Climategate 3.0 … Of saints, sanity and premature pronouncements

Unless you happen to get all your news via the traditional mainstream media, you are probably aware that on March 13, the person(s) who liberated a cache of emails and related documents from the cloisters at the University of East Anglia (UEA)’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009, has relayed to a carefully chosen few the password which would unlock “all.7z” contained in the release of the second tranche (to borrow a word from the infamous Muir-Russell), known as Climategate 2.0 (or CG2 for short).

Using the now familiar pseudonym of FOIA, The Saint (as I have long preferred to think of this person – or these persons – unknown), had included in the accompanying heartfelt missive an injunction:

DO NOT PUBLISH THE PASSWORD

IMHO, as I shall explain later in this post, for various reasons this was a very wise injunction, which should be unanimously respected.

There are over 200,000 files in this third archive, many of which – not surprisingly – have already been released as part of CG1 or CG2. I find it disappointing (and a disservice to The Saint’s earlier work) that some are already posting material they may not have seen before thinking that it’s “new” – when it isn’t.

In the accompanying missive, The Saint had written:

I don’t expect these remaining emails to hold big surprises. Yet it’s possible that the most important pieces are among them. Nobody on the planet has held the archive in plaintext since CG2.

That’s right; no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this. USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK. There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere.[emphasis added -hro]

My translation: “Look folks, I pointed the way to the most relevant and damning emails in CG1 and CG2, so don’t get your hopes up for too much more here”.

Tom Nelson has confirmed this:

I’ve taken a quick look at hundreds of these text files, and I agree with others that that vast majority are mundane. Over the last day, many of us have already had the experience of “finding” an email that shows massive weakness in the warmist case, only to discover that that particular email had already been previously released.

I think over time, even the skeptics have forgotten just how much damage the ClimateGate 1 and 2 files did to the warmist case. [...] (emphasis added -hro)

So, apart from the fact that in their haste to post some are not taking the few extra minutes to eliminate unsightly line-breaks, they’re not even granting The Saint the courtesy of acknowledging her/his earlier work by checking the existing searchable archives.

Furthermore, this scattergun approach can result in related material (which, in at least one instance of which I’m aware, is more damning) being completely overlooked. And because the “source” material they’re posting is not yet located in a publicly accessible repository, no one can verify it.

So I was somewhat annoyed when I read the following comment at WUWT:

SanityP says: March 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Still waiting for some actual damning info or at least something that will be a game changer … will this ever happen?

And that’s what precipitated this post (which began as a comment there, but got to be far too long with too many links!)

I don’t know how long “SanityP” has been following this saga; but perhaps s/he’s somewhat late to this party!

An awful lot has changed since Nov. 20/2009. Not the least of which is the ramping up of Mann-o-matic nonsense (feebly but desperately bolstered by contributions from the likes of Ludicrous Lewandowsky) – not to mention the Gleickenschpiel! From a so-called “science” perspective, the best they’ve been able to muster is the now discredited and withdrawn Gergis et paper and (more recently) an iconic resurrection reconstruction by Marcott et al – which is currently being meticulously dissected by Steve McIntyre.

And in the meantime, more and more resources have been made available, and easily accessible, for those laypersons who prefer to think for themselves – rather than accept the routinely unquestioned churnalism and advocacy from the MSM.

Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion (and his sequel Hiding the Decline), Donna Laframboise’s excellent exposé of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert and Harold Ambler‘s Don’t Sell Your Coat … to name but a few of these excellent resources.

I haven’t read it yet, but Rupert Darwall’s newly published The Age of Global Warming: A History [excerpt here commentary here] also promises to be enlightening. Not to mention Dr. David Whitehead’s Whitehouse’s calm, articulate and factual assessment, GLOBAL TEMPERATURE STANDSTILL IS REAL released earlier today

As I had noted when The Saint released CG2, Fred Pearce had made a rather telling comment in a piece he wrote circa Dec. 9, 2009:

I have been speaking to a PR operator for one of the world’s leading environmental organizations. Most unusually, he didn’t want to be quoted. But his message is clear. The facts of the e-mails barely matter any more. It has always been hard to persuade the public that invisible gases could somehow warm the planet, and that they had to make sacrifices to prevent that from happening. It seemed, on the verge of Copenhagen, as if that might be about to be achieved.

But he says all that ended on Nov. 20. “The e-mails represented a seminal moment in the climate debate of the last five years, and it was a moment that broke decisively against us. I think the CRU leak is nothing less than catastrophic.” [emphasis added -hro]

The part I’ve bolded above certainly sounded like a game-changer ringing in my ears!

IMHO, even before CG1, the alarmosphere was in trouble. As I have noted in the past, Joe Alcamo (one of their own!) had sounded the alarm when he addressed the October 26, 2009 plenary of the IPCC in Bali:

as policymakers and the public begin to grasp the multi-billion dollar price tag for mitigating and adapting to climate change, we should expect a sharper questioning of the science behind climate policy. [emphases added -hro]

This was a mere few weeks BC (Before Climategate). In the intervening years, it would seem that the movers and shakers in the alarmosphere have utterly failed to grasp the meaning of “multi-billion dollar price tag” – and in particular the implications thereof in a world where far too many nations’ economies are so weighted with debt that they totter on the brink of collapse.

Get real, eh?!

But speaking of getting real … this brings me back to some of the (over-)heated arguments I’ve seen regarding the wise decision of the recipients to respect The Saint’s injunction not to publish the password.

The arguments I’ve read seem to fall into one of two strains: You must release the password because if you don’t you are (in effect) acting as censors who will decide what we can see and what we can’t. Alternatively, you must release the code because if you don’t then you could be liable for any non-relevant but damaging material contained in whatever does end up getting released to a wider audience.

I don’t happen to agree with either of these arguments. And my reasons are as follows.

Let’s set aside the fact that we should not be following the example of the highly unethical promulgator of forgery, Peter Gleick who had distributed confidential documents he had obtained unlawfully that were none of his business and to which he had absolutely no right.

Those of us who did not personally download CG1 and/or CG2 did not even dream of suggesting that the people who took it upon themselves to create publicly available searchable databases from the material might be censoring or redacting that which we had a right to know. I don’t recall seeing any complaints about information being withheld, do you?! And these very helpful databases were compiled by persons unknown!

Notwithstanding Michael Mann’s claim to the contrary, there is nothing “criminal” about possession of that which has been released to the public domain; i.e. CG1 and CG2. To my mind the password protected files were more akin to an archive of documents written in an obscure language that required “translation”.

And there was only one person on the planet who could provide the “translation” so that the material in the archive would be comprehensible to all who might read it: The Saint.

So maybe what we should be doing – instead of expending hours complaining (and/or trying to guess The Saint’s identity) and arguing while the “translated” documents are being compiled into a useful database – is taking the time to revisit the material we already have at our virtual fingertips to see what we might have missed.

Btw, UEA/CRU seem to have magically found some emails that David Holland had requested five years ago.

Consequently, there’s one other reason I firmly believe that the password should not be published (even without The Saint’s injunction): those in the “cloister” have had the resources at their disposal to make some fairly educated guesses as to what else might be contained in the newly “translated” material. But I doubt that they are, well, 97% “certain”.

Remember that The Saint had said, “it’s possible that the most important pieces are among them”. So, (to paraphrase and/or borrow some of Phil Jones’ famous first words!) why should we make this long-awaited “translation” available to the cloistered ones when all that they’ll do is try to find … more words they can “redefine” before we publish them? ;-)

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4 thoughts on “Climategate 3.0 … Of saints, sanity and premature pronouncements

  1. Yes indeed, I was quite surprised that Anthony Watts produced a ‘new’ email that in fact was quite a well known one regarding the opinion of climate scientists of Mann’s work, and then when I pointed this out, came up with another one almost all of which had been seen before. Steve Milloy at Junk Science has been posting quite a large number of emails, and again most of these have been seen before. It’s very easy to check – just type some text in the foia2011 site.
    I suppose this really goes to show that the CG1 and CG2 emails are nowhere near as well known as they should be even among the most prominent sceptics.

  2. Your post puts me in mind of the Leslie Charteris character, liberating – in this case- information instead of Simon Templar’s customary “boodle”!

    It strikes me that the impact of CG1, CG2 and probably CG3 (when we have that searchable database) has been cumulative and long-term. It’s quite difficult to weigh up the effect of Climategate in isolation, as so much else has happened over the last four years (not least the long drawn-out failure of the climate conferences) but I think exposure to the material must have helped many to take those first few steps towards scepticism.

    How many people, I wonder, started out firmly convinced that climate catastrophe was a settled thing, but then read some of the emails and started to wonder why (if it was such a done deal) a group of the most prominent climate scientists felt they had to resort to patently devious and underhand tactics to get their point across?

    It will be good to see the new material properly collated and archived in one place, at some point, hopefully cross-indexed with the CG1 and CG2 material. When all the puzzle pieces are laid out, what new and interesting things will be revealed?

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