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Climategate 2.0 in context

This is a guest post by David Holland

Quite often things are mischievously quoted out of context by one’s critics and the press and, when faced with an embarrassing but partial release of what they had said, or written, the first response of many people is to dismiss it as being out of context. This was the claim made by innumerable supporters of the orthodox IPCC view of climate change science when, in November 2009, over 1000 emails were released in 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. It was suggested that the release was highly selective, cherry picking only the apparently discreditable emails and omitting their proper context. For many making it, however, it was a claim based on heartfelt hope and belief rather than on any knowledge of the rest of the emails or even those that had been released.

On 1 March 2010  the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons heard from the University, Sir Muir Russell and the UK’s Chief Scientist, Professor John Beddington, who said:

There is cause for concern, but I think the key about this is that Muir Russell is going to be doing a detailed and comprehensive study, he is going to look at emails in context—and we all know how things can be taken out of context—and I would like to be able to have a judgment made by Muir Russell and his team, who I have complete trust in.

The Russell Report, when eventually published, exculpated the members of the Climatic Research Unit stating, “we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.” There was, however, much criticism of the Review, which one MP member of the Select Committee described as beyond parody. The Review had not conducted any of its interviews in public nor interviewed any critics of the university. Within days of publishing its Report together with some obscure but critical evidence, the Review team endeavoured to block freedom of information requests to all its working documents by deleting its emails from the server at the University of Edinburgh, which was subject to the Environmental Information Regulations.

In this electronic age, with emails widely copied, it is not always easy to entirely block freedom of information requests and, in the months that followed, evidence has trickled out to show that the Russell Review was even less independent and objective than its worst critics suspected. In reality, it was undertaken by academic friends of the university, at its expense and under its close supervision. It had seriously tampered with at least one public evidence submission. It became known that among the almost £300,000 that the university spent on the Review, almost £9,000 was paid to the Norfolk Police.

It is not usual for the police to charge victims for investigating alleged crimes and it has recently emerged that the payment was for subcontractors employed by the police to extract all of the emails of the three most important scientists from the back-up server that had been seized by the police after the university had reported the unauthorised release of some of them. The reason for this was as Professor Beddington told MPs to allow the Review “to look at emails in context”. This is confirmed in the Review Report which states,

Recognising that the e-mails improperly released into the public domain represent only a tiny fraction (less than 0.3%) of the e-mails archived by the key individuals in the CRU, the Review team sought to set these in context. The backup server (CRUBACK3) had been taken as evidence by the police as part of their own investigation and was held by police contracted forensic investigators. A full context could only be established by some form of access to the information held on this server.

For this access the university agreed to pay £8,910 plus VAT. For this sum another expert, retained by the Review at the University’s expense, received all the emails of the key scientists on three so-called “thumb drives” or “memory sticks”. The expert, Professor Peter Sommer, reported “The emails as provided to me are in the format of an email programme called “Thunderbird”. This is a comparatively well known programme at least among computer specialists.

Now one would imagine that the Review could easily prove that the most damaging of the leaked Climategate emails were indeed taken out of context. In the case of the infamous “hide the decline” they could show the other emails traffic of the same time period and put it into its proper context. In the case of the email asking a colleague to delete emails that were subject to a freedom of information request the Review team could now do the same.

If it was true that emails were taken out of context the Review team could make a strong case with just a couple of examples, but they did not because, as Review Report states,

“It would introduce significant delay to the publication of the Review‘s report.”

To be fair, Professor Sommer does say in his report,

The processes of analysis to identify (and then review) additional email traffic which might be associated with the issues which are the subject of the allegations which have been levelled against CRU, is likely to take at least several weeks. It would be for the Review Team and the University to determine whether the cost, inevitable time delays and (at this time) uncertain outcomes could be justified

There were, before this week and Climategate 2, good reasons to take both what the Review and the Professor wrote with a large pinch of salt. The Review Report had been promised for early spring 2010 and the Professor only received the thumb drives on 14 May 2010, but after spending £9000 to get all of them, surely putting one or two of them into their context could have been done in plenty of time to finish the report by the end of June 2010.

Today there is compelling reason to suspect that the Review team and Professor could have been economic with the actualité. Just a couple of days after the release of Climategate 2, anyone can access a database with keywords and find all the relevant emails on any topic. Whereas, on the matter of deleting information that was requested under FOIA, about 20 or so emails were released in November 2009, this year there are over 100 and few if any show the scientists in a better light. 

With the Review team’s indecent haste to delete their emails from a public authority’s server and the apparent speed and ease with which amateur internet sleuths dissected this Climategate 2 release, it is at least plausible to suggest a different conversation may have taken place between the Professor and the Review team.

I have the emails and a quick look at them tells me that they will not tell you the story you want to hear

Of course if we only had 0.3% of the emails before, we still only have less than 2% Now. However, this time the benefactor has not claimed the new release is a random selection (and he/she/they may have been kidding then), but that they were selected on keywords, as our expert Professor could as easily have done for quick rough check to see what a careful review might bring forth. Who knows? Maybe one of those emails that the Review team were so quick to delete would tell us.

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Reader Comments (76)

It isn't clear, in parts, where David Holland's text ends and quotes from reports begins (and vice versa).
Could you reformat to fix this?
[Moderator 5.35pm: fixed, I hope]

Nov 27, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

As someone who has done a number of email migrations, including Thunderbird, I find this interesting.

Thunderbird migrations are simple. You just take a copy of the folder structure at a certain point in the tree on the source machine. Restore that at the same point in the tree on the destination machine. Everything is copied for the account.

Being generous about an elapsed hour`s work.

If you had three users, you could have three different Thunderbird profiles running in parallel.

For three users, I could set it all up on a computer for someone in less than half day. And they could use the inbuilt threading and search facilities of Thunderbird to analyse.

Sorry what do I know,I am not a Professor ;-)

Nov 27, 2011 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I think the paragraph immediately following the sentence

"This is confirmed in the Review Report which states,"

should probably be in blockquote?
[Moderator: fixed again, I hope]

Nov 27, 2011 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

. . . evidence has trickled out to show that the Russell Review was even less independent and objective than its worst critics suspected.

Excellent post - except that I'd suggest that "severest" is a better word than "worst" in this context.

In my book, those who pitched into the Russell review were the best. My only concern is that the fact that Russell was (and, as far as I can see, still is) an employee of / consultant to ScottishPower and that it was ScottishPower who funded the circulation of Al Gore's dreadful film to Scottish schools has generally escaped notice.

I do not believe for a second that Russell, whose reputation in Scotland is, well, mixed, was quite as hapless as many suggest. As a civil servant of many years standing, he knew what he was about. The Russell Review has corrupted the political process.

Nov 27, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

TerryS and Moderator

I am afraid I may have led to confusion by incorrectly dating the first Science and Technology Committee meeting as 2009. It was of course in 2010. [Corrected 7.00pm, 27.11.11, Moderator}

Nov 27, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

I must also own up to another typo - just a coupe - should read just a couple.

I would also ask BH readers for some help in respect of putting things into context.

Did anyone save, before Nov 25, 2011 at 12:43 PM, a copy of the UEA press release at:

If so could you cut and past on this thread what Professor Jones originally wrote about email 1897? That is if it different from what is now there.

Nov 27, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

David -

Thank you for reminding us once again of everything that was indecent about the Russell Review and
I do trust if there is yet another review that it properly examines not only the evidence available to it but also the culpability of the previous reviews in keeping all this covered up.

Just dreaming ...

Nov 27, 2011 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

I love all these claims of "out of context". Maybe Jones et al can explain to us the correct context in which it is acceptable to:

Request a colleague to delete E-Mails material to an FOIA (a potentially criminal act)

Collude to block the work of professional scientists from publication

Attempt to have an editor of a scientific journal fired from their job

Cheer when a non AGW believing scientist dies

and so on and so on.

Strangely - ha ha - we never hear what this correct context is.

Nov 27, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGribble

Whilst some great work has been done by the determined few from Steve M onwards I can't help feeling whether all this navel gazing into emails etc hasn't put the sceptics into collusion with the warmists in deflecting attention over the last decade or so away from the real threat to the planet (or at least the species occupying it - the planet is well able to look after itself without help or hindrance from homo sapiens) which is the exponential explosion of populations. The climate, with or without warming, hasn't the slightest relevance when we can already see the impacts of over-population right on our doorsteps.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

As David shows, we know that the Russell committee had access to the emails. That means that they had, in their possession, this email (which only became available to us through the November 2011 release):

From: Phil Jones []
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 1:31 PM
To: Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
Subject: Re: FW: FOI_08-50 ; EIR_08-01

Do I understand it correctly – if he doesn’t pay the £10 we don’t have to respond?

With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting
numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have
virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent.
There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time
going through these.


So let's put this email in a bit of context.

This email was sent to David Palmer on December 3, 2008. Palmer recognized that Phil's actions were problematic. He writes back to Phil on December 8th, 2008 expressing his concern over Phil's message:

Phil, you must be very careful about deleting material, more particularly when you delete
it. Section 77 of the FOIA state as follows:

77. (1) Where

(a) a request for information has been made to a public authority, and

(b) under section 1 of this Act or section 7 of the [1988 c. 29.] Data Protection Act 1998,
the applicant would have been entitled (subject to payment of any fee) to communication of
any information in accordance with that section, any person to whom this subsection applies is guilty of an offence if he alters, defaces,
blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the
intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the
information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled.

(2) Subsection (1) applies to the public authority and to any person who is employed by, is
an officer of, or is subject to the direction of, the public authority.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a
fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

Palmer puts Michale Mcgarvie Michael, Tim Osborn Timothy and Keith Briffa on copy to the email. So this series of emails would have been easily located. Russell has in his possession (as a result of the work performed by the Norfolk Constabulary), evidence that Phil Jones deleted emails subject to an active FOIA.

On July 10, 2010 Muir Russell issues his findings and famously states:

Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.

On page 92 of his report, Russell denies ever having seen evidence of actual deletion of emails:

There seems clear incitement to delete emails, although we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made.

On October 27, 2010, during a House of Commons Examination of Witnesses Russell is questioned about this by Graham Stringer:

Q84 Graham Stringer: Thank you. Sir Muir, on page 92 of your report you say, and I paraphrase, that there is no attempt to delete e-mails after there had been a request made, whereas in actual fact the e-mail of 27 May from Jones actually asked for deletion of e-mails, didn't it?

To which Russell replies:

Sir Muir Russell: It requested them. I think we said that there was incitement to delete. You have quoted half the sentence. The first bit says: "There seemed clear incitement to delete but we had seen no evidence of any attempt to delete in respect of a request already made."

Also in the October 27 testimony, Graham Stringer asked Edward Acton:

Q94 Graham Stringer:

Professor Acton, are you satisfied that these questions weren't asked, that people in your university were sending out e-mails suggesting that e-mails should be deleted and that hasn't been investigated?

To which Acton replied:

Professor Edward Acton: It has been investigated. I have asked them and they have assured me that they have never knowingly deleted e-mails subject to a request.

There seems to be problems with this testimony and with the veracity of the Russell report.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

David, thanks for raising some very pertinent issues about the Russell review, what emails they had and what they chose (or not) to do with them. The sample of 2% is not looking for them, to put it mildly.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

'looking good for them'

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Moderator, I missed 2 tags to end my block quotes in my comment above. So in two places, my commentary text shows up within the block quote. If its not too much bother, could you add the tags to clean it up? I think it would make it easier for people to read.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

There won't be another review Mattau, and if there is it will be the same whitewash, there are too many people who, instead of taking the long view, threw their lots in with the CAGW scare. They, to a man and woman, are unlikely to pipe up that they were wrong, no matter what the consequences. We will probably have to wait a long time, a funeral at a time as Max Planck said, before the greatest scam in the history of the civilised world will be put to bed.

That is unless the other scientists, the ones like Richard Betts, who are in the warmist camp but uneasy about the politics, speak out. To do that will require a great deal of courage, because, as we've seen in the emails, they are dealing with a particularly nasty gang of "scientists" who they know for sure will try to ruin their careers. I wouldn't put my head over the parapet until I was sure some senior, respected, untouchable scientist who has previously supported the CAGW meme, decided it was bollocks and said so out loud. But with the likes of Beddington at the top of science that's not going to happen.

Another way is, if you have a Tory MP to write to them copied to the PM telling him you're going to vote for UKIP because you have no other party to vote for. I'm going to do that, I've pondered long and hard about it, but Nigel Farage couldn't make a worse PM than Blair, Brown or Cameron, that's impossible. One thing for sure they won't listen to us until they realise that not doing so is going to get them kicked out of office.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Somewhat OT, but newzealandclimatechange has used the 2.0 files to put the deFreitas affair into context:

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Geoffrey Boulton is revealed to be dishonest by the Climategate 2.0 emails.

On Feb 15, 2010 the Muir Russell review site quoted Boulton as saying: "At the Review press conference (on February 11), I pointed out that I had worked full-time in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA from its inception in 1968 to 1980, and that I had a part-time appointment between 1980 and 1986, whilst working primarily in the University of Amsterdam. Since then, I have had no professional contact with the University of East Anglia or the Climatic Research Unit."

However, several Climategate 2.0 emails show professional contact between Boulton and the UEA at a high level. Here are messages in which Boulton's name appears.

0702.txt 8 Jun 1998

1327.txt 9 Aug 2004

0040.txt 28 Apr 2000

0361.txt 21 May 2002

0458.txt 11 Dec 2007

0658.txt 6 Aug 1999

3845.txt 2 Jun 1998

4377.txt 12 Jun 2001

5075.txt 22 Mar 2002

Given Boulton's central role in the Muir-Russell activities - and Boulton's evident dishonesty - will the inquiry's report be withdrawn?

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I think UEA et al would argue that the deleted emails were not yet subject to an FOI request i.e. that they were not subject to DH's open request and in effect deleted in anticipation of FOI requests yet to be made.

Would this be a vlid defence?

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu


Re Boulton: on reading your comment out to my husband, he said " Boulton's contact with UEA not professional - how true..."

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

I think UEA et al would argue that the deleted emails were not yet subject to an FOI request i.e. that they were not subject to DH's open request and in effect deleted in anticipation of FOI requests yet to be made.

Would this be a vlid defence?

Phil Jone's email undermines this assertion. Phil writes:

With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting
numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. </blockquote?

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

mpaul said: "On page 92 of his report, Russell denies ever having seen evidence of actual deletion of emails:"

If Russell didn't look Russell wouldn't see.

A number of the emails in the latest release provide some insight into why they resisted David Holland's requests:

3539: In 2008 Phil Jones wrote

A final point. It is likely that a number of people in ENV will become involved in IPCC next time. I wouldn't want any disclosure to jeopardize future involvement, if others who are involved in IPCC future think working with UEA people could be a liability.

4752: In 2009 Phil Jones wrote

The next set of [IPCC] authors will be chosen in April 2010
with nominations taking place between Nov09 and Jan10. IPCC possibly may not care about what happened with AR4, but they would for anything with the next report. So we don't want to set a precedent now, as this could preclude anyone fom UEA being involved with the next report (AR5).

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

@ David Holland - I just looked up to see if they had any snapshots of the page in question but 'fraid not. However, the search came back with:

CRU statements, rebuttals and corrections

I wonder if the BBC will now be contacting UEA/CRU to retract the apology they naively made on behalf of John Humphrys and the Today Programme?

letter of apology from BBC to CRU for an "incorrect" remark made by John Humphrys that UEA researchers had 'distorted the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be'.

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

mpaul - the actual quote from p92 of the Russell Report is

we have seen no evidence of any attempt to delete information in respect of a request already made.

I am still not persuaded that anyone has shown that the emails Phil Jones claims to have deleted were in respect of a request already made. My contention is that they would claim they were deleted in anticipation of future requests.

No-one has shown that any of the emails deleted relation to David Holland's FOI request or any other previous FOI request.

Am I wrong here?

Nov 27, 2011 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Matthu, I thinl the record now clearly shows that POhil Jones deleted emails that were subject to an active FOIA. Phil writes:

"With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting
numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics."

I don't see how anyone could parse this sentence to mean anything but that Phil received a FOIA from David and, in response, spent half a day deleting emails that might be covered under this FOIA.
However, I'm always interested in understanding how other people might interpret this email. Can you offer an alternative explanation?

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul


There's the rub! Before Dave Palmer quotes section 77 to our professor, he writes:

Phil, you must be very careful about deleting material, more particularly when you delete it.

Mr Palmer and Sir Muir Russell think that when you do it is important.

mpaul has reproduced s.77 a few posts above this. Try this. Replace "Were" with "When" and replace in two places "would have been" with "was". If the act was written this way, it would be perfectly clear that deleting information that could be asked for before anyone asks for it, would not be an offence.

However how could anyone ever prove you did it after it was asked for? How could anyone ever get prosecuted? I believe the way the Act is written the offence is created not when something happens but where something has happened and where someone does ask for information.

EIR Regulation 19 has the same wording and to be compliant with the Aahus Convention, which like it or not is the law of the land the UK, the government undertook to ensure that public authorities possessinformation that is relevant to their function. So to be Aarhus compliant the wording can not allow pre-emptive deletion of information that public authorities should have available to disclose to the public.

What do our language experts think?

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

If you want to know just how bad the 'Russell Review' was all you need to do is look for what is not there , by that I mean that against all expectation instead of papers like the Guardian and people like Monboit crowing about the results of the review and rubbing the skeptics face in it , they largely said nothing at all has even they felt embarrassed by the shear scale of the poverty of this review .

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Re: David Holland
Wed, 23 Nov 2011

Professor Phil Jones, and his colleagues, explain the context of some of the phrases cherry-picked from the thousands of emails (1995-2009) posted on the web on November 22, 2011.
Because of the volume of messages, this is inevitably a small selection that have been most quoted. Professor Jones stresses the importance of reading each quote in the context of the whole email trails – which have also been posted online.

Phil Jones:

Email 3062: “We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has written [...] We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff."

What has been cut out of this quote is the explanation that we wanted the science to reflect the limits of scientific knowledge ‘warts and all’: “We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has written that sounds as though it could have been written by a coral person 25 years ago. We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff. What we want is good honest stuff, warts and all, dubious dating, interpretation marginally better etc."

Incidentally, this refers to Michael Schulz and not Michael Mann as bloggers appear to believe.

Email 2775: "I too don’t see why the schemes should be symmetrical. The temperature ones certainly will not as we’re choosing the periods to show the warming."

The full email exchange reveals that we were choosing colours for a chart covering periods that showed warming. The periods chosen were 1901 to 2005 (the long record) and 1979 to 2005 (the satellite record).

Email 0714: “Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital - hence my comment about the tornadoes group.”

This was related to the selection of contributing authors, not IPCC-appointed chapter authors over which I have no influence. It means scientists we could trust to write succinct and clear text.

Email 1788: “There shouldn't be someone else at UEA with different views [from "recent extreme weather is due to global warming"] - at least not a climatologist.”

This was in response to a request from a TV programme (via the university press office) which wanted to find two climatologists from UEA with differing views to debate on air. It was my view that I doubted if we could find anyone of that opposing view among my colleagues.

Email 0896: “I think the urban-related warming should be smaller than this, but I can't think of a good way to argue this. I am hopeful of finding something in the data that makes by their Figure 3.”

These were discussions between me and two Chinese scientists and they were resolved, as evidenced by the paper in Journal of Geophysical Research. It was about confusion over different regions of China.

Email 4443: “Basic problem is that all models are wrong - not got enough middle and low level clouds.”

This is a discussion that referred to climate models of the late 1990s vintage. These issues were well-known and they have improved in more recent modelling. This related to model differences in development of a multi-model average for the future. The work was not published in the peer-reviewed literature.

Email 2440: “I've been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process”

At the end of the IPCC process, chapters, formal comments and responses are all published and that is the appropriate place for this information. It is important that scientists should be allowed free and frank discussion during the writing process. I might also point out that I decided not to take part in AR5 because of the time commitment it requires. .

Email 1577: “Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get - and has to be well hidden. I've discussed this with the main the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

‘Hidden’ refers here to some of the work on data collection and management. This is a common issue in some areas of climate research and refers to issues of an operational nature and research aspects. An obvious example is updating earlier data sets within a new project. Most funders are fully aware that this is common practice.

Email 1897: "Do I understand it correctly - if he doesn't pay the £10 we don't have to respond? With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent."

This relates to a request from Steve McIntyre made under the Data Protection Act for any personal data held about him. Following a previous experience with FoI, I had adopted a more judicious approach to retention of emails that I no longer needed. I had deleted old exchanges with sceptics I had prior to 2005. I was saying that I probably no longer had any emails relating to Mr McIntyre, a prominent sceptic.

The emails referred to were unrelated to any prior request from Mr Holland. Let me say again that I have never knowingly deleted any material subject to a current FoI request and this email should not be read in that way.

Keith Briffa:

Email 2009: "I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!"

In email 2009, I am trying to reinforce the request to my co-author to provide a strongly critical review of the draft text. I believed that I had taken account of the considerable uncertainties in the evidence when producing the draft and still came to the conclusion that the late 20th century was unusually warm. I wanted to know whether he thought that this assessment was entirely valid. I would add that I was and still am acutely aware of the shortcomings of the palaeoclimate evidence but the conclusions of chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report were arrived at after taking these into account, as is made clear by the section on 'Key Uncertainties" (p. 483).

Tim Osborn (an author of the 2007 palaeoclimate chapter):

Email 4923:

The 2007 IPCC report conclusions did not weaken the 2001 IPCC report conclusions. The 2007 IPCC report said this (page 436): “The TAR [2001 report] pointed to the ‘exceptional warmth of the late 20th century, relative to the past 1,000 years’. Subsequent evidence has strengthened this conclusion.

Actually, if you refer to email 4923 itself, it says: "Temperatures during the last two decades of the 20th century were probably the warmest of the last millennium." Note the word ‘PROBABLY’. Neither the 2001 (Third Assessment Report) nor the 2007 (Fourth Assessment Report) by the IPCC stated that these decades WERE the warmest of the millennium. Both used less certain language, acknowledging that prior to the period with instrumental temperatures from thermometers things are much less certain (in IPCC parlance “likely” meant “with a probability above 66%”). The crux of the question is whether the 2007 report backtracked or watered down the 2001 report's conclusions.

2001 TAR (page 102): "the 1990s are likely to have been the warmest decade of the millennium in the Northern Hemisphere and 1998 is likely to have been the warmest year".

2007 AR4 (page 436): "The TAR [2001 report] pointed to the ‘exceptional warmth of the late 20th century, relative to the past 1,000 years’. Subsequent evidence has strengthened this conclusion. It is very likely that average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were higher than for any other 50-year period in the last 500 years. It is also likely that this 50-year period was the warmest Northern Hemisphere period in the last 1.3 kyr, and that this warmth was more widespread than during any other 50-year period in the last 1.3 kyr."

So, the 2007 report considers that subsequent evidence has strengthened the 2001 report conclusions. But neither report referred explicitly to the last two decades of the 1900s: TAR (2001) talked about just one decade, the 1990s. AR4 (2007) talked about 50-year periods.

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Checking the date on the cache (and not the page) its from 25 Nov 2011 19:59:33 GMT


Nov 27, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

David - I can see your interpretation i.e. that you feel you were always entitled to the remaining emails despite the fact that you had not yet requested them. UEA would argue that you would not have been entitled to them before you requested them, and (after deletion) they would no longer have been in their possession had you subsequently requested them.

To my (untrained) mind, there is just a little wriggle room here which I am sure that the ICO would clarify were he asked to adjudicate.

But I invite anybody with a trained legal mind to come down decisively on one side or the other.

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Since the Russell review team had access to all these emails they must have known they reflected badly on the behaviour of the Team. Therefore the 'context' arguement was bogus, contrived, and dependent on no further releases of emails, hence Russell/UEA response to further FOIA requests.

Climategate 2.0 and the prospect of 3.0 undermines Russell completely.

Putting Climategate 2.0 into further context reveals the political damage that has been done to the 'cause'. International and national political will to act on this issue is being seriously eroded. Politicians cannot ignore the huge damage being done to economies by draconian green policies in age of not only austerity but also of scepticism.

When politicians are now saying we should "wait and see" on Global Warming you know contingenices are being planned, u-turns being considered.

Climategate made that possible.

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


Thanks for putting up "Cherry-picked phrases explained". It is dated 23 November, but what I was asking was if anyone has copy of exactly what it said about email 1897.txt before 12:43 on 25 November. I ask this because, unless I am going barmy, it changed after I made a comment on it at that time. My Firefox says it was "revised 2011-11-25". I just want to know if it did change after my post.

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

David Holland -- for completeness, what was the date of your FOIA request and do you have any evidence to establish the earliest data when Phil Jones became aware of you FOIA request?

Nov 27, 2011 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul


Just seen your last post. So the page could have have changed to make my post look wrong. Sort of like omitting my paragraph 44 from my Russell submission. But here is the point. How easy is it to prove, particularly if people changing or deleting things do not want you to.

Nov 27, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

My FOI_08-32 to UEA was received by it on 27 May 2008. Our professor asked Michael Mann to delete what I was asking for two days later.

Nov 27, 2011 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland


In the wording, as I read it, it is the intention of the action that creates the offence. There is no reference to the timing of the deletion in the Acts or Regulations. However, under Aarhus public authorities are required to possess relevant environmental information and in consequence should only delete information that is no longer relevant to them.

But regardless why have an offence that is effectively incapable of proof?

I have to sign off shorty and will look in tomorrow.

Nov 27, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

Muir Rusell has a bit of thorough explanation to do now.
One thing is sure: he did not do his work well. At all.

He should be allowed to defend himself ,publicly, and if unsatisfactory we can do with one pompous idiot less in the establishment.

Status and honourability alone will not hush this up. This is not 1965, this 2011. we are in the 21st century.

Nov 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered Commentertutu

Like in Climategate I, there is lots of energy invested by the "team" in denying FOIA requests.

But why? The motivation is missing. What is being protected by not releasing the data? The explanation of zealous guarding of data might explain the attitude of one or two persons. That an international group mobilised to prevent FOIA disclosure is the intriguing part.

I do not see any patentable right in the requested information. Replication might also reinforce the findings of the "team", thus enhancing their scientific status.

Does anyone have a plausible reason for these refusals to release data? Has anything changed since these emails were written?


Nov 27, 2011 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNik

No motive?

How about wishing to conceal the complete disarray of the raw data and the numerous internal disagreements about whether many of the results were robust or not and also whether they were being particularly honest about their unwavering support for the Hockeystick ... it goes on and on.

Had all that became public knowledge, the government would not longer have the strong consensual message that they needed in order to assure support for the Climate Act etc. (and to be seen to be leading the world etc. etc.)

Since Climategate 2.0 (I love the .0) it appears that tied into this may also have been the lure of potentially large funding arrangements with the likes of Goldman-Sachs ...

So yes, there was motive.

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

A wild thought: does anyone know if the British academics who appear in these emails are bound by the Official Secrets Acts?


Nov 27, 2011 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterNik

Was Phil Jones equipped with the computer literacy to wipe them entirely from UEA's system? After the Excel x-y graph email, I find this hard to believe, but I defer to the IT experts, of which I certainly am not one.

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Pharos says:

Was Phil Jones equipped with the computer literacy to wipe them entirely from UEA's system? After the Excel x-y graph email, I find this hard to believe, but I defer to the IT experts, of which I certainly am not one.

No, but the Muir Russell panel, in the employ of UEA, paid a forensic expert to come in and find every copy of the emails throughout UEA. Once they had them all, they apparently deleted them. Unfortunately for Muir Russell, our whistle blower had a copy.

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Pharos: it would have been impossible for Jones to delete the emails. They would be deleted on his personal account, but would still exist in multiple backups, assuming the UAE IT Team to be even moderately competent.

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergrassmarket

Speaking of the Muir Russell report ...

One of the ways in which Muir Russell et al let Jones and Briffa off the hook:

9.5 Conclusions
40. In summary, we have not found any direct evidence to support the allegation that members of CRU misused their position on IPPC to seek to prevent the publication of opposing ideas.

41. In addition to taking evidence from them and checking the relevant minutes of the IPCC process, we have consulted the relevant IPCC Review Editors. Both Jones and Briffa were part of large groups of scientists taking joint responsibility for the relevant IPCC Working Group texts and were not in a position to determine individually the final wording and content. We find that neither Jones nor Briffa behaved improperly by preventing or seeking to prevent proper consideration of views which conflicted with their own through their roles in the IPCC. [emphasis added -hro]

In effect, Muir Russell has established what I have dubbed "the teamwork sidestep" (which was also adapted by the IPCC in its so-called "conflict of interest policy")

So I found it somewhat amusing to note the following during the Press Conference (circa Nov. 23/11):

<2440> Jones: I've been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.

Asked about that, Jones said someone had told him that IPCC was immune to FOI rules but he now acknowledges that as "wrong" (as in incorrect). He said he was just "sending concerns I had with FOI." He added that outsiders didn't need to see the excruciating detail that goes into writing a multiauthor report, arguing that skeptics of climate science could misuse the back-and-forth. "Why do they need to know who wrote each sentence in each paragraph?" he said. "They're scientific discussions." [emphasis added -hro]

Looks like "Poor Phil" has forgotten all about the "teamwork sidestep" that Muir Russell had so conveniently conjured up for him!

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001


I seem to recall that the list of FOI requests considered by the Russell inquiry did not list David Holland's request. Others may have further details.

It occurs to me now that it might be worth FOI-ing UEA asking them who provided the list of FOI requests to the Russell panel. The omission of the most important FOI request from the list discredits the panel. Simply following the thread might actually unravel everything. If nothing else, faling to assess the most important breach should be something that is brought up with Chris Huhne in the House.

Nov 27, 2011 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

In the late 90's early 2000's I worked for a company that was fined several hundred million euros for corruption (bribery in Africa and Middle East). Thereafter it was a sackable offence to delete emails and all hard discs (even those replaced due to mechanical failure) were supposed to be retained. Re-issued hardware had replacement new harddrives.

I was made surplus over 4 years ago so don't know if that policy is still in place.

Perhaps all research established funded in whole or part by the tax payer should have this policy.

Nov 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Vernon E wrote

which is the exponential explosion of populations. The climate, with or without warming, hasn't the slightest relevance when we can already see the impacts of over-population right on our doorsteps.

Populations are not increasing "exponentially". Generally, with Africa the one exception, they aren't even at long term replacement levels any more. Populations continue to increase only thanks to the increase in life expectancy, not an excess of births.

I went to a talk be a top demographer recently. She explained that in 20 years time most of the world will start to see population decreases. Japan is already seeing it in fact.

We have enough food to feed the people, and a couple billion more. What we need to do is give them a chance to live a good life -- which means free governments. Particularly in Africa.

Please don't feed the Malthusian arguments, they have no factual basis. The problems in Africa are real, but they are political.

Nov 27, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Re: Dead Dog Bounce

I seem to recall that the list of FOI requests considered by the Russell inquiry did not list David Holland's request.

They accidentally left the request off the list. As a result the enquiry did not see any FOI requests pre dating the "delete any emails" request and were able to come to this conclusion:

10.7 A number of emails appeared to incite deletion or evidence deletion of other emails, although there was no evidence of emails being deleted that were the subject of a request for disclosure. We accept this shows insufficient awareness of and focus on obligations under the FoIA/EIR, but we welcome the finding that there was no attempt to delete information with respect to a request already made.

That fact that the only FOI request left off the list submitted to the Russell inquiry, by the CRU, was the one that prompted the "delete any email" request is pure coincidence.

Nov 27, 2011 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

it wld be best for grand marechal Rusell to step down so an investigation can be opened against him, now.

oh no wait! for that u need first a bit of whipping up by conniving MSMs..

Nov 28, 2011 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered Commentertutu

I think we should pause at this point to praise the wonder that is the internet. It fascinates me that so many ultra-modern, 'progressive' types are on the 'wrong' side in the climate wars. Witness Bill Gates, witness Ben Goldacre, witness Wired magazine, witness, well just about anyone young and techno-literate.

Perhaps they resent the fact that the web's power is manifesting itself in what they see as a negative cause, but to me, their failure to wise up to what will clearly be a fact of life, like it or not, from now on - the ability of the many to view, dissect, praise, ridicule, question and clarify what was previously only available to a self-selected chosen few will come back to haunt them.

How galling it will be for them to find that they've been outflanked by the likes of Lord Lawson.

Nov 28, 2011 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

David Holland,

Is this what you are looking for?

Nov 28, 2011 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJan

The Act reads:

77. (1) "Where

(a) a REQUEST for information HAS BEEN MADE to a public authority....(my emphasis)

This suggests that the remaining provions take effect only once a request has been made. Timing is therefore of the essence to the offence set out in sub-para (b).

I therefore concur with those that hold the view that it is not an offence (for the purposes of the Act) to delete documents/correspondence/emails in anicipation that a FOI request may at some future stage be forthcoming. It is an offence to this once a request has been made.

Nov 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

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