by Chelsea Schilling
December 21, 2009
This photo of
climate scientist and Wikipedia
was displayed on ScienceBlogs.com
A new report reveals a British scientist
and Wikipedia administrator rewrote climate history, editing more
than 5,000 unique articles in the online encyclopedia to cover
traces of a medieval warming period - something Climategate
scientists saw as a major roadblock in the effort to spread the
global warming message.
Recently hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's
Climate Research Unit expose a plot to eliminate the
Medieval Warm Period, a
400-year era that began around A.D. 1000, the Financial Post's
Lawrence Solomon reports.
The warming period is said to have improved agriculture and
increased life spans, but scientists at the center of the
Climategate e-mail scandal believed
the era undermined their goal of spreading concern about global
warming as it pertains to today's climate.
Solomon noted the warming period presented a dilemma long before the
Climategate e-mail scandal. A 1995 e-mail predating the recent
Climate Research Unit scandal was sent to geophysicist David
A major climate-change researcher told
"We have to get rid of the
Medieval Warm Period."
Some scientists later expressed concern
about erasing the period. See "Global
Warming or Global Governance? - What the media refuse to tell you
about so-called climate change".
One chief practitioner identified as Keith Briffa, said in a
Sept. 22, 1999, e-mail,
"I know there is pressure to present
a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in
a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the
situation is not quite so simple…
I believe that the recent
warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago."
Briffa and other scientists, with the
help of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, published a well-known symbol of their movement:
the hockey stick chart, an illustration reproduced in textbooks,
media reports and the pages of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, or IPCC, report.
(omitting Medieval Warm Period)
as it appeared in the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001 report
However, the graph showed stable
temperatures over the last 1,000 years and omitted any indication of
the warming period.
"But the U.N.'s official verdict
that the Medieval Warm Period had not existed did not erase the
countless schoolbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly
sources that claimed it had," Solomon wrote.
"Rewriting those would take decades,
time that the band members didn't have if they were to save the
globe from warming."
Instead, the group created a website
One e-mail addressed criticism of
the hockey stick graph and any suggestions that today's temperatures
were not the hottest on record.
"The idea is that we working climate
scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid
response to supposedly 'bombshell' papers that are doing the
rounds" in aid of "combating disinformation," a Dec. 10, 2004,
e-mail to the Climate Research Unit from Gavin Schmidt
Excerpt from Gavin
Dec. 10, 2004, e-mail
The RealClimate.org team consisted of,
Solomon revealed that Connolley, one man
in the nine-member team who is a U.K. scientist, a software engineer
and Green Party activist, took control of Wikipedia's entries to see
that any trace of the true climate history would be erased.
Beginning in February 2003, Connolley rewrote Wikipedia entries on
global warming, the greenhouse effect, the instrumental temperature
record, the urban heat island, on climate models and on global
cooling, according to the report.
In February, he began editing the
Little Ice Age. By August, he began to rewrite history
without the Medieval Warm Period.
In October, he turned to the
"He rewrote articles on the politics
of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of
the band," Solomon explains.
"Richard Lindzen and
two of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, were
among his early targets, followed by others that the band
especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the
Medieval Warm Period."
Through his role as a Wikipedia
administrator, Connolley is said to have created or rewritten 5,428
unique Wikipedia entries.
"When Connolley didn't like the
subject of a certain article, he removed it - more than 500
articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand,"
"When he disapproved of the arguments that others
were making, he often had them barred - over 2,000 Wikipedia
contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from
making further contributions."
Meanwhile, followers who adhered to
Connolley's climate views "were rewarded with Wikipedia's
blessings," Solomon contends.
Through his control of the Wikipedia
pages, Connolley is said to have,
"turned Wikipedia into the
missionary wing of the global warming movement."
Facts about the Medieval Warm Period
and criticism of global warming doctrine were purportedly scrubbed
from Wikipedia's pages.
"With the release of the Climategate
e-mails, the disappearing trick has been exposed," Solomon
"The glorious Medieval Warm Period
will remain in the history books, perhaps with an asterisk to
describe how a band of zealots once tried to make it disappear."
A Wikipedia arbitration committee has
stated in the past:
"William M. Connolley has, on a
number of occasions, misused his administrator tools by acting
A July 31, 2006, article in
the New Yorker described Connolley
"victim of an edit war over the
entry on global warming, to which he had contributed."
"After a particularly nasty confrontation with a skeptic, who
had repeatedly watered down language pertaining to the
greenhouse effect, the case went into arbitration," the report
"User William M. Connolley strongly pushes his POV [point of
view] with systematic removal of any POV which does not match
his own," his accuser charged in a written deposition.
"His views on climate science are
singular and narrow."
Connolley said Wikipedia,
"gives no privilege to those who
know what they're talking about."
Connolley has made edits in numerous Wikipedia entries,
including articles titled,
biography of scientist William M. Gray, writing that
Gray's "views on global warming are controversial."