Those CRU emails expose Copenhagen as a farce

The facts are: ice coverage is unchanged while global temperatures are falling

Column LAST UPDATED AT 07:17 ON Fri 18 Dec 2009
Alexander Cockburn

Let us pass from Oslo where Obama went one better than Carter who, you may recall, proclaimed in 1977 that his crusade for energy conservation was "the moral equivalent of war". Obama trumped this with his claim that war is the moral equivalent of peace. As he was proffering this absurdity, Copenhagen was hosting its global warming jamboree, surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasising since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled for the Council of Nicaea in 325AD to debate whether God the father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and with the Holy Ghost.
Shortly before the Copenhagen summit the proponents of anthropogenic – human-caused - global warming (AGW) were embarrassed by a whistleblower who put on the web more than a thousand emails either sent from or received at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia headed by Dr Phil Jones, who has since stepped down from his post – whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen.

The CRU was founded in 1971 with funding from sources including Shell and British Petroleum. At that time the supposed menace to the planet and to mankind was global cooling, a source of interest to oil companies for obvious reasons.

Coolers transmuted into Warmers and the CRU became one of the climate modeling grant mills supplying the often loaded data from which the UN's Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) has concocted its reports which have been since their inception – particularly the executive summaries - carefully contrived political initiatives disguised as objective science.

The CRU emails undermine Warmers' claim to the moral high ground

Soon persuaded of the potential of AGW theories for their bottom line, the energy giants effortlessly recalibrated their stance, and as of 2008 the CRU included among its financial supporters not only Shell and BP, but also the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and UK Nirex Ltd, a company in the nuclear waste business.

After some initial dismay at what has been called, somewhat unoriginally, 'Climategate', the reaction amid progressive circles – 99 per cent inhabited by True Believers in anthropogenic global warming - has been to take up defensive positions around the proposition that deceitful manipulation of data, concealment or straightforward destruction of inconvenient evidence, vindictive conspiracies to silence critics, are par for the course in all scientific debate and, although embarrassing, the CRU emails in no way compromise the core pretensions of their cause.

Scientific research is indeed saturated with exactly this sort of chicanery. But the CRU emails graphically undermine the claim of the Warmers – always absurd to those who have studied the debate in any detail – that they commanded the moral high ground.

It has been a standard ploy of the Warmers to revile the sceptics as intellectual whores of the energy industry, swaddled in munificent grants and with large personal stakes in discrediting AGW. Actually, the precise opposite is true. Billions in funding and research grants sluice into the big climate modeling enterprises. There's now a vast archipelago of research departments and "institutes of climate change" across academia, with a huge vested interest in defending the AGW model. It's where the money is. Scepticism, particularly for a young climatologist or atmospheric physicist, can be a career breaker.

By the same token, magazines and newspapers, reeling amidst the deadly challenge of the internet to their circulation and advertising base have seen proselytising for the menace of man-made global warming as a circulation enhancer – a vital ingredient in luring a younger audience. Hence the abandoned advocacy of AGW by Scientific American, the New Scientist, Nature, Science, not to mention the New York Times (whose lead reporter on this topic has been Andrew Revkin, who has a personal literary investment in the AGW thesis, as a glance at his publications on Amazon will attest).

Many of the landmines in the CRU emails tend to buttress long-standing charges by sceptics that statistical chicanery by Prof Michael Mann and others occluded the highly inconvenient Medieval Warm Period, running from 800 to 1300 AD, with temperatures in excess of the highest we saw in the twentieth century, a historical fact which made nonsense of the thesis that global warming could be attributed to the auto-industrial civilisation of the twentieth century.

Here's Keith Briffa, of the CRU, letting his hair down in an email written on September 22, 1999: "I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple... I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago."

Now, in the  fall of 1999 the IPCC was squaring up to its all-important 'Summary for Policy-Makers' – essentially a press release, one that eventually featured the notorious graph flatlining into non-existence the Medieval Warm Period and displaying a terrifying, supposedly unprecedented surge in twentieth century temperatures.

Briffa's reconstruction of temperature changes, one showing a mid- to late-twentieth-century decline, was regarded by Mann, in a September 22, 1999, e-mail to the CRU, as a "problem and a potential distraction/detraction". So Mann, a lead author on this chapter of the IPCC report, simply deleted the embarrassing post-1960 portion of Briffa's reconstruction. The CRU's Jones happily applauded Mann's deceptions in an e-mail in which he crowed over "Mike's Nature trick". Like politicians trying to recover from a racist outburst, AGW apologists say the "trick" was taken out of context. It wasn't.

Other landmines include particularly telling emails from Kenneth Trenberth, a senior scientist and the head of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. On October 14, 2009, he wrote to the CRU's 'Tom': "How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are nowhere close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geo-engineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!"
In other words, only a few weeks before the Copenhagen summit, here is a scientist in the inner AGW circle disclosing that "we are not close to knowing" how the supposedly proven AGW warming model might actually work, and that therefore "geo-engineering" – carbon-mitigation, for example - is "hopeless".
This admission edges close to acknowledgement of a huge core problem – that the "greenhouse" theory violates the second law of thermodynamics which says that a cooler body cannot warm a hotter body without compensation. Greenhouse gasses in the cold upper atmosphere cannot possibly transfer heat to the warmer earth, and in fact radiate their absorbed heat into outer space. Readers interested in the science can read mathematical physicist Gerhard Gerlich's and Ralf Tscheuchner's detailed paper published in The International Journal of Modern Physics, updated in January 2009: "Falsi?cation Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics".

"For the last eleven years," as Paul Hudson, climate correspondent of the BBC said on October 9, "we have not observed any increase in global temperatures". Recent data from many monitors including the CRU, available on, show that the average temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans near the surface of the earth has decreased significantly for the last eight years or so.

CO2 is a benign gas essential to life, occurring in past eras at five times present levels. Changes in atmospheric CO2 do not correlate with human emissions of CO2, the latter being entirely trivial in the global balance. The average Arctic ice coverage has essentially remained unchanged for the last 20 years, and has actually increased slightly over the last three years. The rate of rise of sea level has declined significantly over the last three years, and its average rate of rise for the last 20 years is about the same as it has been for the last 15,000 years, since the last glacial cooling ended and we entered the current interglacial warming as the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska started to flood and became the Bering Straits.
In the early 1970s, the UN spearheaded the highly progressive notion of a new world economic order, one that would try to level the playing field between the First World and the Third. The neo-liberal onslaught gathering strength from the mid-1970s on destroyed that project. Eventually the UN, desperate to reassert moral leadership, regrouped behind the supposed  crisis of climate change as concocted by the AGW lobby, behind which lurk huge corporate interests such as the nuclear power companies. The end consequence has, as represented by the power plays over "carbon mitigation" funding at Copenhagen, been a hideous travesty of the 70s vision of a global redistribution of resources.

The battles in Nicaea in 325 were faith-based, with no relation to science or reason. So were the premises of the Copenhagen summit, that the planet faces catastrophic warming caused by a man-made CO2 build-up and that human intervention – geo-engineering - could avert the coming disaster. Properly speaking, it's a farce. In terms of distraction from cleaning up the pollutants that are actually killing people, it's a terrible tragedy. ·