Saturday, Dec 19th, 2009
Al Gore’s claim last week that the Climategate emails were insignificant relied on two main defences. Both are so flagrantly wrong that it’s not enough to say Gore is simply mistaken.
No, Al Gore is a liar.
Last week we showed that the first of his Climategate defences was so preposterously wrong that it was doubtful he had even read the leaked emails he tried to dismiss. You see, five times in two interviews he dismissed the emails as dated documents that were at least 10 years old:
I haven’t read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old.
So Gore was so wrong on the first count that it was difficult to think of any way an honest man could have made such a mistake. Five times.
But now Steve McIntyre has exploded the second argument Gore made. And now all doubt in my mind is gone. Gore must have simply lied.
Gore’s second argument was that these emails which seemingly showed Climategate scientists trying to silence or sack sceptical scientists were taken out of context, since the two sceptical papers they referred to were in fact published, after all.
Here is the relevant passage in his interview with Slate:
Q: There is a sense in these e-mails, though, that data was hidden and hoarded, which is the opposite of the case you make [in your book] about having an open and fair debate.
A: I think it’s been taken wildly out of context. The discussion you’re referring to was about two papers that two of these scientists felt shouldn’t be accepted as part of the IPCC report. Both of them, in fact, were included, referenced, and discussed. So an e-mail exchange more than 10 years ago including somebody’s opinion that a particular study isn’t any good is one thing, but the fact that the study ended up being included and discussed anyway is a more powerful comment on what the result of the scientific process really is.
That is actually false.
But before I go to McIntyre’s evidence on this, first note Gore’s rhetorical trick - or deceit.
His trick is to ignore the mountain of emails that clearly suggest a collusion against sceptics, and the hiding of data, and to suggest instead that the allegations boil down to just a single email about a single instance of two Climategate scientists allegedly blocking two papers.
Here are just some of the Climategate emails that Gore ignored, which all seem evidence of the very collusion to hide data or censor sceptics that he denies. They include ones like this (from 2005):
At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:
Mike, I presume congratulations are in order - so congrats etc !
Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone
And this (from last year):
From: Phil Jones
Subject: Re: A quick question
Date: Wed Dec 10 10:14:10 2008
Haven’t got a reply from the FOI person here at UEA. So I’m not entirely confident the numbers are correct. One way of checking would be to look on CA, but I’m not doing that. I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails - unless this was ‘normal’ deleting to keep emails manageable! McIntyre hasn’t paid his £10, so nothing looks likely to happen re his Data Protection Act email.
Anyway requests have been of three types - observational data, paleo data and who made IPCC changes and why. Keith has got all the latter - and there have been at least 4. We made Susan aware of these - all came from David Holland. According to the FOI Commissioner’s Office, IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on, unless it has anything to do with our core business - and it doesn’t! I’m sounding like Sir Humphrey here!
And this (from last year):
From: Phil Jones
To: “Michael E. Mann”
Subject: IPCC & FOI
Date: Thu May 29 11:04:11 2008
Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.
Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.
We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.
And this (from Tom Wigley in 2003, as the Climategate cabal organised the ousting of a sceptic-friendly editor of Climate Scientist):
PS Re CR, I do not know the best way to handle the specifics of the editoring. Hans von Storch is partly to blame—he encourages the publication of crap science ‘in order to stimulate debate’. One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word ‘perceived’ here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about—it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts.I think we could get a large group of highly credentialed scientists to sign such a letter—50+ people.Note that I am copying this view only to Mike Hulme and Phil Jones. Mike’s idea to get editorial board members to resign will probably not work—must get rid of von Storch too, otherwise holes will eventually fill up with people like Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Michaels, Singer, etc. I have heard that the publishers are not happy with von Storch, so the above approach might remove that hurdle too.
Note that not one of these emails is, as Gore claimed, “more than 10 years old”. The oldest is from 2003 , and the most recent is from just last December.
But let’s go now to the one email Gore does specifically defend as “out of context”. It is this one, which again is not 10 years old but was sent in 2005 by Climategate scientist Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit:
The other paper by MM is just garbage – as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well – frequently as I see it. I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !
("K" is Kevin Trenberth, a fellow IPCC author.)
Now to Steve McIntyre (go here for his full explanation):
The [warmist] “community“‘s response to this has been: move along, there’s nothing to see. A typical defence is that of Ronald Prinn of MIT ... : that improper peer review activities by CRU and their associates didn’t “matter” because McIntyre and McKitrick were discussed by IPCC after all:
“Five papers by McIntyre and McKitrick were published and then referenced and discussed in the IPCC.”
[This is Gore’s argument, too: “the study (sic) ended up being included and discussed anyway”.]
I’m going to place the money quote in context, showing that Jones and Trenberth did in fact live up to their threats, breaching other IPCC rules along the way.
First of all, contrary to the statement by Prinn (and others), the paper being threatened was not a McIntyre and McKitrick paper; it was Michaels and McKitrick (Climate Research 2004)… The Michaels and McKitrick paper was originally submitted to International Journal of Climatology in May 2004 and was then assigned to Andrew Comrie of the University of Arizona. Comrie sought a review from the omnipresent Phil Jones (and apparently two others). The submission was rejected…
Contrary to the spin of Prinn and others, it is a matter of fact that Trenberth and Jones kept Michaels and McKitrick (2004) out of the AR4 First Draft. (I searched and confirmed this.) As an IPCC peer reviewer, McKitrick and another reviewer (Vincent Grey) vigorously objected to the exclusion.
Trenberth and Jones flatly rejected their comments. The following is one example. Consult the AR4 First Order Draft Review Comments for others.References are plentiful. Those of value are cited Rejected. The locations of socioeconomic development happen to have coincided with maximum warming, not for the reason given by McKitrick and Michaels (2004) but because of the strengthening of the Arctic Oscillation and the greater sensitivity of land than ocean to greenhouse forcing owing to the smaller thermal capacity of land.
Ross tells me that there was no peer reviewed literature at the time (or to this day) specifically supporting the Trenberth and Jones attribution of the effect to the “strengthening of the Arctic Oscillation”.
In the Second Order Draft, Trenberth and Jones were once again successful in keeping Michaels and McKitrick (2004) out of the IPCC Draft. Once again, as IPCC peer reviewers, McKitrick and Grey objected and once again, the Trenberth and Jones Author Responses were dismissive…
However, there was a complication for Jones and Trenberth, who had thus far been successful in carrying out their threat. This time, there was a second article (de Laat and Maurelis. IJC 2006) making very similar arguments to Michaels and McKitrick…
This time, Trenberth and Jones grudgingly agreed to mention the two articles in the IPCC report. However, they accompanied the mention with an extremely dismissive characterization – a characterization which (1) was made without any citation to peer reviewed literature and (2) that had not itself been submitted to external IPCC peer reviewers; and (3) to which Michaels and McKitrick had no previous opportunity to reply...
McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and De Laat and Maurellis (2006) attempted to demonstrate that geographical patterns of warming trends over land are strongly correlated with geographical patterns of industrial and socioeconomic development, implying that urbanisation and related land surface changes have caused much of the observed warming. However, the locations of greatest socioeconomic development are also those that have been most warmed by atmospheric circulation changes (Sections 220.127.116.11 and 3.6.4), which exhibit large-scale coherence. Hence, the correlation of warming with industrial and socioeconomic development ceases to be statistically significant. In addition, observed warming has been, and transient greenhouse-induced warming is expected to be, greater over land than over the oceans (Chapter 10), owing to the smaller thermal capacity of the land.
Despite the IPCC (Jones and Trenberth) claim that the results “cease to be statistically significant”, Ross tells me that this is not the case and that there is no peer reviewed literature supporting this claim…
Jones and Trenberth clearly lived up to the threat to keep Michaels and McKitrick 2004 out of the IPCC AR4 First and Second Drafts, and when that effort foundered somewhat with the addition of de Laat and Maurelis 2006, they inserted a dismissive editorial comment that was not supported by any reference to peer reviewed literature and which had not been itself subjected to the formal IPCC process.
While there are other cases of comments being added in the Final Draft to deal with review comments to the Second Draft, there was no reason for the distortion of the IPCC procedure in this particular case, other than the prior deliberate effort to keep the Michaels and McKitrick article out of the IPCC report.
So Gore’s defence of the Climategate emails is wrong in almost every detail, and spectacularly so. The emails are not at least 10 years old, the evidence of collusion to hide data is not limited to just two sceptics’ papers, and the papers were indeed kept out of two drafts, and then criticised in the report without any peer-reviewed literature to support those attacks.
Gore lied. And he lied because Climategate is a scandal so big that he had to.