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Climategate: Impeding Information Requests?

Posted on 26 November 2010 by James Wight

This is the final part in a series on the fake scandal of Climategate.

The final allegation arising from the "Climategate" emails between scientists at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which the Muir Russell inquiry examined, is that Freedom of Information requests received by CRU “were incorrectly denied.” Meanwhile, defenders of CRU “have suggested that a number of these FoIA requests were inappropriate or frivolous.” [10.2]

Arguably this is the only instance where there is actually a case to be answered. Below I have reproduced some of the emails often quoted in support of these allegations (all were written by Phil Jones):

7/5/2004: Many of us in the paleo field get requests from skeptics (mainly a guy called Steve McIntyre in Canada) asking us for series. Mike and I are not sending anything, partly because we don’t have some of the series he wants, also partly as we’ve got the data through contacts like you, but mostly because he’ll distort and misuse them. Despite this, Mike and I would like to make as many of the series we’ve used in the [Reviews of Geophysics] plots available from the CRU web page.

2/2/2005: [D]on’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites — you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? - our does! […] Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it—thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that.

21/2/2005: I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!

27/4/2005: I got this email from McIntyre a few days ago. As far as I’m concerned he has the data — sent ages ago. I’ll tell him this, but that’s all — no code. If I can find it, it is likely to be hundreds of lines of uncommented fortran ! I recall the program did a lot more than just average the series. I know why he can’t replicate the results early on — it is because there was a variance correction for fewer series.

29/5/2008: Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. […] Can you email Gene and get him to do the same? […] We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

3/12/2008: When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions — one at a screen, to convince them otherwise showing them what CA was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we were dealing with, everyone at UEA […] became very supportive. […] The inadvertent email I sent last month has led to a Data Protection Act request sent by a certain Canadian, saying that the email maligned his scientific credibility with his peers! If he pays 10 pounds (which he hasn’t yet) I am supposed to go through my emails and he can get anything I’ve written about him. About 2 months ago I deleted loads of emails, so have very little — if anything at all.

10/12/2008: Haven’t got a reply from the FOI person here at UEA. So I’m not entirely confident the numbers are correct. One way of checking would be to look on CA, but I’m not doing that. I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails — unless this was ‘normal’ deleting to keep emails manageable! […] According to the FOI Commissioner’s Office, IPCC is an international organisation, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on, unless it has anything to do with our core business — and it doesn’t. I’m sounding like Sir Humphrey here! McIntyre often gets others to do the requesting, but requests and responses all get posted up on CA regardless of who sends them.

The general allegation is that CRU incorrectly denied FoI requests. In particular, the Review focused on the question of whether UEA’s formal processes for dealing with FoI requests were “fair and impartial”.

The Review Team interviewed the relevant UEA and CRU staff, as well as representatives of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). UEA’s FoI process is centred around their Information Policy & Compliance Manager (IPCM). In the two years after current laws came into effect at the start of 2005, no requests for information were logged with the IPCM, though we know from the emails that there were such requests. We know from the IPCM log that CRU received four requests in 2007, two in 2008, and one in the first half of 2009 (four were fully granted and three rejected).

Then came the storm. Between 24 July and 28 July, CRU received no less than 60 FoI requests, and 10 more between 31 July and 14 August. The requesters demanded access to both raw temperature station data and any related confidentiality agreements. The Review found evidence that this was an organized campaign (one request asked for information “involving the following countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different from ones already requested]”). The Review says “such orchestrated campaigns [have] literally overwhelming impacts on small research units.”

The Review found there was “insufficient priority given from the UEA centre to motivating staff and to prompting continuing education” about their legal requirements under FoI law. Similarly, they found “a lack of engagement by core CRU team”, as well as “a tendency to assume that no action was required until precedents had been set”. Some of the emails suggest a “lack of sympathy with the requesters” and “a tendency to answer the wrong question or to give a partial answer.” [10.5]

“There seems clear incitement to delete e-mails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made.” (The former is legal but not the latter.) The email dated 3/12/2008 included “a clear statement that e-mails had been deleted […] It seems likely that many of these ‘deleted’ e-mails subsequently became public following the unauthorized release from the backup server.” [10.5]

The Review found that the IPCM “may have lacked […] the authority to challenge the assertions of senior professors” and “the UEA senior staff need to take more explicit responsibility for these processes”. He told the Review he felt “very much the bull’s eye at the centre of the target”. He explicitly denied that he “became very supportive” as suggested by Jones.  The 10/12/2008 email provides “evidence that the IPCM did try to warn Prof. Jones about deliberate deletion of information”. [10.5]

In general, “[t]he Review found an ethos of minimal compliance (and at times non-compliance) by the CRU with both the letter and the spirit of the FoIA and EIR. We believe that this must change”. The Review also made it clear that CRU did not receive enough support from UEA management, and made recommendations to the university on how it should handle future information requests. It also recommended to the ICO that it engage more with universities and clarify how FoI law applies to research.

However, as Steve Easterbrook commented, the Review “never really acknowledges the problems a small research unit (varying between 3.5 to 5 FTE staff over the last decade) would have in finding the resources and funding to be an early adopter in open data and public communication, while somehow managing to do cutting edge research in its area of expertise too.” The Review does point out that in the years since CRU was founded climate science has developed from “a relatively obscure area of science […] into an area of great political and public concern.”

The Review concluded:

[W]e find that a fundamental lack of engagement by the CRU team with their obligations under FoIA/EIR, both prior to 2005 and subsequently, led to an overly defensive approach that set the stage for the subsequent mass of FoIA/EIR requests in July and August 2009. We recognize that there was deep suspicion within CRU, as to the motives of those making detailed requests. Nevertheless, the requirements of the legislation for release of information are clear and early action would likely have prevented much subsequent grief. [10.6]

As Phil Jones has admitted, CRU did the wrong thing with regard to Freedom of Information requests. However, they clearly perceived that the requests were not being made in good faith. The Review apparently made no attempt to investigate the motivations of the requesters. This is not surprising as its remit was to examine the behaviour of the CRU scientists, but that in itself is yet another example of the double standard I referred to in the first installment of this series.

In any case, all this must be considered in context. Generally, the inquiry criticized CRU’s openness but concluded that “their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt” and “we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments”. Indeed, it is very unlikely that the conclusions of the scientific community could have been influenced by the behaviour of these few individuals — because the entire work of CRU comprises only a small part of the large body of evidence for anthropogenic global warming.

Global warming has been observed not just on land but also over the oceans and in the troposphere, as well as being confirmed by indicators including Arctic sea ice, glaciers, sea level, humidity, ocean heat content, and many others. And we don’t need a hockey stick to know that humans are causing global warming. The pattern of warming we observe is the same as that long predicted for greenhouse warming: the stratosphere is cooling, nights have warmed faster than days, and winters faster than summers. Climategate has not even invalidated CRU’s results, let alone the conclusions of the entire climate science community.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 78:

  1. The main thing that can't be glossed over is that CRU didn't follow FOI requests. It is that plain and simple.
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  2. What is your opinion on the apparent coordinated harassment via staged FoI requests?

    Were they right - were the FoI requests for the purpose of distorting & misusing the information? e.g. "The warmest year on record was 1934, not 1998!" - Steve McIntyre

    How does the impropriety of not following FoI requests properly affect the past 150 years of published scientific research, of which the CRU is a small segment?
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  3. My opinion on the apparent coordinated harassment via staged FOI requests isn't the issue.
    The issue is that CRU did not follow FOI requests.
    It is that plain and simple.
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  4. Freedom of the press is different from freedom of information, which in turn is quite different from an invasion of privacy.
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  5. I agree, but ... since the last post on this subject, I would like to summarize:

    I. "Practices" used in line: the CRU - the IPCC; has been criticized not only by the scientists global warming skeptics.

    II. They have undermined confidence in other than a hockey stick - the MWP, the findings of the IPCC.

    For example, many here (by the way) said of the independent lines of evidence that climate sensitivity to changes p.CO2.
    Skeptics immediately after Climategate - in January - March 2010, once again, as the main argument against AGW (which is still interesting, "literally" lack of it on the list Sc. S., unless it indirectly, 33 and 88) “raised” objections to the ice core : Does Algae Reduce the Ice Core CO2?, Ice Core CO2 Records - Ancient Atmospheres Or Geophysical Artifacts ?
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  6. "It is that plain and simple."

    Perhaps; I'm not sure.

    The question, though, is is it relevant? Would you consider that it invalidates a scientific paper given at a conference if the researcher's car is getting a parking ticket while they're speaking? Or, as a better analogy to the situation here, it appears that the speaker's car was parked on a yellow line a couple of years ago while some of the measurements now being reported were being done but it's now too late for a prosecution to legally determine the facts of the matter properly?
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  7. After you've finished this series, it would be great if you stopped playing to the deniers' game by referring to the stolen CRU emails as 'climategate'. It suggests malfeasance in the name. You're basically helping to spread the propaganda.
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  8. The topic is FOI requests and thier fulfillment. The fulfillment was not done properly. CRU was wrong by not doing so.
    Yes, it is really that plain and simple.
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  9. The requests were sent in bad faith as part of an organized campaign of harassment by an individual with a track record of misusing and distorting data. It was damn if you do, damn if you don't. If they had released all the data, it would have been misused and distorted. "Skeptics" have only demonstrated with this stupid fake scandal that anything goes, and they have all the freedom they want, since they are not held to the standards that scientists have to follow. This miserable anti-science campaign bears no resemblance whatsoever with a true scientific debate.
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  10. Seems we had contrarian parties ignoring the spirit of FOI rules on one side and CRU doing the same on the other side in response to those requests. This is understandable though unadvisable.
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  11. You can't blame CRU for the way they acted over the release of data to so-called skeptics : they obviously doubted that the requests were made in good faith or with the intention to progress good science. And they were right - what has been done with any of the data released (by CRU or NASA) then and since, except by people involved with sites like ClearClimateCode ? Has any so-called skeptic come up with anything useful or worthwhile ?

    It doesn't excuse the treatment of FOI requests but it is obvious that any organisation not used to such requests would not be adept at handling them, especially the numbers involved. And CRU acknowledge their failings so things will be better from now on, won't they ? End of story.
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  12. @Camburn: so you have no opinion on the harassment of legitimate scientists by political activists?

    Should the CRU have been quicker in responding to FoI requests? Probably.

    Does this affect the science in *any* way? No, it doesn't. AGW is real, and happening.
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  13. @Philippe Chantreau: don't you know that underhanded tactics, such as harassing scientists and hacking e-mail accoutns, are A-OK when done by Koch-founded deniers?

    That's the double standards our contrarian friends here are applying. All's fair in trying to delay action on climate change, it seems...
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  14. Thank you for this article. I would agree with one commenter that it is plain the UEA and CRU did not properly fulfil their obligations under the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) (EIR). I would not, however, agree that it is simple. BTW, I will try to use 'spin neutral' language here.

    Just about everyone refers to FOI in this context, specifically the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own Freedom of Information Act (FoISA).

    CRU utilise, inter alia, weather station data which is environmental information and generate climate data and requests for such information are dealt with under EIR. Just as in climate and other sciences, accuracy and precision are essential in dealing with legal matters.

    The EIR are derived from an EU Directive and apply in various forms across the EU, including Sweden (Note that Sweden's meteorological office initially refused to allow CRU to release their data). Requested environmental information would have to be released unless it came within one or more Exceptions, and these Exceptions, unless the information would breach the Data Protection Act, will be overridden if it is in the Public Interest so to do.

    Please note that there is no Exception for a vexatious request or for harassment per se. There is an Exception for a request that is Manifestly Unreasonable EIR 12 (4) b. I am not aware of any attempt to use this Exception by UEA/CRU.

    Other Exceptions include confidentiality of commercial or industrial information, internal communications and protection of personal data. The latter two come together in the emails. The UK's Data Protection Act requires that personal data are kept no longer than necessary. Since emails are, by their very nature, personal data then any email that forms part of an official or research record should be kept with that record and according to a record retention policy, and all other emails, which are of transitory use, should be deleted promptly. However, I do recognise that this is a non-trivial task and email information management is easier to say than do.

    I did state that this is not simple. I fully agree with the Muir Russell recommendations that UEA provide much more support to the CRU scientists. I would go further and state that scientists and others should get in professional help to deal with requests, particularly in a subject area that is charged and challenging.
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    Moderator Response: I am aware of the FoIA/EIR distinction. I referred only to FoI to simplify. - James
  15. Vexatious (FOI) requests – a short guide:

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/freedom_of_information/practical_application/vexatious_requests_a_short_guide.pdf
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  16. First email in the post is dated 7/5/2004:

    UK FOI law came into force in 2005.

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Yourrightsandresponsibilities/DG_4003239

    Phil Jones in the next email states that the two MMs had made requests for years, despite FOI law not being enacted until 2005, so despite McIntyres possible frustration, the CRU were not obliged legally to respond to the requests for those years.

    By the time the FOI act had come into force, it is clear that a negative relationship had already been developed.
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  17. Camburn @2,

    "My opinion on the apparent coordinated harassment via staged FOI requests isn't the issue."

    Of course you would think so, because you choose to ignore some very inconvenient facts. Both Steve Mosher and Steve McIntyre have boasted how they coordinated the FOI onslaught. The 'attack' was coordinated from ClimateAudit. There is nothing even remotely "apparent" about it. Can you at least concede/accept that point?
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  18. All,

    It continues to amaze me how binary the thinking of the contrarians is. In fact, posts here and elsewhere indicate that they are incapable of attributing any responsibility or guilt on the part of the "skeptics"/contrarians in any of these events. In this case, fault can be found with both groups. By dismissing the totally inappropriate behaviour of McIntyre et al, they are endorsing and supporting unethical activity. But nothing new there I suppose.

    Actually the FOI attack was at the very heart of this issue. Had McIntyre et al. made not planned vexatious FOI attack on UEA/CRU, then this would have been a non-issue. It was in the ensuing chaos and stress and pressure, that Jones and others made some poor decisions which they have been rightly criticized for by the Sir Muir Russell Commission. See, there is some accountability and reckoning there.

    Where is the accountability and reckoning for those who instigated this whole process? None. The "skeptics; continue to get free pass for incredibly bad behaviour, and it blows my mind that they were not the subject of several inquiries. Their bad behaviour, their inappropriate behaviour is on the public record.

    Also, the FOI campaign was part on an ongoing harassment by McIntyre et al against "The Team". One has to wonder why they went after CRU and not NCDC, NASA etc. The reason is clear-- CRU were a small group, with limited resources and made for an easy target.

    And please note, UEA is also implicated in this, it is not just CRU. UEA did not deal with the FOI onslaught appropriately, nor did they provide CRU with the support required to deal with the FOI attack.

    The irony is that now CRU will likely be given more funds, more personnel, better IT support and better FOI support to avoid a repeat. So in the long term, they did CRU a favour.
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  19. OK Camburn, imagine that you are in a situation like this:

    You work in a very small organization with no full-time administrative support staff. You have to deal with administrivia on your "own time". You are the PI on a research project where the funding agency wants you to account for every hour you charge to the project.

    You get hit with a flood of obviously frivolous FOI requests from someone in a foreign country. The requests demand proprietary data/documention that you are not free to redistribute under the terms of the nondisclosure agreements that you signed. Furthermore, the requester could easily obtain the same data and documentation by requesting them from the organizations who actually do own them.

    Dealing with these frivolous FOI requests will take many hours of your time. But remember -- you don't have any support staff to offload this work onto. In addition, the terms of your research grant forbid you from charging your time to the project while you are dealing with the FOI requests. Essentially, the only way you can deal with the FOI requests without violating the terms of your research grant is to spend your "own time" (nights and weekends) on these nuisance FOI requests.

    What might your private email messages look like?
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  20. My own experience is that it is pretty easy to get angry over things like this. Some people you just know are going to cause you trouble in the future. I'm sure they felt that by giving into Mcintyre that in the future they were going to have to deal with him screwing up a reconstruction and making statements that are wrong.

    Clearscience
    http://clearscience.wordpress.com/
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  21. Regarding CRU scientists not trusting the motives of McIntyre and McKitrick:
    I would say they had good reason to not trust their motives.

    A good example is the ISPM (Independent Summary for Policymakers) published by the Fraser Institute. It was issued days after the release of the Summary for Policy Makers by the IPCC, in Febuary 2007. At this time, Ross McKitrick was head of the Fraser Institute, a well know industry front group.

    ( Interesting that they had their Independent Summary ready just days after the IPCC's Summary for Policy Makers. )
    Anyway, here are some examples of Fraser Institutes distortions of science then.

    According to the Fraser Institute:

    "An independent review of the latest United Nations report on climate change shows that the scientific evidence about global warming remains uncertain and provides no basis for alarmism."

    Just the use of the word "alarmism" should ring a bell that this is not an unbiased paper. It's a derisive term used by the denier crowd, and you wouldn't find such terms in any real scientific study.

    The ISPM claimed that the report from the IPCC

    "is neither written by nor reviewed by the scientific community."

    This was not true. Here's what Desmogblog says about it.

    "In fact, the IPCC summary was written and reviewed by some of the most senior climate scientists in the world, without political or bureaucratic input . And the Fraser Institute’s 'scientific' staff - which is led by an economist - includes a group of junior or retired scientists, most of whom have direct connections to energy industry lobby groups."

    Fraser Institute said:

    "There is no compelling evidence that dangerous or unprecedented changes are underway."

    Compare that claim with what Dr Andrew Weaver, lead IPCC author and chairman of the Canada Research in Climate Modelling and Analysis says.

    "The IPCC report presents 1,600 pages of compelling evidence, that’s the whole point."


    Sourcewatch says that Fraser Institute's ISPM errors include:

    "Several incorrect statements concerning tropospheric temperature trends derived from satellite data."

    "Misdentification of peak temperature year in GISS and NCDC global surface temperature data sets (1998 given instead of 2005)."

    "Mistaken citation of projected sea level rise to 2100 of only 10-30 cm, instead of 21-48 cm given by IPCC"

    "Several examples of "cherrypicking", inexplicable omissions and misrepresentations."


    Frazer Institute's ISPM states:

    "There would also appear to be an unstated implication that temperature may have reached a plateau or even decreased since 1998."


    Sourcewatch:

    "the ISPM fails to mention that the smoothed temperature statistic for the combined data sets continued to show an upward trend through 2005."

    "The ISPM conveniently omitted the following information from the IPCC report."

    "2002 to 2004 are the 3rd, 4th and 5th warmest years in the series since 1850
    Eleven of the last 12 years (1995 to 2006) ... rank among the 12 warmest years on record since 1850."

    "Surface temperatures in 1998 were enhanced by the major 1997–1998 El Niño but no such strong anomaly was present in 2005."

    http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ISPM#Errors_and_discrepancies


    More on Fraser Institute's twisting of science at:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/02/fraser-institute-fires-off-a-damp-squib/
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  22. Once again, the issue is did CRU perform for the FOI requests. They did not. A wrong is a wrong.

    This has nothing to do with climate science as to whether the science has merits. A completely seperate issue.
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    Moderator Response: My point exactly in my closing two paragraphs. - James
  23. A wrong is a wrong. Where is your hue and cry for inquiries into the orchestrated harassment that incited this?

    You're also right in that this has nothing to do with climate science. Why then is it used to invalidate climate science?
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  24. From the document that The Ville linked to @15

    Section 14(1) states that public authorities do not have to comply with vexatious requests. There is no public interest test.
    • To decide whether a request is vexatious, you need to look at its context and history. The key question is whether the request is likely to cause unjustified distress, disruption or irritation.
    • In particular, you should consider the following:
    Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive?
    Is the request harassing the authority or causing distress to staff?
    Would complying with the request impose a significant burden in terms of expense and distraction?
    Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance?
    Does the request lack any serious purpose or value?


    Given the description in the main post, it would seem that many of the FOI's received by CRU meet criteria 1,3,4 and 5.
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  25. "A wrong is a wrong."

    But as people are pointing out to you, refusing to honor an FOI is not always wrong. In fact, the law specifically makes this clear.

    McI and the CA crew knew that CRU could not release the small amount of data deemed to be proprietary by a few countries which owned it. McI and the CA crew peppered CRU with FOIs demanding this data anyway. That's about as vexatious as one can get.
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  26. "Winters warming faster than summers". What exactly is the mechanism by which an enhanced greenhouse effect causes winters to warm faster than summers? Is it because a cooler stratosphere strengthens the circumpolar vortex and westerly winds in mid-latitudes?
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  27. Phil Jones said he was wrong. That is good enough for me.
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  28. Re: Camburn (22)
    "A wrong is a wrong."
    Except when it's not wrong.

    1. Should CRU, the UEA and the ICO have done a better job of making a better effort to comply with the FOIA requests in a more timely fashion? Yeah, probably.

    2. Should CRU, the UEA and the ICO have complied with every FOIA request? Evidence shows that all specific, non-vexacious FOIAs not involving the intellectual property of another country were responded to.

    3. Should those submitting FOIAs for intellectual property not belonging to CRU and not subject to fulfillment by an FOIA have then taken up their case with those foreign bodies? Absolutely.

    4. Was it possible to get the needed data from the requisite foreign bodies in a timely fashion, write the needed codes and then replicate CRUs work? Tamino did it. Ron Broberg did it. Nick Barnes did it. Clear Climate Code did it. The Muir Russell Commission did it in 2 days and further said that any competent researcher could have easily done the same.

    5. So where is the analysis, where is the replication, where is the published work of the "skeptics", now that precedent has shown that it tweren't all that hard to do? ( - insert sound of crickets chirping here - )

    The real travesty of all this is the inability of "skeptics" to move on. Now that's wrong.

    The Yooper
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  29. Camburn,

    Confessions obtained under duress are dismissable.

    I still want to know why this issue is relevant to a discussion of the scientific basis since you admit that it has nothing to do with climate science.
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  30. bibliovermis:
    how is it relevant to the scientific basis? It isn't. It is a legal issue, nothing else.
    Do you think it is relevant?
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  31. #25, dhogaza "McI and the CA crew knew that CRU could not release the small amount of data deemed to be proprietary by a few countries which owned it. McI and the CA crew peppered CRU with FOIs demanding this data anyway"

    The bulk of the FOI's demanded either data that was not proprietary or to see the agreements that stated that the data was proprietary. See http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/29/the-foi-myth-2/ for more info.
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  32. I agree that it isn't relevant to the scientific basis. Why do so many self-described skeptics make it out to be a "final nail in the coffin of AGW"?

    As several here have explained to you, there is nothing plain & simple about this.

    Do you think CA was wrong for organizing the intensive campaign of vexatious requests?
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  33. So Eric, you're believing the claims of ClimateAudit (the people behind the FoI requests) instead of the claims of multiple, independent sources who say otherwise? That doesn't sound very genuinely skeptical to me!
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  34. @Camburn: if this has nothing to do with the science, why do deniers keep using Climategate as a "watershed moment" in their efforts to prove AGW is a hoax?

    The fact is, there was an organized campaign to harass honest, hard-working scientists, and you seem okay with that. It doesn't cost much to condemn this, just a few words, and yet you won't...why?
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  35. The crowd often called climate change skeptics consists of a broad spectrum from curious amateurs to outright demagogues. They are not coordinated as a single body. A member may be angry when he is misrepresented as another part of the spectrum.

    Apparently people at CRU suspected that McIntyre was an agent of fossil fuel interests (based on circumstantial evidence), but it was contrary to McIntyre's self-identification. Even McIntyre's organized campaign to flood CRU with FOIA requests now seems to have been planned by himself with a few friends. But one can suspect that it was planned by capitalist think tanks. I think that this mismatching of perception amplified mutual disbelief both before and after the exposure of e-mail messages.
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  36. archiesteel:
    @34.
    CRU did not follow the law. It is that plain and simple...and yes it is. Phil Jones said they didn't. The law is the law. Why should I support breaking of a law?
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  37. Camburn #36:

    So you're also vigorously opposed to the theft of the emails from the CRU?
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  38. kdkd:
    Of course I am opposed to the leak of the e-mails. That also is a non-issue as far as climate.
    The issues that deal with climate is the mis information on both sides. The models do not project the certainty that some would have you believe. The temp data gets pulled in both directions.
    The sensativity of climate to co2 is a very much loaded question.

    There are holes in the AGW hypothosis. These are known. The sad thing is that they are not being addressed as quickly as I would like them to be.

    The trend in temp since 1850 has been up. The long term trend since 8000 BP is still down. These are known facts.

    There have been climate shifts that dwarf what is occuring now with no good explanation. They are called DO events.

    Does co2 affect climate? Most certainly to a degree.

    With the above being said, CRU still did not follow the law.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: Nobody claims that climate models are certain. Everybody knows there are still large uncertainties to do with aerosols, cloud feedbacks, etc. However, the climate sensitivity predicted by the models is confirmed by independent paleoclimate evidence. D-O events are a red herring; they were characterized by opposite temperature trends in the two hemispheres, and that is not the case with the current warming. - James
  39. kdkd@37,

    Like most "skeptics", Camburn, is clearly partisan beyond the pale. While several posters here, including me, and the Sir Russell Inquiry have acknowledged that UEA/CRU may have not dealt with the vexatious FoIA issue appropriately-- Camburn, like most "skeptics", will never concede any wrong doing by the likes of McIntyre (Wegman maybe?) and company.

    More importantly, last time I looked CRU/UEA did not break any FoIA laws, despite what some on the internet are claiming. Camburn et al. need to please read this, in which they state:

    "A subsequent letter to UEA from the ICO (29 January 2010) indicated that no breach of the law has been established; that the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie; and that the FOI request at issue did not concern raw data but private email exchanges".

    The double standard of the skeptics only acts to make the credibility that they so dearly crave even further out of reach. They are fooling no-one except themselves.

    In fact this whole series of James has been a delightful illustration that "skeptics" have no interest in objectivity, facts or truth. They seem much happier to entertain conspiracy theories, malign scientists and perpetuate myths and misinformation to distract themselves and others from the fact that the planet is continuing to accumulate energy, mostly because of anthropogenic GHGs.

    To be honest, I find such behavior by the "skeptics" rather sickening.
    0 0
  40. Camburn,

    The emails were not leaked. Police have revealed that at around the same time as the CRU emails were hacked, several other climate centres (e.g., CCCMA) survived attempted hacks into their systems. The thieves also hacked into the RealClimate server and uploaded the stolen emails together with a message.
    0 0
  41. Camburn is laboring under some serious misconceptions about climate-science.

    The models do not project the certainty that some would have you believe.

    This statement about climate-models indicates that he is not aware that the strongest evidence linking CO2 with global-warming isn't climate models; it's physical evidence obtained from the Earth's crust by paleoclimatologists. Even if every single climate-model result were thrown out, there would still be a mountain of evidence linking CO2 to global-warming.


    The trend in temp since 1850 has been up. The long term trend since 8000 BP is still down. These are known facts.

    Had Camburn done his homework before posting here, he would have realized that the causes of the downward 8000-year trend and upward 160-year trend are well-understood by climatologists. The 8000-year downward trend is a result of the Earth's decreasing tilt that is causing a reduction in the amount of solar energy being received at the high latitudes. This is one of the Milankovitch-cycle orbital components. The recent warming is a result of human-caused CO2 emissions interrupting the very gradual multi-thousand-year Milankovitch-cycle-forced cooling trend.

    This is no mystery to those who have done their homework.


    There have been climate shifts that dwarf what is occuring now with no good explanation. They are called DO events.

    The DO events were regional, not global. And the most of the major global climate shifts that have dwarfed what we have seen in recent decades are tied to concentrations in atmospheric CO2. Continued uncontrolled CO2 emissions will certainly result in climate-shifts comparable with the largest ones in the past -- and on a much more-compressed time-scale.

    Before Camburn posts here again, he would be well-advised to spend an hour of time watching this video: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml
    0 0
  42. Camburn @38,

    "With the above being said, CRU still did not follow the law."

    Please follow the link in my post @38, and then desist from perpetuating this rumour of yours. You can no longer claim to be ignorant of the facts and the truth.

    For now, I will ignore the other misinformation in your post regarding your interpretation of the science, as doing so would require going off-topic. But thanks for showing us all what your true motivations are.
    0 0
  43. Follow up on DO events -- they were greater than regional, but were most likely hemispherical "see-saw" events (NH cooling coupled with SH warming and vice-versa). For these DO events, the evidence indicates that the NH and SH were "out-of-phase" with respect to temperature. They were also smaller in magnitude (on a global scale) than were the really large climate events that are now linked to changes in atmospheric CO2/methane concentrations (Permian-Triassic, Triassic-Jurassic, PETM, etc).

    DO events have little in common with the current warming trend where the NH and SH are rapidly warming together. (During DO events, NH cooling was accompanied by SH warming.)
    0 0
  44. Camburn, the fact that the long-term trend is "down" over the last 8,000 years doesn't mean a thing-its exactly what we'd expect from our position in the current Milankovitch cycle. The fact is, though, that this downward trend is infinitesimally small-properly measurable only on a multi-century time scale. Similarly, the upward trend since 1850 actually petered out around the 1930's-1940's, & was driven by a massive increase in solar activity. Yet this upward trend was still less than *half* the speed of the trend we've seen in the last 30 years (in spite of falling sun-spot numbers). So, yes, the climate has changed before-but did so according to well known *Natural* forcings-& occurred at a much slower pace than what we're seeing now. Also, if the current rate of climate change persists, we could end up with global temperatures *higher* than during the Holocene Climatic Optimum.
    0 0
  45. Over the past twelve months, there have been many references to these emails being leaked by a person or persons unknown, rather than the CRU server being hacked by a person or persons unknown.

    The clear inference is that leaking of these emails would not be in breach of any UK or EU law.

    Since emails contain personal data and the release of these emails was not authorized by the data controller, it is entirely possible that an offence may have been committed under Section 55 of the UK's Data Protection Act. It is also possible that a breach of the Seventh Principle of the Data Protection Act, which covers security, may have occurred.

    It is therefore unwise to assume that leaking of these emails would not be in breach of any law.
    0 0
  46. #33 Marcus, neither you nor dhogaza provided any details of specific requests made and that "McI and the CA crew knew that CRU could not release the small amount of data deemed to be proprietary by a few countries which owned it. McI and the CA crew peppered CRU with FOIs demanding this data anyway"

    Instead what happened was a CA-coordinated campaign to make requests for different countries not under proprietary agreements. Each request contained just 4 or so countries so that it could not be rejected because of one country being proprietary. There were also requests to obtain the proprietary agreements for those countries that were deemed proprietary.

    To deem that campaign "vexatious" as dhogaza says is fair enough. But it is not fair to characterize it as asking for a "small amount" of data over and over.
    0 0
  47. Camburn, at first you seem to be saying something was done "improperly" in your opinion, making it "wrong" in your opinion. But you want to make your opinion into a fact, insisting later that

    "It is a legal issue, nothing else."

    "CRU did not follow the law. It is that plain and simple...and yes it is."

    Camburn, after a careful investigation of the matter, no charges were filed. Well known reasons for this are:
    1. You can't give out information you don't have
    2. It is illegal to give out information that you have under a non-disclosure agreement.
    3. The law gives protection from vexatious requests.

    Camburn, if you just don't like the CRU that is your privilege. But if as you have said it is a legal issue only, there is no wrong.
    0 0
  48. Some sane person, I for get who, summed this up months ago by saying almost exactly this:
    "I read the emails and what I learned is that there was someone named McIntyre who no one wanted to do any favors."
    0 0

  49. Instead what happened was a CA-coordinated campaign to make requests for different countries not under proprietary agreements. Each request contained just 4 or so countries so that it could not be rejected because of one country being proprietary. There were also requests to obtain the proprietary agreements for those countries that were deemed proprietary.


    The above statement is flat-out dishonest. Nobody with any integrity would even think about implying that CA was acting in good faith.

    If the CA crew wanted to see the nondisclosure agreements, then why didn't they bother to contact the national met offices directly instead of pestering a small organization with fewer than 5 FTE's? The CA folks certainly were fully aware that the CRU had minimal administrative support staff and that the administrative burden would fall on already-overworked scientists.

    So if the CA folks really wanted to see the nondisclosure agreements in question, why couldn't they either track down the respective met offices' web-sites or pick up the phone and call them?

    And the reason, of course, is that the CA folks more interested in harassing the CRU scientists than they were in doing any science. Anyone who claims otherwise is just plain dishonest.
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  50. Here's how *honest* skeptics would have dealt with the CRU.

    *Honest* skeptics would have read up on the CRU's temperature-computation methods (which are openly published).

    After being told by the CRU that data from certain met offices could not be supplied due to nondisclosure agreements, *honest* skeptics would have contacted the respective met offices directly and obtained the temperature from from the met offices themselves. As for the freely-available public-domain temperature data, *honest* skeptics would have downloaded that data themselves.

    *Honest* skeptics would then have performed their own independent temperature analysis using the treasure-trove of free/open-source software development and data-analysis tools available to anyone with Internet access.

    *Honest* skeptics would have published their results, either in an "open-access" on-line journal or on their own web-site.

    That's what *honest* skeptics would do (and have done).
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