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Climate Denial - A Criminal Enterprise?

by ask Sun Dec 6th, 2009 at 08:24:33 PM EST

Cross-posted from BT.

The media has been abuzz the last week after the hacking of the e-mail server at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The e-mails were released on the web and climate deniers were quick to claim that they demonstrated that climate scientists have manipulated and/or suppressed data and documentation to further an agenda exaggerating - or even fabricating the impact of climate change.
These are ridiculous claims and the e-mails have been taken out of context, however, the university acted quickly to establish an independent inquiry into the allegations and into the circumstances of the hack.

Sir Muir Russell will head an independent review into the e-mails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich, UK.

Sir Muir, a former civil servant, will look into allegations that have arisen from the security breach.

The review will examine whether there is evidence of manipulation or suppression of data "at odds with acceptable scientific practice". [...]

Less attention has been given to two attempts at compromising the work of Andrew Weaver at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria. It was recently revealed that (the Guardian):

Attempts have been made to break into the offices of one of Canada's leading climate scientists, it was revealed yesterday. The victim was Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and a key contributor to the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In one incident, an old computer was stolen and papers were disturbed.

In addition, individuals have attempted to impersonate technicians in a bid to access data from his office, said Weaver. The attempted breaches, on top of the hacking of files from British climate researcher Phil Jones, have heightened fears that climate-change deniers are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow.

"The key thing is to try to find anybody who's involved in any aspect of the IPCC and find something that you can … take out of context," said Weaver. The prospect of more break-ins and hacking has forced researchers to step up computer security.

This makes it increasingly clear that the hack at CRU was not the 'work' of a concerned whistleblower, but part of a criminal scheme to discredit the climate science consensus that climate change is a reality and that it is in part caused by human activity. It is also symptomatic that these actions to discredit climate science have happened just as the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is about to start.

Senator Boxer (D-Calif.) seems to be entirely correct:

Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that the recently released e-mails, showing scientists allegedly overstating the case for climate change, should be treated as a crime.

"You call it 'Climategate'; I call it 'E-mail-theft-gate,'" she said during a committee meeting. "Whatever it is, the main issue is, Are we facing global warming or are we not? I'm looking at these e-mails, that, even though they were stolen, are now out in the public."
Boxer said her committee may hold hearings into the matter as its top Republican, Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), has asked for, but that a criminal probe would be part of any such hearings.

And she made this statement even before the news of the transgressions at the University of Victoria were released.

We do not know (yet) who were behind the criminal activities that occurred at the CRU and at the University of Victoria, let us hope that thorough criminal probes will be made into all such attacks.

In the mean time, here is a reminder of the array of organizations that are benefiting from stirring up doubt and 'skepticism':

The below list/briefs are taken from Kevin Grandia's blog at Desmogblog.com - I hope he doesn't mind the extensive quote. He blogged the University of Victoria story on Friday night - Breaking: Hackers attempt to access Canadian government Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow: owns and operate ClimateDepot.com, which has been a main clearinghouse for the right-wing climategate echo chamber. ClimateDepot.com is managed by Marc Morano, former aide to Republican Senator James Inhofe. CFACT has received grants from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and well-known right-wing foundations like the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

American Enterprise Institute: Offered to pay "experts" $10,000 to write papers that countered the IPCC reports. AEI has received close to half a million from oil-giant ExxonMobil, former Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond sits on AEI's board of directors.

Media Research Center: run by Brett Bozell, this group also operates the popular right-wing blog, Newsbusters.org. The Media Research Center has received over $257,000 from oil-giant ExxonMobil since 1998.

Cato Institute: Is the main front group for the most prolific climate denier, Patrick Michaels. Cato is the second largest recipient of funding the foundations run by Koch Industries Inc. (the largest private energy company in the United States).

Heartland Institute: Organizes a "denier conference" every year for the past three years. Used to receive funding from ExxonMobil, still recieve grants from tobacco companies and are also a major recipient of grants from the foundations run by Koch Industries Inc. (the largest private energy company in the United States).

Heritage Foundation: Heritage is massive and operates on about $50 million a year. They have received significant funding from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and other fossil fuel companies.

National Center for Policy Analysis: the NCPA is a small, but very vocal Dallas, Texas-based freemarket think tank and has received over $540,900 from oil giant ExxonMobil since 1998.

Competitive Enterprise Institute: The CEI is well-known for its public efforts to aggressively counter the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change, especially after their infamous set of television ads with the tag line "C02, We Call it Life." Since 1998, the CEI has received over $2 million in funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.

(Each of the above are linked in Kevin's story.)

UN hits back at climate sceptics amid e-mails row
The UN's official panel on climate change has hit back at sceptics' claims that the case for human influence on global warming has been exaggerated.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it was "firmly" standing by findings that a rise in the use of greenhouse gases was a factor.

Met Office to publish climate change data amid fraud claims

The Met Office is to publish some of the data it uses to analyse climate change after allegations that researchers have manipulated the evidence supporting manmade global warming.

Information collected by more than 1,000 weather stations from across the world would be released next week, a Met Office spokesman said.

The move follows the online publication of emails and other material stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Climate change sceptics claim the material shows that the evidence to support manmade global warming has been exaggerated.

Bonus link - enjoy reading:
Coalition of denial: The sceptics who are trying to reshape the climate debate

by ask on Sun Dec 6th, 2009 at 08:28:43 PM EST
Thanks for this.  I hope Boxer does pursue this.  I wonder if there are or have been any similar attempts in the USA. Criminal conspiracy might well turn out to be the appropriate characterization for what has happened and appears still to be happening. There is certainly a clear and powerful motive present. But jurisdictional issues will likely hamper what ever Boxer does unless she is provided with evidence of involvement by US organizations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 7th, 2009 at 12:54:23 AM EST

An IPCC scientist is accusing Russian hackers of stealing the East Anglia emails.

For more perspective, here's an article on manufacturing denial from cigarettes to CFCs to climate change.  Same playbook, some of the same players, different issues:
manufactured denial industry from cigarettes to CFCs to climate change

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Mon Dec 7th, 2009 at 02:58:56 PM EST
Perhaps a sufficient "reward" would motivate someone to provide anonymous evidence of who paid for the hack. Wouldn't that be sweet! After all, business is business.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 7th, 2009 at 05:13:15 PM EST
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