Hockey sticks and email leaks: Dr. Ross McKitrick responds to the “Climategate” story

Dr. Ross McKitrick is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph and is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. His work with Stephen McIntyre — another Canadian — provides much of the basis for skepticism of the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change. The “Hockey Stick” graph authored by Mann, Bradley and Hughes and published by Nature has come under renewed controversy after emails and data from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit were hacked and leaked revealing smoothing, manipulation, clumsy patching and omission of data used to construct climate models based on direct and indirect temperate readings. The hockey stick graph provided basis for the 2001 IPCC report, and a significant foundation for the modern mainstream view on climate change. The emails also revealed a tightly controlled and collaborative peer-review process which appeared to be designed to suppress skepticism and debate.

Leaders from industrialized and non-industrialized nations will meet in Copenhagen in just over a week to discuss a new agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol and seeks to transfer GDP from richer nations to poorer ones under the guise of aiding the implementation of CO2 emission reduction capacity around the world. I emailed Dr. McKitrick to ask him about the CRU hack/leak, the news of a pending US Congressional probe into the revelations that came from it, his opinion if such a move is necessary in Canada and whether this will affect the “scientific consensus” and political track as we move towards Copenhagen and beyond.

Comments

comments

  • greg61

    This may turn out not to be the work of hackers, but of a whistle blower. Some are suggesting that the type of documents released may have been gathered as a possible reponse to the FOI, and when a decision was made not to release them, a whistle bower did. Would a hacker necessarily go to the time and trouble of eliminating all the personal emails, and other extraneous junk.

  • http://Section15.blogspot.com/ Mark Francis

    This is just propaganda. The emails don’t go where McKitrick and others say they do. Comparing this to Dr. Charles Smith is very defamatory. Shame.

    When do we get transparency regarding the global warming denialist efforts of the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Fraser Institute, ‘Friends’ of Science, and heck, the Manning Centre for ‘Democracy’?

    And, you know, the ‘hockey stick’ is far more promoted by its critics than by anyone else. There is far more evidence of human-caused global warming out there unrelated to Mann’s work. The IPCC’s work stands fine without it. Kyoto was done without his work. And the thermometers aren’t lying: the average global temperature is up almost half a degree since 1997 — more if you go back earlier — and the Greenland ice sheet melt is accelerating.

  • http://Section15.blogspot.com/ Mark Francis

    This is just propaganda. The emails don’t go where McKitrick and others say they do. Comparing this to Dr. Charles Smith is very defamatory. Shame.

    When do we get transparency regarding the global warming denialist efforts of the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Fraser Institute, ‘Friends’ of Science, and heck, the Manning Centre for ‘Democracy’?

    And, you know, the ‘hockey stick’ is far more promoted by its critics than by anyone else. There is far more evidence of human-caused global warming out there unrelated to Mann’s work. The IPCC’s work stands fine without it. Kyoto was done without his work. And the thermometers aren’t lying: the average global temperature is up almost half a degree since 1997 — more if you go back earlier — and the Greenland ice sheet melt is accelerating.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    ST,

    Great work on moving this forward. We need the Federal Government to start asking the questions about the “data” and the perception of the biggest fraud to transfer Billions. The MSM is moving very slow. This could be a game changer if the critics are given a forum.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    ST,

    Great work on moving this forward. We need the Federal Government to start asking the questions about the “data” and the perception of the biggest fraud to transfer Billions. The MSM is moving very slow. This could be a game changer if the critics are given a forum.

  • Liz J

    Maybe we'll get to the truth in time, there will be plenty of barricades to maneuver to get to it but it may truly be inconvenient for those who rose to glory and riches on what may well be proven to be a giant scam.
    Surely there are more than a few feeling very uneasy right now with the prospect of losing their goose that kept laying golden eggs.

    Did Al Gore get asked about this on CTV's Canada AM? How much did CTV pay for Big Al's appearance and what did they gain from it?

  • Switchyard O'Taylor

    Agreed Greg,

    I think the smart money is on a researcher (or grad student) in the CRU who decided that he/she could no longer follow the road of lies to the land of milk and research money.

  • West Coast Teddi

    I have written the Prime minister and my MP an email urging them NOT to sign on to anything coming out of the Copenhagen meetings until a full independent investigation has been done. This is the NEW “Inconvenient Truth”

  • West Coast Teddi

    I have written the Prime minister and my MP an email urging them NOT to sign on to anything coming out of the Copenhagen meetings until a full independent investigation has been done. This is the NEW “Inconvenient Truth”

  • John

    Good Info Stephen. Dr. McKitrick is another great reason that I’m proud to be a graduate of the U of G.

    Greg61 – to add to your hypothesis, or maybe clarify your message, it may be that the CRU gathered together all potentially incriminating evidence (e-mails, codes and data) into one large file for protection against any FOIA inquiries and then a whistle-blower within the CRU just simply took the file and passed it along.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Why did the Democrats muzzle the Republicans their guest speaker to rebutt Al Gore ?

    Why is the data being destroyed or refused to be turned over to the “other side” for debunking?

    What is the rush and pattern of smearing and yelling “big oil” when someone asks a question?

  • Jen

    Do you know Liz, that when Al GORE preached to his countrymen on how to protect the environment by telling them to 'wash clothes by hand and hang them to dry instead of using the W/D machines. They flat out told him: “GO TO CANADA THEY WILL LISTEN TO YOU AND LEAVE US ALONE”
    Here he is, in Canada. A man who has from his 'speaking engagements' made billions of dollars for himself from which he bought a jet, has three mansions and huge cars.
    This is the same person who goes around telling the little 'Joe' how to conserve energy; how to live using less energy; ride bikes…….

    How did AL GORE come to Canada? on a bike or did he walk? neither, he came on his private jet.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    I wouldn't say he's worth billions. Maybe 50 million.

  • Suzanne

    Errata Security describes how they think the hacking occured.
    See: Climate hack used open proxies
    http://erratasec.blogspot.com/2009/11/climate-hack-used-open-proxies.html

  • Suzanne

    Propaganda eh? Well, it seems to me that the emails and climate data (or lack thereof) speak for itself: http://www.eastangliaemails.com/index.php

    Not to mention the Data horribilia: the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file
    http://www.devilskitchen.me.uk/2009/11/data-hor

    Poor Programmer Harry, who makes this very revealing comment in his programming notes regarding the integrity of the climate data and programming nightmare he was tasked with:

    “This whole project is SUCH A MESS. No wonder I needed therapy!!”

    I bet Al Gore now wishes he didn't really invent the internet. Oh the irony!

  • philosoraptor
  • Suzanne

    I think this revelation (posted at Climate Audit’s Mirror Site) is very telling:

    Denying Email Deletion
    2009 NOVEMBER 24
    by stevemcintyre

    Phil Jones, Dec 3, 2008:

    About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little – if anything at all.

    Phil Jones, Nov 24, 2009 Guardian

    We’ve not deleted any emails or data here at CRU.

    http://camirror.wordpress.com/

  • Switchyard O'Taylor

    Further note of irony:
    At least the programmers were nice enough to leave perfectly commented script.

  • Switchyard O'Taylor

    … and that depends on how much he's hedged on Carbon. I can only assume that Copenhagen will be a mess which will further devalue his worth.

    Does he get royalties for inventing the internet?

  • Suzanne

    Indeed. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for CRU if poor stressed out Harry left no programming notes. Oh the horror of it all! To his credit, I think poor Harry tried his very best to straighten out this programming nightmare that he unfortunately inherited. So, in the end it appears the project was suffering from GIGO (Garbage In – Garbage Out). Epic fail!

    Here’s an interesting read today from Anthony Watts blog (Watts Up With That?), which addresses some of these programming set-backs that Harry suffered from:

    Climategate: hide the decline – codified
    25 11 2009

    WUWT blogging ally Ecotretas writes in to say that he has made a compendium of programming code segments that show comments by the programmer that suggest places where data may be corrected, modified, adjusted, or busted. Some the HARRY_READ_ME comments are quite revealing. For those that don’t understand computer programming, don’t fret, the comments by the programmer tell the story quite well even if the code itself makes no sense to you.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/climategate-hide-the-decline-codified/

  • Liz J

    Note the regular Liberal/Left apologists are laying low on this one.

    Guess it takes time to pick themselves up from the floor after another smack down today in their latest gotcha game, obliquely accusing the government of Canada and our Canadian Forces of war crimes. It's the most despicable performance by any opposition in the history of this country. This was truly the coalition at work, the Liberals, Dips and Separatists all out to try to score points at the expense of the reputation of Canada and our Military. Then to top it off the Liberals were using it to appeal for funds.

    They should go hang their heads in shame. We should demand an apology from the lot of them.

  • RFB

    The real reason Obama is going to Copenhagen, is because GoldmanSachs contributed $890,000 to his campaign. GoldmanSachs will make BILLIONS from carbon trading. They own the carbon trading exchange in the USA. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/29127316/the_great_american_bubble_machine/7

  • Suzanne

    I see a pattern developing here:

    Uh, oh – raw data in New Zealand tells a different story than the “official” one.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/uh-oh-raw-data-in-new-zealand-tells-a-different-story-than-the-official-one/

  • minaka2

    The global warming scam has just been shot in the head by the smoking gun of documented collusion among top scientists to advance leftist ideology by cooking results, withholding original data and suppressing publication of any research that contradicts their findings. This is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption that runs through the scientific and political community on climate policy.

    The mainstream media are treating it like the movie Weekend at Bernie's, carrying the corpse to Copenhagen and pretending that it's still alive. Let them party on at what is their own wake as well. The media are also dead man walking if they cannot bring themselves to report the news instead of manipulating it always to the left.

    It is bizarre to see reader comments that are better informed on the climate file than the misnamed newspapers they are clobbering in righteous anger.

  • Suzanne

    Switchyard, indeed. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for CRU if poor stressed out Harry left no programming notes. Oh the horror of it all! To his credit, I think poor Harry tried his very best to straighten out this programming nightmare that he unfortunately inherited. So, in the end it appears the project was suffering from GIGO (Garbage In – Garbage Out). Epic fail!

    Here's an interesting read today from Anthony Watts blog (Watts Up With That?), which addresses some of these programming set-backs that Harry suffered from:

    Climategate: hide the decline – codified
    25 11 2009

    WUWT blogging ally Ecotretas writes in to say that he has made a compendium of programming code segments that show comments by the programmer that suggest places where data may be corrected, modified, adjusted, or busted. Some the HARRY_READ_ME comments are quite revealing. For those that don’t understand computer programming, don’t fret, the comments by the programmer tell the story quite well even if the code itself makes no sense to you.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/climatega
    Ref.: http://di2.nu/foia/HARRY_READ_ME-0.html

  • Suzanne

    Climategate appears to be going from bad to worse:

    The Washington Times – Friday, November 27, 2009 – EDITORIAL: The global-cooling cover-up
    Climate-change researchers admit their data is 'garbage'

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/27

  • Suzanne

    Canada agrees to contribute to $10-billion climate-change fund
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/canada-agre

    I'm not impressed.

  • east of eden

    Well, I have Al Gore beat – I have always hung my clothes outside because I don't like paying for the natural gas to dry them, I like the smell, they soften nicely in the winter when they thaw AND I don't have to empty a dryer – if I don't feel like pulling in my clothes today, I can always do it tomorrow. I do many environmentally-friendly things in the name of economizing. Instead of selling this whole 'green' business, why don't we just instill the idea of saving money – most of what we do to save money is actually good for the environment. For example: using real diapers instead of disposables, refilling a metal water container instead of buying bottled water (bottled water has to be the dumbest idea I've ever known), using mason jars instead of plastic containers – they last a lifetime, etc.

  • east of eden

    I forgot to add this to the environmental fraud industry. Anybody remember the whole ozone layer thing? Did that not spawn a whole sunscreen industry worth billions and, in turn, lead to a whole new dermatological industry? A report which I read about a year ago showed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a dermatologist who will treat skin issues – it seems that they are too intent on earning gobs of money on cosmetic services (skin lesions, blotches, premature wrinkling, etc. caused by UV rays) which fall outside our health care system.

    A report out of the USA a few years ago indicated that we have a whole generation of children at risk of vitamin D deficiency because they have so little exposure to the sun's rays. Oh, I guess that will spawn a mini-surge in the vitamin industry. I am 56 and have never used any kind of sunscreen or sun tan product. I burn a bit and then I level off. I don't tan, I don't lie in the sun, but I do hike, work in my yard, and do walking tours of historic locations.

    As for our environment, I think that the chemicals in our food are far more harmful. A few years ago, I began carefully reading labels and stopped buying prepared foods and even a lot of ingredients for making my own food because of the chemicals contained within. As for carbon – if we want to get a handle on it, we have to attack it in a two-fold way: reduce our production or carbon and, more importantly, stop cutting down forests. Even where I live, trees are being removed to make room for more housing. We need forests to clean our air and until we stop clearing huge swathes of forests, we'll have this problem.

  • Suzanne

    I recommend the following blog post on Climategate and in particular, the bureaucratization of science.

    From the blog 'Vulgar Morality' – “The War on the Weather”

    http://vulgarmorality.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/

  • Suzanne

    The above article by The Globe and Mail has now been updated from it's originally entitled “Canada agrees to contribute to $10-billion climate-change fund” to “Harper stands firm on 'modest' emissions cuts despite UN plea”.

    That's all well and good, however, we'll still be contributing to this bogus climate change fund:

    “In Trinidad, Canada along with other wealthy industrialized nations agreed to contribute to a $10-billion (U.S.) fund that will help developing countries cope with the adverse impacts of climate instability, including flooding in low-lying areas. The fact that developed countries agreed to finance the fund likely encouraged many of the poorer Commonwealth countries to back the 60-year-old group's statement of support for Copenhagen.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/canada-agre

    According to Canadian Taxpayers Federation, as of Sunday, November 22nd, the national debt was approx. $500 billion and rising. See: Debt Clock http://www.debtclock.ca/

    With that in mind, our dear Prime Minister Harper has now agreed to contribute more of our tax money to a $10 mil. climate change fund, which is largely based on increasingly questionable scientific data and potential fraud, particularly in light of this ongoing Climategate scandal.

    With all due respect Prime Minister, I'm still not impressed. I'd rather we were not paying a climate debt we do not legitimately owe.

  • http://www.gopetition.com/online/32485.html Cam MacKay

    http://www.gopetition.com/online/32485.html

    In light of Climategate please sign this petition to establish a royal commission to determine the cause and actual extent of Global warming. We know that the data and the peer review process has been corrupted from reading the leaked climategate e-mails. Prior to making a major financial commitment Canadians have a right to know wether the debate is really over and just how big of a problem climate change really is.
    Feel free to advertise this petition anywhere you feel it will get exposure and webmaster please send me an e-mail if you are willing to put a banner on your site. I think it would look good next to the stop global warming petition. ;)

  • Suzanne

    BREAKING NEWS!!

    UK climate scientist to temporarily step down
    (AP) – 2 hours ago

    Britain's University of East Anglia says the director of its prestigious Climatic Research Unit is stepping down pending an investigation into allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change.The university says Phil Jones will relinquish his position until the completion of an independent review into allegations that he worked to alter the way in which global temperature data was presented.

    The allegations were made after more than a decade of correspondence between leading British and U.S. scientists were posted to the Web following the security breach last month.

    The e-mails were seized upon by some skeptics of man-made climate change as proof that scientists are manipulating the data about its extent.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALe

    Also see:
    December 1, 2009, 3:05 PM
    Head of Climate Unit Steps Down Pending Inquiry
    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/he

    And: Phil Jones steps down – pending independent review
    1 12 2009
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/01/phil-jone

  • Liz J

    It appears we could be in for some interesting times as this story unfolds. It should be more than whispered about at the conflab at the “Salty Old Queen of the Sea”.

  • Suzanne

    Liz, besides Phil Jones …

    “On the other side of the pond, Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, who was included in some of the 1,000 emails, is also subject of an internal “inquiry” by the university that will determine whether a full investigation is warranted.”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/

    Interesting times, indeed.

  • Suzanne

    Climategate doesn't exist in Ottawa
    December 2, 2009
    Examiner – National
    By Brian Lilley
    http://www.examiner.com/x-22884-Canada-Politics

    Excerpt: The revelations over the weekend that the original source data was junked, this being the source data that underlies the research which climate change is based on is an eyebrow raising moment. The news that Phil Jones the director the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia is stepping down while the university investigates his conduct is another eyebrow raising moment. The further news that Penn State is investigating Professor Michael Mann for any possible wrongdoing, well it would raise another eyebrow but I've only got two.

    So today questions were asked about these issues and whether it causes any pause for concern as Canada heads to Copenhagen. The short answer, no.

    Environment Minister Jim Prentice was the first man up,

    “What I take from what's happened at the East Anglia Institution is that there were some serious allegations of impropriety and some serious questions about the quality of the scientific work that was done there. That doesn't – I mean we're all interested in getting to the bottom of that, finding out exactly what happened. It does not change the position of Canada relative to the Copenhagen agreement and the Copenhagen thoughts. The science overall is relatively clear on all of this and as a conservationist and as a responsible environmental steward Canada wants to see carbon emissions reduced.”

    What?

  • Suzanne

    CTV news tonight:
    Latest : Climategate

    http://watch.ctv.ca/news/latest/climategate/

    I thought it was a well-balanced piece.

    For the funny “Hide the Decline” video used in this CTV news segment on Climategate, see:

    http://minnesotansforglobalwarming.com/m4gw/200

  • Suzanne

    “You wouldn’t accept that at a grade 9 science fair…” – CBC finds a moment of clarity

    From: Watts Up With That?
    By: Anthony Watts
    03 11 2009

    Wow, just wow. What an editorial. The CBC’s Rex Murphy on Climategate.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/03/you-would

    FINALLY!!!

  • scruffydan

    “His work with Stephen McIntyre — another Canadian — provides much of the basis for skepticism of the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change.”

    Then you don't really understand the science behind AGW. The hockey stick is not used as attribution. Read chapter nine of AR4 if you don't trust me.

    “Nature has come under renewed controversy after emails and data from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit were hacked and leaked revealing smoothing, manipulation, clumsy patching and omission of data used to construct climate models based on direct and indirect temperate readings. “

    The emails revealed nothing new in this department. There are plenty of peer-reviewed articles on the divergence problem (that is what it is officially called), and even several blog posts by McIntyre on the subject. To say that this is a new revelation is to either admit to not knowing much about the topic or to being dishonest.

    “The hockey stick graph provided basis for the 2001 IPCC report, and a significant foundation for the modern mainstream view on climate change. “

    This is wrong on both counts. The Hockey stick was used as an easy to understand optic to convey the complex science behind attribution to the general public, but if one reads more than just the summary reports one quickly realizes that in terms of attributing GW the hockey stick plays a very small role. It also not true that it represents a foundation of modern mainstream view on GW. the IPCC concluded that the balance of evidence was that human GHG emissions were responsible for the warming trend in the SAR, which was published before the hockey stick. Again please read chapter 9 in the AR4 if this sounds wrong to you. Look it up yourself.

    “The emails also revealed a tightly controlled and collaborative peer-review process which appeared to be designed to suppress skepticism and debate.”

    It wasn't the conclusions of the paper that drew this responce, but the fact that those conclusions could not be supported by the data. In the most extreme example (the Jounral Climate Research) 5 editors (50%) resigned after the publication of Soon and Baliunas (2003).

  • Suzanne

    Scruffdan, “Then you don't really understand the science behind AGW.”

    It appears the IPCC, themselves, do not even understand the science behind AGW.

    See: In Their Own Words: The IPCC on Climate Feedbacks
    November 1st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    Despite the fact that the magnitude of anthropogenic global warming depends mostly upon the strengths of feedbacks in the climate system, there is no known way to actually measure those feedbacks from observational data.

    The IPCC has admitted as much on p. 640 of the IPCC AR4 report, at the end of section 8.6, which is entitled “Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks”:

    “A number of diagnostic tests have been proposed…but few of them have been applied to a majority of the models currently in use. Moreover, it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining future projections (of warming). Consequently, a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed.”

    Billions, perhaps trillions of dollars at stake and the IPCC, in essence, are “guessing”.

    Read more here: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/11/in-their-ow

  • scruffydan

    The fact that we don't know everything doesn't mean we don't know anything.

    The IPCC spends a great deal of time highlighting the limits of our knowledge, as does any scientific document. But while uncertainties exist (obviously, and I am actually working on a post to highlight some of them), they cut both ways. And the research going on in refards to feedbacks ant tipping points is painting a picture that is far worse (sea-ice albedo tipping points notwithstanding) that what the IPCC suggested.

  • Suzanne

    Research going on? Based on what data, I wonder. An “educated guess” for the IPCC, at this point, is an oxymoron.

    The only thing I see “tipping over” is the IPCC's credibility into the flaming abyss.

  • http://ofdan.ca ScruffyDan
  • Suzanne

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2587/4134116308_

    Change you can believe in!

    Merry Christmas!

  • dougproctor

    Could not an Institute – such as the Frazer Institute, not create a public challenge, a huge public challenge, for the proponents of both sides to present the data and defend their massaging and positions? I am a professional geologist with some background in glacial history, and some personal experience in the matter. The positions of the AGW camp are so hardwired that I cannot see them as other than completely brittle in the face of a public examination.

  • http://ofdan.ca ScruffyDan

    Science by think tank… thats not going to end well.

  • Suzanne

    Science by litigation may be the likelier course of action.

    DOE sends a “litigation hold notice” regarding CRU to employees – asking to “preserve documents”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/14/doe-sends

  • dougproctor

    Could not an Institute – such as the Frazer Institute, not create a public challenge, a huge public challenge, for the proponents of both sides to present the data and defend their massaging and positions? I am a professional geologist with some background in glacial history, and some personal experience in the matter. The positions of the AGW camp are so hardwired that I cannot see them as other than completely brittle in the face of a public examination.

  • http://ofdan.ca ScruffyDan

    Science by think tank… thats not going to end well.

  • Suzanne

    Science by litigation may be the likelier course of action.

    DOE sends a “litigation hold notice” regarding CRU to employees – asking to “preserve documents”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/14/doe-sends