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December 05, 2009

Canadian climate research unit burglarized

Via Think Progress:

Burglars and hackers have attacked the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, apparently in an attempt to further the “Climategate” intimidation of global warming researchers. The Climategate smear campaign rests on the release of thousands of emails illegally hacked last month from the British Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The National Post reports that the Centre for Climate Modelling, a government institution, is also the victim of repeated criminal attacks: Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and key contributor to the Nobel prize-winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says there have been a number of attempted breaches in recent months, including two successful break-ins at his campus office in which a dead computer was stolen and papers were rummaged through.

You wonder why some of those hacked CRU emails suggested something of a siege mentality on the part of their authors? Maybe because these scientists are literally under siege.


No one cares about the emails anymore -- it's the abysmally bad code that has everyone's attention.

two successful break-ins at his campus office in which a dead computer was stolen and papers were rummaged through.

Seriously, the "other side", as it were, has gone completely insane.

Let's see if the burglars and hackers can find evidence that glaciers are part of the socialist, Chicken Little, Al Gore conspiracy.

A couple of days ago I Tweeted an offer of a bet that the CRU hacking was paid off by big carbon, with 3 to 1 odds (i.e. I put $300 to your $100). Said offer increasingly looks like a bargain to me...

If you look at the "Most Discussed" category on the Globe and Mail homepage right now, an article on the CRU emails is by far the most discussed, with 1225 comments, and in second place is another on the same topic, with 657 comments, and in fifth place is still another, with 405 comments.

And mitchell, isn't it astonishing how stupid most of the comments are? Science is hard, the data requires serious background knowledge to understand, almost all of it is available to the public, and apart from McIntyre's identification that US recordings were spuriously high for several years (by .01 degree), the 'skeptics' have contributed nothing. They've asked for data - they've had data. They've asked for code, then asked for help understanding and compiling the code, etc. Sometimes they've tiptoed up to the edge of actual science ('what would happen if the analysis was done this way instead? What would happen if we only use the data from the 'best' weather stations) and have crept back from that, which would be actual science. And what happens? The results stay the same. The Earth still warms, and it's not because of the sun, or cosmic rays, or gophers breathing on th thermometers.
The folks who think they can overturn science by breaking into labs may be sincere, but if so they are diagnosably paranoid.

This is more evidence of how the left is fascist, i.e., they complain when freedom fighters break in and steal and hack computers because, um, you know, oh, you know who else whined about his offices and computers being broken into? Hitler, that's who!

If there was openness, this facility would not need to be broken into.

I don't like burglary, but I don't like what went on in the East Anglia CRU either.

So Phantom, are you in favor of breaking in to ExxonMobil in the name of openness, too?
Surely there are some damaging emails in Senator Inhofe's in-box.

And perhaps yours too? When do we stop?

Phantom, you're not a fool, don't write foolish things. What was not available that 'should' have been available from this office? Do you have the right to break into my office because you think I'm not being open? I have data that is under a confidentiality agreement - I also have data from other researchers that has been generously provided, as well as emails from my colleagues expressing frustration about both public ignorance of the implications of our work and the foolishness of some of our colleagues - and I'm not a climate scientist.
Is the idea now that every single climate scientist and research unit is fraudulent, and that's why they all come up with the same findings? I think we should shut down all biology and astronomy programs because they're obvious frauds in going against my version of biblical literalism.

And let's look at the motives here: offices were ransacked, scientists were threatened, and computers were hacked because scientists were coming up with findings that were at odds with the claims of members of the chamber of commerce and members of the Republican party. It strikes me that there is a criminal, borderline violent cancer that has infected the right-wing and the denialist.

Much of this actually stems from the 2000 election: because Al Gore, would-be successor to Bill Clinton, had the audacity to oppose George W. Bush, being "against Al Gore" was seen by many on the right as a way to "stick it to the left." Gore, and thus environmentalism in general, became an object of fixation and hatred for them, and anything associated with the idea was considered a threat to them. The fact that Bush was creating a creepy cult-of-personality around himself in which every crazy idea he advocated became "right" and any claim that he was wrong was considered "the loony left" just resulted in 8 years of fostering this kind of spiritual cancer which, as we see, has culminated in violence and property destruction.

These are not good people, and authoritatively saying things at odds with their worldview are now resulting in threats and theft. It's gone beyond the crazy screaming uncle at the dinner table screeching about what he's heard on Limbaugh or creepy back-benchers in the Senate like Sen. Inhofe: their followers have started to take their crazy statements seriously.

My inbox and research ( cough ) is not funded by the taxpayer.

The CRU in England and this facility in BC presumably was funded by taxes.

There should be scientific glasnost in such facilities, esp in light of the shananigans over in England.

Phantom, I agree that all government-funded research should be 100% transparent, starting with the defense industry.

There's no suggestion that UVic withheld any information that it was required to give out. For all we know, the burglars didn't even ask for this stuff.

CRU gave out everything it was legally entitled to disclose. It is legally barred from releasing some data given to it by third parties.

Phantom, nobody's going to break into my office, or flood me with dozens of FOIA requests. My research is almost certainly government-funded - I'm not sure, but that's probably where Columbia's grad school fellowships come from - but nobody is trying to discredit what I do. Unlike climate research or cancer research, papers about dynamical systems don't tell big corporations that their product kills people.

The CRU in England and this facility in BC presumably was funded by taxes

Yes, of course. The communist fifth columnists who have infiltrated and seized the government are behind this evil conspiracy.

Look, if "conservatives" want to have a future in politics and governance they need to abandon their sacred touchstones and shibboleths and join the real world. - The abortion issue is a tad more nuanced than “life begins at conception”. The “libruls” are not trying to “take away our guns”. Homosexual marriage will not cause the collapse of civilization or God's wrath and it will not make your son abandon football to become a hairdresser. Ayn Rand does not necessarily have all the answers. Obama really was born in Hawaii which really is in the United States. Hitler and Stalin did not get their ideas from Darwin. Roosevelt did not “sell us out at Yalta”. There are no black helicopters full of scary negro United Nations troops flying over your back yard. There is no irredentist “reconquista” scheme in which Hispanics are going to take back the US Southwest. Health care reform does not actually entail “death panels” of heartless, latte-sipping, government bureaucrats eager to kill your grandma and Sarah Palin's Down syndrome child.

There is no vast international conspiracy to cook up data on a fake global warming scam in order to destroy capitalism.

The right wing sounds increasingly like the late '60s – early 70's members of the left who thought the CIA was tapping every phone line on behalf of fascist “Amerika”.

Seriously, go back to whining about the New Deal or wishing we'd “unleash Chiang Kai-shek”. At least back then conservatives were trying to live in the real world.

Just because research is government-funded, it does not automatically follow that taxpayers get to see every scrap-o-paper.

Researchers may (just some examples) receive email and IM logs from companies, and study them -- that information stay confidential. Researchers may interview people or conduct experiments on them -- the identities of the people involved, is typically confidential. This is data that, outside the research team itself, nobody outside ever sees.

My wife works on this stuff, I have helped with the data. They are dead serious about confidentiality. The software that I wrote to normalize personal data (multiple accounts and time zones), is supposed to be available to anyone who wants it, so I had to write it in a way that the "secret parts" (that knows that == == could easily be separated from the non-confidential parts. I had to give advice on how to securely configure a computer for processing this stuff, and my answer was "no network at all, do your own backups".

I don't know the particulars of how weather data might or might not be confidential, but your theory of taxpayer funding simply does not hold.

I'm also not particular impressed by the level of "shenanigans" in England, and I don't see why anyone who cared to look into this with an open and functioning mind would be. Did the glaciers suddenly re-grow? Is the arctic ice cap no longer thinning? This is ordinary work chit-chat, taken out of context by people with political and/or monetary incentives to do so.

starting with the defense industry

Well, no. That would mean that you'd be delivering all your data to Iran and North Korea free of charge.

The AGW issue is supposed to be global and all nations are supposed to have a self interest in addressing it.

Entirely different issues.


Did the glaciers suddenly re-grow? Is the arctic ice cap no longer thinning?

Complete non sequitor. Global warming is not necessarily the same as man made global warming.

The earth has warmed and cooled many times before. If this warming is in part caused by natural cycles, that's something to consider. If the global warming predictions are way too high, that's also something to consider. Right?

The Phantom screv

The earth has warmed and cooled many times before. If this warming is in part caused by natural cycles, that's something to consider. If the global warming predictions are way too high, that's also something to consider. Right?

And your opinion of climate scientists is so low that you assume they have not asked these questions, or have dismissed them because they are somehow wedded to the AGW hypothesis. Right?

Which shows how very little you know about science.

Like the young-earth creationists who know no geology, know no palenotology, know next-to-no biology or physics, and yet feel themselves in a position to call the intertwined theories of evolution incorrect, you feel that there's considerable doubt about the causes of global warming because ...

I forget, phantom. Just why is it that you, individually, are qualified to call bullshit on the peer-reviewd work of thousands of actual working climate scientists and physicists?

. If this warming is in part caused by natural cycles, that's something to consider.

Yes, that issue has been considered. Thank you for your concern. Please find an axe to grind that is not tied to the ignorant, borderline violent movement known as american conservatism. Just because accepting the reality of global warming and modern research is an implicit admission that you wasted your life on your mindless devotion to GW Bush and the Republican party, along with the moral failure that went along with your anti-Gore mouth-frothing does not mean you need to bother us with your Inhofe-like bleatings.

Look, you're a conservative-- can you go puttering around whining about how you need a tax cut and how america is too stupid and primitive to hope to cover the uninsured? Don't waste your time trying to play climate scientist just because that's how your kind act "cool" among your fellow right-wing loons and ignoramuses.

I am completely unqualified to offer opinions on GW one way or the other. As are you.

My suspicion, call it a hunch if you will, is that this is unknowable. Or maybe another Y2K - remember when so many of the " experts " said that planes, cars and ATMs might not function on Jan 1, 2000? I had the same feeling then.

In the aftermath of what went on at the CRU at East Anglia, you might not want to get on your high horse about the peer review process and how magnificent it is.

Enjoy the poster!

So, as a government-funded researcher (at least in Canada, we haven't had our application approved in the US yet), what is it I should provide you? Do you want a copy of our papers, because you don't have access to the journals, or don't want to pay for them? Sure, just write. Want a copy of our raw data so you can reanalyze it, or test some of your hypotheses? Let's talk - I may be working on that myself, and I'll let you know when I'm done. Some of this may be third party data that I've analyzed, and you need to contact the actual owners of the data (as in the many FOI requests that McIntyre and his minions made - and McIntyre ALREADY had that data, and even if he didn't, he'd been told who to contact). But, I'm not sending you my raw data if it breaks confidentiality, and I'm not sending you my raw data, then the software I wrote to analyze it, AND THEN spending 6 months of my time holding your hand because you don't actually know this field of research, but you feel sure that I've made a mistake.
Laypeople can pretend they are scientists in the privacy of their own homes or in the corner pub. I appreciate that receiving funding entails certain obligations, but those obligations are not unending. You want to take part in a scientific discussion? Sure, but educate yourself in the science first, and ask why the scientists have their current perspective.
You want to know more?
- try your local Cafe Scientifique (
About global warming, ask the National Academy of Science ( why they think it's a big deal.

In the aftermath of what went on at the CRU at East Anglia, you might not want to get on your high horse about the peer review process and how magnificent it is.

Your apparent conviction that something in the stolen CRU emails constitutes a smokin gun that casts doubt on the integrity of the scientific work presented just shows that you don't understand much about what you've read, or (more likely) have been told.

This "issue" is almost all optics, not substance -- it _looks_ a little bad for a couple CRU scientists if you read only gotcha quotes and don't understand much about the science. I, however, actually do understand exactly what the words "hide the decline" mean in the context they were written. Do you ? Care to explain it to us?

As for my own qualifications : I'm not the one who is claiming that the worldwide consensus of the scientists in this field is incorrect. (Although I am, in fact, scientifically literate and can still do some of the relevant math, I am willing to defer to the experts -- willing to grant that most of these scientists have done their best to find out the truth, and that their best is quite good, amd that where it is not good their colleagues will present conflicting data.) Thus, I am willing to accept the conclusions that these scientists have now spent over twenty years challenging and refining.

You are the one making extraordinary claims based on handwaving arguments.

The AGW issue is supposed to be global and all nations are supposed to have a self interest in addressing it.

No, there are many nations whose interest is in not solving the problem - for example, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which would lose little from a global sea level rise, but would lose a lot from less oil burning.


I am stating the argument as posed by the GW guys

And if the theories are correct, then any ethical Saudi or Venezuelan would still want to be part of the solution, and not want to subject other nations to loss of land through flooding, etc etc.

Yes, and any ethical North Korean and Iranian would want to be part of the solution, and overthrow the local tyrannies... That doesn't negate the national interests the US has in restraining North Korea and Iran until their governments are actually overthrown.

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