Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Policy & Issues

The CRU email hack

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.


  • rasqual 4 years ago

    More here:


  • misha 4 years ago

    couple of typos in the article:

    1. "Jones was referring to was the well known that Keith...."
    Missing a subject before "that".

    2. "SA: What was the Mike's "trick"?"
    Extra "the".

    3. "SA: Is this much adieu about nothing, again?"
    It's "ado".

    Feel free to make edits and delete this post if you like.

  • Michael C 4 years ago

    SA, note: Not "adieu about nothing"(sic), but "ado about nothing."


  • Paul Clark 4 years ago

    Serious Steven? You're committed to going down with this sinking ship - not even to spare yourself? The jig is up. Your corporate masters can't save your reputation or your career now.

    The peer review process has been corrupted. Colluding scientists working toward a predetermined outcome have been approving each other's papers. Withholding data and methods, making the data fit the results. Do you not realise that in science this is the highest form of crime?

    But it's not about the science is it? It's about the agenda - population reduction, world govt and tax.

    These particular scientists, Mann, Briffa, Jones, etc are central to IPCC and the whole global warming argument. Most of the "thousands of scientists" often touted actually refer to this research and to none of their own.

  • Robert Swenson 4 years ago

    That's "ado", not "adieu".

  • Alex 4 years ago

    While I agree that "trick" is innocuous, the term "hide" is not. As an engineer if I had engaged in the sorts of shenanigans as Mann; evading FOIA requests, stifling contrary opinion, blacklisting, manipulation of data to fit a conclusion, failure to share data & results, and (yes) hiding of data I would be fired and rightfully so.

    The claim by Real Climate that it was "hidden" in plain sight may be a great rhetorical statement but it serves to camouflage the fact that Jones had no intention to be forthcoming with the inconsistency, in other words he was practicing deception.

    Michael Man is a fraudster, he inverts data to create a hockey stick (his quote, "the math doesn't care..."); however, the PHYSICS does! Maybe he's not a con man, but just grotesquely incompetent.

    The emails prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Michael Mann is NOT a scientist but a evangelical policy activist. Everything that Mann says or writes should be taken with a grain of salt the size of Texas.

  • alex 4 years ago

    With hundreds of billions, even trillions at stake in this issue, would you expect Climategate to be what it appears to be?

    There were 1003 emails, Word documents, .pdf files, Powerpoint presentations, and Fortran source code for the climate models. The latter may prove the smoking-est gun, in fact, the code is commented with some pretty damning stuff. The 'trick' email is just the tip of the iceburg, too. There's quite a few other dirty ones in there. Check it out before you say too much.
    <b>Honey Pot?</b>
    I'm speculating, though there is some evidence to suggest some plausibility to a hypothesis. The files were likely leaked, or set up as a honeypot.
    In IT security, a honeypot is a network or data which appears attractive but is meant to entrap intruders. In spycraft (and politics) this concept can be nested. The leaked or hacked information is good information salted with fake information, to later be revealed as bogus. The proverbial turd in the punch bowl. It's geniu

  • alex 4 years ago

    <b>Who is the victim>?</b>
    Honeypots are never set up by the victim. That would mean that the CRU is not the victim, but rather the perpetrator.
    The banal content of most of the emails would appear to make the corpus genuine. A few bogus emails salted in could later be proven to be faked, putting the entire collection into question, discrediting the "hacker" and everyone else using this information.
    <b>Cui Bono?</>
    The corporate oligarchy is using AGW and nearly everthing green as a tool for economic and social control. They're clever and will stop at nothing. It's what they do, and they're good at it, that why they're them and you are you.

    Then again, I may be wrong about my hypothesis. Maybe the CRU is just like most other groups of scientists; vain, greedy, and quick to supress conflicting views. Has history taught us nothing?

  • tharp 4 years ago

    The same Michael Mann who said:

    I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.

    As Robert Tracinski (not a religious rightist) notes:

    Note the circular logic employed here. Skepticism about global warming is wrong because it is not supported by scientific articles in "legitimate peer-reviewed journals." But if a journal actually publishes such an article, then it is by definition not "legitimate."

  • Joe Stanford 4 years ago

    Hey, I liked it better when you gays trotted out the 500 lb. from Maine to say "nothing to see here, folks, move along." Who really gives a sihiiti what some queer talked about with a guy on damage control?

    Give me a break, you gayboys, let's get some commentary from people who matter, instead of just this constant spin.