Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tomsk Scientist Sergei Kirpotin Has a Few Choice Words About the Provocations of the "Climategate" Hackers

This is a picture of Dr. Sergei Kirpotin (Сергей Кирпотин), a Russian scientist who teaches at Tomsk State University in the west Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia. This photo appeared in the Russian periodical Science and Religion, which used to be an atheist publication during the communist era.

Dr. Kirpotin, an expert on the Russian permafrost, writes that in the last few years Russia's permafrost has been melting at a much faster rate than previously. Dr. Kirpotin believes this accelerated thawing is due to anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming. A general article on his research appears in Discover Magazine (1-30-06).

It's no surprise that scientists who work for Russia's huge and politically powerful natural gas monopoly Gazprom tend not to support the theory of anthropogenic global warming. According to Russia expert Gregory Feifer of National Public Radio (9-18-06):

[M]any Russian scientists are skeptical about Kirpotin's claim that human activity is causing global warming and thus Siberia's thawing.

At a conference of experts at the local headquarters of the giant Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, geologist Grigorii Zaichikov says the rise in temperature is part of a natural, cyclical process.

Mr. GRIGORII ZAICHIKOV (Geologist, Gazprom Conference): (Through Translator) You can't just look at the earth's surface when talking about possible effects of global warming. You have to study both satellite images and geodynamics deep inside the earth to be able to come to any conclusion.

[Note: Grigory M. Zaichikov – Deputy Director for Science, Engineering and Technical Center, Gazprom dobycha Urengoy.]

FEIFER: Still, no one disputes the growing evidence of warming temperatures. New flora and fauna are slowly moving north into the area, including animals like badgers usually seen much further south.

The melting tundra is also having economic effects. The thawing surface is causing power and telephone poles to tilt, forcing the authorities to install concrete ties to stabilize them. Botanist Kirpotin says it's evidence like that that shows something worrying is happening in Siberia and he's calling on the international scientific community to launch further investigations.

According to Russian Greenpeace, Dr. Kirpotin reacted with anger when the e-mails and documents of British climatologists at the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were stolen and posted on the Internet. Kirpotin is quoted in Russian Greenpeace (12-9-09) as saying that the theft was a "provocation" that was clearly "ordered" by someone in order to create doubts about the science behind the theory of global warming.

Some U.N. officials and the British media have suggested that hackers encouraged or paid by the Russian state security (FSB) are responsible for the theft. Tomsk hackers in particular have a reputation for attacking websites they do not like, and their actions have even been publically applauded by the FSB. According to Russia expert Paul Goble:

Tomsk students launched a denial of service attack at the “Kavkaz-Tsentr” portal, a site whose reports about Chechnya angered Russian officials. The FSB office in Tomsk put out a special press release saying that what the students had done was a legitimate “expression of their position as citizens, one worthy of respect.” [Window on Eurasia: FSB Encourages, Guides Russia’s ‘Hacker-Patriots’ (5-31-07); See also Paul Goble's credentials at his Wikipedia entry.]

The FSB denies responsibility for the theft of the CRU e-mails and claims that FSB computer experts have uncovered evidence suggesting that the Chinese are behind the theft. The theft is now being investigated by British computer experts from the National Domestic Extremism Unit.

According to Britain's NETCU:

While this is not strictly a domestic extremism matter, as a national police unit, we had the expertise and resource to assist with this investigation, as well as good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations.

Here are Dr. Kirpotin's comments about the so-called "Climategate" scandal in Russian, followed by my translation in English. My Russian is not perfect, but the main points will be right. Readers can also go to the original site and use the Google translation toolbar.

Russian Greenpeace (12-9-09) reports:

Сергей Кирпотин, доктор биологических наук, проректор по международным связям Томского Государственного Университета, Россия: «Во-первых, информация, полученная таким путём, не может заслуживать доверия. Совершенно очевидно, что имел место заказ, поскольку не просто была взломана личная переписка, но и сделана подборка совершенно определённой направленности, никакой хакер просто ради развлечения этого бы делать не стал.

Во-вторых, это нормальное явление, что в личной переписке учёные могут подвергать сомнению ту или иную гипотезу. Если вырвать из контекста отдельные фразы учёных, создававших в XVIII-XIX веках нашу современную науку, можно прийти к выводам, что все мы сегодня в школе изучаем совершенный бред, не имеющий под собой абсолютно никаких оснований.

И, наконец, вброс подобной информации (особенно перед самым началом конференции в Копенгагене) носит деструктивный характер для общества, особенно в России, где слабо сформированы социальные институты, и подобные провокации только укрепляют преобладающий в общественном мнении скептицизм на тему проблемы изменения климата».

Sergei Kirpotin, Sc.D., Vice Rector for International Relations, Tomsk State University, Russia: "First, information received in this way can not be considered credible. It is completely clear that there was an order in place, because not only was personal correspondence hacked, but also no hacker would assemble such a tendentious collection of documents just for fun.

Secondly, it is normal that in personal correspondence scientists may question this or that hypothesis. If certain phrases that scientists who built our modern science in XVIII-XIX centuries were taken our of context, we would all have to conclude that we are now in school to learn complete nonsense devoid of reason.

And finally, injecting such information (especially just before the start of the conference in Copenhagen) is destructive to society, particularly in Russia, which has poorly formed social institutions. Such provocations only strengthen the prevailing skepticism of public opinion on climate change."

So far, I have only found Dr. Kirpotin's characterization of the CRU hacking on the Russian Greenpeace site. I haven't found his words reported in the major media in either Russia or in the English-language media.

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