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Police are climate change experts

The BBC has picked up on the Domestic Extremist angle to Climategate in an article posted in the regional news section of their website.

A police unit set up to support forces dealing with extremism in the UK is helping investigate the leaking of climate change data in Norfolk.

A spokesman for the unit said: "At present we have two police officers assisting Norfolk with their investigation, and we have also provided computer forensic expertise.

"While this is not strictly a domestic extremism matter, as a national police unit we had the expertise and resource to assist with this investigation, as well as good background knowledge of climate change issues in relation to criminal investigations."

Read that last sentence again. Can they really mean that? The National Domestic Extremist Team has background knowledge of climate change issues? 


How did Mosher get the Climategate files?

New revelations of the circumstances surrounding the escape of the climategate emails and data seem imminent. Patrick Courrielche has a three part article, the second part of of which has just been published. Taking us through how some of the key climate bloggers were informed of the whereabouts of the files, and how they were at first missed, he then leaves us with this devastating cliffhanger...

As anyone who really researches Climategate will learn, the name Steven Mosher continues to pop up. When the story broke, it was Mosher who drew attention to the comment at the Air Vent. He was also the man that alerted Lucia of The Blackboard blog to the files. And he was the first to alert followers of ClimateAudit with a series of posts that included some of the emails.

Why was Steven Mosher so ubiquitous when it came to the breaking of the Climategate story? Because Steven Mosher had the files several days before they reached the internet.




Just saying no

While we're on the subject of hyperactive government and that kind of thing, it's worth remembering that sometimes you just have to say "no" to the powers that be.




Richard North's revelations about Rajendra Pachauri, now  apparently going under the monicker of "Patchygate", have been delayed due to bad weather - really!

That said, they should be worth waiting for:

We have some stunning revelations to make – we have clearly landed some blows and there are white flags flying in certain quarters, with "Patchy", as he likes to call himself, squealing with indignation about a "vendetta."



Mann interview at

There is a very interesting article at, featuring Michael Mann and Doug Nychka among others. Nychka is a statistician who is closely connected with the Hockey Team and was a member of the NAS panel that investigated the Hockey Stick.

Choice quote:

Nychka, who works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said the [Hockey Stick] became so controversial because it was misinterpreted as proof that humans cause global warming.

This misinterpretation was of course due to, among others, IPCC WG1 head, Sir John Houghton.



Parsing the police

Here's my reading of the situation.

I first contacted Norfolk constabulary a week ago and was told by a very helpful press officer that there was no further statement at that time, but that I should keep getting in touch for further information. When I asked yesterday if they had at least ascertained if there was a leak or a hacking of the UEA servers, I was sent the statement which has caused so much interest. In the comments that thread, Jeff Id states that he has heard from Norfolk police too.

My reading of this is that the investigation has barely got off the ground, and some action was perhaps prompted by my questions. Six weeks on from the breaking of Climategate, it might be seen as slightly embarrassing for the police that they had yet to determine what it is they are investigating, so they have now leapt into action. Jeff appears to be the only prominent climate blogger contacted directly. As the person who first received the link to the leaked information, he is an obvious first port of call for the police to get some evidence to point them to the answer to the leak/hack question.

The involvement of the Domestic Extremism Police is probably actually predictable. As watchers of the deteriorating civil liberties situation in the UK all know, powers granted to the police in the wake of 9/11 in order to fight terrorism are routinely used in the UK for minor crimes. By bringing in these specialists, Norfolk Police will be able to monitor emails, demand passwords and cryptographic keys and so on. That these powers are out of all proportion to the alleged crime is of course of no concern to law enforcement officers.

Meanwhile, the involvement  of the Information Commissioner is interesting too. The ICO's inquiry probably has two distinct focuses. Firstly they will  be investigating if UEA staff were involved in withholding information subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act. For the benefit of overseas readers, the latter relates to the maintenance of personal information.

But while there are obvious concerns over the conduct of UEA staff, it is likely that the ICO will also be looking at whether the hack/leak itself also breached the DPA. While the vast majority of the emails are not personal in nature, there are odd snippets of personal information among all the talk of hiding declines and nobbling journals. It is likely that these would concern the ICO.

I wonder how long it will be before we get a determination on the hack/leak question? Perhaps some of my IT-savvy readers can suggest how difficult it is to determine if one's server has been hacked?



++++Statement from Norfolk Police++++

This morning I contacted Norfolk Constabulary with a view to finding out if they had yet ascertained whether the breach at the Climatic Research Unit was a leak or a hack. I have just received a response which is frankly amazing:

Norfolk Constabulary continues its investigations into criminal offences in relation to a data breach at the University of East Anglia.  During the enquiry officers have been working in liaison with the Office of the Information Commissioner and with officers from the National Domestic Extremism Team. The UEA continues to co-operate with the enquiry however major investigations of this nature are of necessity very detailed and as a consequence can take time to reach a conclusion. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

The National Domestic Extremism Team? Words fail me.



Something's up

The Hockey Stick Illusion currently has an Amazon sales rank of around 200, its highest to date. Yesterday it was at something like 17,000.

What happened?



An interesting take on a climate poll

The Von Storch & Bray annual poll of opinion among climatologists is always interesting. Here's an new and interesting take on it by Joseph Bast:

Thirty-five percent [of climatologists] responded “very much” when asked the following question: “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?” On a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 being “not at all” and 7 being “very much,” 83 percent answered 5, 6, or 7. Only 1 percent said “not at all” and only 11 percent answered 1, 2, or 3. Answers to the question “How convinced are you that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity?” were similar.

However, the Bray and von Storch survey also reveals that very few of these scientists trust climate models — which form the basis of claims that human activity could have a dangerous effect on the global climate. Fewer than 3 or 4 percent said they “strongly agree” that computer models produce reliable predictions of future temperatures, precipitation, or other weather events. More scientists rated climate models “very poor” than “very good” on a long list of important matters, including the ability to model temperatures, precipitation, sea level, and extreme weather events.

Given that the reliability of the predictions from climate models is the chief evidence for the global warming hypothesis, this is, as Bast notes, a very surprising set of opinions for climatologists to hold.



Is this a clue?

Among the recent spate of Freedom of Information requests rejected by CRU is this one, by a gentleman called John Walker, asking for correspondence between Phil Jones and the University of East Anglia FoI officer, Dave Palmer. In the light of the climategate emails hinting that CRU staff conspired with UEA FoI staff to withhold information, this seems eminently sensible.

The reasons for rejecting the request were threefold, but the one that I find interesting is this:

It is our belief that [the FoI exemption for information pertaining to a criminal investigation] applies because pursuant to an investigation carried out by the Norfolk Constabulary, this information is relevant to a current investigation by police forces into a possible criminal offence. Disclosure of any information relevant to that investigation at this point could or would prejudice the ongoing investigation of this matter.

At the moment, we don't know if the police are investigating a hacking of the CRU servers or if it is a case of a leaking of information by someone internal to UEA. But wait! If, as CRU seem to suggest, the information was hacked, what possible relevance could correspondence between Jones and Palmer be to the inquiry? If on the other hand the information was compiled for an FoI request that was subsequently rejected, then it makes perfect sense that the Jones/Palmer correspondence is relevant.



No more democracy

Ecofascism is a word that is bandied about with gay abandon by many on the sceptic side, but it may well be a term that finds greater currency in the near future. Why do I say that? Read Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr on the impatience of climatologists with the democratic process and the admiration some of them express for authoritarian forms of government.

...the times are changing. Within the broad field of climatology and climate policy one is able to discern growing concerns about the virtues of democracy... it is an inconvenient democracy, which is identified as the culprit holding back action on climate change. As Mike Hulme has noted , it can be frustrating to learn that citizens have minds of their own.

Leading climate scientists insist that humanity is at a crossroads. A continuation of present economic and political trends leads to disaster if not collapse. To create a globally sustainable way of life, we immediately need in the words of German climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a "great transformation." What exactly is meant by the statement is vague. Part, if not the heart of this great transformation is in the eyes of some climate scientists as well as other scientists part of the great debate about climate change a new political regime and forms of governance: "We need an authoritarian form of government in order to implement the scientific consensus on greenhouse gas emissions" according to the Australian scholars David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith their book The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy. The well-known climate researcher James Hansen adds resignedly and frustrated as well as vaguely, "the democratic process does not work". In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, James Lovelock emphasizes that we need to abandon democracy in order to meet the challenges of climate change head on. We are in a state of war. In order to pull the world out of its state of lethargy, the equivalent of a global warming "nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech is urgently needed.



BBC to review climate coverage - so what?

According to the Daily Mail, the BBC Trust is to review the corporation's coverage of, among other issues, climate change.

The BBC Trust today announced it would carry out the probe into the 'accuracy and impartiality' of its output in this increasingly controversial area.

The review comes after repeated criticism of the broadcaster's handling of green issues. It has been accused of acting like a cheerleader for the theory that climate change is a man-made phenomenon.

This is, frankly, a sideshow. Complaints about the BBC's handling of climate change have been brushed aside by the BBC Trust time after time. They are simply going through the motions in order to fend off complaints. No heads will roll, no changes will be made. Richard Black will continue to shut down his blog comments whenever there is a sceptic story in the air.

The only possible resolution to this problem is to close the BBC down.



Are the Japanese being too gentle with the greens?

From the comments to the previous thread, this video of the anti-whaling vessel, the Sea Shepherd, in action.

Crazy people. I'm no maritime expert, but I think it fair to say that people could have died in these circumstances. I would have thought the Japanese would be quite justified in taking much stronger action than the use of a water cannon.



Did anti-whalers trash their own boat?

I chanced upon this video of the anti-whaling powerboat Adi Gil being chopped in half by a Japanese security vessel. This was a bit unfortunate for a vessel which apparently cost $1.5 million.

But something intrigued me about the video. Just watch the back of the powerboat. Did they accelerate just as the Japanese crossed their bow? Could  they really have staged this incident to provoke a reaction? Could be.



What I want for Christmas...

...and it will probably take that long for it to be available in the UK, but doesn't the Skiff e-reader look sexy?