Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The final humiliation from Climategate

When the Climategate material was made public the warming crowd circled the wagons, insisted they meant nothing, and claimed they were the victims of climate skeptics acting as criminals who "hacked" into their sites. As the material made the rounds of the media, reports defending the warming advocates were replaced with more skeptical reports. Media outlets now saw a pattern of abuse. While the media was still on-board about warming panic the top warming scientists had lost their luster in the ideas of the press. The result has been more skepticism about the entire process and how material is being reported, as this blog has reported on recently.

When the material first materialized the scientists, whose actions were exposed, screamed criminal conspiracy. They were sure they were the victims of some sophisticated hacking effort. Recently the David King, a political appointee and a scientist, claimed that some foreign intelligence agency must have been behind the exposure. The hints were that it was the Russians.

But the U.K.'s left-0f-center Guardian newspaper, says that police investigations aren't turning up evidence of a hack job at all: "So far, the police investigation has got nowhere. It is not even clear whether the crime of computer data interception has actually occurred." The Guardian says that the University of East Anglia "has confirmed that all of this material was simply sitting in an archive on single backup CRU server, available to be copied."

The article notes that previously a warming skeptic had posted some data from the Climate Research Unit, which had been denied to him by the CRU. It was assumed that he, or someone helping him, had hacked the data. It later turned out that the data was on-line but that the CRU had deleted the links but leaving the data up for anyone to browse through if they stumbled upon it. In other wrods, there was no hacking, just the CRU was as careful with storing data as they appear to be with analyzing it.

One of the nasty skeptics stumbled across something similar. In an attempt to go to the CRU's site he came to the directory of all material on the site istead. This was due to an error at the CRU. This horrible skeptic then called the CRU and informed them that their own site was basically leaking information that they were hiding from the public. The Guardian says that after that warning the "CRU failed to batten down the hatches."

The Guardian quotes one skeptic on how such things happen. He said that files get put "in an ftp directory which was on the same central processing unit as the external webserve, or even worse, was on a shared driver somewhere to which the webserver had permissions to access. In other words, if you knew where to look, it was publicly available."

If true that is the final humiliation for the warmers from Climategate. As the warming loyalists at the Guardian put it, if this proves to be the case, as it is increasingly starting to look like, then "UEA may end up looking foolish. For there will be no one to arrest." This is precisely the reason this blog refused to call the release "hacking" as the mainstream media rushed to do. I stated that all we knew was that the data was out there. We had no proof it was hacked. It could have been intentionally leaked as well. We just didn't know. But since the media was quite anxious to make the warmers look good, and skeptics look villianous, they rushed to an unwarranted jugment—and not for the first time either. As a final precaution, we STILL DON'T KNOW.

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