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The CRU hack – What a difference an internet makes

If you want to see how different the world now is from how it was before the internet, look no further than this story (now bouncing energetically around the world):

It is claimed that the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has been hacked and there is a massive file of emails and code up on a server in Russia. If what has been posted is real then the balloon is about to go up.

Excerpts of the emails have been posted here. They include a CRU scientist welcoming the death of a prominent sceptic, discussion of how to fiddle results and so on.

Amazing. If true.

As someone says, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

Those were my first sentiments exactly (although I don’t think that being glad when an opponent has dropped dead is all that surprising – I’m sure we all know that feeling), and the sentiments of practically everyone else in the anti-AGW blogosphere when they first heard about this. Now, it is looking ever more likely that it is true, all of it.

Not least because the first big response from the hackees has been to cry, not: load of made-up bollocks, but rather: stop thief! Yes, we have been hacked, and that’s outrageous. The story is that we have been hacked. (Lots of people are suddenly discovering the case for intellectual property rights.) The BBC’s first version of this story goes with this angle, and with pretty much nothing else. AGW scientists (good) robbed by anti-AGW fanatics (bad). But this response has not killed the story. It has only given it legs. If there’s nothing to it, why be so fussed about the hacking?

Even if the mainstream media try to bury this, they can’t stop us anti-AGWers from talking about it amongst ourselves, and my bet is that they will quickly abandon the attempt to ignore the content of this material, and instead make copious use – perhaps even acknowledged use, with links – of the work even now being done by all those damned bloggers. If they don’t do this, they will merely look foolish. It’s a different world, from the one where all the journalism was done by “journalists”, and only those journalists could decide what journalism would be done.

Sure enough, the New York Times already has a report about this, and James Delingpole already has a piece up at the Telegraph blog. (Thank you Instapundit.) This won’t now be buried, even if the story ends up being that a lot of trivia was hacked, and then a lot of incriminating stuff was forged and added, which is looking less and less like the story with each hour that passes.

Two particularly good bloggers on this story so far have been Bishop Hill (already quoted above) and Devil’s Kitchen, the Bishop for the trawling through that he is already starting to do, and DK for the way he (among many others) is already teasing out what it all might mean:

What these emails do show is that there is not consensus amongst scientists and that, privately, they think that certain papers are crap. No word of this gets to the media, or to the people being soaked for ever more cash to pay for these delusions.

What these emails really show is why such information never gets to the public: it is because climate scientists – like doctors – close ranks when attacked.

Not only this, but these emails also clearly show that climate scientists have been doing their absolute best to ensure that those who would question their findings cannot find the data.

The Bishop even has a new book out about AGW trickery, entitled The Hockey Stick Illusion. Coincidence? Well, yes, and one that is liable to mean lots of further work for him, riding whatever wave these new revelations may cause. But a nice coincidence nevertheless. This could now become a global best seller.

I already know what some of our cup-mostly-empty commenters here will say about all this, or want to say. Yes, the anti-AGW camp may now be starting to win the argument, but “they” still command the institutions they need in order to impose AGW-based tyranny. True. But those institutions can never be neutered, closed, etc., if they do not first lose their argument. (Think: USSR.) This is already rather good news, and potentially very important in its longer term impact.

For other early AGWer reactions, read this, together with all the comments.

51 comments to The CRU hack – What a difference an internet makes

  • Diversity

    The comment on Real Climate is good.

  • John B

    It will, indeed, be interesting and educational to see how the AAGW supporters in and outside MSM deal with this.
    It amazes me sometimes how major events can be made minor, and minor, major without one, somehow, noticing.
    It’s almost enough to convince one that there is a conspiracy! If one could be so foolish.
    Congratulations for communicating this!

  • I can’t help thinking of the Pentagon Papers. When they were leaked to the New York Times all hell broke loose. The Nixon White House went crazy and set up the plumbers unit leading to Watergate. In fact the papers were not nearly as damaging to the Vietnam effort as this seems to be to the AGW folks.

    Whoever hacked this, or leaked it or whatever will probably be dragged over hot coals by the authorities and will not end up a ‘progressive’ hero like Ellsberg. But if this does stop the drive for global carbon taxes and regulations he or she will have the satisfaction of knowing that millions of lives were saved and hundreds of million of lives were bettered due to his or her actions. Ellsberg however has the lives of at least three million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians at least partly on his head.

    Leaks for me but not for thee

  • Frank S

    The banality of it all!

    Third-rate science by third-rate people of low integrity, aided and abetted by a superbly effective propaganda machine called the IPCC.

    This exposure will do much good, but the academics, industrialists, and others who have been milking the many tens of billions of dollars worth of grants issued by rich governments and foundations in the name of AGW alarmism over the past 20 years will take some considerable effort to neutralise and flush from our political and intellectual systems. The struggle is far from over.

  • jdm

    The comment on Real Climate is good.

    Yes. Indeed. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

  • Johnny

    “Cup-mostly-empty-commenters.” LOL.

    Or we could consider the empirical evidence amply provided by past events. It’s what the Americans term a “no-brainer” to predict that this will not derail the warmist agenda – and, in fact, they will redouble their efforts at repression.

    It was a long time ago, in a country long gone, that government-funded science had anything other than coincidental relationship to real science.

    For politics, science has replaced religion as the framework for justification of government action – which means the action is what dictates the science and not the other way around.

    It’s not about “the argument.” It’s about who has the power to make reality. Will you have the good grace to admit, say a year from now, that the cup-mostly-empty commenters are the ones acknowledging reality?

    The current big-government New World Order agenda will only be derailed by one thing – enough people picking up guns and bombs and killing enough politicians. I can’t see UK leading the way on that. Maybe America, if we’re lucky?

  • Robert

    This could do real damage to the image of science.

    Until now scientists have tended to be regarded by the public as white coated, rather otherworldly and impartial seekers of The Truth. Now it seems at leaset some of them are willing to be government stooges, who will to tow the government line in order to keep their jobs and pensions. This was demonstrated a few weeks ago when a scientist was sacked by the British government for contradicting their policy pronouncements on drugs. Now this.

    About the only good thing to come out of this is that people might be more skeptical (pun intended) when, in future, government proposes yet another restriction on their liberties in the name of “the science”.

  • Pat

    It occurs to me that the CRU could have prevented this hack by publishing the data- much if not all of which has been requested under the Freedom of Information Act, with which they have not complied.
    As to intellectual property- The CRU is publicly funded- so the property rights lay with the state, not them- and morally of course they belong to the taxpayer.
    Finally if they expect me to believe their theory then they need to publish in full. That would be true if their theories had no consequences. It is even more true given the vast consequences involved in acceptance. I doubt if there is anyone sensible who would disagree on this last.
    I cannot help but wonder whether the recession has something to do with the increasing scepticism. There’s nothing like being broke to concentrate the mind on the value of money.

  • “Third-rate science by third-rate people of low integrity, aided and abetted by a superbly effective propaganda machine called the IPCC.”

    You have to remember that many of the people involved in these documents and emails effectively are the IPCC.

    Almost all of the science used as the basis for IPCC predications are produced by these men; they also sit on the scientific board of the IPCC and decide what papers should go into the IPCC reviews, etc.

    This scandal goes right to the heart of the IPCC and, coincidentally, explains why so many eminent scientists have resigned from having anything to do with that organisation.

    DK

  • john east

    First the exposure of our greedy, troughing MP’s, then this.

    I am amazed the powers that be have not yet banned the internet. As it is, we must surely be living on borrowed time because the ready access to information enabled by the internet, and the resulting dissemination of truth and exposure of lies, most certainly cannot be tolerated much longer.

    I’ll give it another five years.

  • Tedd

    Is there a link directly to the posted emails? I’ve been following links all morning but have yet to see any of the actual source material.

  • The defence barriers are going up. Roger Harrabin (Link)talks about these being peripheral issues and it being normal in science for comments to be made. He would be right except for a three minor points in the presentation of the science.

    – the claims that the science is settled.
    – the claims that anyone who does not agree is a crank or has ulterior motives (e.g. in the pay of oil companies)
    – the claim that the demarcation between climate science & deniers is peer reviews.

    All this shows is that climatology, like other empirical sciences, is partisan. The difference is that in climatology, only one viewpoint is funded and given repsctful consideration. More importantly, this is no mere ivory-towered scandal. On the basis of such partisan opinions are governments being manouvered into embracing world government and a major reduction in global living standards.

  • MikeG

    for a database of the emails try this from WUWT

  • http://www.megaupload.com/?d=75J4XO4T(Link) has the file (Seems to be clean and safe, but run it through your virus checker first)

  • I see that Instapundit has just linked to Bishop Hill’s posting summarising all this.

    Like I say, that Bishop Hill book could become very big.

  • Reply to Tedd:

    I’ve decided to save the casually curious from the need to download 61MB of stuff, unzip etc. by sticking the emails (with addresses futzed and some phone numbers ditto) on my webserver along with a fairly basic search engine.

    Now anyone can search for “M&M” or “FOI” and see everything that shows up – no need to rely on journalists or bloggers potentially selectively quoting emails. Also if you see a quote on a page with a somewhat cryptic reference such as “1103647149″ or “1103647149.txt” you can paste the numbers in to the “Open” box and get the file displayed for you.

    The tool is here
    “>http://www.di2.nu/foia/foia.pl”>
    “>http://www.di2.nu/foia/foia.pl(Link)

  • RRS

    Do I remember correctly that H.M. Gov’t declared certain weather records (bases for prediction models) “Official Secrets” or some such bunkum because their release might cause loss of public confidence in data relaince?

  • Epictetus

    Not quite true that BBC first version went “with this angle, and with pretty much nothing else”. I think it is more sinister.
    At 5:20 this morning I was delighted to hear the first radio 4 news summary of the day give emphasis to the embarassing side of the story. Since then it (and their web site) has been whipped into towing the partty line.

  • lucklucky

    Like posted above the database of emails are online and searchable.

    http://www.anelegantchaos.org/cru/

  • Sam Duncan

    It occurs to me that the CRU could have prevented this hack by publishing the data-

    Just what the hacker, or leaker, appears to think, too.

    much if not all of which has been requested under the Freedom of Information Act, with which they have not complied.

    Which they have actively attempted to frustrate, if the emails are to be believed.

    This would seem to be the most damning part of the leaked material. All the rest can be explained away, if not satisfactorally, at least satisfactorally enough for a friendly press. But it’s quite plain that they were deliberately deleting data after an FOI request. Not only is that bad in itself, but it makes them look like they have something to hide.

  • bastiches

    This could do real damage to the image of science.

    Science had already been damaged. It’s just now that someone’s turned on the lights to reveal the shards on the floor.

    The public may not care to delve into the minutiae of the climate debate but they can’t ignore the series of crimes committed, not academic fraud but criminal fraud. From tax evasion to misappropriation of research funds, there is enough in this leak to prompt government investigations into these activists posing as scientists.

  • Ed Snack

    Yes, from what I’ve read the overwhelming impression is a relatively small group of “scientists” who have turned into advocates for a certain point of view. They are prepared to actively thwart any attempts to evaluate their work in the light of the source data.

    This is largely I suggest driven by egos and a “lust” for power and influence, very much aided by the political classes (governments and NGO types). None of these people would enjoy anything like the prestige and privileges they do now if the science was questioned.

    And it isn’t that AGW will collapse with the release of these documents, there is some science behind it, what should collapse though is alarmism.

    However, I gloomly predict that the end result of this will be,….next to nothing. The politcal classes have tied reputations and power to this, they won’t let it go. It is even possible that this will be a spur to sign up to something even more unreasonably stupid at Copenhagen just to avoid having to deal with the deceit that is being revealed. Sad.

  • cjf

    A sooooo linkistic posting. (not a complaint, though)
    Real “Wikileak”.
    The “Net” is just another place where people do what they do every “place” else.

    This is hardly the only blog that says “The State, the State, a horse’s rear for the State”

    My father used to say “Don’t worry about what people say. It’s when they stop talking, you have to worry”

    Although it may, a time, seem that everyone is just talking (or posting), there are more not saying.

    Like the Chinese line “May you live in interesting times”
    No kidding?

    Think of it this way. Silence gives the snoops less to hear. And, anything they hear is probably what some want them to hear.

    Anyone can read the Book of Revelations. Try reading
    The Book of Concealments.

    Computers aren’t the only things that get “hacked”.
    It is the nature of living things to hack everything.

    Unless you are like a child you’ll never know God. LOL

  • Ed,

    Yes, from what I’ve read the overwhelming impression is a relatively small group of “scientists” who have turned into advocates for a certain point of view.

    The point is that this relatively small group of “scientists” control the entirety of the alarmist agenda.

    That is why this is significant.

    These people control the scientific arm of the IPCC, all of the major journals, etc. and the emails show that they have actively conspired to prevent any view other than theirs from being put across.

    This is far more important than your one sentence would intimate.

    DK

  • RAB

    He who casteth the first stone

    gets to count how many times it skims.

    Would you kindly cut the bullshit and write a coherent sentence please cjf?

  • cjf

    I apologize to RAB and all others here.
    And, to any readers offended.

  • Mike Lorrey

    I have heard that the leaker/hacker only released half the data he/she snagged off CRU’s server. I suspect we are going to see the usual suspects all start claiming “see, theres no conspiracy, etc” as we are starting to see on Real Climate, then the leaker will drop the other half of the data on the public with the REAL incriminating stuff… I’ve got my popcorn and am sitting back to watch the fun.

  • cjf: nothing offensive there, just unclear:-)

  • Kevin B

    I’d like to congratulate all those in the blogosphere who have done such a magnificent job in getting the story out. Not just the usual climate guys at WUWT, CA, the Air Vent and Lucia, but those like Powerline, Bolta, DK, the Bishop and especially the guy at anelegantchaos who put the papers up in searchable form. An exercise like this truly shows how the internet can work to spread the word.

    I’d also like to spit in the eye, (on the graves?), of the MSM. Here we have a big story of alleged conspiracy and corruption at a taxpayer funded research institution affecting one of the most important poltical, social and scientific issues facing the world and, with very few exceptions, they cower behind their desks in their gatekeeper newsrooms, afraid to investigate anything for fear that their bosses, the politicians might disapprove. Despicable.

    Another nail in the coffin of the MSM.

  • RAB

    cjf I didn’t mean to be rude, and lord knows I can be wilfully obscure myself. One regular called me the prince of Byzantium once. I practically live to extract the Michael, but this may be one of the biggest stories of the decade and as Alisa said clarity and a cool head is called for here if these bastards have been doing what the emails seem to show them doing, then we need every word to be crystal clear to nail the buggers properly.
    Please accept my apology.

  • renminbi

    The biggest scientific fraud ever. Even if the goo-goos and other rent seekers want to continue pushing this, China and India are in a much stronger position to tell them to do something anatomically impossible. As far as the Senate ratifying any global warming treaty-well not going to happen.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    From tax evasion to misappropriation of research funds, there is enough in this leak to prompt government investigations into these activists posing as scientists.

    Posted by bastiches at November 21, 2009 11:44 PM

    There may not be enough evidence in the World to prompt that.

    O/T, but while “tow the line” works, the classic version is “toe the line.”

  • William H Stoddard

    Do any of you recall the famous scandal of Cyril Burt’s twin studies? It destroyed his career. Of course, the heritability of intelligence that he was claiming to have demonstrated wasn’t a fashionably left-wing cause at the time: the reverse, if anything. . . .

  • Mike Lorrey

    I should note that the story is appearing in the MSM, I read a bit on it in the Washington Post this morning. This story is too big and tasty for them to ignore, they will eat their own over such a delicious scandal, if anything for committing the sin of getting caught.

  • Brian

    The first thing my publisher said to me on Friday morning was “did this have something to do with you?” It didn’t, but the timing is nothing if not fortuitous. Apart from the fact I’ve got a new chapter to write in the next couple of days!

  • kevin king

    @Ed snack
    >>It is even possible that this will be a spur to sign up to something even more unreasonably stupid at Copenhagen
    Check out
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/22/climate-change-emissions-scientist-watson

    Towards the end Watson is proposing actively manipulating the climate. These guys are dangerous. I just posted to Real Climate and suggested now would be a good time for all the guys at CRU and the Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung to read Feynman’s
    speech at CALTEC w.r.t Cargo Cult Science. I managed to misspell his name and posted again to Real Climate to ask them to correct. They posted my correction but not my original suggestion, which is a pity

  • Having read some of the emails at Bishop Hill, I have to say, that not all of what is said is as incriminating as it might be made out to be. Mind you, some of it just is – deleting info that you know is under FOI request and get caught doing it? Oh that doesn’t look good from any angle. Still, it’d pay to not go over the top with this stuff.

    Having said that, I don’t want to see the political context recede from public attention. A bunch of dirty little emails is one thing – but actively impeding human productivity and restricting human freedom is quite another.

  • mojo

    Looks to be lots of fortran code in there. And mbh98-osborne.zip looks like data sets…

  • Ed Snack

    Actually I don’t disagree DK, it’s just that a relatively small group has set themselves up as arbiters of what is “right and correct”. They have been shown to be actively controlling access to the journals and of course wrote sections of the IPCC reports.

    It is amusing to see the absolute deceit behind their claims that the skeptics won’t publish in the journals. They want them to try because they are acting as gatekeepers to those same journals ! Its “You aren’t a scientist unless you publish, and we won’t let you publish unless you say what you want”, sweet !

  • APL

    Radio four news today has Nigel ‘Lord’ Lawson, and some bod from the UEA.

    The interviewer talked about one email and spoke in the singular.

    UEA guy also said that they couldn’t release the data because it didn’t belong to the University.

    This is temperature measurements we are talking about, how can one group ‘own’ this data?

  • Bernard Keeffe

    THis was in Der Spiegel, like other foreign papers a better source of UK life than our own, not to mention the curiously selective BBC

    “Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.

    Otherwise, however, not much is happening with global warming at the moment. The Earth’s average temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.

    Ironically, climate change appears to have stalled in the run-up to the upcoming world summit in the Danish capital, where thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business leaders and environmental activists plan to negotiate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Billions of euros are at stake in the negotiations.

    Reached a Plateau

    The planet’s temperature curve rose sharply for almost 30 years, as global temperatures increased by an average of 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.25 degrees Fahrenheit) from the 1970s to the late 1990s. “At present, however, the warming is taking a break,” confirms meteorologist Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in the northern German city of Kiel. Latif, one of Germany’s best-known climatologists, says that the temperature curve has reached a plateau. “There can be no argument about that,” he says. “We have to face that fact.”

  • temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium

    I blame Y2K.

  • Corey

    Looks to be lots of fortran code in there.

    The comments in the code are particularly interesting.

  • kevin king

    From the original Spiegel article
    >>Doch einige Forscher wollen die britischen Berechnungen partout nicht wahrhaben. “Die Erwärmung ist in den letzten Jahren weitergegangen”, behauptet Stefan Rahmstorf vom Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK) trotzig. Mit dieser Ansicht steht er allerdings weitgehend allein. Der Hamburger Max-Planck-Forscher Marotzke hält dagegen: “Ich kenne keinen seriösen Kollegen, der leugnen würde, dass es in den letzten Jahren nicht mehr wärmer geworden ist.”

    The Max-Planck-Institut accepts that global warming has stopped. BUT Stefan Rahmstorf is adamant that it HAS NOT. This is pretty worrying given the weight the Postdam-institut fuer Kimafolgenforschung has in these matters. By the way I find the german coverage of AGW just as biased as the british, if not worse….Although there are sights like klimaskeptiker.info that monitor Rahmstorf and his links to the Muenchener Rueck

    http://www.klimaskeptiker.info/index.php?seite=rahmstorf.php

  • Stephen Jones

    I don’t know if anyone here remembers but there was an Horizon programme on BBC2 in 1980 or so where the meteorology/climate section of the geography department [I think] a the University of East Anglia were about to close due to lack of interestand funding when they ‘discovered’ out of the blue that global warming was occuring and please could they have some more money to continue their research and keep the department open and keep their jobs. The bulk of their research was if I recall based on the temperature readings taken from a very few sites such as a caarpark in Phoenix, Arizona, the mid-Atlantic, southern Spain and various similar places. The rest as they say is history. Get the feeling you’ve been conned?

  • lucklucky

    I don’t know how can anyone say that Earth temperatures are rising or not. No one knows!
    We don’t have enough stations and those that we have have lots of issues. Worse they all change.

    An example of the issues:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/new-zealand-polynesian-polarphobia/#comments

  • John B

    Have the climate scientists satisfactorily answered the questions? Somehow, this all needs to be followed up or they will just bury it under alarming calls that will speak to our better nature to save the planet and to forget about these petty “robust” exchanges between scientists. (You know how silly and absent minded these highly intelligent brilliant professor types can get, hey?)!
    And the people will move on.
    Watergate was only successful because it was prosecuted by a hostile media.
    In South Africa, Muldergate, (the Info “scandal”) was only successful because it was prosecuted by a hostile media.

  • F0ul

    While we are all looking at the data, what we are not looking at is the financial trail – mostly because its a bit dull, and we assume its all above board!

    So, in the documents we have instructions explaining how to be successful at getting grant funding, we have documentation showing who is paying grants and we have the figures and an example of how they do it.

    Firstly, almost all the funding comes from the EU in one form or another. There is very little business funding. There are a list of people to cross reference to ensure that grant applications are successful and there are instructions on what a successful grant application needs to have in it.

    The whole thing is a loop with the EU and the UN being the main winner – because they get the answers they need to justify what they want scientists to find for them.

    The end result of this will be a hickup of some kind, but it won’t stop the end goal which is to build a control on industry. Modern communism is where all private industry has to follow the rules set in place by official standards and high entry cost to markets. We already have carbon trading which is the most insane thing to come out of the IPCC, where Poland just made £22M out of Ireland from hot air – the CRU can close down for all the main funders care – it has already done its job.

    The scientists will be hung out to dry and politicians may well tut and move on to the next bandwagon. Nothing to see here, move along now!

  • steve

    The new preistly class of scientists is selling indulgences to the politicians. Time for a more personal relationship with science?

    Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

  • Ha! Change to “politicians” to “people” and your second sentence works a treat. I might want to use that…