Here come the lawyers

Over the weekend Planet3.0 reported that the Heartland Institute was threatening to sue anyone who commented on the leaked documents.

Well yesterday they sent letters to Desmogblog, Greg Landen, David Appell and others demanding the retraction of blog posts discussing the leaked documents.

Joseph Bast the president of the Heartland Institute has this to say about these threats “We realize this will be portrayed by some as a heavy-handed threat to free speech. But the First Amendment doesn’t protect Internet fraud, and there is no right to defamatory speech.

Of course the Heartland Institute didn’t feel this way when it was busy defaming scientists after the CRU email hack, but that hypocrisy isn’t the story here.

As discussed last time, there isn’t much basis for these threats (though I am not a lawyers so this is not legal advice), but a nasty letter from a lawyer can in many cases be enough to scare bloggers who don’t have a lawyer or two on retainer into compliance. These strong arm tactics even have an appropriate name: SLAPP or strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Reporting on documents that were illegally obtained is legitimate and fully legal. That is why major newspapers like the New York Times (who no doubt consulted with their lawyers) not only reported on the leaked diplomatic cables but even collaborated with Wikileaks.  It is also why many news outlets reported on the illegally obtained CRU emails without fear of lawsuits.

Of course it remains to be seen if Heartland will follow through with these threats or if the letters are nothing more than a scare tactic.

However there is another twist to the story. While reporting on these documents is perfectly legal, obtaining them was not.

And we now know who obtained the documents. It was Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and the co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute.

This is what he said on his blog at the Huffington Post:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.

This doesn’t answer the question of where the supposedly fake memo came from, and we should not point accusatory fingers without solid evidence.

The memo may not even be fake. We only have Heartland’s word that the memo is a fake, and they have done nothing to earn my trust and plenty to earn my distrust. But that doesn’t mean they are lying, only that we don’t know and likely never will.

I have little doubt that Heartland will send as many lawyers as they can after Peter Gleick. He genuinely erred and perhaps even broke the law. I even have some sympathy for Heartland and they have every right to go after Gleick. After all if the CRU email hacker is ever caught I would support strong legal action against him.

What is really unfortunate is that this whole episode seems likely to take the public discourse even further away from the scientific realities of climate change, and this is exactly what we don’t need.  As Andy Revkin writes:

The broader tragedy is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the “rational public debate” that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.

Expect the usual suspects to use this episode to defame the entire climate community. But some bad decisions by one scientist, who was obviously very frustrated by the way Heartland and others have acted in the climate debate, shouldn’t matter very much. Nothing in this indecent says anything about the science of climate change. It remains as strong as ever.

But there is a potential upside to all of this. For a very long time now the climate community has been asking journalists to explore the inner workings to groups like the Heartland Institute and for years very little reporting on such groups has occurred.  The documents Gleick obtained have uncovered more information about Heartland’s operations than journalists have ever uncovered. This combined with the recent investigations by John Mashey has  forced journalists to take a  look at how Heartland operates, but these documents only reveal a glimpse.

Hopefully this incident will spark a long overdue  interest by journalists and others to look deeper into the inner workings of Heartland and other ‘think tanks’, because it is well past time they received real scrutiny.

Comments:

  1. Dan, the broader tragedy is that people like you are so astonishingly gullible as to take any sort of cue from Revkin's pearl-clutching. But that is why he was so quick to get it posted.

    Here's the thing on the key legal issue, BTW: Hacking is a crime. False flag operations aren't. Whoever leaked the original memo may be a different story, depending on the nature of their employment contract, but that has nothing to do with Peter.

    I agree with you entirely about the potential upside. but this post hasn't helped point things that way.

    • "False flag operation" is a military term... and even in that context it's a violation under Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

      As far as I can tell, it's not at all clear whether what Gleick did was legally actionable, and I don't think either side should pretend it is.

      Gleick thinks he erred. Dan Moutal just agrees with him, and for whatever it is worth, so do I.

  2. I posted to following at Curry's.

    "The fact is that whenever the unauthorised release of information occurs it is inevitably going to involve at least a breach of trust and often dishonest and/or unlawful behaviour, so unless one takes the view that the unauthorised release of information is always wrong then we have to accept that there are times when we will condone such behaviour and take the view that the ends justify the means. So I’m not convinced by those who find Gleick’s behaviour terribly shocking whilst seeing the climategate leaker/hacker as some kind of heroic figure.

    "Personally I have the same approach to the two cases that I do to all others which involve the unauthorised release of information – I base my judgement on whether I think the wider public interest is served by the release of the information whilst acknowleging that the person responsible has to recognise that there may be personal consequences for their actions and accept them accordingly.

    "I have zero problem with the Heartland docs being released, with the caveat that if personal information relating to some individuals should have been redacted, as I think that the activities of organisations which attempt to influence public policy should be open to scrutiny in general, and especially where they are pushing misinformation on scientific issues to further a political agenda. I wouldn’t be losing much sleep if similar documents were released relating to, say, Greenpeace (although I think they are a more honourable organisation than Heartland).

    "My beef with Gleick would be not so much for obtaining an releasing the Heartland documents in the manner that he did (which would be hypocritical on my part) – he will rightly have to face the consequences in any case, including possible criminal charges. Nor do I think that it necessarily means he is an unprincipled individual. But it was a stupid thing to do given his position and his actions will doubtless be used unfairly cast doubt on his scientific work and to impugn the characters of his fellow scientists."

    In response to Steve Bloom's point, I'm not a legal expert but Gleick did obtain confidential information under false pretences so I wouldn't be confident in saying that he did hasn't comitted an offence, although the way that his actions have been portrayed by some as "identity theft" is clearly over the top.

    • andrew adams, at this point I'm not convinced that the eventual verdict handed on Gleick will have any relation with what's actually written in the statute books.

      -- frank

    • There are a few more comments this morning, but each is by a "Trusted" commenter who can post comments without moderation.

    • Just for the record, he does his own moderation, comments are not held back unless they really cross the line, and one usually receives a direct email if so (NYTimes doesn't allow certain dirty words). He does, however, take weekends, some evenings, and posts in batches. Obviously, when he is writing he can't post comments at the same time. Anything else is a mechanical error.

      Your comment was terrific, I thought.

      This particular issue is a distraction and a waste of time.

  3. Don't you think, sir, that Gleick's greatest error was being caught, and caught so quickly?

    You seem not to care that he makes no effort to defend the content of the memo. 'Fake but accurate' is getting old, no matter how much you wish the deception to be true.

    [ According to Gleick's time line "fake but accurate" is impossible. It had to be accurate enough to facilitate the deception. ]

    Engage your opponents.

    [ I try. We try. Consider the possibility that the people who know what they are talking about are greatly outnumbered by the people who don't, but talk anyway. ]

    The science is clearly nowhere near settled.

    [ "The science" is not a well defined concept to be settled or otherwise. Many points disputed by naysayers are in fact settled. Many are not. One of the things we'd like to accomplish here is a more nuanced discussion of the evidence, rather than calling it "good" or "bad" as if some of the evidence went to church and the rest went out to the tavern and got drunk. ]

    Put on your big boy pants and defend your data. It isn't enough to smear the other side anymore.

    [ That would be nice. I agree. -mt ]

    • Robert Kramer, why don't you follow your own advice for a while and actually discuss some science? Oh, wait.

      -- frank

  4. Speaking of lawyers, and about turnabout being fair play, there is this:

    February 21, 2012
    Ms. Maureen Martin
    General Counsel
    The Heartland Institute
    One South Wacker Drive #2740
    Chicago, IL 60606
    Dear Ms. Martin:

    As a community that has been through similar invasions of our privacy, we understand what you are going through. We were struck by the eloquence of your words in describing your situation. We could not think of a better way to describe our feelings than with the words you've crafted.

    Forgive us for taking the following paragraphs from your website and recent letters to members of the blogger and journalistic community, but as it is often said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    In November 2009 groups posted online several documents they claimed were the emails of climate scientists. These documents were stolen from Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
    Disagreement over the causes, consequences, and best policy responses to climate change runs deep. We understand that.

    But honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened. Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.

    Furthermore, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the Climatic Research Unit documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

    We respectfully ask the Heartland Institute, all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.

    Cordially,

    Scott A. Mandia & Joshua Wolfe
    Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: "Protecting the Scientific Endeavor"

    Jeff Ruch
    PEER Executive Director

    • I suspect Heartland's lawyers will immediately recognize the single biggest shortcoming in the Mandia & Wolfe demand letter: no legal standing whatsoever to be making the demand on behalf of the UAE CRU. It's just bluster by an undercredentialed community college instructor and a landscape photographer in an attempt to instill in their fans some misguided sense of the moral equivalences of the two situations and maybe drum up some donations to their own partisan think-tank.

      The equivalence that does exist is this: both Climategate and Fakegate showed alarmist climate scientists behaving very badly. This last one looks to include real, prosecutable crime with possible jail time.

      • I am not sure it was intended to carry any legal weight, just to remind people that this outrage cuts both ways.

        As I already alluded to, the incapacity the naysayers are displaying in seeing the actual symmetries or summoning any self-doubt is very telling.

        It's just a silver lining, but it's almost as informative as understanding the actual financial mechanisms that allow groups like Heartland to exist.

    • MT, I hope you're not trying to claim the Heartland docs (real and fake) were as subject to an FOIA as the CRU documents were.

      Gleick is no modern day Daniel Ellsberg, and Heartland has as much right to privacy as any other organization that runs on private funding, and be free from unsavory tactics that a senior TIME writer characterized as "And just so we’re clear, this is deception — no reputable investigative reporter would be permitted to do what Gleick did. It’s almost certainly a firing offense."

      From what I've seen of the docs, meaning the real ones and not the fake, they show a group formed to promote their point of view and that's what they seem to be doing, with a fraction of the cash of their opposition. I suspect their fundraising is doing better today than the Pacific Institute's, don't you?

      • 1) I hope you’re not trying to claim the Heartland docs (real and fake) were as subject to an FOIA as the CRU documents were.

        FOIA notwitshtanding, (it's generally conceded that the unprecedented FOIA requests were mishandled at CRU) the entire contents of the CRU email server were never subject to FOIA, and the years of willful misinterpretation of them has been a travesty of the highest order.

        2) Heartland has as much right to privacy as any other organization that runs on private funding, and be free from unsavory tactics

        The fact that advocacy groups run on private funding matters in a society with extreme wealth disparities and is itself, I think, the fundamental issue raised by the leaked documents. The rules which protect "private" enterprise and expose "public" science make no sense when the very purpose of the private enterprise is to slander the public enterprise. It's a woefully uneven playing field, which is why putting the NASA earth observation budget against the Heartland budget is such a ridiculous misdirection.

        "Here, you guys work really hard and report every last penny, and we'll maybe not begrudge you a nice hotel on business travel. Meanwhile our budgets are secret and we do whatever we want because it's a free country for us, but not for you. Now pull your pants down and show us your stuff and be grateful we don't throw you in jail for your damned greenhouse effect."

        Thanks. Awfully kind of you.

        3) "no reputable investigative reporter would be permitted to do what Gleick did. It’s almost certainly a firing offense.”

        Maybe so. What do I know about the traditions of journalism? (They certainly do that kind of stuff in the movies all the time!) We don't know exactly what Peter did, but I know I wouldn't have had the balls to do it, whatever it was. So I hold it in a certain amount of awestruck respect. From a personal point of view, it was stupid, given his other obligations. I don't doubt that he regrets it. And maybe it was illegal; time will tell.

        But Gandhi and MLK taught us that occasionally the highest ethical duty is not to an unjust law. This stuff needs to be exposed. And so, even though self-defeating and possibly illegal and probably regretted, it served a valuable purpose in the common interest.

        4) with a fraction of the cash of their opposition.

        Well, if you count the money used, say, to launch earth observation satellites as funding for the opposition, and the time and effort used to download and interpret the data as efforts in favor of the opposition, the opposition is funded more than a single so-called "think tank". That's a mighty funky way to count, though. We work with our money. Our opposition plays with theirs.

        It's only dawning on most scientists that we are under systematic attack, and that any consequential result will be casually and heartlessly subverted by the biggest pile of money that is threatened.

        We don't know how much money the super-rich are funneling through comparable organizations. Unfortunately, the super-rich have a sort of self-congratulatory way of defending their good fortune and think they know what is best for all of us because they have most of the loose spending money. In the case of climate, they are flatly and tragically wrong. Also I would say that in the case of the disrupted governance of the until-recently well-run State of Wisconsin, the super-rich, and their flunkies in general and Heartland in particular, are outside any reasonable ethical bounds even if their anti-union opinions are taken as well-founded.

        But any doubt that the resistance to public understanding of the climate problem is to a large extent the result of deliberate obfuscation by a cynical oligarchy is put to rest by the revelations about Heartland. Regardless of the embarrassment to Peter Gleick and the organizations with which he is associated, this was a real and important service.

        I hope this answers your questions.

    • "Regardless of the embarrassment to Peter Gleick and the organizations with which he is associated, this was a real and important service."

      Not even Nicky Machiavelli believed 'the ends justify thee means'; his point was that when judging men, especially Princes, and there are no disinterested observers, the people will take the results into account. In the case of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, there's not even apparent warming continuing in the system, let alone signs of catastrophe. We do have multiple examples of activist scientists behaving badly (climategate 1& 2) and now one of an activist scientist apparently behaving criminally.

      Nothing succeeds like success. Actually making a prediction and having it borne out would help the case for AGW, but I expect you shouldn't hold your breath. I came to the table almost exactly 5 years ago believing the basic science as reported by the IPCC while suspecting the loudest proponents were probably exaggerating, but that was to be expected. I ended up believing the Friis-Christensens, Lindzens, Svensmarks, Shavivs, Veizers and others had stumbled on the more correct answers, that for the latter 20th century, the GCM had substituted positive feedbacks for natural forcings they were unaware of, and disbelieving the Michael Tobis's of the world.

      I've been suggesting to my leftist friends that the alarmist line is losing the scientific argument and they'd do well to distance themselves lest their politics be taken down with the whole AGW story. You're probably too heavily invested to take the advice, but should still keep it in mind.

  5. 'Of course the Heartland Institute didn’t feel this way when it was busy defaming scientists after the CRU email hack, but that hypocrisy isn’t the story here.

    These strong arm tactics even have an appropriate name: SLAPP or strategic lawsuit against public participation.'

    No SLAPP involved when East Anglia Police raided the Blogger Roger Tattersall? Did HI really defame any scientist at that time? Are your insinuations defamatory?

    Any wonder activists get into so much bother with such arrogance.

    • I don't envy Tallbloke.

      Someone claiming to be FOIA has posted on this site from [IP elided per request] as [email elided per request] and via Google seems to be named [guess at name elided]. I'd hate to have P3 shut down or our hosting service hassled on that basis.

      On the other hand, I am not, and the climate protection community collectively are not, responsible for the actions of the DoJ or the East Anglia police in investigating the CRU hacking. I for one do not know whether the raid was justified.

      Also, obviously this is not directly relevant to SLAPP.

      That all said, this has to be the tu-quoque-est internet kerfuffle ever. We should all be scratching our heads on both sides. So it's interesting to see who is and who ain't a-scratchin'.

    • Honest gospel truth if you want to hear it: I surfed into Planet3.0 as the result of a Google search for a specific pair of names, spotted a narrative fault that I had some familiarity with, suggested it deserved some rethinking, and then in my 2nd comment, tossed off an "I'm FOIA" remark which happens to be a takeoff of the old "I am Spartacus" movie quote.

      And this warrants placing my name, email address and IP address out for all your friends to see? Since "what has been seen on the internet cannot be unseen", it arguably wouldn't do much good to remove that personal information, but as a gesture of good intent, its removal would indicate that it isn't really your motive to prompt vicious mail to land there. Of course, you could point to other instances where you've posted such info in order to downplay the placement of my own, but then that would not exactly bolster your own image when it comes to reasonable treatment of critical commenters. Of course, if my situation is unique, that might be a greater incentive to remove the info, considering the comparatively light tone I used in my comments...... as contrasted with your infamous post at Lucia's blog last April, for example.

      A worthwhile question for your loyal but unregistered readers to ponder is how safe would their own identity info be if they strayed into territory you don't approve of.

      • Hmm. A fair point. But you did claim to be someone the authorities are looking for as I understand it.

        Anyway, per your request and in line with your argument, the information is removed.

    • I appreciate the edits. Still not sure what prompted that to begin with.

      There's nothing wrong with 'keeping an eye on what the other side is doing', I check out Romm's, Laden's, Bickmore's and other such sites since they are actually quite informative. I think you'd have gotten my joke if you checked out ones you (I assume) avoid, as you probably would have seen there's been some capitalist hawking "I'm FOIA" t-shirts for a while now: http://www.zazzle.ca/im_foia_dark_shirts-235575879520215605

  6. "Reporting on documents that were illegally obtained is legitimate and fully legal. That is why major newspapers like the New York Times (who no doubt consulted with their lawyers) not only reported on the leaked diplomatic cables but even collaborated with Wikileaks."

    Indeed, the NYTimes publishing of the Pentagon Papers was challenged by the government and went all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the principle stated above.

    The release of the papers themselves was a different kettle of fish, as Ellsberg was indicted and brought to trial. The Feds botched the case so badly (having broken into his psychiatrists office, tainting evidence, among other things) that the case was bounced out of court.

  7. It should be noted that the NYT refused to print the contents of any of the CRU e-mails because they were "stolen". Their coverage is clearly distorted by their ideological view just as everyone else's.

    The constant back and forth that one side is ideologically neutral, and the opposing side is tainted gets tiring.

    Hacking is a crime, as the Wikileaks leaker is finding out. As will the CRU hacker if they are ever caught. As will Peter Gleick. Noble cause is not a defense in court. You don't tell your kids "Stealing is a bad unless..."

    As in most of these cases, the treating of PG / CRU hacker by their own community can be used as a litmus test to determine how far one's moral compass has been bent by their ideological views. Hypocrisy is on stark display and it cuts both directions.

    • Lobbying for Wisconsin Act 10 as an 'education and research non-profit' is a crime.

      Meanwhile, no actual crime by CRU scientists was discovered in either the 2009 release or the 2011 release.

      False equivalence is ... false?

      -- frank

    • The NYT had other reasons for ignoring Climategate, not least of which being the shaming of such heroes as Mann, Jones, Santer, et. al. There is no longer any reason to call the emails "stolen," since they were almost certainly leaked by someone inside CRU. In any case, they were written on public computers by scientists working at public institutions; hence the writers had no legal claim to them. The Heartland Institute is privately funded by people who evidently expected their donations to remain private. Gleick's criminal actions negated that, among other things.

      • It's absolutely amazing that people think of universities as a branch of government. (It's an awfully convenient way of thinking for fans of the CRU hacking who want to continue to assert moral superiority all the while trying to blame Gleick for being beneath them. But it's crazy.)

        The purpose of universities is and always has been largely to make governments uncomfortable, and to rub their noses in the facts when they get carried away with their legislative abilities. That's the usual defense of the tenure system, after all. And while the hard sciences generally aren't in need of such protection, if ever there was a case in point that they should be, it's climate science.

        Otherwise there is nobody at all to call the fossil fuel industry out at all. If there's a problem, that is, which there is.

        If somebody could give me chapter and verse of when the concept of academic freedom turned into carte blanche for malicious hacking and character assassination, I'd be appreciative.

        We know how the "presumed friendly" environment of university computing turned into the jungle of sleazy advertisers. I certainly remember the dark and ominous day of the first spam.

        And of course we know how email got passed along from the universities to the public. You know, the "Information Superhighway"? Al Gore's initiative? Ingrates. Sometimes I think we should have let them all stay bleeding their money and brain cells (if any) to AOL and Compuserve. Instead of using it to communicate they use it as an instrument of bureaucracy and intrusion.

        I don't know if Mr. Gore has his regrets about democratizing the internet. To be honest, I still have high hopes for it. But talk about pearls before swine!

    • Also, putting the "Climategate" story on the front page as soon as it broke (resulting in a much higher media profile) was an odd way for the NYT to ignore it. Then again monotremes have notoriously poor memories.

    • Echidna knows full well that there's still no single actual crime by CRU scientists that was 'exposed' by FOI2009.zip or FOIA2011.zip. Hence the bluster.

      -- frank

    • "It’s absolutely amazing that people think of universities as a branch of government." - M.Tobis

      Agents of government is more correct. You tend to work for whoever pays you, and when scientific research is mostly paid for by grants from the government, science becomes an agent of government. Eisenhower was right when, in his farewell address, he warned of a "scientific-technological elite", holding policy captive, just moments after warning of the emerging military-industrial complex.

      If you only fund scientists who are reliably alarmist, you'll tend to only get alarmist results.

      • The conclusion follows from the premise, but in the real world the premise is indefensible.

        Science converges on reality when it is working correctly. Increasing difficulty in getting publications that are far from the prevailing view is not a sign of prejudicial editing. The same claim, if not close to the prevailing view, requires more and more extraordinary evidence for comparable consideration. This is how science is supposed to work.

        Overturning existing understanding is to a scientist like winning the lottery is to an average Joe. Nothing is more appealing. If you make a real breakthrough, your ticket is punched forever.

        Agencies generally fund investigations, not answers.

        None of this works flawlessly, but the fact that nobody is paying attention to your pet theories does not necessarily mean the system is broken. It is also possible that your pet theories are crackpot theories.

        Another thing you can do is count the theories.

        Only in fields with political impact do people go around collecting up the crackpots and issuing books of, say, seven theories. The likelihood of seven viable competing theories on a well studied topic is just about nil. So if you see a book celebrating seven competing theories about a given (mundane, macro-scale, mostly classical) topic with roughly equal weight, check if it was written after about 1870. If it was, it's a compendium of crackpottery, not a serious science review.

    • "Oh, Lovelock quoted as skeptic."

      No, Lovelock quoted as an honest reporter. I can only assume he had no ulterior motive in describing the captains of climate research admitting only in private how weak their science was.

      • Well, maybe. But if you believe what he believes, you ought to reach the conclusions he reaches, because they make a lot more sense than the ones the usual anti-climatology crowd comes up with. That is, the less we know, the greater the risk, and the more urgent it is to stop behaving in ways that take the system outside natural bounds.

        Lovelock's expectations are in line with his skepticism. Are yours?

    • "Well, maybe. But if you believe what he believes, you ought to reach the conclusions he reaches, because they make a lot more sense than the ones the usual anti-climatology crowd comes up with. That is, the less we know, the greater the risk, and the more urgent it is to stop behaving in ways that take the system outside natural bounds."

      I'm not "the usual anti-climatology crowd", though I understand the rhetorical advantage given to implying all can be so categorized.

      I believe Lovelock is scrupulously honest. If he says that, in private, senior ipcc scientists tell him they're scared stiff they've gotten it wrong, that clouds and aerosols may be running the show, that he really is being told that in private. Don't you?

      I also believe he is honest when he speaks of the calamities he's expecting, but believing in his honesty does not lead me to a need to believe his view of the science. He should get out more and talk to the scientists "the team" goes out of their way to marginalize.

      "Lovelock’s expectations are in line with his skepticism. Are yours?"

      All the clouds and aerosols, not to mention temperatures linked to oceanic oscillations, have to do is account for the small amount of heat the GCM attribute to theorized positive feedbacks. Yes, my expectations are in line with my skepticism, arrived at in March 2007 (thank you, Svensmark, Friis-Christensen, Kirkby and, not the least, Shaviv and Veizer, to present a short list)and only getting stronger with time. I actually spent a short time as a skeptic after shedding my warmist belief... 'scoffer', at least when it comes to the catastrophic predictions, is more accurate.

      • Clouds and aerosols are a mess. I work on that problem all day at my day job. You don't need to tell me.

        "All the clouds and aerosols, not to mention temperatures linked to oceanic oscillations, have to do is account for the small amount of heat the GCM attribute to theorized positive feedbacks..."

        So, they are doing this why? Because of their political affiliations? Or could they be... a Feedback???

        You know, Lindzen and Spencer argue that clouds are an ameliorating feedback, and yet you are claiming that they just willy-nilly show up and account for past warming. But they aren't a feedback. They just have a meeting and decide that they are going to warm stuff up, having nothing to do with the vast and increasing human influence on the boundary conditions.

        Yawn... All this dreamy talk of magic clouds is making me sleepy.

    • "So, they are doing this why? Because of their political affiliations? Or could they be… a Feedback???"

      Let's be clear here, they're theorized feedbacks in unverified general circulation models whose results fit the IPCC's expectations, and as you know, when expectations are met it's difficult for even good scientists to look further, let alone for the politicians running the show. And it was climate politics that killed the funding for Kirkby's CLOUD at CERN circa '98, only to be resurrected in '06 when the precursor Danish SKY experiment showed results that couldn't be ignored.

      It's clear the politics was driving Gleick. Are they driving you?

      It's anger that's driving me. Anger over how bad science is driving public policy that's even worse, not to mention the ugly rhetoric that greeted me when I came out of the climate closet five years ago.

  8. "Science converges on reality when it is working correctly." I cannot agree more!

    Are measured temperatures converging on the IPCC visions, or are they diverging?

    How many different estimates of CO2 sensitivity are embodied in the IPCC-blessed GCM? Are they converging on a result that fits reality, or do they remain far apart?

    [ Moving goalposts. Gish gallop. Contentious. Misleading. Repeating tired myths. -mt ]

  9. Greg Goodknight
    February 25, 2012 | 3:46 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    “Science converges on reality when it is working correctly.” I cannot agree more!

    Are measured temperatures converging on the IPCC visions, or are they diverging?

    How many different estimates of CO2 sensitivity are embodied in the IPCC-blessed GCM? Are they converging on a result that fits reality, or do they remain far apart?

    [ Moving goalposts. Gish gallop. Contentious. Misleading. Repeating tired myths. -mt ]

    Hardly. It is the soft underbelly of the IPCC-brand climate science. Or, as James Lovelock put it two years ago in his interview in The Guardian,

    "The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they're scared stiff of the fact that they don't really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven't got the physics worked out yet. One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn't got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do. So why on earth are the politicians spending a fortune of our money when we can least afford it on doing things to prevent events 50 years from now? They've employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear."

    • Or, as James Lovelock put it two years ago in his interview in The Guardian,

      “The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet. One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn’t got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do. So why on earth are the politicians spending a fortune of our money when we can least afford it on doing things to prevent events 50 years from now? They’ve employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear."

      I think that is far too pessimistic about the science, but there is something to be said for Lovelock.

      He understands that if the science is weak, the risks become larger, not smaller. He doesn't make the ridiculous argument that is the core of contemporary anti-climatology. "We know nothing about this boat and under what conditions it might sink, so we can rock it as hard as we want."

      You could learn something from Lovelock.

      Lovelock, you will recall, is a guy who expects 80% mortality within the century as a direct result of business-as-usual climate disruption.

      If he is right about how weak climate science is, I have no basis to refute him. But at least he is consistent. If climate science is worthless, we have no idea how crazy it might be to double or triple CO2.

    • Oh, Lovelock quoted as skeptic. Funny. Greg, watch this Lovelock interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLA-Sn6bi-U Then meditate on the word "alarmist".

    • This isn't the thread - yet Lovelock got me in the mood for some black skepticism to scare the heck out of white skeptics like Greg...

      So, the cloud problem. The modelers can only model (and verifiably so) climates with clouds of today. The models thus can only predict a small perturbation of the system (with not much effect on clouds). There isn't much hope that the clouds will work for us (forget Lindzen's iris). To the contrary, recent observations indicate they're slightly against us...

      So, what will happen when the perturbation gets larger? Complex nonlinear systems then tend to enter a chaotic transition to a new state. We won't need to wait long for that: The arctic summer ice will be gone in about a decade. The trend is clear. Then it's not only the CO2 greenhouse, but also the lack of this reflector that contributes heat significantly. The melt seems already causing some weird weather (Russian fires 2010, European cold snap 2011/12)...

      The new state will sure be no ice age.

      It's then perhaps necessary to keep the coal fires burning, otherwise we would jump from the fry pan into the fire: 1) We need the aerosol to make more clouds. 2) The CO2 contribution would be minor compared to the other feedbacks.

      But that gives us just a century longer. Then the fry pan melts...


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