Zorita goes for the jugular

foto stefan rahmstorf-1 Perhaps sensing blood, Zorita explains Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process.

I know little of Zorita; he appears to be a protege of von S (many of his pubs are with von S; but some with Tett, Moberg, etc., so don’t imagine I’m dismissing him as a nobody). I blogged him, weakly, a while ago. Zorita’s dislike of Mann et al. is nothing new, see his blogging The decay of the hockey stick (notice how, in that blog, he and von S have the pleasant *opportunity* to respond to comments on their papers, whereas the unfortunate Mann *had* to respond to comments. So much for neutrality).

But while Z’s dislike of Mann and Jones has a history, why exactly does he hate Rahmstorf so much? What has poor Stefan done so much to offend, apart from being distinctly more handsome? I may not have been paying close enough attention, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen R’s name coming up in connection with the email hacking. Z is rather coy in his posting. He has read the emails – I think it is not unethical to read them is his rather weaselly way of putting it, as though a double negative can save him – but he doesn’t quote from them. Perhaps he imagines that we all have read every nuance and have attended to his every grudge, and so can know exactly what Rahmstorf’s sins are.

The answer is likely to lie in a 2004 paper by Z/vS, which contained serious errors as detailed in A Mistake with Repercussions. Eduardo “Holier than Thou” Zorita doesn’t come out of this episode too well; it would appear that he has been waiting for a chance to stick the knife in. Perhaps it would be interesting were he to publish his correspondence on the subject? That might be “not uninteresting”, and for someone as interested in transparency as he is, it would be a natural step.

[Update: 1141169545 may enlighten, as may http://www.ipcc.ch/graphics/ar4-wg1/jpg/fig-6-13.jpg; I’m assuming GSZ2003 bears a strong resembale to vSZ2004]

24 thoughts on “Zorita goes for the jugular”

  1. Before Climatopia erupted I had a nice week planned reading Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and, if time allowed, Huckleberry Finn.

    Curry and Hulme(sp?) blame tribalism.


  2. Rahmstorf is the go to guy for a quote on climate and IPCC related matters in the German press and also consults for the government on same. Thus Rahmstorf IEHO. G&T did quite a drive through on him also


  3. Well, who are we to side with?

    Zorita, who says:

    Is [it] legal or ethical to read the CRU files? I am not a la[w]yer. It seems that if the files had been hacked this would constitute an illegal act. If they have been leaked it could be a whistle blower action protected by law. I think it is not unethical to read them. Once published, I feel myself entitled to read how some researchers tried to influence reviewers to scupper the publication of our work on the ‘hockey stick graph’ or to read how some IPCC authors tried to exclude this work from the IPCC Report on very dubious reasons. Also, these mails do not contain any personal information at all. They are an account of many dull daily activities of typical climatologists, together with a realistic account of very troubling professional behavior.

    Or Spencer Weart, who says:

    Of course no scholar can make use of stolen material, and in particular one cannot legally or ethically quote a private message without the explicit permission of the writer.

    I suppose it’s down to how ethical one wants to be … he says wryly.


    Aside: the law related to whistleblowing in the UK is well summarised here and here.

    The act of publishing these CRU e-mails and data, so far as I can see, is unlikely to be defensible on whistleblowing grounds under UK law, because (amongst other things)

    To make a protected disclosure to others [than your employer] you must either:

    * reasonably believe your employer would treat you unfairly if you made the disclosure to your employer or a prescribed person
    * reasonably believe that your disclosure to the employer would result in the destruction or concealment of information about the wrongdoing

    I can’t imagine any one or more of the UEA’s Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Deans of Faculty, the Registrar and Secretary, or even in this instance the Information Policy and Compliance Manager responsible for ensuring information disclosure in accordance with the FoIA on behalf of the UEA, as being unsuitable as a prescribed person to blow the whistle to.


  4. Lumpy, Tiljander doesn’t matter. As shown in the supplementary material, Mea did the analysis with and without the potentially problematic proxies.


  5. [No no no no. Look, I’m sorry, and I should probably have deleted the earlier comments too, but this is *not* time for a re-hash of Tiljander. Oh, except I had something to say about that. But I can say it on the post -W]


  6. UK climate scientist to temporarily step down
    LONDON (AP) — Britain’s University of East Anglia says the director of its prestigious Climatic Research Unit is stepping down pending an investigation into allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change.

    The university says Phil Jones will relinquish his position until the completion of an independent review into allegations that he worked to alter the way in which global temperature data was presented.

    [http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2009/nov/homepagenews/CRUupdate agrees with you. Interesting -W]


  7. Actually, it doesn’t agree with the AP piece entirely. Just mentions “allegations”, not “allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change” or “worked to alter the way in which global temperature data was presented”.

    My guess is that UEA is extremely concerned about his requesting people delete e-mails when faced with a FOI request and other allegations related to that – if he deleted anything subject to a FOI request he broke the law.

    The other stuff, not so much …


  8. Yeah, it is funny how his email requesting others to delete their emails is itself not deleted. Presumably he played Maxwell Smart in Get Smart – or should have? Or perhaps the email was never about what people think it is about? Who knows?


  9. The fact that so many emails with the words “DELETE ME!!!” in the subject have been found makes me wonder if in fact this data has been stolen/leaked by or through someone who got hold of the system backup tapes. That would also explain how the hacker/leaker managed to have privileged access to so many separate hosts/systems, as well as the time required to sift through it all and assemble the FOIA.zip file. Of course, one can delete emails after one sends/receives them if it makes one feel happy, but everything gets saved, perhaps forever, onto the nightly backup tapes.


  10. So how did we go with getting to the bottom of why Zorita wants Rahmstorf’s head on a spike? I can’t follow the clue in the update:

    [Update: 1141169545 may enlighten, as may http://www.ipcc.ch/graphics/ar4-wg1/jpg/fig-6-13.jpg; I’m assuming GSZ2003 bears a strong resembale to vSZ2004]

    I think it’s an interesting question that’s been raised. Does anyone know what this is about?

    [My hint was obviously too delicate. To be not subtle at all: Z and von S published some badly broken model results, and then wanted them included in AR4. R was lead for that section, and wanted the junk dropped (he didn’t phrase it like that, naturally). Z and von S insisted in their trash staying in, which is why that figure has the stupid non-physical outlier, and as far as I know that is the only complaint Z has against R -W]


  11. Yes, I exchanged a few emails with him over it. It is no secret that they had disagreements relating to the science paper about hockey sticks. IMO linking it to the CRU emails is a mistake and calls for a ban (on R’s participation in assessments) are unjustified. He (Z) said he was away at a workshop and may write more when he is back at work.

    I would not be particularly surprised if the computing department saved all emails going through the servers, both incoming and outgoing, irrespective of what people keep on their own PCs. The “delete me” stuff shows poor judgement mostly in its naivety.


  12. Yes, most (all?) email servers (can be configured to) log all emails that pass through. Some systems are even set-up so that the clients don’t delete when downloading via POP. Whether these are kept is up to the organisation involved. These were almost certainly lifted directly from an email server itself.

    Phil Jones himself has said “CRU has deleted no emails”, so I’d like to see the full context of that email before casting any judgement.

    Anyway, this should be a lesson for people, I know a few admin people who took great delight in reading the emails of the staff who used their server. I think legally too.


  13. Even if the server was configured to keep copies of mail after clients downloaded them, we have emails here that date from 1996 turning up. I find it inconceivable that emails from 13 years ago would still be sitting on a running CRU server anywhere. I reckon we’ll find that the CRU IT department has a policy to archive data for 10 years or something, and someone has stolen a few tapes.

    Meanwhile, as for Zorita it is my guess that he had just read 1125067952.txt for the very first time, and that some old wounds were re-opened, and that he was extremely angry, and that’s probably why he’s lashed out publicly and Mann & Rahmstorf. It could be argued, of course, that [Redacted. Sorry, but please don’t weasel. If you want to say “I think X” then have the courage to do so. Hiding it under “It can be argued that” is cowardly -W] I can’t, myself, believe that anyone would actually say these sorts of things in an email copied to five people. [This is probably a good place to say how annoying I find this sort of figure of speech. Not that I’m particularly complaining about you. What you mean, of couse, is that yes you do indeed believe it but… -W]

    [Errm, I can’t see in that email any excuse for lashing out at R (caveat: that is assuming, of course, that the email is genuine. There is no evidence that it is). Indeed, I can’t see any excuses for Z lashing out at all. If he wants to make a public statement at this delicate juncture he is welcome to – but it should be a measured one. This apparently completely random attack on R is indeedquite unprofessional of him. He should either support it with some evidence or apologise and withdraw it -W]

    [Snideness redacted -W]


  14. These were almost certainly lifted directly from an email server itself.

    Over at real climate, gavin schmidt says apparently it was a backup mail server that was hacked. Perhaps they used it to keep a long-term archive of e-mail.


  15. There’s bound to be considerable score settling and distancing as the investigation proceeds. Of course it will end up for the better of the science, if not the scientists. Most of the rest of us, really only in it for the policy, will have to move on.


  16. Dhogaza, do you have a reference to where Gavin said this? It doesn’t make any sense to me that anyone would have a “hot” backup server archiving email from 13 years ago. Does that mean their infrastructure hasn’t been upgraded in over 13 years? Or does it mean that the infrastructure was upgraded, but they decided to migrate all old emails, going back to 1996. If so, why? And if they hacked a backup server, then what on earth was all that old code doing sitting on a backup email server? If this is all true, I’d say the CRU IT department is sure going to have some explaining to do!


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