Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Are We There Yet? Independent Climate Change Email Review Issues Its Report Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, at 3:00 B.S.T (12:00 GMT) the Independent Climate Change Email Review will issue its report. [See current local times around the world.]

The Review (FAQ's) notes:

The Review’s terms of reference and workplan can be found in the Workplan and Approaches document. The Review's job is to determine if there is evidence of poor scientific practice which could call CRU's research into question; whether they followed University and statutory FOI procedures properly; and whether they should have better procedures for managing their research and keeping their data safe. (The Review's remit does not invite it to re-appraise the scientific work of CRU. That re-appraisal is being separately commissioned by UEA, with the assistance of the Royal Society.)

...

This review is not a criminal investigation. However, Norfolk Constabulary are investigating criminal offences in relation to the hacking incident. The Information Commissioner is examining Freedom of Information and Data Protection issues. The Review has met Norfolk Constabulary and the Information Commissioner’s Office and will remain in touch on matters of mutual interest.

The Review will probably suggest some improvements, but I don't think the scholars doing the Review will find that Dr. Phil Jones, who was "swiftboated" by the fake scandal known as "Climategate," is a dishonest scientist. I think Dr. Jones is a world-class scientist who is doing important scientific work that may save the lives of billions of people.

I want the relevant authorities to catch and prosecute the criminals who tried to ruin and discredit Dr. Jones's important research on global warming and who almost drove him to suicide!

The U.K Guardian (7-5-10) reports:

Climate scientists in the US say police inaction has left them defenceless in the face of a torrent of death threats and hate mail, leaving them fearing for their lives and one to contemplate arming himself with a handgun.

The scientists say the threats have increased since the furore over leaked emails from the University of East Anglia began last November, and a sample of the hate mail sent in recent months and seen by the Guardian reveals the scale and vitriolic tone of the abuse.

The scientists revealed they have been told to "go gargle razor blades" and have been described as "Nazi climate murderers". Some emails have been sent to them without any attempt by the sender to disguise their identity. Even though the scientists have received advice from the FBI, the local police say they are not able to act due to the near-total tolerance of "freedom of speech" in the US.

The problem appears less severe in the UK but, Professor Phil Jones, the UEA scientist at the centre of the hacked email controversy, revealed in February he had been receiving two death threats a week and had contemplated suicide. "People said I should go and kill myself," he said. "They said that they knew where I lived...

Professor Stephen Schneider, a climatologist based at Stanford University in California, whose name features in the UEA emails, says he has received "hundreds" of violently abusive emails since last November. The peak came in December during the Copenhagen climate change summit, he said, but the number has picked up again in recent days since he co-authored a scientific paper last month which showed that 97%-98% of climate scientists agree that mankind's carbon emissions are causing global temperatures to increase.

Schneider described his attackers as "cowards" and said he had observed an "immediate, noticeable rise" in emails whenever climate scientists were attacked by prominent right-wing US commentators, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

"[The senders] are not courageous people," said Schneider. "Where are they getting their information from? They just listen to assertions made on blogs and rightwing talkshows. It's pathetic."

Schneider said the FBI had taken an interest earlier this year when his name appeared on a "death list" on a neo-Nazi website alongside other climate scientists with apparent Jewish ancestry. But, to date, no action has been taken.

"The effect on me has been tremendous," said Schneider. "Some of these people are mentally imbalanced. They are invariably gun-toting rightwingers. What do I do? Learn to shoot a Magnum? Wear a bullet-proof jacket? I have now had extra alarms fitted at my home and my address is unlisted. I get scared that we're now in a new Weimar republic where people are prepared to listen to what amounts to Hitlerian lies about climate scientists."

Dr Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, said he has also been receiving similar emails since last November when a private email of his was released into the public domain in which he had said: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." Trenberth has gone on to repeatedly defend his email and explain its context, but says he has now sent a file of abusive emails totalling "19 pages of text at about 10pt font" to his university's security officials. He said the response of the US police had been "pathetic", but also blamed it on freedom-of-speech legislation.

Professor Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and leading proponent of the "Hockey Stick graph", said his experiences of hate mail were "eerily similar" to those described by Schneider. "I'm not comfortable talking about the details, especially as some of these matters remain under police investigation," he said. "What I can say is that the emails come in bursts, and do seem to be timed with high-profile attack pieces on talk radio and other fringe media outlets."

Last month, Mann told ABC News in the US that the following message was typical of the emails he has been receiving: "Six feet under with the roots is where you should be. I was hoping I would see the news that you'd committed suicide. Do it, freak." Another climate scientist, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had had a dead animal dumped on his doorstep and now travels with bodyguards.

Dr Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and co-author of the RealClimate website, said he had chosen to adopt a different strategy and now largely ignores the abusive emails he receives. "I learned a while ago that there is no way to prevent people who have no idea who you are, or what you think, or what you do, using your name to project their problems onto," he said. "Should I be offended and get annoyed, or should I just look upon my interlocutor with bemusement and pity?" [See full text.]

Besides the threats, some bloggers, egged on and manipulated by media personalities, politicians, and professional propagandists in the pay of fossil fuel interests have also maligned the climate scientists named in the stolen emails as if they were scientific charlatans like the discredited former professor Ward Churchill; but I don't think that climate scientists are part of some huge "commie" plot to dupe the public.

Glenn Beck of Fox News spreads the conspiracy theory that global warming is a hoax the political left cooked up in order to seize power and steal our money, but Beck's "right wing" conspiracy theory reminds me of old communist conspiracies. I can see that Fox News, the tabloid Pravda, and Russia Today (RT) Television are all telling the same lies about the climate scientists. Sometimes the tabloid Pravda even quotes Fox.

I remember Stalin's fabricated "Doctors' Plot." According to this communist conspiracy theory, Jewish doctors in the pay of the CIA were plotting to exterminate the Soviet leaders. The Stalin-era canard about the killer-doctors who allegedly plotted against the leadership of the Soviet Union was discredited a few months later in the Soviet media when Stalin died and again in 1956 by Nikita Khrushchev in his "secret" Speech to 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. (February 24-25, 1956).

Time (4-13-53) describes the fate that befell the unfortunate Dr. Lidiya Timachuk who was thrown under the bus after Stalin died and the party line changed:

Lidiya Timashuk was decorated last January with the Order of Lenin, the Soviet Union's top order, "for exposing the doctor assassins." "She fought," said Pravda, "as one fights with enemies of the homeland—a life and death struggle." Last week Dr. Timashuk was stripped of her decoration because the information she gave had not accorded with "the actual state of affairs." (See page 3.)

I remember the KGB's destructive AIDS campaign against the supposed plots of "crafty" Pentagon scientists who cooked up AIDS as an instrument of genocide. When the political winds changed, the KGB threw collaborating scientists under the bus (again) and denounced its own conspiracy theory.

Izvestiya (3-19-92) reported:

[KGB chief Yevgeni Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices.

These weird, superstitious, anti-scientific conspiracy theories often emerge from Russia. They have a lot in common with old anti-Semitic canards about Jews poisoning wells. After "Climategate," I stopped watching Fox News; and I decided I wasn't a Republican.

The hackers who stole the emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia hoped to discredit the climate scientists, but they have failed. "Climategate" caused me to learn about global warming and to realize that some of our scientists are being persecuted by cyber-criminals and politicians who are working for fossil fuel interests. It is disgusting that Western scientists are being bullied and persecuted by fossil-fuel backed political operatives. The operatives remind me of the KGB. The operatives even incite ignorant bloggers to attack the scientists. The Russian papers also incite the public against the KGB's targets: "killer doctors" (often Jews) had "dishonored the holy banner of science" by using their scientific expertise in an attempt to exterminate the Soviet leadership.

Yeah, right. The "Climategate" conspiracy theory, as told by clowns like Marc Morano, is about as believeable as Stalin's "Doctors' Plot."

I never really thought much about global warming until "Climategate," but I didn't like the criminal method of attacking the scientists. The hackers did not critique the published papers of the scientists; they only posted some misleading emails. When I looked on scientific sites like NASA, I realized that scientific organizations agree that fossil fuel emissions are causing global warming.

There are several different theories about the identity the hackers, who hypocritically called themselves "honest men."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (12-7-09) writes:

Was the so-called "climategate" scandal initiated by the Russian security services?

A story today in the British daily "The Independent" suggests this might be the case:

"The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services."

In November, an unknown hacker, or hackers, accessed the server of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and disseminated over one thousand e-mails and other documents from over a 13-year period.

"The Independent" reports that the e-mails -- which climate-change skeptics say prove that researchers manipulated their data in order to exaggerate the threat of global warming -- were originally posted on a server in Tomsk owned by an Internet security company called Tomcity:

"The FSB security services, descendants of the KGB, are believed to invest significant resources in hackers, and the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices, deeming them "an expression of their position as citizens, and one worthy of respect". The Kremlin has also been accused of running coordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighboring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations, although the allegations were never proved.

'It's very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services,' Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Copenhagen at the weekend. 'It's a carefully made selection of emails and documents that's not random. This is 13 years of data, and it's not a job of amateurs.'"

...Now we at the [RFE/RL] Power Vertical [blog] love a good old cloak-and-dagger-style FSB-conspiracy yarn as much as anybody (actually, probably more than anybody). Our experience also tells us that the FSB is certainly capable of such an operation. And Russia, a major gas and oil exporter, certainly has motive to derail a new global climate pact.

But the evidence presented thus far is a bit thin and circumstantial. But this does merit keeping an eye on...[See full text.]

I wrote about the possibility that the culprits might be Tomsk hackers about a week before the British media discussed this possibility. The stolen emails were put on a Tomsk server, and I had read that young Russian hackers in Tomsk have a history of attacking the Kremlin's enemies. "Climategate" seemed like the classic KGB tactics of kompromat. I suspected that the Russians might use "active measures" to avoid the costs of lowering their fuel emissions or to protect their fossil fuel industry from the threat of renewable energy.

As "Climategate" unfolded, I read a bit more and realized that Western fossil fuel companies also finance "think tanks" that wage a propaganda war against the scientists who study global warming. Some of them seem to use the same sort of "active measures" as the KGB.

Since the FBI rounded up those 10 Russian spies and their computers, I have learned that not all the Russian computer experts live in Russia. Some live in the U.S. and spy for the Kremlin's foreign intelligence service, the SVR. The Kremlin's domestic security is called the FSB.

Interestingly, The U.K.'s domestic intelligence service, the MI5, is taking an interest in this case because some of the spies lived in the U.K. or used U.K. passports. Because of the timing, I wonder if these spies might have had something to do with the "Climategate" hacking, but I am only speculating.

The U.K. Guardian (6-29-10) reports:

Russia is interested in particular in the energy policies of the west, given the importance of its own oil and natural gas reserves, and the Kremlin's determination to use them as an instrument of foreign policy, [counter-intelligence] officials said. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, is a former chairman of Gazprom, Russia's giant energy company.

The counter intelligence officials might also have said that the Kremlin is probably also determined to protect its oil and gas industries from the competition of renewable fuels.

Technology editor Charles Arthur of the U.K. Guardian (2-5-10) makes this claim about the theft of the CRU emails:

Analysis by the Guardian and digital forensics experts...suggests the access occurred over a period of days, if not weeks, and was carried out from a computer based on the east coast of north America....

[S]omeone with clear hacking skills...grabbed the files [and] broke into the RealClimate blog to upload the archive and prepare a draft post; then, when that was thwarted, they uploaded it to a Russian website, and posted links to it on climate sceptics' blogs using web servers located in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. [See the full text of this interesting analysis.]

The Financial Times (4-15-10) reports something a bit different:

There have been indications that the hackers could have been based in Russia, and some experts believe they may have been hired by sceptics based in the US.

Since the Russian spies were arrested, I wonder if the hackers might have been Russians based in the U.S.

The hackers were very probably sponsored by someone's fossil fuel interests. Maybe instead of smearing scientists who are warning us about global warming, all of the fossil fuel companies should be researching investing in renewable energy.

I think sophists like the economist Andrei Illarionov (who used to advise Chernomyrdin and Putin) of the so-called "Libertarian" CATO Institute should stop telling lies about climate science. Russia has excellent scientists who could help research the issue of global warming, but Andrei Illarionov isn't one of them. He's just a stooge for someone's fossil fuel interests.

The "Libertarian" CATO Institute gets its advice from a "former" Kremlin advisor and its money from an American oil company called Koch. The Cato Institute pretends to appeal to American values and a lot of stupid Ayn Rand baloney, but I think that's a lot of hogwash. CATO is really just about defending fossil fuel interests from legislation and regulations that would help mitigate global warming and defend our civilization from disaster. CATO and other fossil fuel mouthpieces such as the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) don't seem any different than the irresponsible KGB propagandists to me. The fossil fuel companies that sponsor these propaganda "institutes" aren't good corporate citizens; and they spread the same propaganda and junk science as the Russian media, which is often owned by Russian monopolies such as Gazprom and controlled by Russia's ruling Unity Party.

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