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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."

Abysmal, but pretty much standard. The product, and what counts, are what is reported in the published paper. The code is a tool, which is also a scratchpad. If anyone's surprised that it's ugly, it's because they are clueless.

Another interesting thing is that the right-wing has simultaneously embraced, after long being in denial, "the planet is warming, but it's not caused by humans!" while also screaming, "and scientists are falsifying the data that the planet is warming!" This is an entertaining backtrack for them.

Ultimately, climate scientists are going through what live-animal biologists have been going through: a determined, anti-science semi-violent fringe movement that they have to guard against. The problem is that the anti-climate-science extremists have deeper pockets.

Part of the problem is that in popular imagination, the way to fight a conspiracy is with a few determined people with guns. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, as well as 24, have often featured big government or corporate conspiracies, with the villain organization usually fascist, but the protagonist is always an action hero, never a journalist or a scientist or a lawyer fighting against all odds. Even when the protagonist is less brawny, as in Prison Break or Runaway Jury, he typically defeats the bad guys using cunningly illegal tricks, instead of by pushing on with the law. It creates a very distorted view of how real conspiracies arise and how they are defeated, as in the case of Watergate.

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.

Much of the data is collected by private companies who make a living by selling it. Institutions such as the CRU are prevented by NDAs from releasing this data. These demands to release all the raw data are actually demands to seize and nationalise the assets of private companies.

Since when did the right start hating free enterprise?

>Much of the data is collected by private companies who make a living by selling it...

Or worse - the data is collected by public agencies who have been half-privatized, and so are selling the data, and in the process restricting public access. That's a policy both the right and left should be able to agree is a bad thing.

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

All I've seen is a bunch of Computer Science III graduates obsessing over an error-log that spans 10 years. Nothing substantive, nothing incriminating. It's all gas and noise, as is usually the case with denialists.

I agree with this, 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.

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