Climate Change computer crime

Published on November 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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One More Climategate Post (Best of the Best)

November 25th, 2011 by

 

climategate

I hope (but am not confident) that this will be my last “climategate” post. I’ve now posted on it several times, maybe dozens of times. I’ve tried to bring to light the true crime in nearly every way I can, which was hacking into scientists’ emails and then cherry-picking and publishing quotes out of context in an attempt to frame them. This is obviously something that worked quite well for the criminals the first time around, as most of the media and much of the public bought it. (Though, note that nine scientific investigations found the science of these climatoligists as sound as ever.)

We’ve covered “Climategate 2.0” several times now as well. Check out that link for 4 stories on this week’s crime and for numerous others on the crime 2 years ago.

However, to wrap up, I just thought I’d highlight some of the top climategate stories from around the internet that are definitely worth a look.

Update: the video below and the section “Who Are the Real Skeptics?” were added on November 28.

Who Are the Real Skeptics?

Australian journalism student Matt Bush has an excellent piece on the horrid reporting around “Climategate 2.0.” Here’s the intro as a taster:

Did you hear about this Climategate 2.0 bullshit? Why are journalists not getting fired for all this ridiculously irresponsible misreporting?

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been graced with the news that 5,000 personal emails exchanged by climate scientists have been leaked to the public. These aren’t recent emails, mind you, these emails cover the same time span as those released in the last ‘shattering’ leak. So hack journalists and parties with vested interests are forcing us to discuss yesterday’s news today.

The mass media is once again doing the public a gross disservice through an unbridled flexing of staggering incompetence. Many reporters are defiantly refusing to even look beyond the now infamous text file (itself consisting almost entirely of shamelessly mined quotes) when writing their stories. What makes this myopia so damning is that in most cases, a fucking glance at the actual email the mined soundbite came from will lay the context bare – effectively refuting the entire article.

Putting Cherry-Picked Quotes in Context

Jueliette Jowit of The Guardian had a piece showing the context around many of the cherry-picked quotes. Pretty absurd how the criminals tried to frame the scientists — in some cases, just by deleting words in the middle of a sentence; in others, by not showing that the concerns raised in emails were raised so that the final papers were more accurate and scientifically cautious; and, in some, trying to make the scientists look like they’re pushing for one thing in their research (an agenda) when they are actually pushing as hard as they can for the opposite (scientific integrity). Anyway, check it out.

Memo to Hacker: Poor Nations Don’t Want Your Kind of Help!

In addressing the message left by the hacker this time around, which seems to say “money spent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate human-caused climate change is money not spent on alleviating poverty,” Skeptical Science tears into the fact that lack of action on climate change is the OPPOSITE of what poor nations need and want. (Note that many from poor nations may be “occupying” the climate conference in Durban this year to try to demand action from rich nations.

The Real Climate Gate Crime

Using nearly the same phrase I often use to discuss the first “Climategate” — “the real climategate crime” — Brendan Demelle of Desmog Blog and Joe Romm of Climate Progress follow up on a BBC story pointing out that the only real crime in the Climategate scandal was someone hacking into and stealing emails and then trying to frame scientists, and a paltry amount of money has been spent on the investigation into that.

Norfolk Police showing that over the past 12 months, they have spent precisely £5,649.09 [US$8,843.64] on the investigation.

All of that was disbursed back in February; and all but £80.05 went on “invoices for work in the last six months”.

Really? That’s all that was spent on what might have been one of the top crimes of the century?!

Also, as a note, the Guardian has a nice post up analyzing the stylistic quirks of the note left by the hacker and asks for help interpreting it all. Help out if you can!

How Deniers Try to Deceive the Public

Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow at Cognitive Science Laboratories at the University of Western Australia, does an excellent job of delving into how global warming deniers try to deceive the public on this matter. I recommend the whole piece, but as a taster, here’s the intro:

An ambulance pulls up behind you. You know it’s an ambulance because you can read AMBULANCE in your rear view mirror. But you can also read it when you look at the vehicle directly; because the human visual system has the ability to quickly correct complete inversions or left-right reversals of letters. In fact, a complete inversion is easier to read than letters that are rotated only partially.

This human ability to process complete inversions more quickly than just partial distortions, alas, lends itself to exploitation by ruthless propagandists who seek to create a chimerical world in which up is down, left is right, and good is smeared as evil.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the netherworld of attacks on climate scientists.

In his piece, he also runs down the independent investigations that followed the first scandal, pointing out the fact that the scientists have been cleared of any scientific wrongdoing by 9 investigations now.

He also discusses what he considers the “real climategate scandal” (slightly different from the one I mentioned above):

The real climategate involves active censorship within NASA by Bush appointees, which the agency’s Inspector General later found to have “reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science”.

The real climategate involves Bush White House staff replacing assessments of the National Academy of Sciences with a discredited paper by two individuals with no expertise in climatology. This paper, funded by the American Petroleum Institute, was so flawed its appearance in a peer-reviewed journal led to the resignation in protest by three editors and the publisher’s unprecedented acknowledgement of mishandling.

Those are not merely historical episodes because the real climategate encompasses the ongoing complicity of some media organs.

In Canada, the real media climategate involves the ongoing list of defamatory articles by the “National Post.” The tabloid is finally being sued by Professor Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria.

In Australia, the real media climategate involves the national daily newspaper, whose misrepresentations of science are legendary and, sadly ongoing.
Those real climategates are the tip of an iceberg of venality enveloping anti-science interests and their enablers.

And just a few hours ago, another illegal release of personal emails among scientists was dumped on to the world in the lead-up to the next climate conference in Durban. First Copenhagen, now Durban. When the science is so rock solid that it can no longer be reasonably doubted, all that is left is to steal private correspondence in a desperate attempt to disparage those who are trying to protect the world from the risks it is facing.

Big Media’s Big Fail

Media Matters, doing what it does so well, shows how big some big media agencies failed us on initial reporting of “Climategate 2.0.” Just check it out. Brad Johnson of Think Progress also tore into the Media’s initial 2009 failures and added many updates of this year’s coverage as it came in.

One Congressman Gets It!

One of my favorite Congressmen, of course, “Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has called on the United States intelligence community to uncover the Climategate hackers who stole emails from climate scientists and released them in advance of two major climate negotiations.” (Think Progress)

“This is clearly an attempt to sabotage the international climate talks for a second time, and there has not been enough attention paid to who is responsible for these illegal acts,” said Markey. “If this happened surrounding nuclear arms talks, we would have the full force of the Western world’s intelligence community pursuing the perpetrators. And yet, with the stability of our climate hanging in the balance with these international climate treaty negotiations, these hackers and their supporters are still on the loose. It is time to bring them to justice.”

In an Alternate Universe

I was also a fan of Michael Lemonick’s rather humorous intro on the matter (and the rest of the piece as well). Here’s the intro:

Remember the Climategate emails? You know, the ones that appeared two years ago to blow the lid off the whole “climate change” scam? Thousands of crafty scientists had devoted entire research careers to inventing the crazy idea that human greenhouse-gas emissions were warming the planet—but a band of idealistic hackers got into their email accounts and showed that it was all a nefarious plot.

That’s the bizarro-world version of what happened, anyway. In the real universe, where the hacked emails turned out to be much ado about nothing the overwhelming consensus on the reality of climate change was left unscathed.

Why Resort to Hacking & Framing?

Skeptical Science offers a nice take on why these global warming deniers are resorting to this tactic.

Although more of these stolen e-mails will be drip-fed by the skeptic blogs and journalists over the coming weeks, it’s likely they will continue in the same vein as Climategate 1.0 – an attempt to frame climate science as some sort of conspiracy.

Clearly the majority of the public won’t have the foggiest idea of what these e-mails refer to, even when context is provided, which is undoubtedly the reason why they are trotted out to a scientifically naive audience.  But this begs the obvious question: why resort to stealing, quote-mining, and distorting decade-old e-mails if there is evidence that the climate “skeptics” are right?

Well, that question answers itself. Climate change “skeptics,” including the handful of skeptical climate scientists, such as Richard LindzenRoy Spencer, Judith Curry, etc., have no substantive evidence that undermines the scientific evidence behind man-made global warming.  None.

It goes into all that in more detail, but that’s the most important point — deniers are resorting to this criminal behavior and these attempts at framing scientists with out-of-context quotes because they have no scientific case against human-caused global warming.

And then, there’s also this take on it all… um, what?

Computer crime image via shutterstock

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • chad pennington

    The consensus comes from the conclusions of the IPCC reports. The emails shed light on how the IPCC conclusions were controlled by the Climategate scientists. The emails tell us they privately expressed concerns about the scientific validity of their conclusions. The emails show us they acknowledged the dishonesty and the “pathetic” work done by Michael Mann and his hockey stick graph. True science will benefit from the release of these emails.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      Every single one of your statements is a lie. If you actually look into the emails at all (not cherry-picked statements from them that frame the scientists), you will see that. Please take a look at the video at the top and the Guardian piece below it for a start.

      • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

        But how do I know you won’t do so?

  • Frank

    If I looked in my shed, and my lawn mower was missing, I would not be happy! If I turned and saw my mower sitting in my neighbor’s freshly mowed lawn, I would have absolutely no qualms about retrieving it promptly. If my neighbor had it locked behind a tall fence, I would have no qualms about cutting the lock to get my mower.
    The public paid for and owns all of the E-Mails and all of the files at these public universities. You cannot steal something you already own. Whether it was an inside job, or a hack, returning to the public what the public already owned is no crime; the most obvious crime was the act of keeping the files from the public, and each act of destroying files was no different than destroying someone else’s property. These peoples are criminals, without even starting on the rather obvious climate fraud.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      Guess what? Your analogy doesn’t make sense, since there was nothing stolen from you or the public. And the effort to publish emails out of context has nothing to do with helping the world but everything to do with stopping the world from progressing to a clean energy society.

  • evan

    One must wonder if you were so incensed over stolen material posted on wikileaks.

    No outrage over pleas to delete emails in order to evade the FOIA?

    You climate cultists are all the same. Dishonest and malicious to the core.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      There’s a difference between releasing information that brings clarity to an issue and cherry-picking quotes to try to frame people and stop us from addressing climate change.

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