Iceberg Ahead

iceberg_birdsClimate scientists who play fast and loose with the facts are imperiling not just their profession but the planet

By Fred Guterl

One of the most impressive visuals in Al Gore’s now famous slide show on global warming is a graph known as the “hockey stick.” It shows temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rising slowly for most of the last thousand years and turning steeply upward in the last half of the 20th century. As evidence of the alarming rate of global warming, it tells a simple and compelling story. That’s one reason the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included the graph in the summary of its 2001 report. But is it true?

The question occurred to Steven McIntyre when he opened his newspaper one morning in 2002 and there it was—the hockey stick. It was published with an article on the debate over whether Canada should ratify the Kyoto agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. McIntyre had little knowledge of the intricate science of climate change; he didn’t even have a Ph.D. He did have a passion for numbers, however. He also had some experience in the minerals business, where, he says, people tend to use hockey-stick graphs when they are trying to pull one over on you. “Reality usually isn’t so tidy.”

As every climate scientist must know by now, McIntyre’s skepticism of the hockey stick launched him on a midlife career change: he has become the granddaddy of the global warming “denial” movement. McIntyre asserted that the data of Michael Mann, head of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, did not support his conclusions, and that a true graph of temperatures would suggest a cyclical cause of recent warming. Following in his footsteps, a cottage industry of amateur climatologists have dug into the climate literature, tried to poke holes in the arguments, and demanded supporting data from scientists, sometimes under the auspices of Freedom of Information Act requests.

The scientists have resisted these efforts just as fiercely. For the past six years the conflict has played out in blogs, in the halls of Congress, and in deliberations of the IPCC. It came to a crescendo with the theft of private e-mails from the University of East Anglia in England in November, which raised questions about the scientific objectivity of several prominent researchers, including Phil Jones, who resigned in December as head of the Climatic Research Unit.

The battle between “alarmists” and “deniers” has taken a huge toll, not just on the reputations of Jones and the other “climategate” scientists. It has also damaged the credibility of climate science itself, and threatened more than a decade of diplomatic efforts to engineer a global reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions. The effort, which has kept a forward momentum since the Kyoto meeting in 1997, came to a cold stop in Copenhagen in December. The conference was originally intended to bring the U.S. and China into a global agreement, but produced nothing of substance. Indeed, the climate project bears a striking resemblance to health-care reform in the United States—stalled by a combination of political resistance and hubris.

What went wrong? Part of the blame lies, of course, with those who obstructed the efforts of the IPCC and the individual scientists, including bloggers who tried to sandbag scientists with spurious FOIA requests, and the perpetrators (as yet unknown) of the hack at the Climatic Research Unit. Part of the blame also falls on the climate scientists themselves. Many of them—including perhaps Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC head—may have stepped too far over the line from science to advocacy, undermining their own credibility. Some scientists, as a result, are now calling for a change in tone from antagonism to reconciliation. Climate science, they say, needs to open its books and be more tolerant of scrutiny from the outside. Its institutions—notably the IPCC—need to go about their business with greater transparency. “The circle-the-wagons mentality has backfired,” says Judith Curry, head of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The first thing to fix is the institution that has borne the brunt of the recent public-relations disaster: the IPCC itself. Recently there have been several minor revelations of sloppiness. A line in the group’s 2007 report stating that glaciers in the Himalayas will melt entirely by 2035 turns out to have come not from the peer-reviewed literature, but from a 1999 article in New Scientist, a popular magazine in the U.K. More damaging, IPCC chairman Pachauri has been acting as a consultant to financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus, an investment firm. Although he says he has donated the proceeds to the nonprofit organization he founded in Delhi to promote charitable programs in sustainability, many people have wondered whether the head of a scientific organization that calls itself “policy neutral” should be consulting with banks. Some have called for his resignation.

Read the rest of this story at Newsweek.

55 Responses to Iceberg Ahead

  1. Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 21, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    This sounds an awful lot like whining. Boo hoo! Look at what the authors of this tear soaked paper blame this on:
    “What went wrong? Part of the blame lies, of course, with those who obstructed the efforts of the IPCC and the individual scientists, including bloggers who tried to sandbag scientists with spurious FOIA requests, and the perpetrators (as yet unknown) of the hack at the Climatic Research Unit.”
    I would have spit out my milk if was was drinking some when I read that. What?!?!?!?!?!? That would be like writing a piece about a convicted killer being put to death, and saying the fault was with the cops, prosecuter, and judge.
    Bloggers who tried to sandbag scientists with spurious FOIA requests?????? How can an FOIA request be “Lacking authenticity or validity in essence or origin; not genuine; false.” Boo hoo hoo, their FOIA request lacks authenticity…….. What????????????

  2. Hal Groar February 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Are we to take this seriously? They insist the emails were stolen, I believe they were leaked. I think this is a work to rebuild the science of global warming. First they must apologize and then we can rebuild our empire and try to scam the world some more. If it wasn’t for those evil bloggers and looney scientists we would have had them by now! These people do not get it! The game is over! All science has been tainted by these people, I will forever question science due to the acts of these slimeballs. AARRGGHH!!!

    • Dan McGrath February 22, 2010 at 2:15 am #

      That is one aspect of the tragedy of this scam. We can’t all be experts on everything, so we sometimes have to rely on the professional experts in their fields, but can we trust them?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

      Hal, I can’t remember the source so I can’t post it but, I heard that the investigation into the “hacked” emails is going nowhere. There is no evidence of anybody hacking into their servers. So I think that supports the idea that they were leaked, and not hacked. I’m with you on this one.

    • Rob N. Hood February 28, 2010 at 8:53 am #

      The fact is that the way the emails were taken was illegal. That’s just a fact, deal with it. Or can’t you face facts, unless you approve of them first?

  3. paul wenum February 21, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    I joke it is and a joke it will be. Called CYA.

    • Asok February 22, 2010 at 12:29 am #

      Why don’t you go through “Ping pong fascism”

      • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

        It would help if you explained what “ping pong fascism” is. I have never heard of it, and a web search for the term has turned up nothing. Maybe you think you are being clever, but, it’s not clever unless people know what you are talking about.

      • Rob N. Hood February 27, 2010 at 8:44 am #


  4. Cubanshamoo February 22, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    Ahh Hal, unfortunately the game is not over!!!
    Look, it all depend on good will, common sense, and racionality. Do you know any government in this world with these atributes?
    Here in Europe our politicians continue taxing the fuel. We pay 4 times what you pay in USA, no one wants to know about Climategate. When you ask the right-wing why they don’t fight for our rights, their answer is simple: if we go in front the government f…. us, and if we go behind they shit on us.
    We need to put these criminals into the tribunals. USA is probably the only country that can do that. If they don’t pay for all the damage they have been doing to the economy, no one single politician will be afraid. They are even asking to band ALL 4 x 4 production and sales in Switzerland!!! Do you get it? It is still out of control!!!!!
    And the press?……

  5. Rob N. Hood February 22, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    OMG ! Run for the hills !! (since you can’t drive up them without four-wheel drive!!!) Look out, here it comes… some reality !!

    According to government figures, 1 percenters’ share of America’s total income is the highest it’s been since 1929, and their tax rates are the lowest they’ve faced in two decades. Through bonuses, many 1 percenters will profit from the $23 trillion in bailout largesse the Treasury Department now says could be headed to financial firms. And most of them benefit from IRS decisions to reduce millionaire audits and collect zero taxes from the majority of major corporations.

    But what really makes the ultra-wealthy so fortunate, what truly separates this moment from a run-of-the-mill Gilded Age, is the unprecedented protection the 1 percenters have bought for themselves on the most pressing issues via lobbyists, politicians, and the mainstream media.

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      Why? What is your point? Wait…… I don’t care. Here is somewhare for you Rob that you can find people who care.
      There is a lot more out there in the blogosphere. Now go away and stop bothering us with this tripe. It’s not that we don’t care…… wait….. YES IT IS!!!!!!!!!

  6. Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm #


  7. Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm #


  8. paul wenum February 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    What has this got to do with Global warming? Suggest that Rob go on facebook and rant to a right wing conservative. By the way. Obasma’s head of NOAA is in trouble. Wonder why Karl is in trouble. Gore’s best friend? They probably don’t talk any longer. Check Drudge Report. It never ceases to amaze me how they continue to put their heads in the sand. All about money.

  9. paul wenum February 23, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    I like the picture above. It’s called calving. See it every time I’m in Alaska. Been that way for hundreds of years. Never changes. Called Climate change!!! Just don’t kayak around them. You may not be on this site thereafter. Waves are huge. Mother Nature at her best!

  10. Cubanshamoo February 23, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Paul, where I can see the NOAA history? I am interested. Thanks in advance

  11. Rob N. Hood February 23, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Maybe you should care about the elite who run things. You all have mentioned them before too. However, you obsessively focus only on the rich Liberals, as if they alone control the world. That is false, of course. It is the global elite (who use politicians and rulers around the globe) who are our true enemies, at least for those who have the intelligence and imagination to see this reality. You all are leaning at windmills…

    Haven’t you noticed that those rulers who don’t want to play their “game”, e.g. Saddam, Quaddafi, the Taliban, and now Iran, etc. etc., suddenly become “the enemy” and get wiped out one way or another courtesy of the elites armies and/or official boycotting? Isn’t that just a little too convenient? Or are you guys really that gullible…?? Saudi Arabia sponsors more terrorism than any of these places/people and they are our best ally in the area, except of course Isreal (our 51st State). Why is that do you think?? Do you think?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      Good God, Rob. Do you need a hankie? WAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! I have news for you, we’re grown ups here. You do not get to decide the topic. If I should ever want to know about what you are talking about I will do a search for it. It’s called Google! I can find out anything I WANT to know about anything I am INTERESTED in, and probably find out a lot more than you can articulate here. Maybe you should mind your own business and stop trying to tell us what we should be interested in.
      Do you want to talk about the seven modes of musical scales? Ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian, and locrian? I could talk about them all day because it’s something I am interested in. But I don’t talk about them here, in fact I have never mentioned them. Why do think that is Rob?

      • Rob N. Hood February 25, 2010 at 9:34 am #

        Your reaction is interesting too. I am simply shedding some light on larger issues that I beleive may be connected in some way to the issue at hand. If you wish to ignore me or what I post that is your prerogative. What is interesting is that while my posts are not all that original or “earth-shattering” you people act like they are out of this world. THAT is interesing and says a lot about you and how you think, or don’t think about these issues. I am not whining above, and your interpretation that I am is odd, to say the least. Your response borders on whining however. What you poeple do a lot of is Projection. I see it all the time here. And it is so pervasive and consistent that I am starting to believe in mental blocks more than ever.

        Anyway, I (and many others) see possible and sometimes confirmed connections to issues that effect us as a way of understanding the world we live in and how we can mitigate or God-forbid even solve those problems. I find the issue of Global Warming/Change one of those that is interesting because of these possible connections and the mind games and propaganda, perhaps from both sides that are being fed to us.

        • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

          Well then why don’t you focus on what the connections are? Saying you think they may be connected in some way is rather vauge. And alluding that projection is some kind of mental block is just downright disingenuous. Projection is something everybody does, including you. Why else would you be shocked when someone doesn’t care what you have to say about irrelevent issues? I think people like you believe that they are so superior. You place yourselves high above others. What YOU believe, and what attitudes YOU have, and what solutions YOU think should be implemented are the only things that matter. And if someone should not share your view, well then they are projecting, or having mental blocks, or we don’t want to understand the world.
          Rob, my view is not your view. And no matter what you post, say, or plagerize here it is not going to force me to take your view.
          Now I, and others (many and growing) have said that AGW theory is false. That we were being lied to by Al Gore, James Hansen, and others. That the solutions to global warming sounded an awfully lot like the same things that envirocreeps have wanted to do since the 60’s. And the only evidence we had were the actual temperature record, and our gut feelings. And fortunately for us there were people like the scientists from Friends of Science, MIT professor Lindzen, Dr. Tim Ball, and a handfull of others who were saying that there was really no evidence supporting the AGW theory. And what side were you on at that time Rob? You certainly weren’t in my camp. Which is the same place that you still aren’t. I recall being browbeaten by you about the consensus of thousands of scientists from around the world as recently as six months ago. So, what has changed since then? Why should I even consider anything you have to say?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

      It’s tilting at windmills, not leaning. It is a reference to Don Quixoti.
      Now Saddam and Quaddafi were both just a couple of sweet, well mannered gentlemen. And we attacked them because the world elites decided they wern’t playing ball?
      see this is why I can not take you seriously. I happened to be serving in the U.S. Army when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Now like it, or not, Kuwait was, and still is, a member of the U.N. and as such, an ally of the United States. It was Saddam who invaded Kuwait. That’s what started our conflict with Iraq. We led a U.N. MANDATED invasion. And the next war with Iraq was a direct result of saddam not following the conditions of the U.N MANDATED cease fire.
      Rob I think you have an open mind. But I think you lack the judgment to adequately filter the information that you put into it. There is no rationality to your suppositions so they are therefore irrational.
      Here is a little history that you don’t know. This I hope will disuade you from your irrational delusions.

  12. Cubanshamoo February 23, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Thanks Neil, it is very interesting.
    Concerning the troll … I told you so… sang Randy Travis

  13. Bagwan Rashid February 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    There is NO “climate change.” There is no “global warming.” Anyone that believes this or buys into this fraud is as dumb as Owlgore or his bootlicker Boobra Boxer. Dumb is a word that was invented when they looked at these two lying piles of America hating garbage. Still believe in this hoax?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

      Don’t be a dope! Saying that there is no climate change is like saying there is no gravity. There actually is global warming and climate change. There is also global cooling. These are scientific facts. Global climate fluctuates. It ebbs and flows, and it happens cyclically. It has been happening for the entire history of the planet some 4 1/2 billion years.
      What we dispute here is that global warming is happening now, and that it is anthropogenically generated. The effect of CO2 is also in dispute.
      We do believe that is a fraud, and a hoax. But to say that climate change or global warming do not exist is just ignorant. No offense intended.

      • Rob N. Hood February 28, 2010 at 8:58 am #

        Wow, way to dump on someone who agrees with you. You are quite the ambassador of the right-wing welcoming committee, not. Equal opportunity malice distributor aren’t we? Why so cwabby?

  14. premier team international February 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    its a scam and a joke!!! the best part is that this theory won al gore the nobel!!!

  15. Hal Groar February 23, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Yea Rob, your right…climate change is a big lie and the leftys in power should all be jailed. Glad we agree!

  16. paul wenum February 23, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    “Ya Rob” your right. Case closed because you said so. Yeah right. “Sal Doll.”

  17. Rob N. Hood February 25, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    No commenton the contect of the post, just attacks? I never said I was right, I asked if you guys think, and I guess you answered that in your own typical fashion. I can’t help but interpret your repsonses to intdicate that you don’t think as much as react. You don’t engage with anyone who may disagree wtih you (even those like me who have indicated you may be right about THIS issue but you dislike apparently because I don’t take your hard line). You dismiss and attack. As I’ve aid before that is certainly a strength in the short-term but is usually disasterous in the long-term.

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

      Remember that Republicans are Nazis? Remember the consensus of thousands of scientists from around the world? What do you expect? Do you think we have forgotten all of your past posts, and are now to take you seriously? Why? Give us one good reason to respect you.

  18. Paul Wenum February 25, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    I think that we think in a different world than you. I now know what confused means and it is not us.

  19. Rob N. Hood February 26, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Don’t worry I am not expecting anything from you guys- that would be insane at this point. I keep throwing you bones (highlighting possible common ground we may share and discuss) and you guys robotically throw it back in my face. As you just did again above. Yes, I have challenged you, called you out on stuff, and you react in a way that is robotic, for the lack of a better word.

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      Don’t make me laugh so hard! You certainly do expect something from us. You are hoping that we may come around to your way of thinking. You really do think we’re idiots, don’t you? You expect to educate, and enlighten us. And that means that you ARE insane. Insanity is continuing a behavior time, and time again, and expecting a different result. Don’t kid yourself Rob.

  20. Paul Wenum February 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    You sound like Obama throwing a “bone” to the other side knowing that he has no interest in the alleged offer nor discourse. Don’t give us this bleeding heart BS for “lack of a better word.”

  21. Rob N. Hood February 27, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    That’s false. He’s reached across the isle for a whole year and has gotten nothing to show for it. Bush did whatever he wanted when he wanted. Your REAL point is what now?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

      He has? Give us one example. Just one. I don’t think you can unless you make one up. Because there are no examples of Obama “reaching across the isle”.

  22. Paul Wenum February 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Do you read/see? Man you are so one dimensional it is sad. Sometime delusional?

    • Neil F. AGWD/BSD February 27, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      He sees only what he wants to see. Unfortunately he does not see the truth, only lies.

  23. paul wenum February 28, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    Agree my friend.

  24. Cubanshamoo February 28, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    Here’s then problem. We believe individual thinking makes science and they believe this reductionism is only bourgeois science. Some people approach science guided by sociocultural versions of Marx, Lennin and Mao, and the will die that way. Marxism can make you stupid if you can’t understand it!!! And many never got it, believe me.

  25. Rob N. Hood February 28, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    You are the blind ones. I have indicated several times why I don’t currently like or support Obama. That could change, and I hope it does. And I could work hard on giving many examples of Obama’s spineless pandering to the Right, but it wouldn’t make one dent in your truly one-dimensional minds. Like you said, all you have to do is “watch” or read the news. I guess it depends on whether you watch Fox News or not, huh? You are the narrow-minded. How many times have you scolded me for not being as narrow-minded as you? Many.

  26. paul wenum February 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Robby Boy, Obama pandering to the Republicans? Did you see the C-span health care “Debate’??? You are delusional. It was his way or the highway. When will you wake up? I assume never.

  27. Rob N. Hood March 1, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Yes I did. And he stood up for himself for the first time during that, and I loved it. Have you forgotten Bush and Cheney doing whtever the hell they wanted to? And you think Obama is just as bad as that or worse? If so you truly are delusional.

    But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber the lie, the more they want to hear it repeated.

    …If I’m an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I’m going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Susan Sarandon/Tim Robbins and Gore dining room tables, then brags about it on FoxNews. And gets paid for it too… Truly pathetic.

  28. paul wenum March 1, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    All I can say is I hope you love living off the the public trough of entitlements. You seem to think you earned it. Man, I should quit working and simply lay back and let the government pay my bills, mortgage. No problem! Get real. Are you real or a figment of my imagination? If so, I want a different mind-set or possibly a shrink?? You really are (won’t go there.) Enough said.

  29. Rob N. Hood March 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Same old garbage of right-wing nonsense… very old.

    Over the past thirty years, Wall Street has waged a steady war against governments around the globe, convincing policymakers of various ideological stripes that whatever raises profits for bankers and traders will be good for the rest of society. It’s a very simple and appealing portrait of how the world works. Unfortunately, it’s completely wrong.

    It explains the connection between widespread global poverty and wild Wall Street profits. Markets are defined by a set of rules—if those rules completely disregard social welfare, then the participants in those markets will ignore them as well. When traders can make a quick buck speculating on the price of rice, they will, even if that speculation drives up the price of a basic necessity and makes people go hungry. Or the price of oil, and we all pay the jacked-up prices, which they pocket.

    There is a terrible science fiction-like awe in the autonomous American economic monolith, in the way that it provides for us, feeds on us and keeps us as its both its lavish pets and slaves. The commodity economy long ago enslaved Americans and other “developed” capitalist societies. But Americans in particular. The most profound slavery must be that in which the slaves can conceive of no other possible or better world than their bondage. Inescapable, global, all permeating, the commodities economy rules so thoroughly most cannot imagine any other possible kind of economy.

    You guys can argue that people have always screwed other people for a buck. You will win with that argument every time. However, the real issue is about how many people got screwed and how hard by how few. Under 250 years of capitalism, the rising take from the ongoing screw job has grown astronomical. Enough to buy every politician in Washington and a majority of the Supreme Court. Enough that if the elite cartels on Wall Street rip 300 million Americans for trillions, leaving them squinting at the fine print on their eviction notices, they cannot do jack about it. Except pay the next ransom demand for their credit. On their credit cards. Then sign their children into future debt slavery.

  30. Paul Wenum March 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    When you retire I suggest Argentina? They love your type.

  31. Cubanshamoo March 3, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    Nooooo! Cuba should be the first option, then Venezuela and after Bolivia. I think he will feel very good enjoying the warm at the Altiplano!

  32. Paul Wenum March 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Yes, Gitmo sounds interesting as well. Free food, TV and an exercise room! Just kidding.

  33. Cubanshamoo March 4, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    Yes Paul, better idea with waterboarding service included. No, no, no it is a joke. Please don’t take me serious, I am not harsh at all. :-)))))
    Hope this time it was clear

  34. Rob N. Hood March 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Ha ha, ho ho.!! You wing-nuts sure know a good joke… can’t….. stop……………..laughing…

  35. paul wenum March 5, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Rob, at least you can surf! On a board that is! (Surf board). Couldn’t help it! God forgive me! However, was a lifeguard and I love water!

  36. Rob N. Hood March 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Alrighty then!!

  37. Paul Wenum March 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    You don’t swim?

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