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Climategate 2.0: Fresh trove of embarrassing emails

'All our models are wrong', writes Jones

Intellectual corruption

Where the "intellectual corruption" is plain is that somehow these doubts and uncertainties, along with the limitations of using computer models as evidence, never made it into the “bible” of climate science, the reports produced by the United Nation Organisation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

“Basic problem is that all models are wrong,” writes Phil Jones, bluntly, “not got enough middle and low level clouds.”

If that’s the case, then why isn't this printed as a large health warning on the cover of the IPCC reports? Politicians who devised policy based on estimates of certainty by the IPCC now know they’ve been sold a pup.

In the short term, the issues raised by Climategate I, which subsequent inquiries failed to explore, are back with a vengeance. Parliament looked at several issues including transparency – withholding code and raw data to allow third parties to replicate CRU’s temperature work – corruption of the peer review process, poor quality programming, and the destruction of internal emails. Since CRU’s temperature work was at the heart of the IPCC, this is troubling. Climategate II finds Phil Jones telling the University of East Anglia’s FOIA climate officer that:

“I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent. There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time going through these.”

And “I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.”

His colleague Keith Briffa – expressing doubts about “all temperature reconstructions” also appears to ensure such doubts are not on the public record:

“UEA does not hold the very vast majority of mine [potentially FOIable emails] anyway which I copied onto private storage after the completion of the IPCC task.”

Elsewhere Briffa adds: “But for GODS SAKE please respect the sensitivity here and destroy the file immediately when finished and please do not tell ANYBODY I sent this. Cheers Keith.”

Documentation from "Climate Change": a game from 1998
A 100 MHz Pentium PC with 16 Mbytes of RAM is recommended

Some context is worth remembering.

As with the first Climategate archive, much of the correspondence focuses on modern temperature trends and historical temperature reconstructions – not on the stuff we call hard physics: the behaviour of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. (Note also that the emails stop in 2009.)

The temperature work was only thrust into such a dramatic political role because of the state of the hard physics of climate. There’s broad agreement amongst supporters of the manmade greenhouse gas theory, and ‘lukewarmers’, on what an increase in CO2 should do to the Earth’s energy budget – a modest increase in temperatures, before any feedbacks are taken into account. But speculation about runaway temperatures, while entirely legitimate, is for now, just that.

In the absence of telltale manmade global warming "fingerprints" (and there have been several candidates over the years, such as the tropospheric hotspot, or elusive ocean heat sinks) contemporary temperature readings and historical temperature reconstructions were freighted with immense significance.

So the mewling infant that we call Climate Science – a 40-year-young offshoot of meteorology – has been thrust into a political role long before it’s capable of supporting the claims made on its behalf. From the archives we can see the scientists know that too, and we can read their own reluctance to make those claims, too.

“What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation?” muses one scientist. “They’ll kill us probably.”

That won’t be necessary. ®

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