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« A study in groupthink | Main | More Fakegate bits and pieces »

The IPCC's private portals

Readers may remember that several months ago, Chris Horner of the CEI reported that people working for the IPCC had set up private portals, apparently to allow them to communicate without being subject to FOI legislation. The original story at WUWT is here and Horner does not mince his words, noting the parallels with the Abramoff case.

Horner responded to this news by issuing a FOIA request for any related correspondence held by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and a partial response has now been received. Roughly two thirds of the responsive documents are being withheld.

The most interesting record released is the one extracted below:

From: (bl(6)
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 10:56 AM
To: Duffy, Philip
Cc: (b)(6) (b)(6)
Subject: OSTP follow up
Follow Up Flag: Follow up
Flag Status: Red

Dear Phil -

Here' s the access credentials to both the ARS Author Portal and the SREX Author Portal. Yes, intentionally similar. They do the same thing!

https : //www . ipcc-wg2 . gov/ARS/author/index .php
username (b)(6)
password ~ (b)(6)

https://www . ipcc- wg2 .gov/e xtremes-sr/author/index . html
username (b)(6)
password ~ (b)(6)

Yes , <ipcc-wg2 .gov> -- both public and password-protected pages -- reside on virtual machines on Carnegie VMWare physical hosts .

Sorry for the delay getting this info to you. Particularly busy time . And will remain this way through February of next year (SREX book launch) when we will get a very slight breather. It's worth reminding everyone that the TSU is a VERY SMALL operation ....

I  'cc' Chris only to make him aware of the request for info. Chris, no action required.


P.S. You should read the status report for the AR5 prepared for IPCC-XXXIV for an overview of what is going on.
P.S.2. You should read the distributed cost proposals (FY10/FY11) and annual reports to see our work plan and deliverables (milestones).

> Hi Dave , Thanks for your time earlier this evening . In addition for
> asking for guest access to the portal , I want to confirm that you
> indicated that the portal resides at Stanford on hardware owned by
> Carnegie. Is that correct? Thanks again for your help. I'll see you in Kampala.
> Phil
> Philip B. Duffy
> Senior Policy Analyst
> Office of Science and Technology
> President Washington DC . 20502
> (b)(6)

The discussion of the ownership of the hardware makes it It hard to avoid the impression that this does indeed represent an attempt to bypass FOI legislation, although the OSTP has denied that it is a communication channel, suggesting that it is only a repository for documents. These claims appear among the other papers disclosed.

The other point of note is that David Appell appears to be dogging Horner's every footstep, asking for copies of anything released to the CEI man. Nothing wrong with that of course, but interesting nevertheless.

The full document release is below.


OSTP disclosures

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  • Response
    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - The IPCC's private portals[...]

Reader Comments (40)

So presumably all work carried out for the IPCC is not within their norrmal working hours, otherwise they are still subject to FOI and possibly early retirement. Be interesting to find the date stamps on their moonlighting work

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMangoChutney

skilful and effective but with no sincerity or value

Looks like a gate, feels like a gate but can't be opened

deceiving people in a clever way in order to get what you want

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

This in reality is the beginning of Climategate III. Institutional attempts to avoid FOIA.

Funy how these very same scientists and bureaucrats are calling for complete openess on the part of climate sceptics but refuse to be open themselves about their own activities.

Creating back channels or private portals such as these is rank hypocrisy.

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Since when was it legal to conspire to evade legal obligations?

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers


Feb 25, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose


Feb 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill@talktalk

Hi Bish

If this is an attempt to avoid FOI then it's a pretty amateurish one, because the WG2 TSU also gave us copies of the WG2 Zero Order Drafts and other information from the author portal on a USB stick, which then counts as "information held" which can therefore be requested through FOI (to the Met Office).

(Whether it is actually provided in response to the FOI request is a different issue of course - see David Holland's ongoing appeal to see what has and has not been provided, and reasons why).



Feb 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts


Feb 25, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose


Feb 25, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

A further thought - the IPCC's USB sticks are not even password-protected, unlike Met Office ones which are not only password-protected but also destroy their contents if the password is entered incorrectly 10 times! (This is not an FOI-evasion tactic but a measure to protect sensitive information in response to too many MOD employees leaving laptops and USB sticks on trains!)

So if you ever find a USB stick with "IPCC" on it lying around, you're in..... :-)

That is why it is not in the least bit surprising to me that the ZODs got leaked. It would only take an author to leave the USB stick in his/her hotel room and a cleaner to find it, and Bob's your uncle!

Feb 25, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Nevertheless the email looks decidedly fishy IMHO.

Feb 25, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Dr Betts, I hope you are not fingering Bob Ward as the leaker of ZOD! :))

Feb 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


Ha, very good! :-)

Feb 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Since when was it legal to conspire to evade legal obligations?

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:55 AM | SayNoToFearmongers

The new US administration will have to apply RICO - Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - to sort this out. This is the reason why the act was passed, to root out organized and institutionalized crime and the profiteering from it.

Feb 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson



Don't go there!

Feb 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPerry

All this back channels private portals and dead drop intrigue.

Perhaps they're all licenced to shill.

Feb 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Since when was it legal to conspire to evade legal obligations?

Doesn't appear to matter, does it?

Feb 25, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Creating back channels or private portals such as these is rank hypocrisy.

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Mac

All of this intentional opaqueness by the IPCC contradicts their publicity statements about transparency and openness.

Their pretext of 'prepublication-work-in-progress' is no excuse for the opaqueness.

Then add the muzzling of reviews and reviewers to get a picture of controlled dialog within a closed intellectual/scientific environment.


Feb 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

OT, but on a visit to a local supermarket this morning I picked up a comic called 'New Scientist'. I think it was a comic....they seem to believe the fakegate documents are real....!

Feb 25, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterinterested bystander

The first link doesn't work anymore. The second one does, but the username/password combo is now invalid.

Feb 25, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterNukemHill

NukemHill -
If you look at the original document, you'll see that the username/password were not provided -- they've been redacted pursuant to section (b)(6) of the Freedom of Information Act. [Although that may not be apparent by just looking at the extract in the main post.] The extract also contains a typo in the first link, likely created by an OCR error; if you just copied/pasted the link, I'm not surprised that it failed.

Feb 25, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Am I the only one thinking anything done in the spare time outside of working hours by unpaid volunteers using small-operation systems, is obviously not going to produce the best science on any topic?

Feb 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

I just cant understand that these people still dont get it. The email address you use doesnt matter. Its the nature of the information that does. And so "back channels" are just as disclosable as others if the information is covered by FOI.

I never cease to be amazed that such, presumably, intelligent people as university professors, PhDs, etc., can be quite so thick.

Feb 25, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

Harold. Thanks. Hadn't realized that's what that referred to. In re-reading the snip, I see (b)(6) all over the place. Should have seen that the first time.

Feb 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterNukemHill

These missing emails are a travesty.

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commenteredward getty

If the science is so compelling, so unequivocal, and backed up by the vast majority of the world's climate scientists, why do they need to circumvent FOIA laws?

Feb 25, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterkramer


I never cease to be amazed that such, presumably, intelligent people as university professors, PhDs, etc., can be quite so thick.

Having a Ph.D. does not mean one has a lick of common sense. The extreme cases of this are technically known as idiot servant. The lesser form of the affliction is call "academic". These are people who can't make it in the work-a-day world and so go into academia.

Feb 26, 2012 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


Feb 26, 2012 at 3:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton


Feb 26, 2012 at 5:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


Feb 26, 2012 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton

Good grief, here we go again with the Eureka posse

Doug, if it was that easy mate we'd all be down the pub buying Richard Betts consolatory pints of Speckled Hen.


You will find that you will need to be a lot more specific if you wish to engage me in a proper physics argument.

Shove the pomposity up your Gleick.

Feb 26, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Radiative physics on the discussion board please.

Feb 26, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Well done, your Grace. On a Sunday, too.

Feb 26, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

By the way, Happy Birthday Dr. Judith!

Feb 26, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Only one part of that email worries me:

Yes , -- both public and password-protected pages -- reside on virtual machines on Carnegie VMWare physical hosts .

Why use a virtual machine? Because it's very easy to dispose of should the need arise. Essentially, this paragraph is saying "Don't worry about FOI, once we've finished we can delete everything in a few clicks of the mouse, 'as part of our routine housekeeping activities'."

Feb 26, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Sorensen

@ Feb 26, 2012 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra: a bit of arrant pedantry.

It is "idiot savant" not "servant"

Feb 26, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

The IPCC models make use of absorptivity measurements for the Earth's surface which were measured using visible light. But they apply them to far-IR radiation from the atmosphere, even though it is well known that absorptivity reduces very significantly for much lower temperature radiation. This is obviously important when determining the assumed warming effect of radiation from the atmosphere - which, by the way, is assumed to help the Sun with its warming every sunny morning - all quite against the Second Law of Thermodynamics which they think it isn't because somewhere on the other side of the Earth at night some radiation is turning it all into totally unphysical "net" radiation which cannot be a physical entity. But, never mind, I diverge.

The question is Can someone link me to any empirical measurement of absorptivity by the surface of radiation in the IR bands emitted by the atmosphere?

You'd kinda think the IPCC would have got this part sorted out before spending all that money on the models. So show me where they did - anybody!

Feb 27, 2012 at 5:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton

@Derek: you're probably worrying about nothing here; in all likeliehood everything they have in production is virtual machines, so this one is nothing special. It's helpful (to them) that it can be deleted at the flick of a switch, but I doubt that's the whole reason for doing it that way.

Feb 27, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

"idiot servant" sounds just right in the case of climate "science"

Feb 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito


IP Information for
IP Location: United States United States Palo Alto Stanford University
Resolve Host: ipcc.Stanford.EDU
IP Address: [Whois] [Reverse-Ip] [Ping] [DNS Lookup] [Traceroute]
Reverse IP: 2 websites use this address. (examples:

NetRange: -
NetHandle: NET-171-64-0-0-1
Parent: NET-171-0-0-0-0
NetType: Direct Assignment
RegDate: 1994-08-22
Updated: 2008-10-13

OrgName: Stanford University
Address: 241 Panama Street
Address: Pine Hall, room 125
City: Stanford
StateProv: CA
PostalCode: 94305-4102
Country: US
Updated: 2011-09-24

OrgTechHandle: RR959-ARIN
OrgTechName: Roberts, Rosalea
OrgTechPhone: +1-650-723-3352

OrgAbuseHandle: RR959-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Roberts, Rosalea
OrgAbusePhone: +1-650-723-3352

Feb 27, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

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