A lot of virtual ink has been spilled over a set of emails that were stolen from a university computer. This article supports a post now up on Daily Kos and records some questions and answers between myself and Prof. Michael Mann. The Q & A revolves around an email, one of thousands sent over a period of ten years by climate researchers and other scientists, journalists, lobbyists, and the occasional flake, stolen from a university network a few days ago. DeSmogBlog has more on the theft. Obviously, emails don't change the observed reality of human assisted climate change in the cryosphere and elsewhere. Nevertheless, climate change denialists have combed through them looking for anything they can pull out of context and pass off as evidence of a global conspiracy. They're getting some media mileage out of it. Even though, so far, the best they've been able to come up with is examples like this:
"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."
Steven Andrew: You are the Mike referred in the quoted email correct? When was that email written?
Michael Mann: Yes, the email is from '99.
SA: Who wrote it?
MM: Phil Jones
SA: What does Phil Jones mean by "hide"?
MM: I think we expressed this best in the "RealClimate" article. Here's an adapted version of the text: "As for the ‘hide the decline’, comment, I assume what Phil Jones was referring to was the well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy data diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand the reason for the "divergence"."
SA: What was the Mike's "trick"?
MM: All he (apparently) meant by "Mike's Nature trick" was us, in our original '98 Nature article, showing the instrumental record after the proxy record ends (1980). Since both records were clearly demarcated and labeled in our article, there was really no room for misinterpretation of what we were showing. So while it's unclear exactly what Phil Jones meant, "trick" would appear to mean "clever way to deal with the conundrum" that the proxy record ends in 1980. The easy way out of that conundrum is to just show in addition the more recent data from the instrumental record. Again, in our Nature article, this was all clearly labeled and explained, nothing secret or hidden.
SA: Is this much adieu about nothing, again?
MM: Of course. This is about the climate denial noise machine trying to drum up a manufactured controversy in advance of the most important climate summit (Copenhagen) in years.