New Climate Change Hacking Event in Canada

By Chris Mooney | December 5, 2009 12:14 pm

In the run-up to Copenhagen, we have now seen a second apparent attempt to steal computer files from a climate change research center. This time, the research institute in question is the Centre for Climate Modelling at the University of Victoria, B.C., Canada. See here for the story in Canada’s National Post.

It is too soon to say what these events mean–they are being investigated. We do not whether the Canadian and British stories are related, though some will inevitably speculate.

To me, though, one thing is clear. The global warming story, which I have watched and covered since the year 2003, is moving to a very new and different place, with a dramatically increased level of chatter and frenzy as the frame changes and this ceases to be a story about science, and becomes one about scandal and wrongdoing. As a result, the whole issue feels on the verge of a new tipping point as we move into the two weeks of Copenhagen.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Energy, Environment, Global Warming

Comments (34)

  1. Gaythia

    Canadian scientist David Suzuki has a great series of posts on Copenhagen and the UN Climate Summit posted at:

    http://beta.davidsuzuki.org/projects/copenhagen/

    I believe that the best way to confront those that wish to block a climate agreement is to inform the public of the importance of this task.

    David Suzuki directs this message to Canadians:

    http://beta.davidsuzuki.org/learn/whats-at-stake-at-the-un-climate-summit/

  2. While Suzuki may be right on, his audience in the US is PBS and PBS would rather run yet another Jane Austen revival. In the mean time, Barbara Walters has both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin in her list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2009. Guess which one Fox News will report on.

    While Juliet Eilpren and David Fahrenthold show that WaPo can be objective, they still continue to print the drivel of George Will and ABC still lets Will have a seat at the table when climate change is to be discussed.

    The message that the public gets from Walters’s pop celebrity celebration will be a negative one for science.

    Chris, it is no longer a Republican War on Science. It is an irrational attack on all that science can provide, aided by every conspiracy theory movie / book / TV episode, abetted by those Lombardians for whom winning is the only thing, camouflaged by Un-Think Tanks like Americans for Tax Reform or Cato Institute.

    We can no longer count on the fact that the truth will out. We have to stop talking among ourselves and take the story to the streets, the local media, to organize discussion groups at the local library, whatever it takes to make sure that public opinion gets accurate information sensibly explained.

  3. Fred C

    Informing the public that their best interest is not to hand over the keys to their economic future to a group of people who stand to directly benefit from an onerous tax (government bureaucrats, lobbiest for groups expecting carbon credit handouts, and those banksters profiting from doing the cap and tax transactions).

    The arrogance of the climate fear mongerers is beyond anything even those of us who respect serious science and social science, could have ever imagined.

    Wes, for many of us thinkers, your name calling groups such as Cato us un-think tanks certainly communicates how bankrupt your thinking really is.

  4. Anthony McCarthy

    your name calling groups such as Cato us un-think tanks certainly communicates how bankrupt your thinking really is

    How many of the “studies” or papers or whatever that Cato has published that you couldn’t have predicted their findings twenty years ago? They aren’t a think tank, they aren’t even a guess pool.

  5. bilbo

    Informing the public that their best interest is not to hand over the keys to their economic future to a group of people who stand to directly benefit from an onerous tax

    Umm, Fred, I hate to break it to you, but the scientists that are actually doing climate research aren’t government bureaucrats, lobbyists, or “cap and tax banksters.” They’re climate scientists.

  6. Fred C

    Uhhh – and you refer readers to David Suzuki who once compared humans to maggots. Hmm, do all climate scientists consider humans to be equivalent to maggots? Well, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing, since maggots do have an important role in the ecosystem.

    Most of the climate scientists get their funding from government sources – therefore they are by default, bureaucrats. As a former government economist, I see no difference. Economists who embrace government solutions (mostly to government created problems) only try to elevate their status with their position prescriptions. Why would it not be the same for climate scientists?

    Anyone who says the (climate change) science is settled, is wearing blinders. Those advocating draconian solutions that will be most deleterious to those struggling most in this world for economic survival, display a frightening disregard for humanity (in my humble opinion).

  7. bilbo

    Fred c:

    First of all….

    Uhhh – and you refer readers to David Suzuki who once compared humans to maggots

    …I didn’t refer to David Suzuki. Gaythia did. Are you trying to purposefully attribute things to me that I haven’t said? I sure hope not.

    Most of the climate scientists get their funding from government sources – therefore they are by default, bureaucrats. As a former government economist, I see no difference. Economists who embrace government solutions (mostly to government created problems) only try to elevate their status with their position prescriptions.

    Then give us a brief description of how the funding process works within the NSF if you’re a climate scientist. Take us through the entrie process, from proposal submission to funding, and clearly point out the fraudulent parts.

    In case I’m not clear enough, Fred C, I’m calling you out. If you’re going to criticize something like government funding so vocally and with such surety, surely you can at least describe the process for us that you’re so against?

  8. Jon

    bilbo: but the scientists that are actually doing climate research aren’t government bureaucrats, lobbyists, or “cap and tax banksters.” They’re climate scientists.

    This is the problem. The conservative movement can’t tell the difference between the science and the policy that could result. If the messenger brings you bad news, its as if killing him solves your problems.

    They also see no difference between soft and comparatively hard sciences. Economics is often a soft science. Physical science is in a different category of human knowledge altogether. There’s a world of difference between LBJ’s technocratic *social* scientists (who the modern conservative movement arguably cut their teeth on) and the *physical* scientists who do independent work in different institutions all over the world. Conservatives conduct the argument as if it’s the same. It is *not*.

    Anyone who says the (climate change) science is settled, is wearing blinders.

    What part of the science is and isn’t settled? Can you tell me? Can you even tell me what the evidence for AGW is? I haven’t met a conservative yet complaining on these boards who can.

  9. Richard Smoker

    Fred C is the only poster on this site so far to express a rational opinion…not one driven by blind devotion to either side of this argument.

    The only objective and scientific way to look at the climate issue is to understand that we cannot ever really know that humans are creating global warning…AND…that assigning blame is pointless. We cannot be sure that the apparant warming that is occuring is human-induced.

    What can be said for certain is that humans are responsible for spewing all sorts of damaging compounds into our environment; some a lot more damaging to our planet than carbon. That fact cannot be denied.

    So what should be done? I am a believer in free market capitalism but we CANNOT allow for-profit ventures to be involved in the idea of carbon-trading. This is a situation ripe for fleecing by those without conscience.

    For-profit ventures’ involvement in these issues should be restricted to developing new technologies and processes by which to reduce the damages caused by humans and prevent further damage from occuring again.

    I can also say for certain that those who use fear as a motivating force are not to be trusted. If a particular issue has a given solution then truth, reason and common logic will bear out the validity of the given solution. If you have to resort to fear to push your agenda then you are in the wrong not the right…and you know it.

  10. Fred C

    bilbo Says:
    I didn’t refer to David Suzuki. Gaythia did. Are you trying to purposefully attribute things to me that I haven’t said?

    Absolutely not. My apologies as it was Gaythia.

    It appears you are painting me as a “conservative.” Perhaps you could define that term for me. You see, if you consider yourself progressive – then I would find you and conservatives to be essentially in the same camp – looking for government’s use of force to provide the answer to controlling my behavior. This might be appropriate if I am fouling your water or air – and I strongly believe in limiting pollutants to a level that is technologically and economically possible. I do not wish to cause you harm. By that same token, I do not wish for you to cause me harm with your supposed knowledge of a way to change the temperature of the earth.

    History is replete with good intentions behind government actions that clearly have unintended consequences much worse than the “disease.” A ready example is the US war on drugs. I could use most any war for that matter – and a war on rising global temperatures is no different.

    As for funding methodology – I do know that the billions spent by governments going into the pockets of institutions and individuals to study this “problem,” is significantly greater than the supposed “bad” money being used by oil companies and other evil polluters to research a balancing view. The truth is, the area where study would provide the most bang for the buck is into what the true economic and societal costs are of government interference in the natural economic ecosystem.

    Yes, I would agree there is a difference between the soft and physical science. Where I don’t agree is that there is a difference in trying to do predictive macro economic forecasting and trying to do climatic forecasting. Both are presently impossible with exisiting information and tools.

    As for AGW evidence – I believe there is too much static in the data to make a case. I also believe there is significant evidence this data has been tampered with – in a political rather than scientific way. I don’t personally claim to know whether AGW exists or not, but I do believe only a fool would trust that politicians – bought and paid for by large corporations and special interests, should be giving the authoritarian preogative to design and implement a solution that has nothing more than a low probability of any measureable success. The best hope is to encourage responsible economic growth where technological solutions will be provided through the marketplace (as has been happening throughout the developed world), and not trust in tyranny to solve an unproved thesis.

  11. Fred C

    Dang bilbo – I did it again. I was refering to Jon categorizing me as a conservative, not you. Sorry.

  12. bilbo

    As for funding methodology – I do know that the billions spent by governments going into the pockets of institutions and individuals to study this “problem,” is significantly greater than the supposed “bad” money being used by oil companies and other evil polluters to research a balancing view. The truth is, the area where study would provide the most bang for the buck is into what the true economic and societal costs are of government interference in the natural economic ecosystem.

    That’s a well-played evasion, Fred. But the question wasn’t who gets the most funding, was it? The question was for you to give a description of the climate research funding process (specfically, the NSF) from proposal to acceptance to funding. I want specific here.

    I’m not being nit-picky just to be a jerk. I’m doing this because, if you’re going to criticize funding so loudly, surely you must know a great deal about the process to know exactly why you don’t like it.

    Right?

  13. Jon

    We cannot be sure that the apparant warming that is occuring is human-induced.

    Again, does anybody know what the arguments *are* that the warming is human induced?

    I know they exist. And I know a number of them. But this just isn’t a serious conversation if no one knows what they are.

    It’s just rhetoric, not science.

    For instance:

    History is replete with good intentions behind government actions that clearly have unintended consequences much worse than the “disease.” …and a war on rising global temperatures is no different.

    This is a good Burkean conservative argument. I’m a Burke fan myself. But the argument is absolutely meaningless if you don’t know what the science is for AGW.

    So what is that science? What makes you so sure of its flaws?

  14. Fred C

    bilbo – I’m intrigued by your sensitivity regarding potential distortions brought to the marketplace through funding mechanisms. My suspicions and lack of confidence in a balanced view when the major source of funding to justify government interference is coming from the government do not require a knowledge of the process.

    Your emphasis on NSF funding leads me to hypothesize that you are one of the 1700 bureaucrats working for that $6 Billion organization. I am not a climate scientist nor am I an expert on the NSF application and funding process.

    I know enough about NSF through friends who have received NSF funding to know it is no more politically impartial than Federal Reserve bailout activities. Both are quasi independent organizations where the top “Director” is appointed by a politician.

    No system is perfect. Not to evade, but one area I am familiar, money spent on research for heart disease (most beneficial to aging males like those running the country who have lived out most of their productive lives) versus schizophrenia which strikes young people primarily as they are about to enter productive society, runs over 10 to one for heart disease, although it is better understood, yet schizophrenia affects 1 % of the population and accounts for over 25% of mental health costs, and untold damage in lost productivity and general societal costs.

    NSF is not the only government funding source for the climate game. There are plenty of other governments funding those friendly to the study outcomes. It is in the interests of the scientists who apply for these funds to demonstrate how imperative they get more funding to provide government the ammunition to “fix” the problem. It is no less a viable concern than those on the other side screaming corruption because the funding is from a non-impartial source.

  15. Jon

    It is in the interests of the scientists who apply for these funds to demonstrate how imperative they get more funding to provide government the ammunition to “fix” the problem.

    Funding comes from a number of sources. It would be absurd to think that pressure to publish consensus studies is the only pressure out there. What about all the money available for contrarian science? It’s not like those interests have no money. Also, there’s the pressure on scientists themselves to establish their careers. If I want tenure, do I publish the same study everyone else has done, or do I overturn the paradigm? Also, if I really wanted to milk my research patrons for all that they’re worth, I should think I’d emphasize uncertainties, rather than certainties. Once there are certainties in a certain field, by definition, there is less to be discovered.

  16. Fred C

    Jon says:
    So what is that science? What makes you so sure of its flaws?

    Was that question for me? I’m no expert on it’s flaws. I only know that I have seen the hockey stick graph – strangely missing the medieval warm period and the little ice age. I have seem several legitimate competing graphs that don’t look like a hockey stick at all. The AGW argument, like most, can be demonstrated and refuted, depending on the model chosen.

    I find your question, well, odd. Are you suggesting there is no question as to the science when there are clearly a number of climate researchers and statisticians who do not agree with the science?

  17. ehmoran

    In the late 1800’s, Arrhenius built upon Fourier’s assessment of atmospheric properties by plotting CO2 and temperature data collected in industrialized England. Arrhenius’ plots and calculations showed a relation between CO2 and ambient temperatures. In 1930’s, Callendar extended the analysis using long term observations from 200 stations arguing that there was a link between CO2 and climate warming. Keeling began collecting atmospheric CO2 samples from the Mauna Loa Observatory site in Hawaii in the late 1950’s and is the most complete record.

    The USGS reports that all volcanic activity produces nearly 200-million tons CO2 annually; much less than that produced by human activity. Mauna Loa, near the Observatory and the world’s most active volcano erupted 39 times since 1832, had major eruptions in 1950, 1975, and 1984. Atmospheric CO2 levels measured at volcanoes indicate the degree of activity and estimates of heat flow from one volcano have been reported at140-mW/m2. Correlating CO2 and temperatures from data collected near an active volcano should be significant but not show a cause and effect relation; however, correlating world-wide data significantly shows CO2 lagging temperature by approximately two years. The data analyzed by Arrhenius and Callendar also could be significantly biased similarly owing to the urban heat-island effect and extensive coal burning at the time, as CO2 is an abundant byproduct of burning.

    Apparently, no laboratory control experiment to date, such as in a biodome, has shown CO2 levels influencing ambient temperatures. Tyndall (1861) measured the absorptive characteristics of CO2 followed by more precise measurements by Burch (1970). Absorbance is a measure of the quantity of light (energy) absorbed by a sample (CO2 molecule) and the amount of absorbed energy can be represented as specific heat of a substance. Specific heat of CO2 ranges from 0.791-kJ/kgK at 0-degrees F to 0.871-kJ/kgK at 125-degrees F and average atmospheric concentrations 0.0306-percent. As revealed, the specific heat of CO2 increases as ambient temperatures increase showing CO2 likely is an ambient temperature buffer.

    The atmospheric generally consists from 4-percent water vapor in the troposphere to 40-percent at the surface. The specific heat of water vapor is relatively constant at 1.996-kJ/kgK. Water absorbs energy (heat) and evaporates to water vapor. During condensation (precipitation), latent heat is released to the atmosphere thus increasing ambient temperatures. Water vapor holds the majority of atmospheric heat and regulates climate and temperature more than any compound. Historically, however, the characteristics of water vapor related to climate were much less appreciated but investigations into the significance that water vapor plays in global climate-dynamics are just beginning.

    The amount of energy not stored in the atmosphere is released into space through radiation. Re-radiation is the emission of previously absorbed molecular radiation. The specific heat of molecules of water vapor and CO2 shows that water vapor reradiates significantly more energy back to the Earth’s surface and the atmospheric quantities for each compound further justify this case. Thus, this and other publications suggest that the minute variability in atmospheric CO2 concentrations likely results in an insignificant affect on climate change; whereas water vapor is the significant factor.

  18. Jon

    there are clearly a number of climate researchers and statisticians who do not agree with the science?

    Again, which ones? They’re rare, but vocal, and usually unqualified, or unpublished, and in the pay of special interests.

    When you place them up against the organizations who endorse the consensus there’s no comparison.

    Also, if you’re basing your opinions on what people have told you about the hockey stick, then you’ve been poorly served:

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/03/hockey-stick-is-broken.php

    1. Proxy temperature studies are a supporting, not a primary area of study showing AGW, and 2. It”s been roughly 15 years since the hockey stick study. Much has happened in the field since. And it’s only incidental that it got attention because it’s such a dramatic visual. Using that as your primary data point is like using a National Review cover story from 1995 (or a Mother Jones story, if you like) as your primary source of information about the Middle East. Maybe it made news 15 years ago, and maybe it makes a kind of a “watering hole” that ideological types can commonly reference and rant about, but what does it have to do with the present state of the science? Zilch.

  19. Marion Delgado

    Economics, as practiced by most American economists, is not a science at all. Indeed, the dominant school is not even good at it as an art or a technique.

    The Washington consensus, as well as supply-side economics, Austrian economics, and neoliberal economics, are all religious cults, which get validation in academia and legislation and the media because they are as useful to the rich and powerful as the “Divine Right of Kings” churches were in the previous Dark Age. The new one they’re seeking to usher in may be far darker.

  20. bilbo

    Your emphasis on NSF funding leads me to hypothesize that you are one of the 1700 bureaucrats working for that $6 Billion organization

    And I’m most certainly not, Fred. That’s strike three against you trying to pin positions and titles on me today. Seriously – it’s getting to the point of being borderline ridiculous. I haven’t gotten remotely combative with you. Why the accusations?

    I know enough about NSF through friends who have received NSF funding to know it is no more politically impartial than Federal Reserve bailout activities. Both are quasi independent organizations where the top “Director” is appointed by a politician.

    Incorrect. Very, egregiously incorrect. The NSF is set up with a structure that keeps politically appointed directors (and other politicians) completely out of the process. I would elaborate…but, well, that’s what you’re supposed to know since you’ve been criticizing the process as a “bureaucracy” determined by politicians all day.

    Right?

    See Fred, here’s what you’re doing. You’re making these seemingly damning statements and hurling these daggers at things like science funding as if you’re familiar with the process, know all about it, and thus have just cause to criticize it. I originally called you out because your statements were full of vague phrasing and negative connotations but without much substance, and led me to believe that you were just trying to drag science funding through the mud without knowing what you’re talking about. Now, after three attempts to get you to elaborate and give us some substance (either explain to us how NSF funds science or, more important, tell us specifically what you don’t like about that process), you’ve chosen not to each time. In fact, you just said something that is categorically false about government science funding and followed that up with mroe vague statements and negative terms. So I’m left to conclude that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

    And if you don’t know anything about how what you’re complaining about works, you’re complaining about stuff that you’re not even sure exists. In fact, in your last post you argued about a process that you just got incorrect.

    Please, go read up on the process and then decide what you don’t like about it, Fred. Until then, spare us the lectures on topics you’re ignorant of.

  21. wagdog

    this ceases to be a story about science, and becomes one about scandal and wrongdoing. As a result, the whole issue feels on the verge of a new tipping point as we move into the two weeks of Copenhagen.

    On the verge? We’ve long past that tipping point. Was the change so gradual that you seemed to have missed it? Might I remind you that Inhofe’s “greatest fraud” statement dates back to 2003.

    We’re no longing talking about framing of science. We’re talking about ceasing entire narratives. The anti-science lobby have moved beyond the narrative of the science being uncertain to the science being fraudulent. Pro-science camp are still stuck in the past with their Big Oil=Big Tobacco narrative. The AGW denialists have gone way beyond Big Tobacco. The Tobacco CEOs never accused cancer researchers of massive fraud and hoax.

    It is time to up the ante and adopt a new narrative, or you will lose this.

  22. harbinger

    Sticking your heads in the sand won’t make this fraud go away. The edifice is crumbling.

  23. wagdog

    This video response to SwiftHack is rather well done:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg

  24. Ross

    The pseudo science as practiced by frauds such as Phil Jones and Michael Mann does much to destroy the credibility of all legitimate scientists. What these emails reveal is rampant data fraud and intimidation of fellow researchers. While some may believe such methods are acceptable if the results are for a noble cause, this is definitely not science in the traditional sense. If the facts do not support a theory an honest scientist accepts data as it is and adjusts the theory, and does not massage the data to fit the theory. Doing so could be an ideological position or religious belief but it’s not science.

    These emails reveal long term corruption and collusion by various people at the highest levels of climate research promoting a cause. Science must above all else maintain intellectual honesty and integrity. These frauds have much to explain and answer for in the coming weeks.

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner, two German physicists have put together an independent paper, the latest version of which appears in the March 2009 edition of the “International Journal of Modern Physics”. In the paper, the two authors analyze the greenhouse gas model from its origin in the mid-19th century to the present. This paper utterly destroys the myth of CO2 driving AGW.

  25. wagdog

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner, two German physicists … utterly destroys the myth of CO2 driving AGW.

    Aren’t these the same two guys who don’t know what the average global temperature is used for in climate science?

  26. Daniel Morin

    This is what happens when the government is funding science… it turns scientists into bureaucrats, or worse politicians. Scientists have to follow the political agenda, or they get their research funding removed.

  27. Joe

    I would love to know why people are digging out Gerlich and Tscheuschner? Their paper(s) is laughably bad, yet lots of people have been mentioning them in blog comments the last couple of weeks. Why is that? If you want to counter AGW arguments why latch on to a paper that is ridiculously inept?

  28. bilbo

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner, two German physicists … utterly destroys the myth of CO2 driving AGW.

    Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s previous paper claimed that Earth has an average temperature of 87.6 degrees Celsius. For all of you non-metric fans following along at home, that equates to 189 degrees Fahrenheit – an average temperature that, if true, would obliterate all life on Earth.

    Forgive me if I don’t get excited about their latest paper….

  29. bilbo

    Excuse me – that temperature would obliterate most life on Earth. Out steam-vent bacteria would be ok.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Huh? Someone goes through this guy’s desk drawer at it’s the dirty hackers fault?

  31. Brian Too

    How do we know that these hackers aren’t climate change deniers, or in the pay of such deniers? I mean, who is attacking climate science e-mail systems and what is their agenda?

    Modern day hackers are, by consensus in the security community, motivated by money. The days of doing it for an underground reputation, or Sticking it to the Man, or some somewhat twisted notion of education or freedom are long gone. It’s all about the payoff now.

    So where is the money in hacking a scientific institution? These aren’t banks, or gullible consumers willing to buy some V1@gra, or a commercial entity with valuable credit card numbers or saleable identities. Something doesn’t add up here.

  32. michael peck

    Good! i hope they do hack thier sites, the hackers are the good guys, I tip my hats too you mr Hacker, youve done humanity a great service…who cares if they are deniers, its the evidence they uncover i care about, those records should be public anyways.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »