Lives of the Climate Bloggers (2): Michael H. Kelly


Apologies to Michael Kelly for not linking properly to his site, which is at

Thanks Paul Matthews


[One of the joys of a work like Vasari’s “Lives of the Artists” or Aubrey’s “Brief Lives” is the prominence afforded to the otherwise totally obscure. That’s the policy here, too.]

Steve McIntyre, in one of his articles about Climategate

says this:

“The very first email (1. 0826209667.txt) is about Yamal – an opening scene wittily described by Michael H. Kelly (not the Michael Kelly of the Oxburgh panel) in an overlooked account of the emails shortly after they became public:

‘Like an Aristophanes satire, like Hamlet, it opens with two slaves, spear-carriers, little people. Footsoldiers of history, two researchers in a corrupt and impoverished mid-90s Russia schlep through the tundra to take core samples from trees at the behest of the bigger fish in far-off East Anglia. Stepan and Rashit don’t even have their own e-mail address and like characters in some absurdist comedy must pass jointly under the name of Tatiana M. Dedkova. Conscientious and obliging, they strike a human note all through this drama. Their talk is of mundane material concerns, the smallness of funds, the expense of helicopters, the scramble for grants. They are the ones who get their hands dirty, and their vicissitudes periodically revived my interest during the slower stretches of the tale, those otherwise devoted to abstruse details of committee work and other longueurs. ‘We also collected many wood samples from living and dead larches of various ages. But we were bited by many thousands of mosquitos especially small ones.’ They are perhaps the only likeable characters on the establishment side, apart from the exasperated and appalled IT man Harry in the separate ‘Harry_read_me’ document, and I cheered up whenever they appeared.’”

and he gives this reference

The link no longer works, but it’s on the wayback machine at

[Please donate. If I weren’t a pensioner living on half the minimum euro-pension thanks to a variety of bureaucratic insanities which needn’t concern us I’d be supporting the Wayback machine – plus Michael H. Kelly, if he’s still in existence.]

Michael Kelly’s site is/was the work of an author who discovered the Climategate files, as we all did, and decided to investigate. But whereas you and I had a quick look and then went on to our favourite blogs to find out what everyone else thought about it, Michael H. Kelly stayed with the files – for several days and nights it seems, right to the end. And he wrote down his thoughts as they came to him – the James Joyce of the History of Science.

When I was contemplating writing “Apocalypse Close” I first contacted Mike Kelly to ask his permission (I recalled vaguely that  he’d spoken about the suitability of the Climategate files as material for a comic novel). It was easy enough to find his site (Google “Climategate + Aristophanes”  and you don’t get thousands of hits) and he kindly replied saying he had no intention of pursuing this idea. So I went ahead. Though the primary inspiration for the idea of “Apocalypse Close” came from the sight of George Monbiot  investigative journalist  with his head up the arse of George Monbiot, green activist, I cede to Michael H. Kelly the honour of being the first satirist of the Age of Global Warming.

Steve’s quote from Mike Kelly continues thus:

“’Slaves’ is horseshit, and ‘footsoldiers’ insulting, but if scientists are allowed to put a creative spin on facts, I can certainly do so. They are respected scientists: in fact, it emerges, eminent or destined to be eminent. But they talk funny and are at the beck and call of CRU, are financially dependent on them; when the film is made they will be comedy relief, played by Alexei Sayle and the dopey one out of The Fast Show.

In the early parts of the story those who are to become the bigger players are not much better off, though. The mails start in 1996 when they have not yet attained world fame and the ear of statesmen, and often do not know where their next grant is coming from. There are moments of poignance:

“As always I seem to have been away bullshiting and politiking in various meetings for weeks! I try to convince myself that this is of use to us as a dendrochronological community but I am not so sure how much that is really true these days.” [0846715553]

I was intending to continue this post with a “best of”, a compilation of quotes. But it can’t be done. Mike’s blogpost is a work of art, and defies selective quoting. The Royal Society has an annual prize for the best science writing, and there’s the Samuel Johnson prize for the best non-fiction. I don’t think Mike’s work is going to be considered, somehow.

I urge you all to read the original. Since I know you’re a lazy lot and you won’t, I append the next few paragraphs. Read this, Alice Bell, lecturer in History of Science. Read this, Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society. Read this Mike Hulme, plaideur for the greater involvement of literary types in the climate discussion – read this and weep for your future reputations:

“The first disquieting note, the first thing that causes the novice to this to frown with unease or hang his mouth open with alarm, and the experienced skeptic to laugh bitterly, comes ten mails in, text document 0842992948. Two scientists – one cajoling the other to try to wring more from his data than the latter thinks it warrants, to try to turn some mildly interesting samples into a reconstruction of past climate – share a joke about a third who appears to have been notoriously fastidious about jumping to conclusions: ‘Are you not being (in the time honoured Don Graybill fashion) too demanding of the response function results when you say deriving a transfer function is not justified? We all strive for perfection but does it exist? Seriously, it would be easier as regards publication policy to get the Editor to accept a reconstruction…’

“Keith Briffa to one Gary Funkhouser. Funkhouser laughs but declines the suggestion:

“’I really wish I could be more positive about the Kyrgyzstan material, but I swear I pulled every trick out of my sleeve trying to milk something out of that. It was pretty funny though – I told Malcolm what you said about my possibly being too Graybill-like in evaluating the response functions – he laughed and said that’s what he thought at first also. The data’s tempting but there’s too much variation even within stands. I don’t think it’d be productive to try and juggle the chronology statistics any more than I already have – they just are what they are (that does sound Graybillian).’ [0843161829]

“Silly old finicky Graybill died some years ago. I had to do an internet search for this Gary Funkhouser who – sheepishly, laughing at himself – manages to resist temptation: unlike Briffa he has not become a household name in climate science.

“A while later, Briffa is being interviewed by New Scientist [0845217169]: a draft of the article is copied into an e-mail to him from the reporter. It details efforts to isolate man’s fingerprint on weather patterns: at this point problems with the theory, the models and the raw data can still be admitted to outsiders. It is still 1996 and the existence of a Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age may be acknowledged. There is frank, excited talk of how the problems might be resolved. Keith’s on a high: he may be the man to do it. ‘The modellers are queuing at Briffa’s door to find out what his tree-ring data shows about the real world beyond the computer simulations.’

“Even knowing how the story ends, I found their enthusiasm infectious. A glimpse of men doing what they were born to do is always vicariously exhilarating, the spectacle of humans applying their intelligence uplifting.

But already the fatal flaw is evident. One of the more cautious scientists, one who has actually fought with the IPCC to keep caveats as to the uncertainty of models within their reports, one who does not underestimate natural variability, has set up a group to examine patterns of forcings on the climate. He says, ‘What we hope is that the current patterns of temperature change prove distinctive, quite different from the patterns of natural variability in the past.’

I think they are not supposed to ‘hope’ things in that way. There is a human tendency to magnify the evidence that proves the things we hope to find and diminish that which does not, and scientists of all people are supposed to guard rigorously against this. They are a forensic team looking to bring a murder home to a pre-determined suspect. Without even being sure there is a body.

The journalist says: ‘For climatologists, the search for an irrefutable “sign” of anthropogenic warming has assumed an almost Biblical intensity.’ I don’t think I need point out how that sentence should have sounded alarm bells.”

And so on for forty pages in my conserved document. When the history of climate warmism comes to be written, the comments of one Michael H. Kelly will be a key testament to the fact that the lies of the politico/scientific establishment were obvious to any independent critical mind. This simple fact is important.

About Geoff Chambers

Retired illustrator (children's magazines, religious education textbooks, an Encyclopaedia of Christianity, gay contact and female fitness magazines, pornographic strip cartoons etc.) Retired lecturer in English and History of Art in a French University; ardent blogger on climate hysteria, banned five times from the Guardian and twice from the Conversation. Now blogging at
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11 Responses to Lives of the Climate Bloggers (2): Michael H. Kelly

  1. j ferguson says:

    You are right, Geoff, that stuff is great. Somehow there is an air of Jack and the Beanstalk to all this. Substitute grant for cow, twigs for beans, and the castle in the sky that is dendrochronology for the beanstalk.

    I am hoping you will get to a life of our IT sufferer of HarryReadme fame.

  2. alexjc38 says:

    The Michael Kelly material is pure gold – hope he’s still around. Really, it’s the kind of writing where you start reading, can’t stop and long for more.

    Alice, Paul and Mike, though, I fear won’t be reading it, or if they do, the content will probably just bounce harmlessly off their mind shields. For Alice, I think class war comes first and science second, and as for the others too, I suspect that at the end of the day, politics will always trump curiosity and the quest for knowledge and the truth.

    And regarding knowledge and the truth, Kelly has managed to achieve, in his obscure blog, precisely what legions of investigative journalists the world over have strikingly failed to do, over Climategate. Thank you, Michael. And thank you, Geoff, for keeping this material alive.

  3. I’m only a third of the way through, but this is brilliant stuff. Is this the same “Michael H, Kelly” as ?

  4. Yes, and he also wrote other books in a similar style under pseudonyms such as
    this one by ‘Ulrich Haarburste’

  5. .. and this one by ‘Sunny McCreary’.

    Both are referred to at his web site if you rummage around the archive (follow Geoff’s link and delete the cru)

  6. Pingback: A hilarious view of Climategate I’ve never read before | Watts Up With That?

  7. Dear Geoff,

    A premature obituary! This is like the time I faked my own death to see if my loved ones would cry.

    The direct link should work now. My website only disappeared a few days ago, just about the time you linked me. My host has been down, but it’s back now and I hope isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future.

    Thanks for the kind words. I only wish the piece deserved them more or that someone else had done similar better. I think I’m prouder of the CRU Rorschach tests or CRU porn stash:

    I’m delighted to discover you have a blog (thanks to Paul for alerting me to this piece) and that Apocalypse Close exists.What I have read so far is excellent work and I will return to devour the rest at leisure.

    I think when you contacted me I wrote to you that what was really needed was a Joe Orton-esque play about AGW, a ‘What the Butler Saw’ set in a CRU-type institution, the comic virtue of Orton being that his characters, like the hockey team scientists, simply can’t hear how mad their pronouncements sound or the sinister implications of what they are saying.

    This is still needed and I cough and raise eyebrows at you promptingly.


    Michael Kelly


    I’m NOT the Michael H Kelly that shows up from Jonathan’s Amazon link but I did write the ones Paul links (the ‘Godawful Life’ book swipes at Warmists in passing but is mainly a spoof of misery memoirs and is in extreeemely bad taste).

  8. Michael Kelly
    My apologies for my presumptious announcement of your demise. You may be interested in this, with my comments, and the comment of Steve McIntyre upthread. You have fans. (Any reactions fromRussia?)

  9. que sais-je says:

    (Right now I’m not going to try to present an in depth study on Michael H. Kelly’s take on the early Climategate, but…)

    …Additional musings on Kelly’s thoughts on news media and on a gainful factor of increasing atmospheric CO2…

    To some perhaps already known from the “JFK Zapruder Hoax” analysis, the physicist John Costella, too, dedicated an annotated edition to the The Climategate Emails (edited and published December 2009). In particular, he also dedicated that work to the memory of John L. Daly who is discussed in the first blog post of the series “Lives of the Climate Bloggers”.

    Kelly assumes – maybe insightfully – at the end of his satirical Climategate work-up:

    “I suppose big business has geared itself up for carbon trading now, and I suppose that includes newspaper owners. The ‘environment editors’, who probably outnumber actual journalists by now, are also too invested in it. We may be screwed.”

    That seemed then, back in 2009/2010, to be the right observation, and so far, we can be aware of other delicate tasks, for instance, of some kind of “spirals of silence”, or even of – what is called in Germany – “Schweigekartelle”. – – The last sentence of the forementioned Kelly quote reminded me to this “meme”:

    “I think we are fucked”

    – the even more pessimistic, but famous attitude of this blog’s old acquaintance Stephen Emmott[1], who reveals (what some/many other followers of “Agenda 21ism” also express): radical hopelessness, while – to Emmott’s and my chagrin – Emmott takes, as far as I can tell, solely negative extremisms into account – and unfortunately (but apparently rather insightful, too) he envisions in the end – probably staged “violent” gun fights.

    Quite opposite to Emmott’s eventual pandemonic drama, Kelly’s (in this particular case not elaborated) point of view with regard to CO2 is that

    “increased CO2 is good for us – more agriculture, etc.”.

    With all due respect to one-sided apostles of CO2 temperance, over all, seemingly, we have to agree for one moment on that example in biochemistry: A higher CO2 content in the atmosphere (a considerably higher CO2 content than the current one, for example doubled) is a non-negligible, well known, so to speak, critical success factor for approaching a land of milk and honey; that’s the direction where possibly our strongest evidence in CO2 related climate science by now is pointing to: Researchers are showing the mainly beneficial efficiency of increased atmospheric CO2 – by enhanced enabling of the energizing process of photosynthesis in plants, worldwide.

    The popular science author John D. Barrow refers – so I assume (on the basis of his bibliography provided for the chapter (“Far from the madding crowd: the size of populations”) in his book The Artful Universe. The Cosmic Source of Human Creativity (Oxford University Press, 2005, first published 1995)) – to Thure E. Cerling’s study upon a special model evaluation, “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; evidence from Cenozoic and Mesozoic Paleosols”, American Journal of Science (Vol. 291, April 1991, p. 377-400) (according to Google Scholar cited 428 times; pay-walled), when Barrows explains (Barrows 1995, p. 72f.):

    “The foundation stone of the entire pyramid of life is the amount of solar energy available on the Earth’s surface, coupled with the efficiency with which it can be incorporated into plants by the process of photosynthesis. On average this process is very inefficient. Only about one per cent of the incoming solar energy is used to produce sugars in plants.
    The reasons for this gross inefficiency—twenty or thirty times lower than that of good man-made machines—are various. Only a fraction of the Sun’s rays falls in wavebands that are energetic enough to initiate photochemical reactions. The rest do nothing more than slightly warm the surfaces of plants. The intensity levels in the various wavebands received by terrestrial plants are determined by the internal astrophysics of the Sun and by its distance from the Earth. But the weak link in the entire photosynthesis chain, which is responsible for the inefficient use of solar energy by plants, is the lack of the raw material that photo-synthesis uses to make food sugars: carbon dioxide gas. Only 0.03 per cent of our terrestrial atmosphere is in the form of carbon dioxide. This is the bottleneck that prevents more solar energy entering the food chain. Even if the intensity of sunlight were greatly increased, the efficiency of sugar production would barely change, because there is not enough carbon dioxide to exploit the extra sunlight.*
    Thus, because of the scarcity of carbon dioxide, the total food energy available at the base of the food chain for predators to take a slice at the top of each level is just one per cent of the total solar energy falling on the Earth’s surface. Ultimately, the maximum size of animal predators, and their sparsity, is a reflection of the dearth of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    * As one might expect, when plants are grown under artificial conditions, with more carbon dioxide added to the air, they make more efficient use of the incident sunlight.” [Bold font by ‘que sais-je’]

    The German Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who appeared in some inconvenient “Agenda 21ian” Climategate emails (confer for instance, for starters, contextual quote-mining by ‘willard‘), said, then fooled by – or fooling with – the so-called IPCC-Himalaya-Propaganda pre-Climategate, 2009, in a lengthy German national broadcasting interview/show, titled „Die lange Nacht des Klimas“, with respect to the USA:

    “[S]ome of the wisest heads of the country sit on the Advisory Board; for instance, science advisor John Holdren is a good friend of mine” [translation by ‘que sais-je’].

    On influences from/of/on the media Schellnhuber told us:

    “[I]n the U.S. there is no civil society that can – just as in Europe – dominate, or at least influence the media intellectually” [translation by ‘que sais-je’] (see for example here, especially at the 3:40, 5:07 and 9:10 minute marks).

    I encourage Kelly to do what he wishes:

    “I would like to do a paper on the spatial correlation, or complete lack of it, of the CRU climate change team. They are never on the same landmass at the same time.

    Focus. […]”

    And I encourage as well any other person to do so, passionately; to speak or write as clear as possible and to read and watch the many media.

    Lately, in a different field, I stumbled for example upon an intriguing photo by Shannon Hicks

    (Newtown Bee; confer also the widely circulated Associated Press article “Secrecy shrouds Sandy Hook shooting investigation” (24. November 2013) (confer respectively “a police officer leads two woman and a child from Sandy Hook Elementary School”); a picture that – according to my view – seems to show spurious correlations with regard to the proportions of the people to the cars (…the depicted people appear to be too little…). Let there be enough eyes that are focused on separating the wheat from the chaff!


    [1] Meanwhile, Emmott gave, for instance, a TV interview to Germany’s channel 3Sat (the national broadcasting company), Kulturzeit, „Futurolgie. Ein Orakel anlässlich der Buchmesse Frankfurt“; also, Emmott’s book has been reviewed and promoted in a “MoMa” book tip: see here (confer with regard to MoMa also the YouTube video „Moma Klimalügner – Ben Wettervogel lügt für CO2 Propaganda“ by Hagbard Celine Son, where Wettervogel claimes:

    “We may not necessarily have more storms in the world, but then, the ones we have now, are significantly more violent.” [translation by ‘que sais-je’]

    Wettervogel is unaware of the “official” explanation (confer IPCC SREX 2012) that there are not “more storms”? and that their intensity is not increasing? or is he a weather data rebel, like Emmott in his book, who suggests that in recent times there were more extreme weather events?). Further, Emmott has been reviewed by the RBB (22.10.2013) and by the SWR2 (both are German tax financed public radio broadcaster). Also the Austrian public radio and TV broadcaster ORF has a review of Ten Billion (22.11.2013).

    to be continued…

  10. Don B says:

    Tom Nelson copied the piece:

    It was all wonderful. And sad. Sad that most media did not understand, and/or care.

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