trove of more than 5,200 messages that appear to have been stolen from computers at the University of East Anglia – shed light for the first time on an incestuous web of interlocking relationships between BBC journalists and the university’s scientists, which goes back more than a decade. They show that University staff vetted BBC scripts, used their contacts at the Corporation to stop sceptics being interviewed and were consulted about how the broadcaster should alter its programme output.
BBC insiders say the close links between the Corporation and the UEA’s two climate science departments, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, have had a significant impact on its coverage. ‘Following their lead has meant the whole thrust and tone of BBC reporting has been that the science is settled, and that there is no need for debate,’ one journalist said. ‘If you disagree, you’re branded a loony.’
In 2007, the BBC issued a formal editorial policy document, stating that ‘the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus’ – the view that the world faces catastrophe because of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. The document says the policy was decided after ‘a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts’ – including those from UEA.
Although there is now more scientific debate than ever about influences on climate other than CO2, prompted by the fact that the world has not warmed for 15 years, a report from the BBC Trust this year compared climate change sceptics to the conspiracy theorists who blame America for 9/11, and said Britain’s main sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, should be given no air time.
The man at the centre of the BBC-UEA web is Roger Harrabin, the Corporation’s ‘environment analyst’, who reports for a range of programmes on radio and TV. Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that in 1996, he and his friend, Professor Joe Smith of the Open University, set up an informal two-man band to organise environment seminars for BBC executives. Known as the Cambridge Media Environment Programme (CMEP), it operated until 2009, and over three years (2002 to 2005) received £15,000 from the Tyndall Centre. Mr Harrabin did not derive personal financial benefit, although Prof Smith was paid.
Yesterday Mike Hulme, UEA’s Professor of Climate Change, who set up the centre in 2000 and was its director until 2007, said he planned to fund CMEP from Tyndall’s outset, as an ‘integral part of our outreach and communication strategy’. Mr Harrabin was also appointed to the Tyndall advisory board – an unpaid position he held for five years until 2005.
The Climategate 2 emails suggest Prof Hulme expected something in return – the slanting of BBC coverage to exclude global warming sceptics. On February 25, 2002, the climate change sceptic Philip Stott, a London University professor, debated the subject with John Houghton of the Met Office on the Today programme. This prompted an angry email to colleagues from Prof Hulme. ‘Did anyone hear Stott vs Houghton on Today, Radio 4, this morning?’ he wrote. ‘Woeful stuff really. This is one reason why Tyndall is sponsoring the Cambridge Media Environment Programme, to starve this type of reporting at source.’
Last night Prof Hulme denied he was trying to deny space to sceptics, saying: ‘What I wanted to “starve” at source was “this type of reporting” – in which the important and complex issues raised by climate change are reduced to an argument between two voices representing different positions on climate science, as though there is one right and one wrong answer to climate change.’
This was not the only time there was talk of sceptics being shut out. On December 7, 2004, the BBC’s then-environment correspondent Alex Kirby wrote to Prof Jones. He had, he said, succeeded in blocking one sceptic from the BBC, claiming his work was ‘pure stream of consciousness rubbish’. But to his regret, he had been unable to stop a group of scientists who said there were flaws in the hockey-stick graph being featured. ‘I can well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece,’ he wrote, ‘but we are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any coverage at all ... and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them say something. I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it clear that we think they are talking through their hats.’
Prof Jones commented: ‘I thought you exercised some caution with crackpots.’ Mr Kirby replied: ‘Oh Phil, what can I say ... I hope you’ll still talk to me despite this.’
Yesterday Mr Kirby explained his joke, saying that editors often asked him to include sceptic views in his stories, in order to provide balance. ‘I felt then and I feel now that it’s not our job to inject artificial balance into an unbalanced reality,’ he said. He believed scientists such as Prof Jones had got the subject ‘mainly right’, while those who rejected their conclusions were often not worth hearing.
In November 2008, in an email to his UEA colleague Claire Reeves, Prof Jones expressed his satisfaction that ‘the reporting of climate stories within the media (especially the BBC) is generally one-sided, i.e. the counter argument is rarely made’. But alas, there was ‘still a vociferous and small majority [sic] of climate change sceptics ... who engage the public/govt/media through web sites’.
He suggested UEA should set up a project to curb their influence, writing: ‘Issues to be addressed include: should a vociferous minority be able to bully mainstream scientists? Should mainstream climate scientists have to change the way they have worked for generations?’
Mr Harrabin shared his UEA contacts throughout the BBC. For example, in October 2003 Vicki Barker, a presenter on the World Service, wrote asking to visit Prof Hulme, saying: ‘My colleague Roger Harrabin suggested I contact you. I am about to spend several months attempting to answer the following question for senior BBC managers: If we were to reinvent economics coverage from scratch, today, incorporating what we now know (or think we know) about global environmental and economic trends, what would it look like?’ She said she had noticed ‘environmental undertow’ that was ‘beginning to tug at economies around the world ... I have wondered if current newsgathering practices and priorities are conveying these phenomena as effectively as they could be. Is this a question you and some of your colleagues feel like pondering?’
The same year, BBC1 broadcast a series on the British countryside presented by Alan Titchmarsh. The last programme presented a deeply pessimistic view of future global warming and before it was transmitted its producer, Dan Tapster, asked Prof Hulme to vet the script. ‘I’d be grateful if you could send me your hourly/daily rate as a script consultant so that I can budget your time,’ he wrote. Prof Hulme said he remembered going through the script, adding that he was not being paid, and was ‘certainly not an official adviser’.
Mr Harrabin knew that if he was seen to be too closely associated with green campaigners – in earlier years CMEP had accepted funding from activist organisation WWF – the impartiality he was supposed to demonstrate as a BBC reporter could be jeopardised. In July 2004, in an email to Prof Hulme that asked him to continue funding CMEP seminars, Prof Smith explained: ‘The only change I anticipate is that we won’t be asking WWF to support the seminars: Roger particularly feels the association could be compromising to the “neutral” reputation should anyone look at it closely.’
Prof Smith told Prof Hulme that the seminars’ purpose was to influence BBC output. He spoke of finding ways of getting environmental issues into ‘mainstream’ stories ‘by stealth’, adding: ‘It’s very important in my view that research feeds directly back into decision-maker conversations (policy and above all media). I hope and think that the seminars have laid the ground for this within the BBC ... There is senior BBC buy in-for the approach I want to pursue.’
Yesterday he said he had always ensured there was a range of views at the seminar, while by using the phrase ‘by stealth’ he simply meant that ‘sustainability stories are elements of mainstream stories, but the complexity and uncertainty inherent in them make them difficult to report in isolation’.
In September 2001, another email reveals, Mr Harrabin and Prof Smith wrote to Prof Hulme, asking what the BBC should do to mark a climate summit the following year.
They said his suggestions would be ‘circulated among relevant BBC decision-makers’, while instead of confining himself to news and current affairs, he should also feel free to recommend ideas for ‘drama, music, game shows’.
Labour MP Graham Stringer last night said he would be writing this week to BBC director-general Mark Thompson to demand an investigation into the Corporation’s relationship with UEA. ‘The new leaked emails show that the UEA scientists at the Tyndall Centre and the CRU acted more like campaigners than academics, and that they succeeded in an attempt to influence the output of the BBC,’ Mr Stringer said.
Conservative MP David Davis said: ‘Using research money to evangelise one point of view and suppress another defies everything I ever learnt about the scientific method. These emails go to the heart of the BBC’s professed impartiality... its actions must be investigated.’
But the BBC insisted its relationship with UEA had never been ‘unhealthily close’, saying it was always impartial. A BBC spokesman said: ‘We would reject the claim that the Tyndall Centre influenced BBC editorial policy.’
As for Mr Harrabin’s place on the Tyndall board and the advice he gave, he said: ‘The idea was for him to look out for potential stories for the BBC and to offer academics a media perspective on climate change and policy. We do not believe that compromised impartiality.’
Mr Harrabin added: ‘It was right that the BBC decided not to give sceptics parity on climate change,’ saying there was a ‘cross-party consensus.’ But he said he had maintained they should still be given some air time.
Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister’s director of strategy and ‘green guru’, is the latest person to admit to doubts about climate change.
‘I’m not sure I believe in it,’ he announced at a meeting of the Energy Department, prompting one aide to blurt out: ‘Did I just hear that correctly?’ According to one witness, Hilton, 41, the man who coined the slogan ‘Vote Blue and Go Green’ and changed the Tory symbol from a Stalinist style torch to an eco friendly tree, said: ‘Climate change arguments are highly complex. My focus has always been more on using green issues to improve the quality of life.’
Hilton famously persuaded David Cameron to go to the Arctic with a pack of huskies to prove that he was determined to combat global warming in his early days as Tory leader.
Now, however, Hilton has become a big fan of former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, a vocal critic of the global warming lobby. Hilton’s new doubts chime with the Prime Minister’s decision to tone down his previous emphasis on environmental measures to concentrate on stimulating economic growth.
Earlier this year Hilton was said to be secretly plotting with London Mayor Boris Johnson to force the Prime Minister to drop his opposition to plans for a £40 billion airport in the Thames estuary.
Prince Philip has launched an outspoken attack on wind farms, branding them ‘absolutely useless’. In comments that put him sharply at odds with the Government, the Prince reportedly said the farms were a ‘disgrace’ and they would never work. He also described people who backed them as believing in a ‘fairy tale’.
The Daily Mail recently asked, in one of its regular opinion polls, “do you believe in man-made global warming?” The vote was 90% “yes”. As this runs totally counter to the normal response from Mail readers to any story about climate change, one can only assume that a few sad tossers with too much time on their hands sat for hours in front of their computers, repeatedly opening the Mail website, voting “yes” and then signing out again. How desperate is that?
However the Daily Mail readership seemed to be reverting to type today, when asked "Is the BBC biased on Climate Change?" The vote was overwhelmingly "yes".
This blog appears to be inactive, but it nevertheless includes on its front page links to some of the best websites on Global Warming, and if you follow the link to “articles” you will find a huge archive of writing on the topic.
The GOS says: You'll notice that we've not mentioned the last programme in the Frozen Planet BBC series, which was all about GW and the effect it is alleged to be having on the Arctic, Antarctic, polar bears, sweet little penguins etc. This is out of respect for its presenter, David Attenborough. For all his many virtues and the affection in which we all hold him, he is not a climate scientist. It is very sad to see him reduced to the role of the BBC's tame lap dog, peddling the official BBC line like virtually all other wildlife presenters in the last few years.
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