Climategate, Five Years Later

Calvin Beisner writes about the aftershocks of Climategate.


I’ve known Calvin Beisner for a long, long… long time. I’ve interviewed him and followed his efforts. I know that he’s a man who does his homework. He has to, on this issue, because he knows he’s going to “take fire” from a very passionate opposition.

All of that to say I know this post published by the Cornwall Alliance is good—“Three Great Legacies of Climategate,” by E. Calvin Beisner.

It’s been five years now since Climategate broke, and three years since Climategate II broke. The disclosures of thousands of emails, computer programs, and other documents from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia revealed scandalous scientific misconduct of monumental proportions—enough that it has crippled the credibility of an entire field of science (paleoclimatology) and seriously tarnished the reputations of the inner cadre of researchers in it.

Climategate I crippled treaty negotiations at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) 15 in Copenhagen, which I attended. Climategate II crippled them again at COP-17 in Durban. With COP-20 now underway in Lima, Peru, intending to lay the groundwork for a binding global agreement at COP-21 next year in Paris to reduce global warming by curbing carbon dioxide emissions, it seems appropriate to review the three great legacies of Climategate.

I’ve read hundreds of articles on Climategate and almost all of the first batch and hundreds of the second batch of the emails, including an exceptionally helpful collection and analysis of the first batch by physicist John Costella. Like many others, I’ve been stunned at the heights of mendacity, hubris, bullying, collusion, and contempt for the law, for truth and fairness, for fellow scientists, and for fellow human beings the documents revealed. In reading through the emails, one feels the need every once in a while to take a bath.

Perhaps most ironic—but why should it surprise?—is that the bullying disclosed in Climategate continued in efforts to squelch the spread of the damning information. Gavin Schmidt, of global warming true believers’ RealClimate, emailed blogger Lucia Liljegren saying,

As I am certain you are aware, hacking into private emails is very illegal. If legitimate, your scoop was therefore almost certainly obtained illegally . . . . you . . . might end up being questioned as part of any investigation that might end up happening. I don’t think that bloggers are shielded under any press shield laws and so, if I were you, I would not post any content, nor allow anyone else to do so.

Aside from his unsupported assumption that the emails were hacked rather than leaked from inside CRU—an assumption that still lacks any evidence—Schmidt should have known that emails by researchers as part of their work under government grants are not private but are subject to Freedom of Information Acts in both the U.S. and the U.K.—which indeed they were ruled, but too late to be of use, after investigation in the U.K. But when you’re trying to intimidate a foe, who cares about truth? Though he wrote “If legitimate,” Schmidt also almost certainly knew the emails were legitimate. Someone had managed to post them (albeit briefly) on RealClimate, and Schmidt had been able to examine them before he wrote to Liljegren. Many were his own.

Beisner goes on to spell out the three legacies.

The Global Warming/Climate Change crowd is filled with countless “Grubers” willing to sell their souls for another research grant, and/or to support their ideology–even at the cost of their integrity and the truth. Don’t buy the climate lie.