by Christopher Horner

from PajamasMedia Website



Chris Horner filed the FOIA request that NASA didn't comply with for two years. Now we know what took so long.

(Click here for the NASA files)

Update: Chris Horner's PJTV interview here


Part One

February 17, 2010

In August 2007, I submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), headed by long-time Gore advisor James Hansen and his right-hand man Gavin Schmidt (and co-founder).

I did this because Canadian businessman Steve McIntyre - a man with professional experience investigating suspect statistical claims in the mining industry and elsewhere, including his exposure of the now-infamous “hockey stick” graph - noticed something unusual with NASA’s claims of an ever-warming first decade of this century.


NASA appeared to have inflated its U.S. temperatures beginning in the year 2000. My FOIA request asked NASA about their internal discussions regarding whether and how to correct the temperature error caught by McIntyre.

NASA stonewalled my request for more than two years, until Climategate prompted me to offer notice of intent to sue if NASA did not comply immediately.

On New Year’s Eve, NASA finally provided the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) with the documents I requested in August 2007.

The emails show the hypocrisy, dishonesty, and suspect data management and integrity of NASA, wildly spinning in defense of their enterprise. The emails show NASA making off with enormous sums of taxpayer funding doing precisely what they claim only a “skeptic” would do.


The emails show NASA attempting to scrub their website of their own documents, and indeed they quietly pulled down numerous press releases grounded in the proven-wrong data. The emails show NASA claiming that their own temperature errors (which they have been caught making and in uncorrected form aggressively promoting) are merely trivial, after years of hysterically trumpeting much smaller warming anomalies.

As you examine the email excerpts below, as well as those which I will discuss in the upcoming three parts of this series, bear in mind that the contents of these emails were intended to prop up the argument for the biggest regulatory intervention in history:

the restricting of carbon emissions from all human activity.

NASA’s activist scientists leave no doubt in their emails that this was indeed their objective.


Also, please note that these documents were responsive to a specific FOIA request from two years ago. Recent developments - combined with admissions contained in these documents - beg further requests, which have both been already filed and with more forthcoming.

Furthermore, on January 29, 2010, CEI filed our appeal of NASA continuing to improperly withhold other documents responsive to our FOIA requests. In this appeal we informed NASA that if they do not comply by the twentieth day, as required by law, we shall exercise our appellate rights in court immediately.


Under Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NASA shepherds a continuing public campaign claiming clear evidence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) - climate change induced by human beings.


The documents released via the FOIA request, however, contain admissions of data unreliability that are staggering, particularly in light of NASA’s claims to know temperatures and anomalies within hundredths of a degree, and the alarm they helped raise over a mere one degree of claimed warming over more than an entire century.

Dr. Reto Ruedy, a Hansen colleague at GISS, complains in his August 3, 2007, email to his co-worker at GISS and RealClimate blogger Gavin Schmidt:

[The United States Historical Climate Network] data are not routinely kept up-to-date (at this point the (sic) seem to end in 2002).

This lapse led to wild differences in data claimed to be from the same ground stations by USHCN and the Global Climate Network (GHCN).


NASA later trumpeted the “adjustments” they made to this data (upward only, of course) in extremely minor amounts - adjustments they are now seen admitting are well within any uncertainty, a fact that received significantly less emphasis in their public media campaign claiming anomalous, man-made warming.

GISS’s Ruedy then wrote:

[NASA’s] assumption that the adjustments made the older data consistent with future data… may not have been correct… Indeed, in 490 of the 1057 stations the USHCN data were up to 1°C colder than the corresponding GHCN data, in 77 stations the data were the same, and in the remaining 490 stations the USHCN data were warmer than the GHCN data.

Ruedy claimed this introduced an estimated warming into the record of 0.1° deg C. Ruedy then described an alternate way of manipulating the temperature data, “a more careful method” they might consider using, instead.


Although in public he often used his high-profile perch for global warming cheerleading, former New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin privately wrote that he was worried about the integrity of the ground stations.


When still at the Times he wrote to Hansen on August 23, 2007:

I never, till today, visited and found it quite amazing. if our stations are that shoddy, what’s it like in Mongolia?

Sadly, although Andy wrote many pieces touting as significant what we now know NASA admits as statistically meaningless temperature claims, he did not find time to write about data so “shoddy” as to reach the point of “amazing.”


That is what advocacy often entails: providing only one side, and even a far less compelling side, of a story.


In an August 14, 2007, email from GISS’s Makiko Sato to Hansen, Sato wrote that his analysis of a one degree warming between 1934 and 1998 might in reality be half that amount:

I am sure I had 1998 warmer than 1934 at least once because on my own temperature web page (which most people never look at), I have [image/information not visible in document]… I didn’t keep all the data, but some of them are (some data are then listed, with 1934 0.5° deg C warmer than 1998)

As AGW proponents only claim a one degree warming over the past century, the magnitude of a 0.5° degree Celsius problem in their calculations is tremendous.

Sato continues:

I am sorry, I should have kept more data, but I was not interested in US data after 2001 paper.

Sato is referencing the paper by Hansen, et al., in which Hansen’s colleagues remind him 1934 was indeed listed as being a full half-degree warmer than 1998 - which is shown in their emails as being what the data said as of July 1999 (their paper described 1934 as only “slightly” warmer than 1998, p. 8).


Still, throughout these emails Hansen later insists 1934 and 1998 are in a statistical tie with just a 0.02° Celsius difference and even that their relationship has not changed.


For example, Hansen claims in an email to a journalist with Bloomberg:

“As you will see in our 2001 paper we found 1934 slightly warmer, by an insignificant hair over 1998. We still find that result.”

The implication is that things had not changed when in fact NASA had gone from claiming a statistically significant if politically inconvenient warmer 1934 over 1998, to a tie.

Regarding U.S. temperatures, Ruedy confessed to Hansen on August 23, 2007 to say:

I got a copy from a journalist in Brazil, we don’t save the data.

The Ruedy relationship with a Brazilian journalist raises the matter of the incestuous relationship between NASA’s GISS and like-minded environmental reporters.


One can’t help but recall how, recently, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim of glacier shrinkage in the Himalayas was discredited when found to be the work of a single speculative journalist at a popular magazine, and not strict peer-reviewed scientific data.


The emails we obtained include several instances of very close ties and sympathetic relationships with journalists covering them.

The same can be said of NASA’s relationship vis-a-vis the IPCC, whose alarmism NASA enabled. One NASA email implicitly if privately admits that IPCC claims of accelerating warming - such as those by IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri or United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon - are specious.


Yet NASA has never publicly challenged such alarmism. Instead, it sat by and benefited from it, with massive taxpayer funding of its rather odd if growing focus on “climate.”

In an August 15, 2007, email from Ruedy to Brazilian journalist Leticia Francisco Sorg, responding to Sorg’s request for Ruedy to say if warming is accelerating, Ruedy replied:

“To observe that the warming accelerates would take even longer observation times” than the past 25 years. In fact, it would take “another 50-100 years.”

This is a damning admission that NASA has been complicit in UN alarmism. This is not science. It is debunked advocacy.


The impropriety of such policy advocacy, let alone allowing unsubstantial scientific claims to become part of a media campaign, is self-evident.


Part Two

February 18, 2010


On December 31, 2009, NASA finally provided the Competitive Enterprise Institute with the documents I requested from them with an FOIA in August 2007.

My request asked NASA to release their internal discussions regarding errors of theirs materially effecting their temperature claims caught by Steve McIntyre.

NASA had stonewalled my request for more than two years.

Dr. James Hansen has an extraordinary history of alarmism and dodgy claims:

He has testified in support of the destruction of private property in the name of global warming alarmism and referred to coal rail cars as the equivalent of Nazi death trains, all while insisting that any president named George Bush was muzzling him.

He has proven himself a global warming zealot leading a taxpayer-funded institute.

On August 11, 2007, James Hansen emailed the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin:

As for the future in the US, you can look for the warming to become more obvious during the next decade or two.

However, observations and projections in the refereed literature which take into account the past decade of no warming, shifts in oceanic currents, and other, obviously dominant climate “forcings” have since turned the other direction.

Getting it dead wrong is close enough for government work, and it’s pretty clear that Hansen is only protected and still employed because he is a government employee who gets things wrong in a way that supports a politically favored agenda. Hansen’s nuttiness is acceptable nuttiness.


He is a sacred cow despite years of questionable practices and avocations.

Spinning madly in his defense during the August 2007 kerfuffle started by Steve McIntyre, Hansen repeatedly dismisses that NASA had ever presented 1934 as being warmer than 1998.


In the process, he serially refers to a 2001 paper with other NASA colleagues of which he was lead author.

Ruedy wrote to Hansen on August 23, 2007, apparently seeking to stop their office’s highest-profiled scientist from continuing to embarrass himself - and them:

The US temperature graph in our 1999 paper, based on GHCN data, shows 1934 0.5C warmer than 1998; 1998 was in 5th place behind 1921, 1931, 1938, 1953.


In the corresponding graph in our 2001 paper, now based on the carefully corrected [euphemism alert!] USHCN data, 1934 and 1998 are in first, 1921 in third place (NOAA who provided the USHCN data had 1998 slightly ahead of 1934).

The US table we had posted during all of 2006 showed 1998 and 1934 even at 1.24C (I got a copy from a journalist in Brazil, we don’t save the data).

In fact, the paper referenced here, Hansen et al. (2001), showed 1934 a whopping half a degree warmer than the next closest year, 1998.

After being embarrassed internally, Hansen says:

I think we want to avoid getting into more and more detail about ranking of individual years.

Yes. I suppose he would feel that way.

Not only was data maintenance not all that great a concern - despite NASA’s pronouncements of certainty and integrity, historical and otherwise - Hansen and NASA spent a good portion of August 2007 attempting to completely rewrite history. Particularly their own.

Ruedy emailed a NASA PR person named Leslie McCarthy, copying Hansen, on August 10, 2007. Ruedy advised McCarthy of the spin they would use to combat Steve McIntyre:

[McIntyre] concentrates on US time series which US covering less than 2% of the world is so noisy and has such a large margin of error that no conclusions can be drawn from it at this point.

The error Ruedy refers to is 0.5 Celsius, per Ruedy himself in his August 10, 2007, email to Kris French of National Geographic. In that email, Ruedy slurs McIntyre as a “global warming denier.”

Hansen emailed Dr. Donald E. Anderson, program manager at Earth Science Enterprise NASA Headquarters, on August 14, 2007:

If one wished to be scientific, instead of trying to confuse the public … one should note that single year temperatures for an area as small as the US (2% of the globe) are extremely noisy.

By this Hansen implicitly assesses NASA’s longstanding practice of touting temperature anomalies, U.S.-only and smaller than this, as being unscientific and designed to confuse the public.


NASA had for years made great hay of U.S.-only temperatures as being somehow meaningful when a warming was claimed, even when that warming was less than the amount they now dismiss as meaningless. He pitched a directly contrarian perspective when U.S.-only temps threatened warming claims.

In an email to Andrew Revkin on August 24, 2007, Hansen states:

The contrarians are cleverly mixing up these two matters, global and U.S., thus completely confusing the public discussion.

But it was NASA, and indeed Hansen’s GISS, that emphasized U.S. temperatures all along. Not “contrarians.” NASA ranked individual years, then suddenly said the exercise was simply not worthwhile when the numbers contradicted it.

Hansen’s discourses on this included telling Andrew Revkin on August 24, 2007:

I think we want to avoid getting into more and more detail about ranking of individual years. As far as I can remember, we have always discouraged that as being somewhat nonsensical, other that (sic) the question of what is the warmest year.

Hansen offered no such examples of that kind of discouragement, and indeed NASA had actively engaged in the practice - even though on that apparent priority, NASA’s numbers, claims, and rankings swung wildly.

Hansen also told Revkin on August 23, 2007:

As far as I know we do not make such a list. We don’t like such lists, because the results are not significant and are certain to differ from one group to another [meaning there is no agreement on temperatures claimed as known -- and down to a hundredth of a degree!]. It is generally the media that makes a list. We look for a new record high ["look for" is a bit of an understatement] but note that it is a virtual tie if the difference is small.

Hansen’s memory is faulty.


We have seen that substantial differences, such as that between 1934 and 1998 of up to 0.5 degrees Celsius, can subsequently, and rather magically, turn into a statistical tie of 0.02 degrees Celsius under NASA’s gentle ministrations.

An August 10, 2007, email from Ruedy to NASA’s Leslie McCarthy, copying Hansen, pleaded for McCarthy to pitch that:

The problem with rankings is that there are large clumps of years which are equal within the margin of error and rankings within these clumps are purely accidental.

Hansen emailed Revkin on August 23, 2007:

I believe we have clearly stated several times that the ranking [of years] does.

Old habits die hard, however, and later in this email, Hansen emphasizes 2005 as “the warmest year.”

Here is a selection of NASA press releases (links viewed on August 27, 2007):

“2005 Warmest Year in a Century”

“2006 was Earth’s Fifth Warmest Year”

“Top Four Warmest Years Worldwide Since the 1890s”

“The year 2003 is the third warmest year in the period of accurate instrumental data” (prominently mentions the two warmer years)

“The 2002 meteorological year is the second warmest year in the period of accurate instrumental data”

The efforts in August 2007 to reduce interest in NASA being caught making unsupportable claims about increasing U.S. temperatures were ad hoc tactics, used at the time because the U.S.-only and single-year measurements were the means in which Hansen and NASA were exposed as having sexed-up the temperature claims.

The Times’ Revkin diplomatically deferred responsibility for this focus, which NASA shared with a passion bordering on obsession, by writing to Hansen on August 10, 2007:

Given that quite a few folks (Gore and some enviros particularly) have often used the US temp trends in arguments for action (string of record years) it’s hard for me to ignore the reanalysis of those annual temps - even though my own focus remains global temp.


Essentially, should people always have paid less attention to US (48 state) trend as a meaningful signal of AGW? (now that all those earlier warm years intrude, it certainly makes the case that regional data can be a red herring).

“Regional data” has, of course, long been a mainstay of alarmist reporting on climate even though computer models are well-known as being simply incapable of making regional climate projections vs. global, due to the presence of oceans and mountains.


“Regional climate” is a way to find localized trends and claim they are meaningful to the global, when all they are is politically useful anecdotes (when they are or at least can be portrayed as of the right sort: warming, very dry/very wet, etc.). Note also the recognized inconvenience of being caught, and the “intrusion” of “all those earlier warm years.”


Given that Revkin had in the past transcribed NASA claims of the sort he here attributes to Gore, this is possibly little more than a bit of kissing up to Hansen, with an invitation for him to help massage and redirect the embarrassment.

Indeed - although Hansen essentially ducks Revkin’s question - Revkin dutifully transcribed Hansen’s line in a story in the New York Times downplaying “Hansen’s Y2k error.”


In the article, as in his email responding to praise by Ruedy for the article, Revkin is almost apologetic for even writing it - a full two weeks after the story had broken - but the story had become too difficult for Revkin to ignore any longer.

NASA scientist Ruedy, in a private email to Brazilian journalist Leticia Francisco Sorg on August 15, 2007, also reaffirms how the hypocrisy is so great that NASA is willing to claim that even thirty years is a “brief” period for purposes of observing things - if during those thirty years the warming that occurred is warming they can’t attribute to Man.


Otherwise, no - thirty years is plenty of time to draw conclusions.


Part Three

February 19, 2010


A principal theme of these NASA emails - and one that is illuminating in its exposition of advocacy and hypocrisy at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) - is the insistence that what turned out to be a false warming of 0.15 degrees in the U.S. record is meaningless, even if covering merely seven years (2000-2006, as opposed to a decadal or longer trend).

In an August 7, 2007, email from GISS’ Dr. Reto Ruedy to GISS director Dr. James Hansen, Ruedy says the correction had “little impact” on the U.S. record. In an email to New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin on August 9, 2007, Hansen characterizes the error as having been,

“well within the uncertainty bar we give” for the U.S. and “entirely negligible” globally.

In an email to Dr. Donald E. Anderson - program manager, Earth Science Enterprise, NASA Headquarters - on August 14, 2007, Hansen used the terms “minor,” “negligible,” and “less than the uncertainty” to describe the previously touted warming which was now shown to be an error.

This did not explain why the warming merited all of the hype in the preceding seven years.

Further, a week later Hansen privately wrote to Revkin that “[we] can add an uncertainty” to actually do what Hansen had been spinning to Revkin that they already do:

Indeed we already include a bar at several points on our temperature curve, but we note that it only includes the largest source of uncertainty in the temperature change (incomplete spatial coverage).

To add some further, curious texture to Hansen’s remarkably flexible view of what magnitude of warming is meaningful, note how in an August 14, 2007, email to GISS’ Makiko Sato and Ruedy, Hansen describes a claimed, much smaller warming between 1934 over 1998 of 0.02 degrees Celsius - which Hansen’s own 2001 paper had shown to be 0.5 degrees Celsius, a full half degree - as being “slightly warmer.”


It is fair to assume from the record of NASA GISS that, because 1934 is an older year, the disparity must be downplayed.


But it is also rather troubling that Hansen had forgotten his own work, serially rejecting the notion that he ever said 1934 was warmer than 1998, and his newer, operative claim that the difference is actually only 0.02 degrees Celsius, “much less than the accuracy” of their instruments.


Therefore, he says:

“Of course, scientifically, this is all nonsense.”

There is indeed nonsense in the various double standards that the emails reveal about NASA GISS, over how much and what kind of anomalies (warm or cool) are meaningful. Though not as he suggests.

Hansen also dismisses what had previously been the substantial relative warmth of 1934 over 1998 in the rankings of temperatures in an email to Bloomberg journalist Demian McLean on August 14, 2007:

In our 2001 paper we found 1934 slightly warmer, by an insignificant hair over, 1998.

But in fact that paper declared 1934 to be a whopping half a degree warmer than 1998. This couldn’t, and didn’t, last.

In an August 9, 2007, email from Ruedy to Hansen, Ruedy suggests an alternative method of bringing their data in line - internally, at least - which would cool the claimed twentieth century warming of under a degree by nearly one-third of that (0.3C). This suggestion was repeated by Ruedy the same day in an email to Gavin Schmidt.


Both missives revealed NASA’s new preferred tactic of not emphasizing the impact of U.S. temperatures in favor of emphasizing global temperatures, in order to diminish the importance of their U.S. temperature problem. This reveals a bias towards advocacy and activism as opposed to objective science, a highly questionable practice for a taxpayer-funded science office staffed with career employees.

Hansen emailed Times reporter Revkin on August 9, 2007:

[In fact] it is unclear why anyone would try to make something out of [the differences], perhaps not a light on upstairs?

This perspective ignores how Hansen’s office had for years aggressively made quite a lot out of such differences, smaller ones, in fact.


Now, when caught overstating the warming, changing and even losing historical data, he claims the differences are immaterial - and only someone not possessing full mental faculties would try to do such a thing as Hansen’s office had long done, with much smaller anomalies. Because those earlier, smaller anomalies were in support of the desired warming and related agenda that requires there to be warming.

Ruedy also spun for Revkin, trying to diminishing the magnitude of Hansen’s error:

To be remarkable, an observed change has to be a multiple of that standard deviation; compared to that, the errors caused by “bad” stations, urban heat island effect, etc., are of little importance.

Here we see how one can learn, and even grow, on the job.


Part Four

February 20, 2010

In August 2007, I submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), headed by long-time Gore advisor James Hansen and his right-hand man Gavin Schmidt (co-founder of the climate alarmist website

I did this because Canadian businessman Steve McIntyre - a man with professional experience investigating suspect statistical claims in the mining industry and elsewhere, including his exposure of the now-infamous “Hockey Stick” - noticed something unusual with NASA’s claims of an ever-warming first decade of this century. NASA appeared to have inflated its U.S. temperatures beginning in the year 2000.


My FOIA request asked NASA about their internal discussions regarding whether and how to correct the temperature error caught by McIntyre.

NASA stonewalled my request for more than two years, until Climategate prompted me to offer notice of intent to sue if NASA did not comply immediately. On New Year’s Eve, NASA finally provided CEI with the documents I requested in August 2007.

When I was almost finished reviewing the FOIA documents, I noticed that Al Gore’s Current news network was reporting that NASA had simultaneously published the documents. No press release had been issued - which NASA has also eschewed when correcting their cooked temperatures (after being caught). Yet in general, not issuing a press release on anything global warming-related is quite unlike NASA.

It was a tactic. What better way to take the sting out of revelations you hid for two years than to simply publish them at the same time - in non-searchable form, naturally - without a press release?


And then have your allies dismiss the explosive data?

“That’s old news … move on already!”

Indeed, for this and for reasons more specific to the “green” media, no one has yet written a story on the documents which achieved so much attention (and prompted so much green fury) less than a month prior.


But there is no way to credibly claim “old news!” to avoid a discussion of these revelations - the emails include noteworthy admissions explaining NASA’s reticence to let the public see what the public is paying for.

Our litigation, which we plan to file when NASA, as we expect given their record of behavior, deny our appeal in this case, will expose more of these practices, in detail.


The Current “defense”

Al Gore’s web network ran a rather silly blog post to minimize the NASA release, titled: “It’s ClimateGate 2.0 (… Not)”.


The post invites further scrutiny - now unfolding through the legal process - by anxiously stating:

Clearly there was no metaphorical “smoking gun” in the emails, because the CEI didn’t crow about a likely Climategate 2.0 following the emails’ release.

Deliberate procession is alien to the global warming alarmist. We’ve thoroughly examined the emails, and we’re crowing now.

The Current post takes pains to portray Canadian businessman Steve McIntyre as the bad guy, rather than the deliberate professional he has been in uncovering inappropriate behavior. Revealingly, the Current TV author tips his hat to inspiration provided by Howard University’s Joshua Halpern (who hides as the source of his often vitriolic missives behind the name “EliRabbett”).


The author of the Current post selects innocent passages from the NASA emails and presents them as somehow being representative proof that the hundreds of pages are benign. And this does not appear to be because he simply failed to encounter the damning information - rather, he clearly implies that he has read all of the emails.

Yet the Current TV author says something that is, at least in part, the truth:

Put simply, the emails show the GISS scientists acting professionally and in an open and transparent manner with reporters and McIntyre himself.

Yes, when dealing with McIntyre directly they were professional - though this followed internal, often nasty deliberations revealing a desire to deflect his legitimate inquiries.


When dealing with the media they were quite unprofessional, showing either evasiveness (dodging very specific questions from reporters from New York to Brazil) or a too-cozy relationship with reporters friendly to their cause (as noted here).

Regarding any implication that these emails reveal these scientists acting professionally outside of their direct dealings with McIntyre, I see no need to further rebut this point by drawing additional attention to the alarmists’ preferred approach of focusing on ad hominem attacks and name-calling, of which there is plenty in the revealed pages. Because that is not the primary story the emails expose, though directing attention to such behavior was the preferred tactic to distract from Climategate, the original.

But why change the subject to the prurient when the subject itself is so fascinating?

Check with PJM in coming weeks for our update and specifics when we announce the litigation against NASA and one other taxpayer-funded climate office refusing the taxpayer access to that for which the taxpayer paid 100%.


We will reveal numerous tactics which NASA and others used to hide public information from the public, protecting their highly lucrative franchise of global warming alarmism.