13248379_10154192476063200_552999881567266410_o Now that Sou has written at length, I can throw in my few thoughts. The first of which is that it is all really very silly indeed, in so many ways, by so many people.

Firstly, what were Shukla, Maibach and all the others thinking when they did all of this from their work email accounts? As wiki says Edward Maibach is a widely recognized expert in public health and climate change communication; he’s a pro. So why is he acting like some naive child in the woods? Half way through they finally get a clue and swap to private email but good grief its a bit late by then. Idiots. They initially try to deny the FOIA requests on the – perfectly reasonable, to anyone in academia – grounds that it was nothing to do with their employment; they just happened to be doing it on what looked like work time. Which, in academia, doesn’t really separate from personal time anyway so who cares? Alas, it turns out that judges care. Note that (contrary to some reports I’ve seen) the letter wasn’t on departmental headed notepaper or anything like that.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, I think the entire idea of using RICO is stupid, as I’ve said elsewhere. However, I have to recognise that people of good faith disagree with me on that one, so I can’t criticise them too harshly for it. But to me, Shukla’s original letter is stupid in mixing science and politics too far: “strong agreement among the scientific community that climate change is real {yes, fine}, it is happening now {fine}, it is human-induced {yeah yeah the IPCC already said all this stuff}, and that we support his proposal [to use RICO] {WTF?}”. No, there is no “strong agreement among the scientific community” supporting Whitehouse’s idea to use RICO. The UCS come out of this looking fairly sane, as they back out of the letter (p 15 of that PDF) since they don’t think there’s a solid enough basis for it. Nor does John Holdren, for the Whitehouse, sound terribly enthusiastic in his thank-you-for-your-letter reply.

That’s enough about them. On the Dork Side, CEI get to jump up and down and cheer that a judge supported them, which is good for them briefly, but rather destroys their paranoid conspiracy theories that the world is against them. They get some mostly uninteresting emails to play with (and AFAIK they haven’t yet written a “here is what we learnt from the emails post”), but which inadvertently contain fascinating snippets like (thanks to Sou for the text version)

GA Tech climatologist Peter Webster (husband of Judy Curry) is a long-time friend of Shukla. He sent Shukla several emails asking Shukla to retract the letter. In those emails he states that Curry, Pat Michaels and Roger Pielke are actively collaborating with Marc Morano and well-funded groups to come after us. Curry, Michaels and PieIke apparently feel that our letter made them targets – so they are fighting back.

That’s pretty murky; Eli also picks up on it.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin O'Neill
    messaging Rudy
    2016/05/15

    I think you are misreading Shukla’s letter. The ‘we support’ probably should be read as the signatories to the proposed letter – not the scientific community as a whole.

    The letter written to President Obama would be consistent with this interpretation.

  2. #2 Eli Rabett
    http://rabett.blogspot.com
    2016/05/15

    FWIW, the released Emails had only Maibach as sender/receiver.

    [I think it was only GMU that was FOIA’d? If so I wonder why -W]

  3. #3 Dan Riley
    2016/05/16

    The only interesting part of the proposed RICO suit is discovery. Exxon and CEI aren’t subject to FOIA, so discovery is a way of leveling the information disclosure–and just look at what came out in discovery for the tobacco lawsuits.

    wrt why GMU, FOIA for public universities is covered by state FOIA (aka “sunshine”) laws, not the federal FOIA, so they vary by state. Virginia may have a particularly easy one. Also doesn’t apply to private universities, or organizations like UCS.

  4. #4 MMM
    2016/05/16

    I wonder if this will put public universities at (yet another) disadvantage when competing with private universities for hiring faculty…

  5. #5 Tom C
    2016/05/16

    Apparently everyone is reticent to discuss Dr. Shukla’s chicanery.

    [I think because it is an invention of the Dork Side. But I could be wrong -W]

  6. #6 Tom C
    2016/05/16

    [Sorry. If you want to make these kind of allegations, please at least bother to look up and provide references -W]

  7. #7 Tom C
    2016/05/16

    http://www.thegwpf.com/climate-science-scandal-deepens/

    Last year, tax records show that Shukla received a $333,000 salary and benefits from an organization he created called the “The Institute of Global Environment and Society” – a group that gets 90 percent of its revenue from government grants. His wife also received $166,000 in compensation from the group over the same period.

    The organization has been operating since 1991, and total payments from the group to the Shuklas since 2001 (the most recent year records are available) amount to $5.6 million, according to an analysis of old returns by the Free Beacon. –

    [Ah, a reference. But its from the GWPF and Faux, which will make people laugh at you – they both have little regard for facts. I think this is just a smear: if there was anything to it, it would be in the courts – this dates from last October, plenty of time to get some action if there was any substance -W]

  8. #8 Kevin O'Neill
    Franklin, WI USA
    2016/05/16

    Actually, IGES & COLA look like legitimate entities. They have a joint PhD program with George Mason University, real staff, and a real peer-reviewed publication history. Unlike, say, the GWPF.

  9. #9 See Noevo
    2016/05/17

    “As wiki says Edward Maibach is a widely recognized expert
    in public health and climate change communication; he’s a pro.”

    What kind of science degree does Maibach have to make him a widely recognized expert in public health?

    [I think you don’t understand science, and the way scientific expertise works, and is respected. It isn’t credentialist -W]

    “Half way through they finally get a clue and swap to
    private email but good grief its a bit late by then. Idiots.”

    They should have been more deliberately devious, like Hillary.

    [That seems irrelevant, as well as incomprehensible, and gets you onto the watch list -W]

    We have an idea what Hillary was trying to hide.
    But what were these climate crusader idiots trying to hide?

    [That’s a stupid question at this point. Do let us know when you’re prepared to publish your private email archive -W]

  10. #10 Russell the Stout
    wrong side of the tracks
    2016/05/17

    Is 300-400 K / yr high for these things? Is it possible the numbers are wrong?

  11. #11 See Noevo
    2016/05/17

    A couple points:

    1)
    It seems like Shukla was getting paid twice for essentially the same work. First from George Mason U., a public university, and second from IGES.

    Doesn’t some federal law prevent state employees from receiving outside remuneration for work which essentially is part of their state job?

    Maybe this violated George Mason U. ethics policy, as well.

    [That too looks like smear; see #7. If it was true, the Dork Side would be up in arms and in the courts. But they aren’t -W]

    2)
    I heard that the letter to Obama requesting RICO prosecutions was issued by IGES or from IGES’ address.
    If that’s true, that *might* be problematic. IGES, an organization funded by my tax dollars, seeking criminal prosecution of people like me who openly dispute the agenda and “research” conclusions of IGES.

    [You made that up -W]

  12. #12 Russell the Stout
    One furlong from the land of Nod
    2016/05/17

    Ah, Maibach president, not a foot soldier.

  13. #13 Colorado Wellington
    2016/05/17

    “What kind of science degree does Maibach have to make him a widely recognized expert in public health?”

    Doctor of Epiphany.

    “In 2006, while on a walk in the mountains – with Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber – Ed had an epiphany that forever changed his life. He realized that climate change is the ultimate threat to the public’s health and wellbeing, worldwide, and Ed responded by refocusing his work entirely on climate change prevention and adaptation. Ed moved to Mason in 2007 to join the communication faculty and create the Center for Climate Change Communication. Ed is a highly experienced public health and social change professional and a leading academic in the field of communication.”
    —–
    http://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/resources/sources/edward-w-maibach

  14. #14 Marco
    2016/05/17

    “IGES, an organization funded by my tax dollars, seeking criminal prosecution of people like me who openly dispute the agenda and “research” conclusions of IGES.”

    See Noevo is once again parroting the claims of others, thus showing an egregious failure to understand RICO.

    A small hint, See Noevo: if you believe it is about criminal prosecution of people like you, why has someone like Fred Singer never been in the dock for his direct role in the doubt manufacture by the tobacco industry?

  15. #15 matt
    2016/05/17

    Stay calm SN. Nobody is after anyone for “openly disput[ing] the agenda and “research” conclusions of IGES.”

    From the letter

    “…a RICO investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change”

  16. #16 Dan Riley
    2016/05/17

    Russell@10 asks a good question: “Is 300-400 K / yr high”. For any argument like this, we ought to ask “what would we expect to see”, and ground that expectation in actual facts, otherwise we end up with arguments from personal incredulity.

    So, some observations…GMU salaries are a matter of public record, see for instance

    http://data.richmond.com/salaries/2014/state/george-mason-university

    Shukla is definitely at the high end of the scale (not quite top ten, but he beats Tyler Cowen), but not out of line for a professor who’s also director of a center and an institute–profs that bring in that kind of grant money are highly sought after, and compensated accordingly.

    IGES and COLA are (now) both affiliated with GMU, see

    http://www.gmu.edu/resources/centers-institutes/

    so I’d expect that GMU administration are fully aware of the finances of both, and everything has cleared the GMU conflict of interest policy. Also, accounting rules on US government grants have gotten quite strict, much more so than a couple of decades ago.

    I don’t know enough about GMU’s institutional accounting procedures to hazard a guess as to Shukla’s total compensation. His GMU salary is a definite lower bound, but I don’t know if his IGES salary was fully independent of that, or if there’s any of the same money being counted twice.

    Finally, this has nothing at all to do with whether the RICO suit has merit, it is absolutely pure 100% unadulterated ad hominem.

  17. #17 Tom C
    2016/05/17

    Dan Riley –

    You are right, buddy. Everything above board and nothing to see here – move on.

    The fact that his wife and daughter were on the payroll – completely normal. Nasty skeptics! As Ed M said, Shukla is a “servant of humanity”.

    [I think it is fairly common, yes. Certainly seems to be amongst our MPs. Anyway, you’ll need to address the “if this is criminal, why is no-one suing” point if you want to take this further -W]

  18. #18 Paul Matthews
    United Kingdom
    2016/05/17

    From his own web page, Maibach is apparently “a communication scientist who is expert in the uses of strategic communication and social marketing to address climate change and related public health challenges.” :)

    I wonder if that page is to be updated. His wikipedia page should be.

  19. #19 dave
    Arlington, VA
    2016/05/17

    The real question is why does this group of scientists want to ban skeptical speech?

    [That isn’t the question, because that’s not what they are asking -W]

    Why do they want to criminalize the opposition?

    [They passionately believe in the justice of their cause and feel that stretching any law to its limits is justified due to the rightness of their cause -W]

    Since when has silencing skeptics become a reasonable scientific meethod.

    [No-one is trying to silence sceptics. And to be fair Exxon, when it was pushing crap, wasn’t being sceptical, it was being “sceptical”. Try to understand the difference -W]

    The concept of using RICO is the antithesis of science.

    [No, that isn’t true. I oppose them using RICO and I don’t agree with you: RICO, clearly, as a law, has some purposes. What you mean is that you dislike using RICO *in this case*. Don’t over-egg the pudding. The antithesis of science is denialism, e.g. WUWT or Republican congresscritters -W]

    Perhaps the real problem is that warmists cannot win the argument on the merits.

    [We already have won the argument, if you choose to phrase it in those terms; if you’ve had your head buried in the denialist sand, you might have missed it -W]

  20. #20 Tom C
    2016/05/17

    William – You don’t seem to get it. The scandal is that “it is fairly common”. That is how comfy the universities, and apparently you, are with corruption like this. What exactly did we get from his “Institute” for the $ 5.6 Million?

    [It is fairly common across society as a whole, not in science in particular. You’re only jumping up and down in this case because it happens to fit your ideological prejudices. Don’t pretend you’re interested in abstract justice -W]

  21. #21 Marco
    2016/05/17

    “The real question is why does this group of scientists want to ban skeptical speech?”

    And another pseudoskeptic who doesn’t know what RICO is about…sigh. You can keep on telling all the porkies you want, dave, don’t worry, no one will throw you in jail.

    The tobacco files show what it is all about. You might want to read about that, dave. You’ll love to read how certain organizations, quite often the same as those involved in spreading AGW confusion, let themselves be bought by the tobacco industry to spread doubt – doubt that the tobacco companies knew was not warranted (which was what got them convicted).

  22. #22 See Noevo
    2016/05/17

    To W:

    Me: “I heard that the letter to Obama requesting RICO prosecutions was issued by IGES or from IGES’ address. If that’s true, that *might* be problematic. IGES, an organization funded by my tax dollars, seeking criminal prosecution of people like me who openly dispute the agenda and “research” conclusions of IGES.”

    W: “You made that up”

    Dubya, maybe this is what I was thinking of:

    “The RICO letter was “inadvertently” posted on the IGES website, according to a statement posted on the institute’s domain…
    Smith notes his letter was prompted, in part, by the removal of the RICO letter from IGES’s website.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/10/climate-scientist-requesting-federal-investigation-feels-heat-house-republicans

  23. #23 See Noevo
    2016/05/17

    “[No-one is trying to silence sceptics. And to be fair Exxon, when it was pushing crap, wasn’t being sceptical, it was being “sceptical”. Try to understand the difference -W]”

    “[That seems irrelevant, as well as incomprehensible, and gets you onto the watch list -W]”

  24. #24 GoFigure
    United States
    2016/05/17

    They’re just not very bright, but definitely avid believers.

    That’s NOT an UNUSUAL combination.

  25. #25 Mal Adapted
    The middle of the road
    2016/05/17

    Marco:

    The tobacco files show what it is all about. You might want to read about that, dave.

    I’m pretty sure Dave won’t want to read about that. If he did, he might have to admit that “warmists” are right about something. That’s clearly unacceptable to him. Ideology creates reality for deniers like Dave. To them, it’s all about not letting warmists (whom he presumably identifies as leftist and/or green) “win”.

  26. #26 Clarence Darrow
    Avalon
    2016/05/18

    So you see nothing wrong with these academics and attorneys general attempting to criminalize political/scientific dissent but you think they’re completely daft for not being smart enough to avoid scrutiny and oversight? You need to sit down and seriously consider you priorities, sir.

    [Since I explicitly said that using RICO is a bad idea, I’m at a loss for how you came to that conclusion -W]

  27. #27 Steven Mosher
    United States
    2016/05/18

    “[I think it is fairly common, yes. Certainly seems to be amongst our MPs. Anyway, you’ll need to address the “if this is criminal, why is no-one suing” point if you want to take this further -W]

    The wheels of justice move slowly and lawsuits are just one form of institutional punishment.

    First this
    https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/10-1-15%20CLS%20to%20Shukla.pdf

    [That’s Lamar Smith. You’re not expecting any sort of truth to come from his direction are you? A better guide would be that if he supports it, it is probably wrong -W]

    GMU have just finished the audit

    http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/02/house-probe-reveals-audit-detailing-climate-change-researchers-double-dipping-with-taxpayer-funds/

    “Mr. Smith cites a memo from the school’s internal auditor in claiming that Mr. Shukla appeared to violate the university’s policy on outside employment and paid consulting. The professor received $511,410 in combined compensation from the school and IGES in 2014, according to Mr. Smith, “without ever receiving the appropriate permission from GMU officials.”

    We reached Mr. Shukla by phone and asked if George Mason had audited him. He replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk to you. I’m in a meeting.” Then he hung up. A spokesman for the school confirmed there was an audit and said that Mr. Shukla’s outside work didn’t interfere with his faculty job but declined to say whether Mr. Shukla had violated university rules.”

    It would appear that he has been Audited. the Audit has been obtained as of early march. Quotes from the audit ( which we cannot audit.. so thee is some doubt) indicate some sort of violation.

    An additional Letter has been sent. we shall see.

    There is also a request pending into the IRS. They move even more slowly.

    The point is you dont sue over this sort of issue.
    The IG of NSF will get to do his thing
    The Auditors of GMU got to do their thing.
    Then congress will twist some arms.. or not.

    You dont really want resolutions to these sorts of things.
    The smell from an open wound has a strong effect. twisting in the wind is also not pretty.

    That said, it is nice to know that if no one sues then nothing bad happened.

    [All of that is just quoting Smith. So it still looks like a smear to me. I’m really puzzled by you appearing to think that Smith has any credibility -W]

  28. #28 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2016/05/18

    In addition to Dr. Connolley’s rebuttal, I’d like to add one thing. There are a lot of oblique comments in the passages quoted.

    appeared to violate

    That means nothing. He may have done something illegal. On the other hand, he may not.

    We reached Mr. Shukla by phone and asked if George Mason had audited him. He replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk to you. I’m in a meeting.” Then he hung up.

    People being audited are often not told they are being audited. It’s a precaution to ensure that if they’ve done anything underhand, they aren’t able to hide it so the auditors can’t find it.

    Quotes from the audit ( which we cannot audit.. so thee is some doubt) indicate some sort of violation.
    “Indicate”, not “confirm”.
    TL;DR: This looks like very weak tea. In fact, it looks like somebody using insinuations because he has nothing solid but wants to attack.

  29. #29 Mal Adapted
    United States minus Texas
    2016/05/18

    W, in line to Steven Mosher:

    [All of that is just quoting Smith. So it still looks like a smear to me. I’m really puzzled by you appearing to think that Smith has any credibility -W]

    Mr. Mosher demonstrated genuine skepticism when he changed his mind about the surface temperature record, after participating in the BEST project. I’d be surprised if he weren’t as skeptical of politicians as he is of scientists.

    It’s not clear from Mr. Mosher’s #26 that he gives any credence to Rep. Lamar Smith’s scurrilous attack on climate science, ostensibly in the name of government transparency but ultimately on behalf of Smith’s sponsors in the fossil fuel industry. It looks to me like Mr. Mosher is merely pointing out that it’s risky to call for government power to be used against climate disinformers, since the same power can be turned against climate realists. I trust he’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

  30. #30 Howard
    2016/05/18

    IOW, people who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones. How much of the $650K per year do you think Dr. and Mrs. Shukla will lose over this RICO thing now that they have the chair overseeing NASA and NOAA riled up?

    This isn’t cricket and the Queensbury rules don’t apply. These self-righteous academics didn’t realize that they blundered into a game of Hardball armed with badminton rackets. Rep. Smith will continue to fire beanballs as long as he has the power to do so.

    They better pray Hillary wins with coattails or else they will have to go back to teaching at a community college.

  31. #31 Tom C
    2016/05/19

    [Spammed -W]

  32. #32 Russell.the Stout
    5 degrees east of south (magnetic)
    2016/05/19
  33. #33 Brad Keyes
    www.climatenuremberg.com
    2016/05/19

    [Spammed -W]

  34. #34 Howard
    2016/05/20

    Russell: Global Warming is real and the deniers lost. Why do you people insist on falling on your sword?
    How much unrealized profit did the EOM shareholders suffer due to global warming?
    Exxon/Mobil Stock Chart
    Perhaps you can point to a definitive Risk Assessment produced by Exxon 25+ years ago that computed how global warming would depress their net value to shareholders.

  35. #35 crandles
    2016/05/20

    Off topic

    Arctic sea ice extent range is usually small at this time of year:
    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/vishop-extent.html?N
    2003 to 2015 range is 11611k km^2 (2015) to 12302k km^2 (2009) a range of just 691k km^2. Currently 570k below this range at just 11041k km^2.

    Are you avoiding posts on this because you don’t want to bet on the sea ice being high this September?

    This year to be just a one off exceptional year with the trend continuing to flatten or at least remain less steep than 2002 to 2012, does seem more believable now than just after 2012 or 2007.

    Always someone believing none this year
    http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1535.0.html
    Not sure I have much appetite for betting on this year or longer term so I can’t really complain if you don’t either. But If I don’t ask perhaps unlikely to find out.

    [I have $10k riding on not-a-disaster this year; I’m avoiding posting because it looks like I may be wrong :-( -W]

  36. #36 Phil Hays
    Above sea level by more than 100 meters...
    2016/05/20

    Perhaps this post?

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/06/26/betting-on-sea-ice-10000/

    Hmm. Let’s see.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/vishop-extent.html?N

    and

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

    Does look possible for you to be wrong. If the delta between 2012 and 2016 stays the same, sea ice extent might go below 2 million km^2.

    You still might squeak out a “null and void”, if the weather turns cooler.

    http://www.cci-reanalyzer.org/

    Doesn’t look much cooler over the next week.

  37. #37 Kevin O'Neill
    Franklin, WI USA
    2016/05/21

    WC writes:” [I have $10k riding on not-a-disaster this year; I’m avoiding posting because it looks like I may be wrong :-( -W]”

    Over in the forum at Neven’s we find:

    Earliest date for IJIS sea ice extent to drop below 11,000,000 km2

    1. May 20, 2016
    2. May 29, 2015
    3. June 3, 2011

    Average date
    2003-2015: June 9
    2000s: June 15
    1990s: June 24
    1980s: July 3

    3.1Mkm^2 definitely is looking a bit dicey. Time to hedge?

    I understand your reasoning circa 2010, but even after reading Schroder & Connolley, and Tietsche et al I wasn’t convinced the models handled sea ice well enough to trust the projections.

    I think one of my main objections was that 2007 and 2010 were *natural* results of climatology – that, unlike the model experiments, did not require mathematical/unnatural perturbations. My (naive?) expectation was that the arctic would likely continue to warm and past losses should be a guide to future losses. I.e., there would never be a full recovery as long as the earth continued to warm.

  38. #38 Susan Anderson
    2016/06/06

    Late to the party.

    Depending on whether you attached a number, I think you might be OK on “not a disaster” – low but things are levelling off. My best guess about equivalent to 2012 and while in the long view that *is* disastrous, it might not be so for your bet. North Atlantic is cool for the season, but that’s probably irrelevant.

    I do wonder about that money. Did it include overhead or funding for research/graduate student(s)/secretary? I’m leaving out lab, because his work doesn’t seem to be in that line. Academic funding often does include those things, and if so it’s not that much. I’m assuming not since nobody mentioned it, but if people are missing that it’s important.

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