The CRU Hack | RealClimate
Quirin Schiermeier reports at Nature.com:
One of Britain's leading climate-research centres has had more than 1,000 files stolen from its computers and republished on the Internet. The cyber-attack is apparently aimed at damaging the reputations of prominent climate scientists.
The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich confirmed today that e-mails and documents dating from 1991 to 2009 were illegally copied and subsequently published on an anonymous Russian server.
A link to the Russian server first appeared on 19 November on a relatively obscure climate-sceptic blog. The server was shut down just hours later, but the stolen material had already been distributed elsewhere on the Internet.
Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).
More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.
Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.
[Update: Comment #58 at RealClimate:]
Adam Sullivan says:
20 November 2009 at 2:27 PM
Transparency can’t hurt.
I’ve been looking at the data for the last couple of hours and most is unremarkable, although emails gloating over the deaths of skeptics are unseemly at best.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas regardless of what are in the emails. CO2 production is increasing globally regardless of how data are fitted to trendlines. Nature imposes variability that is very difficult to pin down so models won’t be predictive for a while (except in the long term). All pretty simple.
It would help kill off the insane wing (OK – the bulk) of the skeptic community to simply make the research process and data production open. Absolutely open. As for people protecting their methods for professional reasons I think the risks at hand make that too expensive of a luxury for the planet to afford.