by Christopher Horner
February 17, 2010
In August 2007, I submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests to NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies
headed by long-time Gore advisor James Hansen and his
right-hand man Gavin Schmidt (and
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
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”
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
The impropriety of such policy advocacy,
let alone allowing unsubstantial scientific claims to become part of
a media campaign, is self-evident.
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.
stonewalled my request for more than two years.
Dr. James Hansen has an extraordinary history of alarmism and
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
George Bush was muzzling
He has proven himself a global warming
zealot leading a taxpayer-funded institute.
On August 11, 2007, James Hansen emailed the New York Times’
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
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
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
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
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
Hansen emailed Revkin on August 23,
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
“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
“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
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
“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.
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
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
It is fair to assume from the record of
NASA GISS that, because 1934 is an older year, the disparity must be
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
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
And then have your allies dismiss the
“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.
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,
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
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
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