Tag Archives: climategate 2

Heartland and Fakegate

I have been following the so-called ‘fakegate’ saga with some interest. I will do my best to summarise the story, but there have been a whole series of twists and turns (so I hope I get the narrative right). The story commenced with what were described as ‘leaks’ of documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian US think tank, on the DeSmog blog.

However, before moving forwards, it is worth mentioning why documents from the Heartland Institute may be of interest in terms of the climate change debate. Judith Curry had suggested that the Institute was a small player in the debate, and the Heartland Institute replied to her, arguing that they were key players, with this quote one of many that explain the influence of the Institute:

We send publications to every national, state, and 8,400 county and local officials in the U.S. on average about once a week. 79% of state legislators say they read at least one of our publications. “Environment & Climate News,” one of six monthly publications we produce, is read by 57% of state legislators, a higher percentage than read the New York Times. It has been published continuously for 15 years, and every issue features the work of leading climate realists. No other organization produces a regular publication that reaches more people with this message.

If you follow the link above, I think the explanation is quite a compelling argument. I have myself watched some of the talks from the climate change conferences that they have held. The documents that were revealed in the DeSmog blog were trumpeted around the blogosphere as evidence of the evils of those who deny global warming. I do not want to get into the details of the documents yet, which have also been discussed to death elsewhere. The most important of the documents was a memo which seemed to confirm the fears of the ‘warmist’ camp and the Heartland Institute was subsequently portrayed wicked and manipulative organisation; the memo was, so to speak, a smoking gun.

The trouble was that the ‘smoking gun’ memo was in fact a fake. The Heartland Institute responded to the publication of the documents, and announced that the document was fake, and threatened legal action if the documents were not removed from websites and blogs. At the same time, the blogging community and the Atlantic magazine were busy examining the smoking gun document, and finding confirmatory evidence that the document was a fake. The key moment in this sordid affair was a comment made by Steve Mosher on a blog, in which he makes hints at his guess at the ‘manufacturer’ of the fake document (emphasis added):

“undermining” is the wrong word. A believer would not use that word. A believer would write ” countering” or something like that.

Its written by somebody who thinks they can get in the minds of these people. Also, the whole copying of the first sentence of the wojick bio is important.

But the thing that hit me first off was the mention of Gleick.
What I thought when I read his name was.. what the hell is his name doing in a strategy document? huh? makes no sense.

Then I thought.. hey arsonists often return to the scene of the crime.. is this his weird way of doing the same thing, metaphorically.. then I read the slam against revikin and curry.
Then I remember that he and curry had an issue… then the west coast time zone thing.

Of course 15 people are in possession of the original mail.
That mail will have an IP.
That IP will trace back to a location and a time zone.

It did not take long for Gleick to confess to the fact that he was responsible for obtaining and releasing the documents.

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

You will note here that he is denying creating the fake ‘smoking gun’ document, but admitting to using deception to obtain documents (with a possible prosecution on the horizon). However, skeptics are also questioning this assertion, again using details of the document and investigating the writing style as evidence. This from the Atlantic again:

How did his correspondent manage to send him a memo which was so neatly corroborated by the documents he managed to phish from Heartland?
How did he know that the board package he phished would contain the documents he wanted?  Did he just get lucky?
If Gleick obtained the other documents for the purposes of corroborating the memo, why didn’t he notice that there were substantial errors, such as saying the Kochs had donated $200,000 in 2011, when in fact that was Heartland’s target for their donation for 2012?  This seems like a very strange error for a senior Heartland staffer to make.  Didn’t it strike Gleick as suspicious?  Didn’t any of the other math errors?
The points made above, and the fact that Steve Mosher was able to recognise the author from the content might be seen to raise very good questions about the author of the faked document.
So who is Peter Gleick? This from the bio on the institute that he heads:
Dr. Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California. His research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrologic impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources.Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized water expert and was named a MacArthur Fellow in October 2003 for his work. In 2001, Gleick was dubbed a “visionary on the environment” by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1999, Gleick was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway and in 2006, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.Gleick received a B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author of many scientific papers and seven books, including the biennial water report, The World’s Water, and the new Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.

But there is more. This from his Wikipedia profile:
In 2006 he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, Dr. Gleick was the launch Chairman[3] of the “new task force on scientific ethics and integrity” of the American Geophysical Union.[4] In 2012, the NCSE announced “Leading Climate Change Expert Joins NCSE Board”, and said “Gleick is certainly the right man for the job, although an update states “Dr. Gleick will not be joining the NCSE board”. [5][6]
I think that, more than anything else in this sordid tale, it is Gleicks position in determining the role of ethics and integrity that is the most disturbing. In particular, the sordid affair seems to be one in which the gamekeeper is in fact that poacher. It is something that has not been missed. This is an excerpt from an open letter on Wattsupwiththat by Willis Eschenbach to the Chair of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Integrity:

Make no mistake. If Peter Gleick walks away from this debacle free of expulsion, sanction, or censure from the AGU, without suffering any further penalties, your reputation and the reputation of the AGU will forever join his on the cutting room floor. People are already laughing at the spectacle of the chair of a task force on scientific integrity getting caught with his entire arm in the cookie jar. You have one, and only one, chance to stop the laughter.

Because if your Task Force doesn’t have the bal … the scientific integrity to take up the case of its late and unlamented commander as its very first order of business, my Spidey-sense says that it will be forever known as the “AGU Task Farce on Scientific Integrity”. You have a clear integrity case staring you in the face. If you only respond to Dr. Gleick’s reprehensible actions with vague platitudes about “the importance of …”, if the Task Force’s only contribution is mealy-mouthed mumblings about how “we deplore …” and “we are disappointed …”, I assure you that people will continue to point and laugh at that kind of spineless pretense of scientific integrity.

Even more worrying is that some people are actually rallying around to support Gleick. This from the Guardian:

Gleick’s admission on Monday night that he had tricked Heartland into sending him the documents has set off a ferocious debate in the community of scientists and advocates who work on climate change.

He was hailed as a hero by Naomi Klein and by science educator Scott Mandia, who told the Guardian that Gleick had acted as any journalist would. “Peter Gleick, a scientist who is also a journalist, just used the same tricks that any investigative reporter uses to uncover the truth. He is the hero and Heartland remains the villain. He will have many people lining up to support him.”

This is not to say that there are not climate scientists that are condemning his behaviour, as there are examples in the above article of just that. However, there has been an attempt to refocus the interest on the Heartland Institute, brushing to one side the contemptible behaviour of Gleick. Richard Black at the BBC is an exemplar:

I am very wary of drawing parallels between the so-called “ClimateGate” issue of 2009 and the so-called “DenierGate” issue of the Heartland Institute, because they are very different.

But one thing they do have in common is that each is really a combination of two stories: who lifted the documents, and what the documents tell us.

And in both, it’s necessary to analyse the strands separately.

With the Heartland case, we knew last week that someone had obtained the documents by the back door – “stolen”, to use the institute’s word.

Now, we know who; and that’s as far as it goes.

Peter Gleick’s admission may tell us something about Peter Gleick. And various commentators have piled in, notably the New York Times’ Andy Revkin who says the issue “leaves his reputation in ruins”.

But it doesn’t tell us anything about the Heartland Institute; that story lies in the documents themselves.

The article then goes on to discuss the content of the documents, and in particular the Heartland Institutes funding, and their development of materials for teachers, in which the institute highlights the controversy surrounding the issues of climate change. Judith Currie, as ever with the principles of science firmly in her sights, argues convincingly that controversy, and the ability to critically analyse controversy, are important parts of a scientific education.

Perhaps more interesting is the way in which funding of Heartland has been highlighted.The documents revealed some details of the funding of the institute, and the response was comical. I particularly liked the BBC’s Richard Black’s commentary on the leaks in an early post (in which he publishes the details of the correspondence without confirming the authenticity of the documents):

Elsewhere, the documents reveal that a huge number of companies, foundations and individuals give money to the Heartland Institute – some as core funding, others to pay for specific programmes.

But their contributions of a few tens of thousands of dollars per year are dwarfed by a single source who is so important as to acquire his own set of capitals – the Anonymous Donor.

This man – the gender is specified – gave just under $1m last year, a little less than a quarter of the institute’s income.

But that’s small beer compared with his 2008 contribution of $4,610,000 – amounting to 58% of the organisation’s entire budget for the year!

Oh my goodness, exclaimed many, look how well funded ‘denier’ organisations are. It did not take long for skeptical bloggers to respond. This from Wattsupwiththat:

With tiny budgets like $310 million, $100 million, and $95 million respectively, how can lovable underdogs like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and NRDC *ever* hope to compete with mighty Heartland’s $6.5 million?

Heartland Institute budget and strategy revealed | Deep ClimateHeartland is projecting a boost in revenues from $4.6 million in 2011, to $7.7 million in 2012. That will enable an operating budget of $6.5 million, as well as topping up the fund balance a further $1.2 million.

[Sept 2011]:  Greenpeace Environmental Group Turns 40

Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, now has offices in more than 40 countries and claims some 2.8 million supporters. Its 1,200-strong staff ranges from “direct action” activists to scientific researchers.
Last year, its budget reached $310 million.

[Nov 2011]: Sierra Club Leader Will Step Down – NYTimes.com

He said the Sierra Club had just approved the organization’s largest annual budget ever, about $100 million for 2012, up from $88 million this year.

[Oct 2011]:  Do green groups need to get religion?

That’s Peter Lehner talking. Peter, a 52-year-old environmental lawyer, is executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of America’s most important environmental groups. The NRDC has a $95 million budget, about 400 employees and about 1.3 million members. They’re big and they represent a lot of people.

This is again from Richard Black on the BBC, after the whole issue of the dubious origins of the documents is known:

Is revealing the funding and tactics of influential groups engaged on a policy issue such as climate change not also in the public interest?

Some scientists argue it’s so much in the public interest that a change of rules is in order.

One example is the open letter released on Monday by the Climate and Health Council asking that climate sceptic lobby groups reveal all their funding.

“We view the systematic sowing of unjustified doubt about mainstream international climate science as confusing at best, and inhumane at worst,” they write.

It’s a difficult request. Firstly, how do you define a “climate sceptic” group? Secondly, we’re dealing with multiple countries, hence multiple sets of rules.

And most fundamentally, arguing against legislation of any kind is perfectly legitimate in open societies.

Nevertheless, the rationale behind the argument is clear. Heartland acknowledges it ramps its climate work up and down depending on how much money it receives from a single donor – but we have no idea who he is, beyond his gender.

GWPF and other organisations may have similar donor relationships – we don’t know, because generally, they won’t tell us.

That’s one reason why some commentators from the environmental community are hoping Heartland does begin a legal case, because in US law the pre-trial process of discovery means the plaintiff would probably have to release lots of other documents that it currently keeps private – including, potentially, the identity of Anonymous Donor.

Although Black covers  some of the controversy over the source of the documents, he tries to shift the picture to the content of the documentation. However, that the Institute gets a small amount of funding and seeks to highlight the controversy around climate science is not the real story. He is a science correspondent, and the real story surely must be that of the gamekeeper turned poacher. Since the Climategate emails have been released, there has been criticism and questions raised about the ethics and integrity of  some climate scientists. This is a big issue.

This to me is the real story here. When reading the Climategate emails, it is apparent that there is a significant amount of material that raises extremely troubling questions about the integrity of a group of climate scientists known as the team (see here). This sordid affair is just a continuation of this pattern of reprehensible behaviour. I emphasise that it is a pattern. It is yet further evidence that some ‘believers’ will countenance no person or organisation that might challenge their own very narrow perspective. My own contribution to revealing the nasty tricks of the ‘team’ can be found here, and has recently been discussed in an open letter in the WSJ:

The continued efforts of the climate establishment to eliminate “extreme views” can acquire a seriously threatening nature when efforts are directed at silencing scientific opposition. In our op-ed we mentioned the campaign circa 2003 to have Dr. Chris de Freitas removed not only from his position as editor of the journal Climate Research, but from his university job as well. Much of that campaign is documented in Climategate emails, where one of the signatories of the Trenberth et al. letter writes: “I believe that a boycott against publishing, reviewing for, or even citing articles from Climate Research [then edited by Dr. de Freitas] is certainly warranted, but perhaps the minimum action that should be taken.”

The problem is that, even when such shabby and disgraceful behaviour is revealed, nothing is done about it. And it is no wonder. Gleick is a person who is examining ethics and integrity in science,  and is found to be using deception and possibly forgery (perhaps he will present a case to demonstrate that he did not forge the document?). With this kind of a person playing a role in the ethics and integrity of science,  as I said, it is no wonder that nothing is done.

It is appalling.

Note: The coverage of this on Wattsupwiththat is excellent and led me to much of the material used here.

Note 2: For New Zealand readers, Richard Treadgold unfortunately has not had the time to do a full  post on this over at Climate Conversation Group, but there is some interesting discussion going on underneath his brief comments.

The Impact of Climategate II

There has been a lot of talk of that Climategate 2 has had less impact than the original climate gate. My own contribution to the revelations was to reveal the horrendous story in which the ‘team’ sought to have a journal editor sacked for allowing the publication of an article that disagreed with their views. It was a clear case of an attempt to corrupt peer reviewed science. As such, I was pleased to find an open letter in the Wall Street Journal, which is written by scientists concerned at the nature and tenor of the debate on climate change. This is the discussion of the sacking.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

It is indeed very sad that association with positions  contrary to some people might be met with this kind of behaviour. However, the letter also covers some other points worth mentioning. For example:

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming.” Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: “I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’ In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

I remember reading the Ivar Giaever open letter, and should really have posted/commented upon it. I have also read about other shenanigans in which some have tried to manufacture the consensus through manipulation of statistics for support for climate alarmism (sorry, no reference to hand).

My guess is that, without the fear of career damage, the quest for grants, the dubious ‘consensus’ would look even more threadbare than it already is. For example, many years ago I heard a BBC Radio 4 interview* in which an anthropologist was researching the impact of climate change on hunter gatherers in Scandinavia. The interviewer was interested in climate change, but it was very clear that all the anthropologist wanted to do was discuss the interesting facets of the culture of the people under study. No doubt, the addition of climate change in his application for a research grant was useful.

Perhaps one day it will be possible for climate science to return to ‘normal science’ (I am aware that this is a problematic phrase, but seeking to stop contrary views is not ‘normal’ science in any reasonable interpretation). It certainly seems that the right questions are now being asked. In some ways, this may be of benefit to the wider realm of science; as anyone who is involved in critical positions on any subject will tell you, the effort of getting critiques of established thinking is always a challenge. I can only hope that, in addition to all of the negative aspects of climate science, there is a possibility that it will, in the end, raise some fundamental questions and encourage a more open approach to science.

In the meantime, sadly, the climate debate will be restricted by an oppressive system that seeks to stifle any contrary views. To be more positive, this may be on the road to change…..

*I am sorry to have two items unreferenced. For the 2nd example, it really was a long, long time ago…..

The Professor de Freitas Story and Wikipedia

I have just found an update on the story of Professor de Freitas, and the attempts to have him sacked for allowing the publication of a dissenting article on climate change. Wattsupwiththat has recently published a post which details the way in which the Wikipedia entry on the debate about the dissenting article was distorted to paint a negative picture of Professor de Freitas.

Whilst the post argues that there were many problems in the Wikipedia entry on the incident, it focuses on the claim that all of the peer reviewers of the dissenting article rejected the article. This claim was patently false, and relied upon a single Guardian article, which flew in the face of all of the evidence that suggested the opposite.The story does have a (sort of) happy ending, in that the post led to a correction of the article in question:

UPDATE: Following a conversation on Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales’ talk page the error has been removed despite initial resistance from those who perpetrated the misinformation:


Also, I’d like to thank Nona, who tried to correct the error earlier as an anonymous user.

I added ‘sort of’ to the happy ending, as these ongoing attempts to smear the good name of Professor de Freitas should not be occurring in the first place. It just serves to place emphasis on the way in which some people have no qualms about presenting lies in order to preserve their world view, and the hell with the personal impact on a perfectly reputable scientist.

Another point mentioned in the article, of which I was previously unaware, was that Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame, and who also engaged in the conspiracy to have Professor de Freitas sacked) had complained to the New Zealand Press Council about a New Zealand Herald article written by Professor de Freitas:

The grounds of Professor Mann’s complaint are that the two articles were inaccurate, lacked balance and showed excessive advocacy. Under lack of accuracy he said the overall tone of the articles left readers with the false impression that the jury was still out on global warming and climate change where, as far as the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists were concerned, it is not. He gave particular examples of the inaccuracies he observed, along the lines of those cited in his article.

Mann had written a rebuttal of Professor de Freitas’s article, and was essentially demanding that it be published. Unsurprisingly, the complaint was not upheld, and I liked this part of the ruling:

Advocates of a particular standpoint may not find the press always serving their purpose, but then the function of the press is to serve their readers in the broadest terms.

In the context of what I found in the Climategate emails, I found this new information to be quite revealing. It is yet more confirmation that Mann is quite obsessive about protecting his views on climate science from any challenge whatsoever. At least in this case he seeks to address the problem with scientific argument, which is better than attempting to blacken a person’s name ( or something of an improvement on trying to get an individual sacked for allowing dissenting views).

However, it does bring to mind the somewhat obsessive commentary on my Climategate articles by Chris C, who attempted to defend the attacks on Professor de Freitas. It crossed my mind at the time that this might be Mann posting under an alias, and the thought once again crosses my mind. Of course, I will never know, and can only speculate; it could be that Chris C was indeed just posting as ‘himself’.


Update: I just took a look at the  debate within Wikipedia on the question of the rejection by the reviewers. It is well worth a quick read….you will need to scroll down the page and will find the section. The attempts to defend the wrong information are somewhat comedic….

Climategate 2 – Defending the Indefensible

A while ago, I wrote a post in which I put a series of Climategate emails together, and showed how the so-called ‘team’ (a group of leading IPCC scientists), conspired to have a journal editor sacked from his role as an academic journal editor, and also tried to have him sacked from his university. It is a long post, and continues in a second post, but you may wish to read them before continuing. When writing the post, I never imagined that people might actually try to defend the ‘team’, as the whole series of emails are in context, and very clearly show abysmal behaviour on the part of the team.

However, I have just engaged in an exchange of comments with someone who is actually trying to defend the team. He is not the first person to do so in the comments section (see my last comment below, this was a commentator called ‘Alex C), but nevertheless I am surprised that he is mounting such a determined defence. It is just plain odd. As such, I thought I would publish our small debate. It is interesting of itself, as I believe that it is illustrative of a willful disregard for the evidence of shabby behaviour on the part of the team. My point in posting the exchange is this; I simply cannot understand the motivations for defending the indefensible.  I am just plain puzzled.

The comments come at the end of the post, and I simply cannot see what the commentator is trying to achieve – people will have read the emails. Why are they defending the behaviour that they are defending? Do they really believe the arguments they are putting forwards? I genuinely cannot see why they continue to defend this. With this introduction over, I will paste in the comments (I will not block quote them to avoid block quotes within block quotes which will be hard to read):


John C

How is this corruption of peer review? The mails seem to describe a situation where an editor has allowed reports for publishing that should have never passed peer review.

This seems to be more about the lack of peer review on part of the editor than a corruption of peer review.

Does the blog author agree that a scientific journal which willfully publishes poor research should lose credibility?



I think that you may not know what peer review actually is? The papers were, as was stated in the emails, subjected to qualified people for review.

As for poor research, what about the work of Michael Mann? Are you suggesting that the work behind the so-called hockey stick chart was good science? Or, like those who sought to have Professor de Freitas sacked, do you think good science only involves findings of climate alarm? Nobody who has respect for science would find the attempt to destroy a person’s career, for simply allowing a peer reviewed paper to be published, to be acceptable. The process of science involves challenge, debate, and alternative explanation….do you not understand this?

I do not think anyone who reads your comment will be convinced….

Nice try.


John C

How about we try to stick to the topic. Trying to change the subject is not an honest approach to debating.

Could you post the exact quotes that state that the papers went through actual, qualified peer review? Because this is what I’m seeing:

“the Soon and Baliunas work is just crap science that should never be passed peer review”

And another thing the e-mails seem to show is that this is not the first time de Freitas allows through papers of poor quality.

So again, how is this corruption of the peer review process? The actual corruption these e-mails indicate is that de Freitas allows through papers that are simply not good science, which undermines the integrity of the peer review process.

Do you disagree that if an editor keeps allowing poor research to be published, that is a problem? For example, an editor of a biology journal lets a creationist publish poor research attacking Evolution?



I am sticking to the topic. You are following the ‘team’s’ method of ad hominem attack when you suggest I am not debating with an ‘an honest’ post. Michael Mann’s hockey stick has been discredited, and his presentation of his results was ‘crap science’ intended to create a false impression of the temperature record (see link below).


If you read the emails, you will find that Michael Mann is front and centre in this terrible behaviour. The paper at the centre of this was work which questioned his hockey stick. Does it not seem odd to you that the very people who had such a stake in a now utterly discredited piece of work are the very same people who are trying to wreck the career of the person who allowed publication of work that went against it?

You correctly point out that the emails accuse Professor de Freitas of allowing other poor quality papers through. It is not the role of a cabal of people to determine/decide upon the quality of work that is published, in particular when the work just happens to be contrary to their own work. Do you not think there is a conflict of interest here??? If your approach was, for example, applied to the idea of Phlogiston, with Becker as the person who determined the ‘quality’ of all subsequent work, would modern chemistry have ever have gotten off the ground? Science advances through fits and starts, with occasional wrong turns. However, alternative explanations need to be published in order to identify when science has taken a wrong turn.

Also, although calling my approach ‘dishonest’ do you not think this might describe your linkage with creationism? The Soon and Baliunas paper has flaws (as do many generally good scientific papers), but it is clearly work of science. Perhaps it is not a very honest approach to set a dishonest analogy and to try to sway the minds of readers with this analogy. The work of Soon and Baliunus cannot be compared with creationism. This is a rhetorical trick.

Returning to the question of peer review, this is is in the emails:

How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of individuals with bona fide scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that ‘anti-greenhouse’ science can get through the peer review process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas, Soon, and so on).

I have highlighted the point about bona fide, as the paper was reviewed by scientists. The ‘team’ may not like or agree with some scientists, but they are nevertheless bona fide scientists. What the team object to is that these scientists have a different theoretical position on climate change to their own. They object to the idea that these scientists are questioning their own theory. Well, tough! If their theory is strong enough, they can defend in the peer reviewed literature, but that peer review literature must not be subject to their interference! Why, if they have such a strong case, would they resort to the kind of behaviour that is evident in the emails? Is it because, for example, they were all aware that Mann’s hockey stick would not withstand scrutiny?

As I said in my previous response, I do not think you understand how peer review is supposed to work. It is not about a self-selected group ensuring that only work that agrees with their own is allowed to be published, where such a group determine ‘quality’ based upon whether work supports their own theory.

Again, I will leave it to readers to make their own judgement.


John C

That’s a lot of text. I would like to return to the core of the issue, as I am not here to discuss everything you can manage to bring up in a single comment.

Do you or do you not agree that if an editor keeps allowing poor research to be published, that is a problem?

Do you or do you not agree that the scientists you are accusing of corrupting peer review genuinely think the research was so poor it shouldn’t have been published?

Do you or do you not agree that the paper in question was a poor one?

Do you or do you not agree that if scientists notice that a journal is publishing papers that should have never been published in the first place, they are justified in dealing with that in some way?

Do you or do you not agree that a group of scientists should be allowed to discuss how to deal with a journal that keeps publishing poor research?

The reason I mentioned creationism is that it’s an easy example to use. Most rational human being reject creationism, so it’s a good way to see whether you are being consistent when you make your claims and arguments.



I will answer you point by point:

Do you or do you not agree that if an editor keeps allowing poor research to be published, that is a problem?

You are making an assumption here that the research is poor. As I have said, even good papers might have flaws. (edit) see answer below as well.

Do you or do you not agree that the scientists you are accusing of corrupting peer review genuinely think the research was so poor it shouldn’t have been published?

I disagree with this. I do not believe they think it is poor research, they think it disagrees with their own work. They may dress this up, and try to convince themselves, but…their own internal dissent over the hockey stick chart suggests that they put their ’cause’ above science. In particular, many of the ‘team’ expressed serious reservations about Mann’s hockey stick, but they did nothing about it. If they are the great defenders of science, why did they not immediately publish a paper to express their concerns with the validity of the hockey stick?


It doesn’t quite work does it. You are trying to portray the team as a group of scientists of integrity trying to defend the world against ‘crap science’ – but it is odd, is it not, that this integrity did not include getting a rebuttal of Mann’s hockey stick into the peer reviewed literature. Clearly, the ‘team’ thought the hockey stick was highly problematic, so why not act to correct the science? In short, the harping on about science appears as a crass case of self-justification for what they knew was wrong. For example, from the emails, Wigley acknowledged the nature of what they are doing:

Jim Salinger raises the more personal issue of deFreitas. He is clearly giving good science a bad name, but I do not think a barrage of ad hominem attacks or letters is the best way to counter this.

If Jim wishes to write a letter with multiple authors, I may be willing to sign it, but I would not write such a letter myself.

Look at the email, and look who is on the distribution?

Do you or do you not agree that the paper in question was a poor one?

As I state in the about section of this blog, I leave the details of climate science to others. I have read in other skeptic blogs that the paper had flaws, but was overall a good paper (see link below):


However, this is not the issue, is it? The peer reviewed literature is filled with papers with flaws, and the place to deal with these flaws is in the peer reviewed literature, not through seeking to attack individuals. This is corruption of the scientific process.

Do you or do you not agree that if scientists notice that a journal is publishing papers that should have never been published in the first place, they are justified in dealing with that in some way?

Again, you are making an assumption that this work should never have been published and relying upon the views of the people whose work is being questioned to say that it should not have been published. I am not sure you are getting the point here. If there were such a problem (and there is no reason to think this is the case), the proper way of ‘dealing with it’ is to seek to challenge the content in the peer reviewed literature, not to plot to damage the careers of those involved. It really is that simple…..

Do you or do you not agree that a group of scientists should be allowed to discuss how to deal with a journal that keeps publishing poor research?

Absolutely, if scientist believe that work is poor, then they should be able to discuss this. However, there is discussion of science, and then there is plotting to attack someone’s career through smearing their name, and running a campaign to have them sacked from an editorial position. This is not the same as discussing the merits of scientific work, is it?

Again, I will leave readers to judge between your defence of the emails. I do not think they will be convinced. In the end, the authors of the emails make my case for me, with their own words. When uncovering these emails, I remember my sense of shock and disgust. I am guessing that this will be the reaction of most readers, and this is reflected in most of the comments here.


[My comment: This was sent through as I was writing this post – determined does not express this.]

John C

1. The first question is a general question. I did not say whether it was poor or not in this case.

2. Why would they lie to each other and pretend that they geninely thought the research was poor in internal e-mails? That doesn’t make sense at all.

3. You leave the details of climate science to others, but it is clear that the paper was a poor one, as it has received significant criticism. Indeed, Wikipedia states that “the publisher subsequently admitted that the conclusions of the paper could not be supported by the evidence and that the journal should have requested appropriate revisions prior to publication.”

Furthermore: “Eventually half of the journal’s editorial board resigned along with von Storch. Von Storch later stated that climate change sceptics “had identified Climate Research as a journal where some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common” and complained that he had been pressured to publish the paper and had not been allowed to publish a rebuttal contesting the authors’ conclusions.”

The issue is that an editor allegedly allowed poor research to be published. And this was not an isolated incident. There’s a major difference between finding flaws after publication, and overlooking or allowing major flaws and publishing it anyway!

Wikipedia links:


Do you still deny that the paper was a poor one, and should have never been published? It seems to me that others have already looked at the details of the paper and found it lacking. Indeed, they have found that it should have never been published, and the only reason it was published is that climate skeptics had identified the journal as not having a sufficiently rigorous review process.

4. The question about whether poor research should be published or not is a general question again. Do you think it’s OK to publish papers that are fatally flawed to the point where they should never have been published in the first place? And if not, it must surely be OK for someone to deal with this.

5. You first say it’s OK to discuss how to deal with a journal which allows poor research to be published, but then you say it’s not OK anyway?

Do you not agree that now that we have established that the paper did indeed not qualify for publication, and the only reason it was published was that the journal had a flawed and sub-standard review process?

And does it not follow from that that it was necessary to do something about this, so as to prevent further pseudoscience from posing as real science?

What should they have done, exactly?



You still have not explained why the response was not that which is the normal way for science to proceed. That is, if scientists have a problem with the quality of work, they should simply respond by putting their view of why it is wrong in the peer reviewed literature. It really is that simple. There is no need to conspire to have journal editors sacked from their editorship or from their job. In the end, you are just using smoke and mirrors to try to hide the fact that this is not the way that science proceeds. You do not address the problems of Mann’s blatant misrepresentation of data in any of your emails, but still continue to harp on about the quality of the Soon and Baliunas paper? Is this not odd?

In the end of your email, you talk about ‘pseudo-science’. We have now moved back on to the same method you used earlier, when you linked the paper to creationism. On what basis is it pseudo-science? I took the trouble to answer all of your points, so I will now ask you to answer one for me:

Do you think that Mann’s misrepresentation of data in his hockey stick chart is good science or pseudo-science?

I ask this question, because although there were flaws (and good points) in the Soon and Baliunus paper, they did nothing comparable to what Mann did with the hockey stick chart. However, you keep on focusing on the paper. You do so, because the behaviour of the team is abysmal. This is the smoke and mirrors. However, whilst defending this group of scoundrels, you keep on suggesting that they are defending ‘science’. However, you make no acknowledgement of the crass distortion of science in the misrepresentation of data in the hockey stick chart. If I were very cynical, I might suspect that you are Michael Mann, or one of the team. I also note that another comment defending this comes from a person called ‘Alex C’ in the second of the two posts (he gives two comments, and the defence comes in the 2nd comment).


An odd coincidence that you are both posting with the same name format? However, I have assumed that you are just an interested observer, and have responded on this basis.

You end this comment with the question of ‘what should they have done exactly?’

I think I have answered this question so many times, I am puzzled that you continue to ask. Endless repetition of the question does not change the answer. As such I will both say what they should and should not have done:

What they should have done: It is so, so simple. If they felt that a paper was wrong, they should simply write a paper and seek to publish it in the peer reviewed literature.

What they should not have done: They should not have conspired to have an editor sacked, should not have smeared his good name, and should not have sought to have him sacked from his job at his university.

I am sure that you can keep on going. I am sure that you will….I will let you have the last word here and will not respond further – life is too short and, more to the point, I will let readers judge for themselves. I really see no point in going forwards. I am also so puzzled by your determination to defend this behaviour that I am making a post out of our exchange here (you will be able to find it on the home page in a short while. I am genuinely puzzled at your determination to defend these people, and their shabby behaviour. Again, I am working on the assumption that you are just a genuinely interested party.

Over to you for (I hope) a final comment.


That is the end of the exchange so far. No doubt, the commentator will respond, and you will find his answer in the comments section of the post. It really is odd, the accusation of Soon and Balunias as being pseudoscience, but no comment on the misrepresentation of data by Mann. All very, very odd. Comments, thoughts, explanations for this kind of determination to defend this are welcome.

Climategate 2: What can we make of this?

I have been trawling through some more Climategate 2 emails, and came across a brief exchange (email o222 of 2005). I may be wrong, but I am not sure I have seen this one in the many discussion of the emails. As before, I have tidied up the email by removing symbols such as >>>, and any bold in the text is my emphasis.

cc: “Thomas C Peterson” <Thomas.C.Peterson@noaa.gov>
date: Thu Jan  6 08:54:58 2005
from: Phil Jones <p.jones@uea.ac.uk>
subject: RE: Fwd: Monthly CLIMATbulletins
to: “Parker, David (Met Office)” <david.parker@metoffice.gov.uk>, Neil Plummer <n.plummer@bom.gov.au>


Just to reiterate David’s points, I’m hoping that IPCC will stick with 1961-90.The issue of confusing users/media with new anomalies from a
different base period is the key one in my mind. Arguments about the 1990s being better observed than the 1960s don’t hold too much water with me.

There is some discussion of going to 1981-2000 to help the modelling chapters. If we do this it will be a bit of a bodge as it will be hard to do things properly for the surface temp and precip as we’d lose loads of stations with long records that would then have incomplete normals. If we do we will likely achieve it by rezeroing series and maps in an ad hoc way.There won’t be any move by IPCC to go for 1971-2000, as it won’t  help with satellite series or the models.  1981-2000 helps with MSU series and the much better Reanalyses and also globally-complete SST. 20 years (1981-2000) isn’t 30 years, but the rationale for 30 years isn’t that compelling. The original argument was for 35 years around 1900 because Bruckner found 35 cycles in some west Russian lakes (hence periods like 1881-1915). This went to 30 as it easier to compute.

Personally I don’t want to change the base period till after I retire !


At 09:22 05/01/2005, Parker, David (Met Office) wrote:


There is a preference in the atmospheric observations chapter of IPCC AR4 to stay with the 1961-1990 normals. This is partly because a change of normals confuses users, e.g. anomalies will seem less positive than before if we change to newer normals, so the impression of global warming will be muted. Also we may wish to wait till there are 30 years of satellite data, i.e until we can compute 1981-2010 normals, which will then be globally complete for some parameters like sea surface temperature.


On Tue, 2005-01-04 at 21:58, Neil Plummer wrote:

Hi Hama, Tom
(and David, Blair)

Re: the issue of using the 1971-2000 normals in CLIMAT rather than 1961-1990 normals.

Happy New Year!

I have copied the relevant text from CCl XIII below, which provides reasons for staying with the 1961-90 standard. My initial recommendation is the same as Tom’s, i.e. stay with the standard for now.

I think there are two main factors to consider here – capability and demand. While there are clearly advantages with widespread use of normals derived using the later period there must be the capacity to do so.Perhaps in the lead-up to CCl-XIV, OPAG 2 can find out the extent of the support for the change among users of CLIMAT and OPAG 1 can find out more about capabilities. (Note, however, that this is not strictly on issue for OPAG 1 according to the ToRs for the ICT and any of the ETs. Happy to assist though).

We may use the climate working groups in the Regional Associations to  assist with surveying members capabilities and could do the same regarding the demand question though I think Tom’s CCl/CLIVAR ET is best placed to give that guidance.

David, Blair – Interested in your thoughts on this matter.

The email round commenced with a request for a clarification from the Turkish meteorological office on the . I will leave the technical points to other who have a better understanding of the issues that are being discussed. However, I was fascinated to see firstly that Phil Jones was putting confusing the media as a key concern. And then there is the worry of Parker that the impression of global warming would be muted! Note the use of the word ‘impression’. Does this sound like he is worrying about the science?

Again, here we have emails in their context, and the phrases in their full context, and two clear statements that the media and impressions are the priority over the science. Oh dear, oh dear….

Note: Two phrases which are highlighted, I will leave for others to consider who have the technical knowledge to do so.

Climategate 2: More Shabby Behaviour From the ‘Team’

In two recent posts (here and here), I detailed some emails from Climategate 2 which showed that leading IPCC scientists (often known as the ‘team’) conspired to pervert the editorial system of academic journals and sought to have Professor Chris de Freitas, editor of the academic journal Climate Research, sacked from his university and editorial role. The reason for the action was that he had allowed the publication of a paper which challenged the now infamous ‘hockey stick’ chart, which wrongly showed that the current warming of the planet was unprecedented. The hockey stick chart was the work of Michael Mann, one of the members of the ‘team’.

The emails I detail are not the only ones showing this kind of outrageous behaviour. Steve McIntyre also details attempts to smear the good name of one of the authors of the paper that challenged the hockey stick. It is possible to see a pattern of behaviour. The problem is that the ‘team’ are still up to the same ugly tricks, despite the exposure of this behaviour in the Climategate emails. They are still using smear tactics, and still attacking the good name of Professor de Freitas. They appear to believe that they can act with complete impunity. I added the following as an update on the second of my posts, but I believe it deserves more attention. The quote comes from the ‘team’ website ‘RealClimate’, and a commentator asks a question, with a member of the ‘team’ responding:

Any context on this thread – which might be interpreted to constitute a coordinated effort to have someone dismissed for not following the party line?


[Response: The issue has nothing to do with not ‘following the party line’, but rather of being guilty of appalling editorial practices, whereby papers were published with claims that were not justified by the analysis, or that were accepted almost ‘as is’ regardless of the views of referees. Hans von Storch in email 2106: “For me it is important that we admit that the result of the review process of Soon & Baliunas was insufficient”, and noting the pattern “We should have been more vigilant after we had seen that actually two critical comments were written on the first Soon paper” (also handled by de Freitas). The corruption here was de Frietas, not anyone who responded. – gavin]

It is apparent that this new attempt to smear Professor de Freitas is being replicated in comments on the Climategate emails. Wattsupwiththat linked to the posts made on this blog, and comments on the the Wattsupwiththat post included the following:

JPY says:

Another classic black=white, war=peace post from WUWT.

The corruption of peer review happened under de Freitas’s watch – he passed papers that reviewers had recommended to be rejected essentially unaltered into the journal (ref. Wigley comments). Even Hans von Storch agreed that the S&B paper made claims that were not justified by their analysis. The corruption here is all on the skeptic side and the natural reaction to a disfunctional journal is to abandon it.

It is not possible to demonstrate that this comment is made by one of the ‘team’, but  the commentator seems very knowledgeable about the background to the story, and follows the lead of RealClimate very closely. Also, anyone who read the post on the subject on this blog, and I mean anyone with any sense of decency, would surely not come to the conclusion shown by JPY in this comment. I cannot be sure, but my guess is that the comment above is from one of the ‘team’.

As a backgrounder, for those of you who are unfamiliar with RealClimate, it is run by the ‘team’ to promote their particular views of climate science. The Climategate emails (Email No. 4349 ) show that the ‘team’,  established the website with the intention that:

We are keeping the content strictly scientific, though at an accessible level.

If we compare the intention with the quote on RealClimate, we can see what their idea of ‘strictly scientific’ actually is. The person replying to the enquiry is Gavin Schmidt, and it is notable that other contributors to the site includes other ‘team’ members such as Michael Mann.

If there is any doubt that this is smearing of the good name of Professor de Freitas, he has recently posted the following email that demonstrates that the team were smearing his good name and reputation:

Thu, 3 July 2003 12:42:48 +0200
Editors and Review Editors

Dear colleagues,

In my 20.06. email to you I stated, among other things, that I would ask CR editor Chris de Freitas to present to me copies of the reviewers’ evaluations for the 2 Soon et al. papers.

I have received and studied the material requested.


1) The reviewers consulted (4 for each ms) by the editor presented detailed, critical and helpful evaluations

2) The editor properly analyzed the evaluations and requested appropriate revisions.

3) The authors revised their manuscripts accordingly.


Chris de Freitas has done a good and correct job as editor.

Best wishes,
Otto Kinne
Director, Inter-Research

It is very apparent from the email above that Professor de Freitas conducted himself in his role as a Climate Research editor in a way that was above reproach. However, this has not stopped RealClimate from continuing to smear his name, even going as far as accusing Professor de Freitas of ‘corruption’. Professor de Freitas, the subject of these smears and attacks is an accomplished scientist, as his record shows. For those who are not academics, his publication record, and his record in winning awards is indicative of a genuinely outstanding scientist.

My concern is this. Rather than the first Climategate emails acting as a check on the disgusting behaviour of the team, it seems to have just emboldened them. Whilst the Climategate emails were kept private, the RealClimate attempt to yet again blacken the name of Professor de Freitas is aired in public, with Schmidt even putting his name to the response to the comment. Following the first Climategate emails, several enquiries were conducted into the behaviour of ‘team’ members as a result of some of the revelations in the emails. However, as many who have examined the enquiries have found, they would be best described as ‘whitewash’ (just one example of why can be found here).

I believe that what we see on RealClimate is a direct result of the whitewash. The team have seen the media and establishment continue to support them in the face of their disgraceful behaviour, and they now arrogantly believe that they can act with impunity. This raises a troubling question. With Climategate 2, we can now see ever more clearly the extent of the disgraceful behaviour of the ‘team’. My worry is that, outside of the skeptical blogs, and a limited number of mainstream media commentators, will Climategate 2 really make a difference? More to the point, what can those of us that are concerned about this sordid behaviour do to ensure that, this time, something will actually be done about this terrible behaviour?

It is a question that those who are concerned about this shoddy behaviour should all be contemplating. Comments and thoughts welcomed.

Update, 1st December.

The attack on Professor de Freitas is once again intensifying. A post in Hot Topic says the following:

Unfortunately for Watts and the anonymous (and low profile) NZ blogger who wrote the article, a new analysis by John Mashey of 700+ papers published at Climate Research reveals that the tribalism on display came from a cabal of sceptical scientists, with Auckland University academic Chris de Freitas safely shepherding their papers — however poor the science they contained — through peer pal review.

The study cited in the post would be funny, if it were not for the fact that this is, yet again, an unwarranted attack. Richard Treadgold of the Climate Conversation Group kindly posted a comment to clarify the source and background to the latest attempt to smear Professor de Freitas:

Renowden examines “a new analysis by John Mashey of 700+ papers published at Climate Research” as though it were significant. But I’ve looked up this “paper”. It hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published in any decent journal, only published informally by his pals at the desmogblog blog.

Renowden usually insists on citations of only peer-reviewed material, just like the IPCC. But not on this special occasion.

Why do we pay either the analysis or Renowden’s comments on it the slightest attention? It’s all worth exactly what the blog site paid for the “paper”.

Enough said. However, there is a very small upside to the latest smear. I have seen from my site statistics that this latest smear is driving traffic to the posts on the original emails. Of course, for those people who follow the links to the original emails, they will get the chance to make up their own minds. When they see the emails and their contents in black and white, I have no doubt that they will see the work of the ‘team’ for what it is. As such, although the Hot Topic post and the ‘study’ are further examples of ugly behaviour, we can at least thank the authors for driving traffic to the information which will demonstrate that their latest smear is just that; a smear.

Climategate 2 and Corruption of Peer Review – Part II

This is a continuation of a narrative I am putting together from the climategate 2 emails, which shows how the ‘team’ (a group of famous climate scientitsts) get together to trash the good name and career of an editor of the academic journal Climate Research. The editor in question is Chris de Freitas, an accomplished scientist. The reason for their actions; he allowed the publication of a paper which contradicted the work of the team, and in particular published a paper which was supportive of the existence of the Medieval Warm Period. Michael Mann’s famous hockey stick chart saw this period disappear, and his ‘hockey stick’ chart was used by the IPCC as evidence of anthropogenic global warming.

Before reading this section, I strongly recommend that you start with the first post on the subject, which is here. In the first section, I detail how some of the most famous climate scientists plot to have Chris de Freitas, who allowed the contrary paper, sacked from his job. This post follows the story forwards.

As before, when quoting the emails, I do so minus annoying symbols such as >>>. Where I am commenting within the email text, I place the text as [this is my comments], and any bold text is my emphasis. For this post, I will mainly only quote parts of emails that directly refer to the team’s attempt to attack de Freitas.

In the previous post, I was up to email 1430, but had missed out a crucial email in which Phil Jones is supportive of action 3b and 3c suggested by Pittock to deal with the de Freitas problem (see previous post, email O332 ), which I will remind you of as follows:

(b) Ensure that such misleading papers do not continue to appear in the offending journals by getting proper scientific standards applied to refereeing and editing [nothing we disagree with goes into the journal]. Whether that is done publicly or privately may not matter so much, as long as it happens. It could be through boycotting the journals, but that might leave them [them??? – people who disagree] even freer to promulgate misinformation. To my mind that is not as good as getting the offending editors removed [they want to determine who can and cannot edit a journal?] and proper processes in place. Pressure or ultimatums to the publishers might work, or concerted lobbying by other co-editors or leading authors.

(c) A journalistic expose of the unscientific practices might work and embarass the sceptics/industry lobbies [this sounds like a call to smear anyone who disagrees] (if they are capable of being embarassed) e.g., through a reliable [as biased as they are???] lead reporter for Science or Nature. Offending editors could be labelled as “rogue editors” [this is simply unreal], in line with current international practice? Or is that defamatory? [I would suggest that, yes, calling anyone who disagrees with you, or allows publication of dissenting views, would indeed be defamatory]

Phil Jones writes back to Pittock endorsing both of these actions as follows, in email o332,  on 17 April:

My earlier email reply to Neville gives the details of a paper already out there and two more planned. It is clear when these come out we have to be more active in gaining more widespread publicity for them (much more than we normally do). [it is clear here that they are, quite literally, activists] At the moment Ray’s extensive paper (with others) in the PAGES volume could be a starting point.

Mike Hulme is moving towards your 3b course of action and I’ll talk to Hans von Storch, who although he says he’s not the Chief Editor is thought of by many to be this de facto. 3c is possible through contacts we all have with editors at Science and Nature. I realise the issues with lobbying groups and I’m sure this has been discussed at the IPCC planning meeting in Marrakesh this week.

Let’s see how Mike gets on and my talks with Hans (and Tom Crowley) next week.

In this email, Phil Jones is clearly endorsing actions to use whatever means necessary to blacken the name of de Freitas. It is also possible to see that they see themselves as having influence at Science and Nature, and that they consider they can call on this influence to do a hatchet job. In the same email, Mann responds to Phil Jones as follows:

I’m going to try to get ahold of Dick Kerr today to see if I can get his interest in doing a story. My guess is that Dick will go for it. If so, I’d like to give him a list of names of people to contact for comments.

Richard (Dick) Kerr is a staff writer for Science magazine. I will jump ahead a little here, as it is appears that Mann succeeds. By 15th August, a story appears in Science magazine called ‘In the Eye of the Storm‘. This is an extract from the piece, and you will note how closely it follows the team’s objective:

It has been a hot summer for Hans von Storch. In June the German meteorologist was promoted to editor-in chief of Climate Research and asked to douse the controversy from the journal’s publication in January of a paper skeptical about global warming. But by the end of July he had thrown in the towel and resigned.

The paper that led to his rise and fall claimed that the 20th century was in fact cooler than a period in the late Middle Ages.Authored by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it was based on a study partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute and widely quoted by politicians skeptical of global warming. The Bush Administration even referenced it in a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency that critics said was altered to hew more closely to the party line.

But other climate researchers say the authors’ data was too limited to support their claims. “They could not draw those conclusions from the methods they used,” says Von Storch.

This was not the only piece that appeared in Science. The following paper is published:

Bradley, R. S., Hughes, M. K., & Diaz, H. F. (2003). Climate in Medieval time.(Climate Change). Science, 302(5644), 404(402).

It may come as no surpise to see that the paper rebuts the Soon & Baliunas (S&B) paper, the publication of which led to the team’s attack on de Freitas. This is the conclusion of the paper:

The balance of evidence does not point to a High Medieval period that was as warm as or warmer than the late 20th century. However, more climate records are required to explain the likely causes for climate variations over the last millennium and to fully understand natural climate variability, which will certainly accompany future anthropogenic effects on climate.

And, if looking at the references used in the paper, it contains references to three Mann papers, and offers this at the end:

We thank J. Hansen, J. Lean, M. Mann, and J. Salinger for comments. Support by the U.S. Department of Energy (R.S.B., H.F.D,), NSF Earth System History program (M.K.H.), and NOAA Earth System History program (R.S.S., M.K.H.).

And here is the rub. Apparently, according to Mann in email number 2469, the article was ‘a solicited piece’. It seems that the planned journalistic expose and the rebuttal all took place as planned. This should, at the very least, cause some concern about Science Magazine in this ugly business. Furthermore, for example, Bradley was on the distribution of many of the key emails plotting against de Freitas, including the one in which Wigley admits that the attack on de Freitas is ad hominem. Here we can see the extent of the team, and a cynical view might suggest that Richard Kerr is joining as a team member (he is later copied in on emails from other members of the team e.g. here).

I have digressed a little, as I wanted to follow up on some interesting points in the emails, and I continue the story at email 4132, of 28th April. This is Phil Jones to Mann:

Now had a chance to catch up a little.  On de Freitas I hope something is going to happen, but I don’t to say anything yet. Hans and Clare will write to the publishers and try to get the reviews from de Freitas. Hans is now convinced he should go, but wants to do on a due cause basis and by the book so any backlash can be dealt with in a fair manner.

From the previous post, you may remember that all along, the team wanted to know who had been responsible for the Soon & Baliunas (S&B) paper. It seems here that the pressure from the team is finally working with regards to Hans von Storch. Mann only makes one comment on this, which is below:

Re, DeFreitas–good to hear. That piece that Jim Salinger just forwarded is especially damning…Thanks for the message.

I am assuming that Mann is referring to the email, in which Salinger is proposing sending a letter with the clear intention of getting de Freitas sacked from University of Auckland. However, I cannot be sure from this snippet, as it may refer to the email below.The next email I have found comes quite a bit later, on 16 May, and is email 4808. (corrected 28 November, thanks Alex) MannPhil Jones is following up on the email of Mann Hulme, in which he proposes writing a letter to the other editors of Climate Resarch, asking for the editors to resign in protest at de Freitas being an editor.

Did anything ever come of this? [the email to the CR editors]

Clare Goodness was in touch w/ me indicating that she had discussed the matter w/ Von Storch, and that DeFrietas would be relieved of his position. However, I haven’t heard anything. A large segment of the community I’ve been in contact with feels that this event has already done its damage, allowing Baliunas and colleagues to  attempt to impact U.S. governmental policy, w/ this new weapon in hand–the appearance of a    legitimate peer-reviewed document challenging some core assertions of IPCC to wave in congress. They appear to be making some headway in using this to influence U.S. policy, which makes our original discussions all the more pressing now.

In this context, it seems important that either Clare and Von Storch take imminent action  on this, or else actions of the sort you had mentioned below should perhaps be strongly considered again. Non-action or slow action here could be extremely damaging.I’ll forward you some emails which will indicate the damage that the publication has already caused.

Thanks very much for all your help w/ this to date, and for anything additional you may be able to do in this regard to move this forward.

It seems that the pressure of the team is bearing fruit, and that they will achieve their aim of having de Freitas sacked as an editor. Also, the primary concern of Jones in this email is the impact of the S&B on policymakers. Other people researching other climategate emails have found the team openly referring to the ’cause’, and it is apparent that the big concern about the S&B paper is that it is damaging ‘the cause’.

You may have noted that Clare Goodess has been floating into view in some of the emails. As a backgrounder, she is a researcher at the CRU East Anglia, and is therefore a colleague of Phil Jones. She was also copied in on email 1051156418.txt in which Wigley admits that they are discussin an ad hominem attack on de Freitas, so must be aware of the role that she is about to play. This is email 4159, and the following is from Goodess to Mann on 19 May:

Hans and I have already raised this issue with Inter Research, but they havent taken  it up yet. Hans and I have have contacted de Freitas and InterResearch over the issues that you and others have raised before. One of the things de Freitas said in response, was that he had contacted the editor of Energy and Environment to see why it had been published. The editor told him that it deserved ‘a less interferedwith version’ , i.e., the original authors had complained about the  changes required by the CR reviewers!

Hans, InterResearch and I are still discussing what action needs to be taken and how to respond to de Freitas’ inititial responses. I will ensure that all those who have expressed concerns to me and/or Hans/Mike Hulme are informed of the outcome.

Notice here, that team members are being kept in the loop at all stages. In the normal world, even if accepting that there should be a review of the position of de Freitas, you would expect this kind of review to be confidential, as it directly relates to the reputation of an individual.The response from Mann is:

Thanks very much for the update, and for your efforts to do something about this. De Freitas’ argument seems to amount to “well the editor at ‘Energy and Environment’ was even worse than me”, and that doesn’t quite hold water.

As de Frietas apparently seeks to distance himself from culpability, please keep in mind that this is only one of  numerous past complaints of suspicious and apparently unethical behavior on his part in association with his position at “Climate Research”. I’m forwarding, under separate cover, an email describing a complaint from Danny Harvey and Tom Wigley.

I, as well as many other of our colleagues, look forward to hearing what happens here.

For this email alone, it might be reasonable for de Freitas to challenge Mann in court for libel. Mann is directly suggesting that de Freitas has behaved unethically in relation to his role at Climate Research. Meanwhile in email 2104, they are planning a new line of attack. On 22nd April, Harvey sends an email copying an email he, Wigley and Goodess write the following to de Freitas:

Dear Dr. de Freitas:

We have discovered that we were both reviewers of the paper Revised 21st century temperature projections by Michaels et al. recently  published in your journal (vol. 23, pp. 19, 2002). In our reviews, we both judged the paper to be in category d (Publication not recommended) because of numerous flaws in the arguments, which we carefully documented.

We now see that the paper has been published almost without alteration from the original submission, except for a few added paragraphs that  either do not address or inadequately address the main objections that we raised. The revised manuscript was apparently not subjected to re- review at least not by us. We find this to be most unusual  even if the authors presented a counter-argument to each of our objections, it is the normal procedure among reputable journals for the authors reply to be forwarded to the original reviewers for further comment.

We note in this regard that even under the less damning evaluation category c (Revise and re-submit for additional review), responses and      revisions should be sent back to the original referees. Your decision that a paper judged totally unacceptable for publication should not      require re-review is unprecedented in our experience.

We therefore request that you forward to us copies of the authors responses to our criticisms, together with: (1) your reason for not sending these responses or the revised manuscript to us; (2) an explanation for your judgment that the revised paper should be published in the absence of our re-review; and (3) your reason for failing to follow accepted editorial procedures.

Yours truly,
Danny Harvey and Tom Wigley
Best wishes, Clare

In other words, a new line of attack has opened up. I have had several academic papers accepted for publication, including some that have strongly divided reviewers, but where the editor has come down upon my side and accepted the paper (and some with the opposite outcome). From this experience, it seems that their complaint is without any foundation, but I have never been a journal editor (although I have reviewed articles).

I’m afraid that, at this point, I will call it a day again. I have just had a comment on the original post on this subject from Steve McIntyre, and he has mentioned that he plans to follow this up. As this blog is only a minor one, and this is a major story, I will leave it to those that can give a better airing to finish the story. I only hope that the work I have done on this might help.

As a conclusion, I would just like to say that the de Freitas affair is, I believe, a very, very major story. In particular there is no question of ‘out of context’ or any of the other excuses that were wheeled out for climategate 1. They are absolutely explicit in their aims, and their endorsement of Salinger’s proposal to try to get de Freitas sacked. This is something that most people, even those who do not follow this subject, can grasp hold of.

In the meantime, I have every confidence that Steve will take this story forwards, and give it the reach it deserves . In particular, Steve’s good name has enough weight to carry the story into the mainstream media. I suspect that this might finally be enough for the ‘team’ to held accountable for their corruption of science. Let’s hope so.

As a final note, I will follow up this story with the New Zealand media, in particular when Steve’s version of events is published. In my original post, I have posted a copy of the email I sent to the New Zealand Herald, effectively challenging them to respond to the story. More of the same may be on the cards, time allowing.

Update: 28 November

I see that this post has been linked to on Real Climate in some comments on Climategate 2. This is the comment:

Any context on this thread – which might be interpreted to constitute a coordinated effort to have someone dismissed for not following the party line?


And the answer is given as follows:

[Response: The issue has nothing to do with not ‘following the party line’, but rather of being guilty of appalling editorial practices, whereby papers were published with claims that were not justified by the analysis, or that were accepted almost ‘as is’ regardless of the views of referees. Hans von Storch in email 2106: “For me it is important that we admit that the result of the review process of Soon & Baliunas was insufficient”, and noting the pattern “We should have been more vigilant after we had seen that actually two critical comments were written on the first Soon paper” (also handled by de Freitas). The corruption here was de Frietas, not anyone who responded. – gavin]

My response to ‘Gavin’. When reading the whole series of emails, and looking at the context of the whole, I think readers can make up their own minds. This is yet another attempt by the ‘team’ (Real Climate is their online support) to shift the direction, again smearing Chris de Freitas. Again, here again we have accusations of Chris de Freitas as ‘corrupt’. If I were Chris, I might be chatting with some lawyers right now.

Interestingly, I do not think I need to say more. I think the emails speak for themselves, except to say that  it is interesting to see how they will try to spin this. I saw (and responded to) a comment (awaiting moderation at time of writing) on Wattsupwiththat which was very similar to this, and said something similar to my comment here.

Update 1st December

I have noticed that the campaign against Chris de Freitas is being restarted, so I have written a post dedicated to the subject, which can be found here.