“SKEPTICS, SHOW US YOUR EMAILS: ‘turn-about’ is fair play.” Mickey Glantz, DAY 4 at COP 15

Written by M. Glantz. Posted in All Fragilecologies

Published on December 12, 2009 with 19 Comments

Let’s be honest. We have all said things on email ranging fro m serious to silly to stupid. We have all sent curt responses based on the fact that those receiving it understand the context of the abbreviated message. I am not condoning or excusing the sometimes dumb, sometimes uncaring and sometimes deceptive comments that have appeared in the so called “climategate” so called “scandal”. That situation will be sorted out by others, invesitgative committees most likely. Yes, the emails were illegally hacked. Nevertheless, they are now public. So, the public will read them and they have through the media. E-mailing has its consequences.

Thank you Bizarro. All scientists, global warming hawks and deniers should have paid attention to your message

Thank you Bizarro. All scientists, global warming hawks and deniers should have paid attention to your message


There is no question in my mind that the integrity of both the scientists and of email security has been damaged. Others will assess that level of impact. But here i want to call for a level playing field. It’s a good faith challenge to the climate skeptics who are using climategate to discredit the science of climate change, though they cannot discredit impacts of a changing climate on people today and in the future.

I call upon the climate change skeptics, political, scientific and media to share with the world a block of their unbroken years-long chain of emails about climate change . I am asking them to do this on a voluntary basis in order to show us that they are super human and do not share the  human frailty of ‘loose lips’ that the rest of humankind is subect to.

Doing so would provide outsiders an even broader context in which we can evaluate the content of the emails that had been hacked and released from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia [and also at Penn State]. Let society be the judge about the words and motives of all involved in the climate change issue at the political, scientific and media levels, and let society be the judge on the merits of the finding and interpretation of the science of climate change.

After all, isn’t turn about fair play? or what is good for the goose should be good for the gander as well, no?


There are currently 19 Comments on “SKEPTICS, SHOW US YOUR EMAILS: ‘turn-about’ is fair play.” Mickey Glantz, DAY 4 at COP 15. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Meteorologists used a “trick” in order to hide that the temperature is actually getting colder!

    • Dear Bjorn, by any chance are you related to Erik Palmen?

      as for your comment on this editorial. I am not sure where you get your ‘evidence’ that the planet is cooling. there are continued signs of the impacts of a warmer atmosphere worldwide. the emails did not derail reality. I do agree though that the emails made stupid, unforgiving even, comments about other people with whom these IPCC scientists disagreed. it questions the peer review process in general and even challenges the elevated status that physical scientists receive in our society. I have only worked on the 1st IPCC and declined to work on the others for political reasons. nevertheless, i do lean toward the science (observations) that shows global warming is in progress despite occasional anomalies suggesting the contrary.

      thanks for your perspective. can you fill it in with information to support it?

      mickey glantz (please revisit the fragilecologies website for “a perfect job in an imperfect place”)

  2. As far as the “show us your emails” challenge, this comment at the skeptical blog “the Air Vent” by Harold Vance might be of interest.

    “Michael Glantz doesn’t seem to understand that the skeptics have their conversations in public — typically in the comments sections in blogs. Anyone can read what they are saying to each other. Messages, data, methods, codes, etc. are generally shared freely… Full disclosure is built into the system so to speak. For Glantz to crow that private citizens should be required to disclose their already public work product is pretty ludicrous.”


    • thanks for your comment. but i have to ask if you are really serious that skeptics’ emails are all out in the open? to me that is an incredible assertion, science aside. i’d like to see some of the emails between some of the guys i know, like michaels and coal companies or exxon and other skeptics. playing up the uncertanties, only is playing politics not science. scientific inquiry is always about uncertanties and reducing them to zero. i do not expect that will happen with climate change science.

      i do not condone using words or actions like hiding, or being gleeful about an opponent’s death. i certainly have no dog in the fight but i would like to see how honest are clean skeptic emails are as they refer to schneider or hansen among others.

      i ask you to tell me what in theory might it take to get you to switch sides on the global warming issue? what evidence would you need? answer that please.

      • Response in the comments at “the Air Vent.”

        • dear amac,

          it might surprise you that i agree with everything that you said. i was fired from ncar, a bastion of the climate science, for what i would all being objective and questioning model output (though i do believe in global warming). i am interested in good science as are you. i do believe that many in the climate science community including at nsf and the ipcc have chosen to ‘make a circle with the wagons” and lay low for a while the debate [one-sided really; no science responses to the issues of concern] passes over. they do not realize the deeper implications for science in general (peer review, different results from different statistical methods, etc). i do not like the word ‘deniers’, a relatively recent fabrication to paint opposing views in a certain way. it is ok to challenge the science in order to get better science.

          my concern about looking at other emails of say michaels , etc is meant to find out about their support for activities to challenge those “satanic gases”
          a review of history of comments by the so called skeptics shows that their arguments changed as new scientific information and observations appeared. i found that interesting.

          truth is i focus on climate variability and extremes in developing countries nad have done so for 40 years or so. i can assure you if people cannot cope with those aspects of climate today they will not be prepared to do so if the climate keeps on warming throughout the century.

          if you want insight into my view of a lone senior social scientist in a climate center see www,fragilecologies.com and click on “a perfect job in an impefect place”.

          thanks for the thoughtful assessment you wrote above. mickey

          • Thanks in turn for your thoughtful essay.

            We (you?) seem to have travelled pretty far in the comments. Away from the idea that “Skeptics, show us your emails” would be in some way fair play. Or useful. Or even interesting–per Jeff Id’s comment and linked blog.

  3. Some people left comments at tAV so I thought it might be worth checking out your post. You’ve missed an important point.

    I (like climate audit) do almost everything in public so when something is wrong, it’s challenged in moments. It’s simply impossible to eliminate points, make up fake data or hide the decline.

    Try posting a bad equation or bit of code in the comments at CA and you’ll find out usually in under an hour about it. I know this first hand. Do you have any idea how long it would take for Steve M to be slaughtered if he did bad math in a post?

    My last post had too much slope in the result for skeptics, I was told several times that it confirmed hadcrut – not a denial post. I didn’t agree because the grid weighting wasn’t fair to the SH which has far less warming, when it is though, it very well might confirm the replication of CRU but it’s a perfect illustration of the difference in thought process.

    If it doesn’t match CRU because it has a mistake, I’m going to be tossed under the nearest set of tires by the readers faster than you can blink. Skeptics are pretty well skeptical of well…. everything. And rightly so.

    The scientists were not honest in their presentation of fact. They were not open with their methods or data. They have been shown in some cases to have an agenda first mentality. All of this is impossible on an unmoderated blog — try it.

    • hi,
      i think your comment is excellent. thanks.
      i worked at ncar for over 34 years and saw what happened to results that did not fall into an expected range; often it had to be reworked to fit into the range.

      the bigger impact i hope will be on the ipcc structure and function. several lead authors have already been on 2-3 of the ipcc assessments. can we expect them to admit a past oversight or error? i think the ipcc has to change these lead authors to get new blood into the leadership. i imagine some of those regulars will be in the 5th ipcc assessment. but should they be?


  4. My understanding is that these E-mails were taken (hacked, freed; depending) from an East Anglia University server. If so, I don’t think they are private.

    My experience is to have no privacy expectation on a work email account; I’ve a former employer who read over peoples accounts. This is publicly funded science, so the emails are public. As you said, emails have consequences.

    I’ve not read them all, but what I’ve seen published is germaine to climate science – nothing intimately embarrassing- marital / drinking/ legal / drug problems, disorderly kids, that kind of thing.

    Lastly, I and most people I know write in our emails what we actually mean – embarrassing or not. I’m distressed that so many defend the authors by explaining that the words don’t really mean what they mean – but that’s a different topic.

    • hi kevindennis33, well as you may have read, ncar claims it is not a government lab and therefore does not have o show anything to the public — even though almost all of its $140 million each year is from nsf or government labs. i also think you are correct noting that most people say hat they are thinking at the moment when they write an email (one friend told me today he waits 24 hours before sending an email reply!). emails are up for grabs, if someone wants to grab them. mhg

  5. Re: #6 by mglantz —

    You misunderstand. I don’t claim that “skeptics’ emails are all out in the open.” You have yet to meet the burden of showing that this might be an interesting issue, even hypothetically. The skeptics whose writings I am interested in are McIntyre, McKitrick, Jeff Id, Lucia, and some of their commenters–as far as insights they have to offer concerning the strengths and weaknesses of public understanding of climate science.

    What do you suppose these skeptics have written privately that would be more worthwhile than their blog postings, etc.?

    Here’s what I see, from the outside.

    Groups of like-minded scientists have published a series of articles in the peer-reviewed literature and established a consensus on paleoclimate, the instrumental temperature record, and similar things.

    Some people have challenged the science behind some of these assertions.

    The response of the climate-science community has been disdainful and at variance with the norms of science. In my opinion.

    The Climategate hack/whistleblowing offers direct evidence in support of that assertion. But there was plenty of other evidence to that effect, anyway.

    There are two issues.

    (1) Who’s right, in terms of the reality of paleoclimate, the interpretation of the instrumental record, the extent of direct and indirect temperature forcing by rising CO2, and other matters?

    I don’t take a position on that. I don’t know enough.

    (2) Who’s right, in terms of how science should be practiced, in terms of the philosophy of hypothesis-forming and testing, verification, replication of work, archiving of information, and handling of disputes, e.g. as far as access to data and computer codes? Who’s heeding the sorts of cautions that Karl Popper and even Richard Feynmann (cargo-cult science) wrote?

    That one’s easy. The leading lights of climatology are in the wrong, and the skeptics are in the right.

    The consensus AGW position has earned itself an epic Fail in its arrogant dismissal of skeptics.

    > I ask you to tell me what in theory might it take to get you to switch sides on the global warming issue? What evidence would you need? Answer that please.

    Mainstream climatology has to clean house so that its work can become evaluable. Perhaps it’s credible, perhaps it’s right. Under the present circumstances, who can say?

    — Make a committment to archive data, and make the archives freely and easily accessible. With the Web, this has become trivially easy.

    — Make the archived data interpretable by archiving metadata. E.g., tree ring widths associated with tree IDs, locations, pictures. E.g., average temperatures associated with station IDs, with mins and maxes, raw data given along with adjustments, rationales for direction and extent of adjustments.

    — The climate community takes the first steps to separate the practice of advocacy from that of science. Scientists quest after truth, not after unanimity that will drive the preferred social policy.

    — Fix peer review. Raise it from its present disgraceful level, so that it’s merely plagued with the same sorts of problems that are faced in other areas of the physical sciences.

    One prominent test case is Mann et al (PNAS, 2008)’s use of the Lake Korttajarvi (Tiljander) lakebed varve proxies. Mann inverted at least two of them. This highlights some very serious problems in their methodology and in their paleoclimate reconstructions. When called on this mistake by McIntyre and McKitrick, he denied it. What’s amazing is the complicity of the rest of the climate and paleoclimate community in this outrageous conduct by Mann and his co-authors.

    Name for me *one* prominent scientist who has publically challenge Mann et al. to correct their errors? Name for me *one* prominent scientist who’s pointed out that adherence to good practices and stated journal policy would allow others clear access to their data and methods, and thus enable replication?

    [Crickets chirping]

    You won’t. Because you can’t. Nobody has stepped forward.

    The woes of mainstream climate science aren’t the results of actions taken by skeptics (or, using the intentionally offensive term preferred by Mann, Jones, Schmidt, and others, “denialists”). The injuries are self-inflicted.

    By the way, I’ll cross-post this at “the Air Vent.” Too much experience with writing thoughtful on-topic remarks and having them sometimes fail moderation. It’s frustrating, and leads to a non-level playing field–as this only seems to befall skeptical comments submitted to pro-consensus blogs.

  6. Sorry, that is not how it works.
    But good luck!

  7. The big problem with extrapolating from a tiny selection of emails to an entire discipline is just that. I’ve heard that the total email count was on the order of 9 million. We’ve seen only 0.01% of the total, and I believe that those that were released were designed to paint CRU and its collaborators in as poor a light as possible.

    This was a dirty trick, and it’s unfortunate that scientists have had to learn the hard way that they have too much naivete regarding how the rough worlds of politics and business work. When certain interests perceive that their billions in revenue and profits are under threat by science, they will go to almost any lengths to protect those billions.

    • not all scientists are naive about how the real world works. other than that you may be right that CRU was hacked to embarrass it, or its leader or the science. i assume we’ll learn more when some investigations are done.

      • What scientists and other honorable people expect is a fair fight. What we’ve gotten with “climategate” is despicably dirty.

  8. Mickey, re: your question @ #6.

    Having been only delving into this issue for myself the last 3 months, I am still on the fence (but the legs are on the warmer side 🙂 ). But i do visit pro and anti sites alike. I try to ask honest questions and follow to papers/sites that I am directed to. Most of the papers I can only read the abstracts and conclusions, as my math will not allow me to follow most of the text.

    I feel that I have a good grasp as a layman for the physics behind CO2 warming as it has been explained quite clearly on more then one site. In my travels I find that most skeptics do not dispute this evidence. Where the break comes is in the degree of the CO2 mechanism.

    Right now, what I “see” is that the CO2 mechanism does have an effect, but in my mind, not as bad as stated by the IPCC.
    There are still to many mysteries to the science of climate to put all this warming on the CO2’s back at this time. Land use, black dust, PDO, the sun, just a natural cycle, etc.

    I think that it will take another 5-10 years before we can say honestly as to what are the major drivers of our climate.

    But you have to remember, I am just a plumber, but one who does care about this and the enviroment.

    • hi, i used to divide people with regard to their perspective on global warming issue into hawks, doves and owls (there are also ostriches.
      the hawks really believe strongly that global warming evidence is everywhere and human thumbprint is now clear. at the other end of hte spectrum are those who do not believe in the science of global warming or that people have the ‘power’ to alter the global climate system inadvertently by GHG emissions of all kinds. besides they have argued in the past the temperature mechanism of the planet will correct itself back to cooler temps. i think many people (including scientists) are owls — still not sure, still uncertain about the uncertainties in the scientific understanding. But, the owls may be leaning toward one end of the spectrum or the other. meanwhile the climate warms up, and changes are occurring in various locations (sea level, arctic sea ice, warm temp. ecosystems moving upslope, glaciers melting, disease vector moving away from the equator). What is a person on the street to believe? i happen to believe is the precautionary principle “better safe than sorry”.

      keep tracking the issue!

  9. mglantz :
    hi kevindennis33, well as you may have read, ncar claims it is not a government lab and therefore does not have o show anything to the public — even though almost all of its $140 million each year is from nsf or government labs. i also think you are correct noting that most people say hat they are thinking at the moment when they write an email (one friend told me today he waits 24 hours before sending an email reply!). emails are up for grabs, if someone wants to grab them. mhg

    Whether or not someone NCAR “claims” that it is not a “government lab”, they most certainly WERE subject to FOIA requests.

    I’ve been working on FOIA computers for as long as there’s been a Freedom of Information Act in the US (1966 or so) and can guaran-dam-tee you that we have NO expectation of privacy on them. We are routinely warned not to use e-mail for personal communications because those e-mails could easily end up in a FOIA data dump.

    There is no such thing as “privacy” on a FOIA computer.

    If you want private e-mail and files, do not accept public funding.

    Or keep your data public from the start.

    Either way works. Having to have these records removed forcibly by a hacker/whistle-blower is the worst part of this entire episode. The data should have ALL been available on a public server from the start.

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