Friday, February 05, 2010

Climategate: It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing!

"University of East Anglia scientist Paul Dennis denies leaking material [from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU)], but links to climate change sceptics in US drew him to attention of the investigators...

[Dennis] has a history of contact with...American bloggers [Stephen McIntyre (Climate Audit), Patrick Condon (Air Vent), and Anthony Watts (Watts Up with That)], who bombarded Jones’s unit with FoI requests, and were the first to receive the leaks...

Staff at the beleaguered environmental sciences department say they have been asked not to talk to the media. But Dennis has now posted an account of his police interview at a British website run by a sceptic accountant, Andrew Montford.

[Dennis] told Montford’s blog, [Bishop Hill]: “They thought I might have some information on the basis that I had sent [Condon] a copy of a paper I had published on isotopes and climate at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula…and I had exchanged emails with Steve McIntyre over the leak/hack.

“Clearly they’ve trawled through the UEA mail server and checked for key words...The police left me very much with the impression that they were working on the theory that this was an outside hack and was done deliberately to disrupt Copenhagen.”

Norfolk police have discounted tabloid stories of links to Russian intelligence, despite claims this week by the former government chief scientist Sir David King. He said only foreign intelligence agencies or US lobbyists had the resources to make the “highly sophisticated” selection of embarrassing phrases and correspondence dating back to 1996 in the leaks....

The police have now moved on to a series of “very detailed” approaches to the overseas bloggers and members of their chat forums, asking if they had access to university passwords, and if they have any theories of their own.

“The police really don’t know what happened,” says [Air Vent blogger-skeptic Patrick Condon], who was emailed by investigators after Christmas. He told the Guardian: “It seems to me more like a prank than anything else.”"--BB News (2-4-10)

Whoever hacked/leaked the data and e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Center (CRU) called themselves "honest men" when they posted stolen data on the Internet and suggested that climate scientist Phil Jones and his e-mail correspondents were "cooking the books" on climate change. But thieves are not an honest men. There is a big difference between being a passionate activist on behalf of a cause and crossing over the line into direct action and becoming a hactivist who ends up entrapped in the snares of a police extremist unit with "good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations."

I also think FoI requests may sometimes be exploited by powerful business lobbyists (oil and gas companies) or government entities (intelligence agencies) who may hide behind hypocritical bloggers who demand FoI and transparency so they can harrass targeted scientists and mischaracterize their research. Such arrangements may not be illegal, but neither are they always transparent.

In Russia, political activists who support the Kremlin are encouraged by the state security (FSB) to cross the line: for example, Tomsk hackers have been encouraged by the state security (FSB) to attack the websites of the Kremlin's critics. [Search Tomsk hackers on my site.] The FSB calls people who attack the Kremlin's enemies "hacker patriots."

My own limited experience is that some climate skeptics are arrogant bullies who denigrate people they disagree with instead of explaining the science. Some skeptics don't behave like scientists with honest differences, but like political activists. They characterize the CRU hackers/leakers as "heroes." This means that some global warming skeptics think that the ends justify the means. If skeptics of global warming will commit a crime to destroy their opponents, there is no reason why I should trust them to be honest when they explain their scientific views.

Indeed, it seems to me that some climate change skeptics choose to attack the integrity of the scientists instead of the science. That is why they post selected e-mails instead of published research. I can't argue about the science, but some climate change skeptics use the tactics of what the Russians call kompromat.

As far as I can understand the scientific arguments (not well at all), the CRU's critics may be mischaracterizing the the research of the advocates of anthropomorphic climate change. Here is a CRU press release that suggests that the U.K. Guardian might have relied on e-mails instead of published research.

Isn't it lucky that there are modern-day Sherlocks with "good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations" to sort this all out. I wonder how the investigators developed such "good background knowledge"? I hope the British investigators get to the bottom of this mystery.

The U.K. Guardian (2-4-10) reports:

A scientist at the University of East Anglia has been questioned by detectives ­investigating how controversial emails were leaked from the campus's climate research unit.

Norfolk police have interviewed and taken a formal statement from Paul Dennis, 54, another climate researcher who heads an adjacent laboratory.

...[I]t is understood that his links with climate change sceptic bloggers in North America drew him to the attention of the investigating team, and have exposed rifts within the university's environmental science faculty.

...Dennis's own research, which dates fluctuating temperatures in ice cores stretching back thousands of years, does not support the more catastrophic current predictions of runaway global warming.

He has a history of contact with the American bloggers who bombarded Jones's unit with FoI requests, and were the first to receive the leaks. The ensuing global row led to Jones standing aside from his post. Last week he was rebuked by the Information Commissioner's office for apparent breaches of FoI rules.

One piece of information that led police to question Dennis was the discovery of emails between him and Stephen McIntyre, who runs a sceptic blog in Toronto called Climate Audit. Climate Audit was the first to receive an anonymous link to the leaked data. Dennis subsequently emailed McIntyre to alert him to a Norwich University message confirming that a leak had occurred.

The scientist also had contact with Patrick Condon, an aeronautical engineer in Morris, Illinois, who runs a similar maths-oriented sceptic blog called Air Vent, and criticises "leftists" who promote global warming theories.

A third blogger with whom Dennis has posted is Anthony Watts, a weatherman for a California radio station who is involved in a sometimes vituperative sceptic blog called Watts Up with That. He has had a book published by the Heartland Institute, a denialist organisation which until 2006, received funding from ExxonMobil.

All three American bloggers, McIntyre, Condon and Watts, were initially sent links to the cache of CRU leaked material, via anonymous servers, on the same day, Tuesday 17 November.


Blogger Tenney Naumer said...

Hi! Steve McIntyre is Canadian and used to work for the mining companies.

Perhaps you might want to see the recent article in The Guardian about the probability that the stolen file was not exactly "hacked" but was instead found on a public ftp server belonging to the university.

What happened after it was downloaded by malicious people is another matter entirely.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Snapple said...

Dear Tenney,

I have been following the claims in the papers, but I think we will have to see what the police say, not newspaper "investigations that are getting their information from these bloggers.

Those stories could be coming from the so-called "honest men" who stole the documents. They could be misinformation from the authorities to mislead the criminals about the direction of the investigation.

The special police said they have experience with crimes related to climate change, so maybe they have been watching these folks for a while.

This IOC seems very strange. The papers claim that the IOC ruled that the CRU breached a regulation but it is too late to fine them. How can you rule if it is too late?

There is nothing about this on the IOC site. It seems very strange for a regulatory agency to call people lawbreakers in the paper without any legal process and not to post the specifics on the official site. How can CRU defend itself? For one thing, they cannot release data that has been given them from some sources. They have to agree to that in order to get the data. See the CRU cite.

Sir David King claims it was lobbyists or an intelligence agency.

I have a degree in Russian Studies. This looks to me like the smear tactics of the political operatives of the ruling Unity Russia party or the state security FSB (KGB) do.

They aren't communists any more, but they are very rapacious monopoly capitalists who pretty much control the government.

Russia's President Medvedev used to be the Chairman of the Board of Gazprom. Half of that company belongs to the Russian government and pays the bills. They are very powerul ans politically saavy.

They could be behind this campaign, but the front-men are the bloggers.

The police will hopefully sort it out. they aren't saying where their investigation is going.

4:49 AM  

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