The climate consensus coordinators’ cookbook

Almost two years ago to the day, in my very first post, I wrote about Mike Hulme and his involvement in the circulation of a virtual chain-mail prior to Kyoto. In June of this year, during a lecture, Hulme claimed that he had completely “forgotten” about his role until he read the (first release of) Climategate emails (CG1).

Even without the benefit of Climategate 2.0 (CG2), I found it somewhat difficult to give credence to such a claim. And thanks to The Saint’s release of CG2, I can only say that I am even less inclined to believe him. IOW, Hulme’s involvement turns out to be, well, much worse than we thought. Not only did he circulate this “Statement”, but he was part of the triumvirate of Statement Coordinators (Hulme, Joe Alcamo and Rob Swart) who drafted it – and who recruited the “prestige” names as Sponsors.

In all text that I quote below, all emphases are mine. In the interest of brevity, I have omitted the headers and any .sig files – but they are readily viewable via the link to the E-mail I’m quoting, all of which are from 1997. In some instances, for “ease of reading”, I’ve broken up the paragraphs. In each instance I have included the full E-mail, so that no context will be lost.

The first appearance of any reference to this Statement [5323.txt] is somewhat confusing! It includes at the top a June 26 E-mail from Alcamo to Hulme:

Mike,

Thanks for your positive comments.

If it’s OK with you, I would like to take your comments into account in the next version of the statement (Version 5).

In the meantime, I would like to take you up on your offer that you would distribute the current version (Version 4) for comment around the UK. The idea that Rob Swart and I have is to keep the circle fairly small right now so that we can have a good statement agreed upon by some prominent people before we send it out for signing.

Therefore we would like to send the Statement to no more than about 5 or 10 rather prominent people in the climate scene in our respective countries. For example, I will be discussing it in the next few days with Schellnhuber, Grassl, Crutzen and others here in Germany.

Who do you propose to send it to in the UK?

(By the way, I already received comments back from S. Subak.)

Another issue is what you use as a cover letter for the Statement. I think it is important either to send the cover letter you now have (signed by me) or a modified one (signed either by you alone or both of us) because it spells out the aims and intended audience of the Statement.

What do you think?

With best wishes,

Joe Alcamo

This is followed by a June 30 E-mail from Hulme to Alcamo, but appears to have Alcamo’s July 1 responses to Hulme interwoven; however, there are no clear indications of who actually said what. Nonetheless they seem to be in agreement:

Joe,

I can approach a few people over here if you wish, using your cover letter with a couple of amendments and signed by me and you.

That would be great!

One question to be clear about is how is it going to appear in public – as an independent statement or under the umbrella of some organisation?

This is the current idea:

1. You, Rob Swart and I should first consult with a manageable-number of people about the content of the Statement. The three of us would act as “Coordinators” of the Statement.

2. After this fairly small group agrees on the content of the Statement we should try and convince ten or so “prominent” scientists from different parts of Europe to be official signers. The names of these prominent people would appear on the same page as the Statement. Rob and I have not discussed who these ten people should be. Some could be from the original circle that we consult in step 1.

3. After “The Ten” have signed on, we need an enthusiastic organization to carry out the time-consuming task of collecting as many signatures of scientists in Europe as possible, so that we can say “1,865 European scientists, including (the prominent ten) have signed a Statement that says .. and so forth”. I don’t think that either you or Rob or I have the time to do this. For the American statement this job was done by an organization called “Redefining Progress”. Perhaps for us it could be WWF. What do you think.

4. The last step would be to hold a press conference(s) to announce the Statement. For this we would try and get as many of “The Ten” as possible to attend. My idea would be to aim for the AGBM meeting in October, when the debate should be pretty hot, and media interest in anticipation of Kyoto should be increasing.

People here I would think of are:

Martin Parry
Kerry Turner
Melvyn Cannell
Mick Kelly
Michael Grubb
David Carson

What about John Mitchell?

I would also limit number to about five at this point. e.g. In the coming two weeks I will speak to Schellnhuber, Jill Jaeger, Grassl, and maybe two others about the Statement.

Best regards,

Joe Alcamo

On July 2/97, Hulme appears to have sent Version 4 to John Mitchell, who on July 7 replied [2803.txt]:

Hi Mike,
1. Can you send me the message in plain text – I couldn’t read it
[unrelated items -hro]

thanks
John
>
> –=====================_??? ==_
> Content-type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii”
>
> Dear John,
>
> Please read the attached letter and statement which you will find
> self-explanatory. We would be grateful for your thoughts on the idea, its
> execution and the content of the statement.
>
> Mike
>
> –=====================_??? ==_
> Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=”alcamo.doc”
> Content-type: application/msword; name=”alcamo.doc”; x-mac-type=”42494E41″; x-mac-creator=”4D535744″
> Content-transfer-encoding: base64

One assumes that Hulme obliged, but I have found no record of this in the emails. However, thanks to Base 64 online here’s the decoded text of alcamo.doc. The “specific goals” are, well, interesting:

Re: Statement of European Scientists on Actions to Protect Global Climate

Dear Colleague,

Attached is a draft Statement that has been informally drawn up by Joe Alcamo, Rob Swart and Mike Hulme working in Europe on climate issues. Its main purpose is to bolster or increase support for controls of emissions of greenhouse gases in European countries in the period leading up to Kyoto. The Statement is intended to be from European scientists, and is aimed towards governments, citizen groups, and media in European countries. The statement has specific goals in specific countries:

In European countries where the government supports controls of greenhouse emissions: In these countries, certain government ministries and other climate stakeholders in the country are trying to get the government to retreat on its policies before Kyoto. Here, the Statement is intended to be used by the government and citizen groups via the national media to support its position.

In European countries where the government does not support controls of greenhouse emissions: Here, the Statement is intended to help citizen groups and other stakeholders in the country to convince the government to support controls of emissions.

On behalf of my colleagues, may I request the following from you at this stage:

Your suggestions for changes in text.

Your recommendations for scientists to contact for commenting on the draft.

Having agreed on a form of words by consulting with a small number of colleagues (a process I am co-ordinating for the UK), we shall proceed to invite about 10 key scientists in the field in Europe (e.g. Crutzen, Houghton, Bolin, etc.) to sponsor the statement. Having gained this prestige endorsement, we shall then endeavour to invite as many additional scientists as possible (100s if not 1000s) to indicate their support for the statement which shall then be presented to the media at a press conference ‘ … with the support of “n” European scientists.’

Please reply as soon as possible at the below address. We look forward to your comments.

With best wishes,

Mike Hulme

and

Joseph Alcamo
Rob Swart

Statement of European Scientists on Actions to Protect Global Climate

In 1992 the nations of the world took a significant step to protect global climate by signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year, at the coming Climate Summit in Kyoto*, they have the chance to take an even more important step. It is our opinion that in Kyoto the nations of the world should agree upon immediate and substantive action to ensure the long term protection of global climate by controlling the current increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our opinion is bolstered by the assessment of scientific knowledge carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recently published a voluminous report on its findings. The report noted:

Global mean surface air temperature has increased by around 0.3 to 0.60C since the late 19th century.

Recent years have been the warmest since 1860.

Global sea level has risen between 10 and 25 cm over the past 100 years and much of the rise may be related to the increase in global mean temperature.

The IPCC also maintained that the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate, and that climate is expected to continue to change in the future. These changes will bring with them further increases in sea level, the transformation of forest- and other ecosystems, modifications of crop yield, shifts in the geographic range of carriers of disease of plants, animals and humans, and many other impacts. Some of these impacts may be seen as positive, such as the possible increase in rainfall and crop yield in certain dry regions; and some of these impacts may be adapted to, as in the case of building dikes to protect against slowly rising sea level (where they can be afforded). But many, if not most, impacts of climate change will increase risks to society and nature.

Furthermore, many of these impacts will be irreversible. As the IPCC has reported, vulnerability to climate change is of particular importance to people living on arid or semi-arid land, in low-lying coastal areas, in water-limited or flood-prone regions, or on small islands. Risks to nature will be significant in the many areas where natural ecosystems cannot quickly adapt to changing climate, or where they are already under stress from environmental pollution or other factors.

Because of these risks, we find it important for nations to develop long-term climate protection goals, as in setting limits on the increase of global temperature and sea level. Equally important, we recommend that European and industrialized nations use long-term climate protection goals as a guide to determining short-term emission targets. This approach has been adopted, for example, by the European Union and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Some may say that action to control emissions should be delayed because of the scientific uncertainties of climate change and its impact. We reply that the risks and irreversibility of many climate impacts require “precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the causes of climate change”, as clearly stated in the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We also recognize that there are economic arguments for delaying the control of emissions in Europe and elsewhere. However, after carefully examining the question of timing of emission reductions, we find the arguments against delay to be more compelling. First, delaying action could shift an unfair burden for more severe reductions of emissions to future generations. Second, delaying action will lead to a greater accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and therefore make it more difficult to prevent future climate change when action is finally taken.

Rather than delay, we strongly urge governments in Europe and other industrialized countries to accede to controls of greenhouse emissions as part of a Kyoto agreement. We further believe that some of these emission controls can be achieved at little or no net cost through improvements in the efficiency of energy systems and faster introduction of renewable energy.

As to a quantitative goal for controlling emissions, we believe that the European Union proposal is consistent with long term climate protection. This proposal would reduce by 15% the total collective greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries (so-called Annex I countries) by the year 2010 (relative to year 1990). Although stronger emission reductions will be needed in the future, we see the -15% target as a positive first step “to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” and to lessen risks to society and nature. Such substantive action is needed now.

*Third Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto, Japan, December, 1997.

Version: 4

I haven’t yet had an opportunity to compare Version 4 with the “final” version which can be found in Tom Wigley’s too little, too late Nov. 25 reply, which was included in CG1 (and which is where I had first noticed this “Invitation to influence Kyoto”) However, I did do a quick check; the last sentence bolded above survived any further edits and made it into the final version. Quelle surprise, eh?! But I digress …

By August 28, it appears that The Statement was close to being finalized. The following E-mail from Rob Swart to WWF’s Merylyn McKenzie-Hedger (copied to Hulme, Alcamo, Jill Jaeger and Pier Vellinga), in reply to McKenzie-Hedger, indicates that WWF seems to have been their preferred distribution network, because they were, evidently, deemed to be less scary (and more sciencey?!) than other advocacy groups! [0801.txt]:

Dear Merylyn,

I am very happy that you are enthusiastic about the idea of presenting a letter by European scientists to the Kyoto negotiations. What we had in mind was a similar procedure as in the US. After the initial drafting of the letter by a limited number of scientists (done), an ngo with more time/resources would take the letter and start collecting signatures through their network, primarily through email, but possibly also through mail/fax.

I think we have reached that step. What would be needed is WWF distrbuting a message/letter from WWF accompanying the scientists’s letter explaining the plan on their behalf. The letter should be relatively “objective” not to scare scientists that they are used in an unscientific ngo advocacy action.

That is why we have approached you rather than Greenpeace, Climate Action Network or Friends of the Earth. I am sure you have your own network of climate scientists, screening the IPCC reports for IPCC lead authors would be an important second step. The people that are in the process now (like Mike Hulme, Joe Alcamo, Jill Jaeger, Pier Vellinga and others) will also provide you with as many names and addresses as they can come up with.

I’ll talk to Adam Markham about it next week. I propose that we start providing you with names/addresses now. In addition, other ways of collecting signatures may be through leaflets distributed during scientific climate meetings in Europe? Several hundreds of signatures would be the goal, including key people. Unfortunately, sofar we only came up with few names outside Germany/UK/Netherlands.

I think we should actively try to get eastern and southern Europeans on board. I believe Joe’s suggestion was to aim at a release of the letter in a joint WWF/scientists’ press conference at the next AGBM in Bonn, or if that would be too early, in Kyoto. I am not sure to whom the letter should be directed: European heads of state with copies to delegation leaders? Environment Ministers?

My question to you would be: could you give us your ideas on how to proceed (possibly with a proposal for an accompanying letter) next week. You may want to discuss it with Mike Hulme, who is closest to you. I hope others will come up with suggestions/reactions and therefore I copy this mail to them.

Let’s keep in touch. By the way, we are short on UK scientists yet….

Rob

At 06:42 PM 8/26/97 +020 ???, you wrote:
>Adma and I have discussed this and are very enthudiastic. Let us know
>exaclty what you want from us. I’m away for a week. Count us in. Do
>you wan to use our website.

I have not found any relevant correspondence between August 28 and September 21; but one might surmise from Alcamo’s message to Hulme (copied to Swart) on September 22, that Hulme was busy drafting and crafting [1652.txt]:

Mike,

Great work.

I don’t think it is necessary to try anyone else. I think the balls in my court now, and I should make the final revisions to the Statement (based on your suggestions and those of Riordan. I will also draft a letter to “the 10”, along with a proposed list of who these ten should be. With regards to selecting a list of “the 10”, I also would like to wait until Rob contacts Opschoor and other prominent Dutch scientists. This means that I won’t have a draft letter to “the 10” until later this week —

You mentioned that you are out of the office after Tuesday. How can I reach you by fax or email later in the week?

Best wishes.

Joe Alcamo

On Oct. 3, the Merylyn McKenzie-Hedger, the WWF point-person, confirms the arrangements in an E-mail to Hulme, presumably following a phone conversation with Hulme [3275.txt]:

Mike as we have discussed, and following my chat with Adam, we are of course enthusaistic about your project. As agreed I am copying the details to colleagues.

UEA will get 10 key people to craft a European version of the US science and economist letters. You will get it signed onto. Would like 750 of help from us for that. Then you will send this to heads of state in November. You want WWF to organise a press event around that at a suitable location(s) (London/Geneva/Brussels).

There is money in the UK (SP5) budget here and I will discuss that with Nick Mabey as mentioned. He should be your contact here. Otherwise Lars Georg Jensen in WWF Denmark is a key contact for the TDA.

We will no doubt talk again soon about other things!

>>> Mike Hulme 12/September/1997 10:42am >>>
Merylyn,

Following Rob Swart’s contact with you, I would like to speak about ways we can activate this climate statement, ideally before I leave for Holland on Tuesday. I will try phoning you on Monday or you can contact me at my office:

??? : Monday 9am-2.30pm and 6.30-11.00pm

or home:

??? : Monday 3-6pm or Tuesday am

Thanks,

Mike

On October 2, Alcamo sent Hulme the revised Statement and two draft letters [4540.txt]:

Mike,

I have too much going on and can’t seem to stay on schedule. Anyway, I attach —

1. Revised Statement — down to one page! (partly by cheating on the font size).
2. Draft letter to “the ten”
3. Draft letter to “all”.

Revise the letters as you see fit, although I would be happy to discuss them with you by phone, if you wish. How goes it with the assistance from WWF?

Best wishes

Joe Alcamo

There’s an October 8 E-mail from WWF’s Nick Mabey to Hulme (copied to WWF’s Cherry Farrow) which appears to be a reply to Hulme – and which seems to suggest that communication within WWF is not always up to scratch (assuming that “MMH” = Merylyn McKenzie-Hedger) 0981.txt:

Hi Mike,

A quick reply before I go to the Tory Conference:

1/ MMH did not mention this to me but it seems a good idea in principle – however we should talk about targets etc to make sure Europe needs more movement on the sience side – perhaps an economic approach would be more politically usefull.

2/ Conditional on 1 we have some funding and could do the lauch

3/ If you cant contact me over the next few days talk to Cherry Farrow who runs the press side of the climate campaign about this and I will be in touch with her

Talk to you soon

Nick mabey

PS Could you email me your phone number!

On Oct. 9, from CG1, we have 0876437553.txt from Alcamo to Hulme and Swart, in which Alcamo puts forward the plan for advancing “the cause”:

Mike, Rob,

Sounds like you guys have been busy doing good things for the cause.

I would like to weigh in on two important questions —

Distribution for Endorsements —
I am very strongly in favor of as wide and rapid a distribution as possible for endorsements. I think the only thing that counts is numbers. The media is going to say “1000 scientists signed” or “1500 signed”. No one is going to check if it is 600 with PhDs versus 2000 without. They will mention the prominent ones, but that is a different story.

Conclusion — Forget the screening, forget asking them about their last publication (most will ignore you.) Get those names!

Timing — I feel strongly that the week of 24 November is too late.

1. We wanted to announce the Statement in the period when there was a sag in related news, but in the week before Kyoto we should expect that we will have to crowd out many other articles about climate.

2. If the Statement comes out just a few days before Kyoto I am afraid that the delegates who we want to influence will not have any time to pay attention to it. We should give them a few weeks to hear about it.

3. If Greenpeace is having an event the week before, we should have it a week before them so that they and other NGOs can further spread the word about the Statement. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be so bad to release the Statement in the same week, but on a
diffeent day. The media might enjoy hearing the message from two very different directions.

Conclusion — I suggest the week of 10 November, or the week of 17 November at the latest.

Mike — I have no organized email list that could begin to compete with the list you can get from the Dutch. But I am still willing to send you what I have, if you wish.

Best wishes,

Joe Alcamo

On November 3, WWF’s Farrow sent the following to Hulme. It doesn’t specifically mention the Statement, but it does seem to be indicative of the “assistance” WWF were prepared to provide:

Hello Mike – two thinhs – we can help you with politicians – our two parliamentary (public affairs ) officers here are talking with MPs constantly on this one – adn could come up with a suitable list..ref CLimate action Network – we’re part of that umbrella organisation. I know delia well (she used to be WWF) and is now with them in Brussels.

Obviously, given the money we’ve contributed to the process I would rather that we release the letter to them AFTER the press – that’s how we would normally do it – they will then go ahead under their own letterhead – If you want to retain “neutrality” then it would be better that they pick it up separately than that you release it to them, which would align you with 122 NGOs…but it is right and proper they should have it at some time….

We can help you with the database of journos of course – obvious ones are Paul Brown, Nick Schoon, Charles Clover, Fred Pearce, Geoffrey lean Jonathan Leake etc., and Julian Rush or Andy Veitch at Ch4 news – remember they have to “sell” it to their news editors. which means they need time to write the story too – if you want a real ppiece with real analysis then give them lead in time under an embargo – and remember certain of them cannot be trusted not to break the embargo (we can tell you who!)…we ought to talk at the beginning of next week perhaps?

And on November 11, the Statement, duly sponsored by the eleven “prestige” scientists (I wonder how much “due diligence” each of them did before signing on the dotted line!) was fired off by CRU’s Tim Mitchell (on behalf of Hulme and Alcamo) to “all cru staff” and to a list of 204 other people with U.K. E-mail addresses – along with a request that the recipients forward it to

“up to three colleagues in your country who are working in climate-related fields, who you think may support the Statement and whom we have not targeted”

And Hulme had completely “forgotten” about his involvement in all this until he saw the CG1 emails.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

8 thoughts on “The climate consensus coordinators’ cookbook

  1. Seems pretty clear that ‘climate scientists’ from IPCC, UEA etc were working ‘hand in glove’ with an activist organisation and using the resources of WWF to ‘spread the gospel’ with the purpose of influencing political decisions. Little short of prostitution of science IMOP.

    • It certainly does appear that way, doesn’t it?! Although, I suppose there’s always the chance that they will produce some “context” that will put this in a less credibility damaging light … but I cannot imagine what such “context” might look like (unless they go on a massive “redefining” rampage!)

  2. Hulme seems to have a very proficient forgettery. There’s no other way, other than that he’s a stone-cold liar, to explain his myriad self-contradictions.

    BTW, the push to squash EU’s CO2 emissions is particularly risible in view of the recent JAXA satellite results showing that more CO2 enters it than leaves (just like the US).

    • Yes, his “forgettery” is quite astounding isn’t it?! Not sure about the “stone-cold liar” alternative, though, ‘cuz he’s a very devout Christian, and they don’t tell lies! Perhaps he’s afflicted with a variant of Trenberth’s “false memory syndromw” ;-)

  3. Hi Hilary,

    Thanks for pointing me to this post and the CA article (from BH). I suppose I can take this as further confirmation (as if any were needed) of the activism of this group of scientists and of their involvement with WWF. Pielke Junior has worked quite closely with Mike Hulme I believe. They certainly have produced sensible looking policy documents together. Pielke speaks highly of Hulme on his blog, I find Hulme’s involvement with the campaign to damage de Frietas far more disturbing. I’m at a loss to know what to think. I want to trust Hulme, I like a lot of what he says. How could he get involved with this kind of thuggery? If I notice any comments from him about his involvement, I’ll be sure to let you know!

    • Hi Philip,

      Hulme is definitely somewhat of an enigma … one wants to give him the benefit of the doubt (perhaps because, on the surface, he sounds more rational than the likes of Mann, Trenberth et al … although, considering their performances, that is damning with faint praise, I agree!) There are more emails to/from Hulme (in which WWF is mentioned) that I haven’t yet examined.

      As you say, Pielke Jr. seems to think highly of him; this may well be due (at least in part) to their shared commitment to (their mutually perceived need for) “decarbonization”.

      Last year, BernieL (whose own essays I have always found quite enlightening) shared his perspective on Hulme – in a comment he left here – which you might be interested in reading. Mind you, I could be somewhat biased about this, because Bernie’s views align somewhat closely with my own :-)

  4. Pingback: Week in Review 12/16/11 | Climate Etc.

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