Friday, November 20, 2009

Is Jim Inhofe behind the hacking into climate scientists' emails?

Probably not. But you have to admit, there are some fishy coincidences. I'll get back to that at the end of the post.

Here's the back story. Friday, the news broke that hackers had illegally stolen emails and other data from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia's (UK) Climate Research Unit. According to the Guardian:

Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists during the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege they provide "smoking gun" evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real, and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind...

The revelations did not alter the huge body of evidence from a variety of scientific fields that supports the conclusion that modern climate change is caused largely by human activity, Ward said. The emails refer largely to work on so-called paleoclimate data - reconstructing past climate scenarios using data such as ice cores and tree rings. "Climate change is based on several lines of evidence, not just paleoclimate data," he said. "At the heart of this is basic physics."

Note that out of these "hundreds of emails" written over "13 years," only a few have generated controversy so far, mostly because it's easy for us laypeople to misinterpret the professional slang and technical language scientists use.

Also note that the emails only dealt with reconstructions of past climate, not predictions of future climate change. Understanding past climates certainly helps us to understand whether today's climate change is unique, but it is not needed to understand the fundamental relationship between CO2 and temperature: more CO2 equals higher temperatures. For more explanation, see here and here.

Last, note that the emails do not directly negate the science itself. Taken out of context, they give ammunition to those who claim that climate science is a conspiracy, but they don't engage directly with the evidence. Physics is still physics, and just because a "biased" person says the sky is blue does not make it green. This seems like a case of saying something without saying anything.

In other words, even if the emails WERE evidence of a conspiracy, it wouldn't disprove any of the research done by the scientists who wrote them. And even if it DID, that research is not critical to our understanding of global warming.

But back to Inhofe. What I can't get over is this statement he made Wednesday, just hours before the hacker story broke (at 9:05 on Thursday):

“I proudly declare 2009 as the ‘Year of the Skeptic,’ the year in which scientists who question the so-called global warming consensus are being heard...

“Until this year, any scientist, reporter or politician who dared raise even the slightest suspicion about the science behind global warming was dismissed and repeatedly mocked...

"Today, I have been vindicated."

Now, I'm not saying Sen. Inhofe was involved with the hacking. Nor am I saying that he was somehow aware of the story before it broke. But you have to admit, he sounds so confident in his statement. Why was he so certain he would be vindicated? Why is THIS year the "year of the skeptics"? And why did he wait until hours before the hacker story broke to make his statement? Did he know something was about to break that would supposedly give credence to his claims? I ask questions!


One of the comments pointed out that the hack actually took place Tuesday - BEFORE Inhofe gave his speech about the "Year of the Skeptic." Not sure how I missed that before, but it means it's theoretically possible that Inhofe could have known about the hack in advance.


The Cold Logic of Hockey Sticks

The Only Thing you Need to Know about Global Warming

A Lesson in Denial: Eric Cantor videos, global warming deniers, and how to say something without saying anything


  1. No, as the Tulsa story said, he was referring to the no-go in Copenhagen.

  2. there are some fishy coincidences going on in Australia as well. There has been turmoil here in Australias Parliament. Many pollys coming out and denouncing AGW / CC as a scam.
    So I don't think Sen. Inhofe was involved, maybe just good / bad timing !

  3. Apparently the hack took place on Tuesday.

  4. The difficulty is that with all the "adjustments" alluded to in the e-mails there is now no basis for anything. Nada. We know nothing for sure.

    Twenty or thirty years of "science" are going to have to be redone to get us to where we thought we were today.

    And the models are all "calibrated" based on bad data. So we have crap.

    In addition we will be short of climate scientists because the most prolifically published are now suspect.

  5. The documents submarine has fired a spread of fish and the AGW ship has taken hits fore, aft, and amidships.

    She is shipping water and starting to list.

    BTW I sent an e-mail to my Republican contact in the Senate (he works for the Senate R caucus) late on the night of the 19th. So the fact that something was said on the 20th proves no foreknowledge.

    And my contact got back to me on the 20th with an e-mail that indicated he understood the implications.

    Just a little blogger doing his part to keep his government informed. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.

    If the science had been done openly with open methods and open data this could all have been avoided. Maybe in the next go it will be done right.