Questions for Andrew Revkin

Andrew Revkin has begun blogging about Climategate. After reading his last post (Hacked E-Mail Data Prompts Calls for Changes in Climate Research) I emailed him a couple of questions:


Two questions:

1) Why do you assume the emails (and data, which I don’t think you mentioned) were hacked and not released by a whistle blower?

2) Why don’t you take time off from the he said/she said narrative and analyze the emails and data yourself?


Actually, I have the same questions for all the other “prestige media” who are playing the he said/she said game with these revelations: Why don’t you pretend you’re a reporter and, you know, read and analyze the primary sources instead of relying on different people’s opinions and defenses?

I’ll post his reply if he sends one.

UPDATE 12/3/14:

I realize reading this again today that I was remiss in not calling attention to Andy’s comment below.

The guy’s a total gentleman. Way more interested in helping get to the facts than in winning a particular argument.


3 thoughts on “Questions for Andrew Revkin”

  1. The data are discussed (harry read me file linked, in fact). I don’t assume anything on origin of the files at this point. Way too soon, although the school has deemed it a “criminal breach” so that’s what we say for now. If you or anyone else can demonstrate it’s an insider, let me know. There are reasons to think so, but also reasons to think it’s a mixed bag, at least, given involvement of a Saudi server at one stage and hack effort at, as well. I’ve sent some of the data files /logs etc to some programmers, with mixed reactions and no ‘smoking guns’ so far. There are legit arguments and counterarguments about many of the emails. And I’ve been busy on the underlying issues for awhile:


  2. Thanks, Andrew. I noticed you said there were no “smoking guns” so far. It’s fascinating to me that you have been quoted as saying “The weird thing about climate change is that there is no smoking gun.”

    I’m glad to hear you have some reporting going on into the primary sources themselves. I will try to keep up with your blog (and any articles I become aware of) and look forward to hearing your own impressions.

    While I appreciate your obvious desire to be balanced and fair by presenting both sides’ views, I’m anxious for the mainstream press (may I tease you with the label “prestige press”?) to get in front of this story.

    Thanks again…


  3. “Climategate” started out when there appeared on the Internet a collection of e-mails of a group of climatologists who work in the University of East Anglia in England. These documents reveal that some climatologists of international preeminence have manipulated the data of their investigations and have strongly tried to discredit climatologists who are not convinced that the increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the cause of global warming.

    It is true that a majority of the scientists who study climatic tendencies in our atmosphere have arrived at the conclusion that the world’s climate is changing, and they have convinced a group of politicians, some of whom are politically powerful, of the truth of their conclusions.

    A minority, however, is skeptical. Some believe that recent data that suggest that the average temperature of the atmosphere is going up can be explained by natural variations in solar radiation and that global warming is a temporary phenomenon. Others believe that the historical evidence indicating that the temperature of the atmosphere is going up at a dangerous rate is simply not reliable.

    Such lacks of agreement are common in the sciences. They are reduced and eventually eliminated with the accumulation of new evidence and of more refined theories or even by completely new ones. Such debates can persist for a period of decades. Academics often throw invective at one another in these debates. But typically this does not mean much.

    But the case of climate change is different. If the evidence indicates that global warming is progressive, is caused principally by our industrial processes, and will probably cause disastrous changes in our atmosphere before the end of the twenty-first century, then we do not have the time to verify precisely if this evidence is reliable. Such a process would be a question of many years of new investigations. And if the alarmist climatologists are right, such a delay would be tragic for all humanity.

    The difficulty is that economic and climatologic systems are very complicated. They are not like celestial mechanics, which involves only the interaction of gravity and centrifugal force, and efforts to construct computerized models to describe these complicated systems simply cannot include all the factors that are influential in the evolution of these complicated systems.

    All this does not necessarily indicate that the alarmist climatologists are not right. But it really means that if global warming is occurring, we cannot know exactly what will be the average temperature of our atmosphere in the year 2100 and what will be the average sea level of the world’s ocean in that year.

    It also means that we cannot be confident that efforts by the industrialized countries to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will have a significant influence on the evolution of the world’s climate.

    Alas, the reduction of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would be very costly and would greatly change the lives of all the inhabitants of our planet–with the possibility (perhaps even the probability!) that all these efforts will be completely useless.

    Harleigh Kyson Jr.


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