[asa] Climate Progress

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Dec 12 2009 - 17:53:57 EST

The web site Climateprogress.org is one place to find out what is
happening in the denialists' attack on science. Many of them just
don't understand how scientists work.

The issue below contains some rebuttals to the denialists about the
hacked emails.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Climate Progress <jromm@americanprogress.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 2009 18:05:54 +0000
Subject: Climate Progress
To: hossradbourne@gmail.com

Climate Progress

Michael Mann updates the world on the latest climate science and responds
to the illegally hacked emails

Posted: 28 Nov 2009 07:35 AM PST

Michael Mann, one of the countrys leading climatologists, has coauthored a
major new review and analysis of climate science since the 2007 IPCC
report. Mann, Director of Pennsylvania State Universitys Earth System
Science Center, is much attacked by the anti-scientific disinformers
because of his work on the paleoclimate hockey stick reconstructions of
temperature over the past couple of millennia. Contrary to what the
disinformers continue to say, however, the hockey stick was essentially
vindicated by the National Academy of Sciences (see NAS Report and

Since some of his email exchanges were made public by the recent illegal
hack of documents from the University of East Anglia, he has also
distributed a response to various members of the media and bloggers, which
I reprint in full below.

Misrepresentation of these emails is so common that the Washington Post
issued one of the fastest retractions/corrections in its history. I had
blogged on their November 25 op-ed Climate of Denial here The newspaper
that publishes George Will (and Sarah Palin) editorializes: “Many —
including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible.” Well,
one day later, they clarified one of their assertions about Mann (see
here). So this should be a cautionary tale to the media to go to the
primary source before simply repeating what others have said.

Before reprinting Manns comments on the key emails, let me focus on what is
far more important the science. As the UKs Met Office, NERC and the Royal
Society recently wrote, “even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence
for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has
strengthened.” Now we have the detailed scientific basis for such

Mann is a coauthor of The Copenhagen Diagnosis, in which the 26 leading
climate researchers document the key findings in climate change science
since the publication of the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. They conclude that several
important aspects of climate change are occurring at the high end or even
beyond the expectations of only a few years ago:

Without significant mitigation, the report says global mean warming could
reach as high as 7 degrees Celsius by 2100.

And that plausible worst case scenario would cause unimaginable harm
including to this country (see UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change,
13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years,
but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon”).
And yes, that scenario is quite different from the simple analysis of what
happens if the nation and the world just keep on our current emissions
path. We’ve known that end-of-century catastrophe for a while (see “M.I.T.
doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic
warming of 20°F“).

None of this will be a surprise to those who follow the scientific
literature or read CP. Here are the most significant recent climate change

Surging greenhouse gas emissions: Global carbon dioxide emissions from
fossil fuels in 2008 were nearly 40% higher than those in 1990. Even if
global emission rates are stabilized at present –day levels, just 20 more
years of emissions would give a 25% probability that warming exceeds 2oC.
Even with zero emissions after 2030. Every year of delayed action increase
the chances of exceeding 2oC warming.

  Recent global temperatures demonstrate human-based warming: Over the past
25 years temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.190C per decade, in
every good agreement with predictions based on greenhouse gas increases.
Even over the past ten years, despite a decrease in solar forcing, the
trend continues to be one of warming. Natural, short- term fluctuations are
occurring as usual but there have been no significant changes in the
underlying warming trend.

Acceleration of melting of ice-sheets, glaciers and ice-caps: A wide array
of satellite and ice measurements now demonstrate beyond doubt that both
the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass at an increasing
rate. Melting of glaciers and ice-caps in other parts of the world has also
accelerated since 1990.

  Rapid Arctic sea-ice decline: Summer-time melting of Arctic sea-ice has
accelerated far beyond the expectations of climate models. This area of
sea-ice melt during 2007-2009 was about 40% greater than the average
prediction from IPCC AR4 climate models.

  Current sea-level rise underestimates: Satellites show great global
average sea-level rise (3.4 mm/yr over the past 15 years) to be 80% above
past IPCC predictions. This acceleration in sea-level rise is consistent
with a doubling in contribution from melting of glaciers, ice caps and the
Greenland and West-Antarctic ice-sheets.

  Sea-level prediction revised: By 2100, global sea-level is likely to rise
at least twice as much as projected by Working Group 1 of the IPCC AR4, for
unmitigated emissions it may well exceed 1 meter. The upper limit has been
estimated as – 2 meters sea-level rise by 2100. Sea-level will continue to
rise for centuries after global temperature have been stabilized and
several meters of sea level rise must be expected over the next few

  Delay in action risks irreversible damage: Several vulnerable elements in
the climate system (e.g. continental ice-sheets. Amazon rainforest, West
African monsoon and others) could be pushed towards abrupt or irreversible
change if warming continues in a business-as-usual way throughout this
century. The risk of transgressing critical thresholds (“tipping points”)
increase strongly with ongoing climate change. Thus waiting for higher
levels of scientific certainty could mean that some tipping points will be
crossed before they are recognized.

  The turning point must come soon: If global warming is to be limited to a
maximum of 2oC above pre-industrial values, global emissions need to peak
between 2015 and 2020 and then decline rapidly. To stabilize climate, a
decarbonized global society – with near-zero emissions of CO2 and other
long-lived greenhouse gases – need to be reached well within this century.
More specifically, the average annual per-capita emissions will have to
shrink to well under 1 metric ton CO2 by 2050. This is 80-90% below the
per-capita emissions in developed nations in 2000.

The time to act is now if not sooner.

Now back to Mann and the emails.

As noted, Mann has been a primary target of the disinformers because of the
hockey stick. Yet even more important than the fact that the original
analysis was defensibly correct, is that the conclusions were correct
[which could be true even if the analysis had flaws in it]. Is the planet
now as hot (or hotter) than it has been in a millenium? Try two millennia
(see “Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now
than in past 2,000 years“). See also “Human-caused Arctic warming
overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, ’seminal’ study finds.” That’s
why climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said
last month, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade
the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”

Now Mann is being attacked again, again primarily by those misrepresenting
his work and what he has written. You can find excellent explanations of
many of those emails and the issues they raise at RealClimate (here). Here
are Manns comments on the hacked emails:

1. Ive just completed Mikes Nature trick of adding in the real temps to
each series for the last 20 years (i. e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961
for Keiths to hide the decline. (from Phil Jones).

Phil Jones has publicly gone on record indicating that he was using the
term trick in the sense often used by people, as in bag of tricks, or a
trick to solving this problem , or trick of the trade. In referring to our
1998 Nature article, he was pointing out simply the following: our proxy
record ended in 1980 (when the proxy data set we were using terminates) so,
it didnt include the warming of the past two decades. In our Nature article
we therefore also showed the post-1980 instrumental data that was then
available through 1995, so that the reconstruction could be viewed in the
context of recent instrumental temperatures. The separate curves for the
reconstructed temperature series and for the instrumental data were clearly

The reference to hide the decline is referring to work that I am not
directly associated with, but instead work by Keith Briffa and colleagues.
The decline refers to a well-known decline in the response of only a
certain type of tree-ring data (high-latitude tree-ring density
measurements collected by Briffa and colleagues) to temperatures after
about 1960. In their original article in Nature in 1998, Briffa and
colleagues are very clear that the post-1960 data in their tree-ring
dataset should not be used in reconstructing temperatures due to a problem
known as the divergence problem where their tree-ring data decline in their
response to warming temperatures after about 1960. Hide was therefore a
poor word choice, since the existence of this decline, and the reason not
to use the post 1960 data because of it, was not only known, but was indeed
the point emphasized in the original Briffa et al Nature article. There is
a summary of that article available on this NOAA site:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ paleo/ globalwarming/ briffa.html

There have been many articles since then trying to understand the reason
for this problem, which applies largely to only one very specific type of
proxy data (tree-ring wood density data from higher latitudes).

As for my research in this area more generally, there was a study
commissioned by the National Academies of Science back in 2006 to assess
the validity of paleoclimate reconstructions in general, and my own work in
specific. A summary of that report, and link to it, is available here:

http://www.realclimate.org/ index.php/ archives/ 2006/ 06/

The New York Times (6/22/06), in an article about the report entitled
Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate had the following things to
A controversial paper asserting that recent warming in the Northern
Hemisphere was probably unrivaled for 1,000 years was endorsed today, with
a few reservations, by a panel convened by the nations preeminent
scientific bodyAt a news conference at the headquarters of the National
Academies, several members of the panel reviewing the study said they saw
no sign that its authors had intentionally chosen data sets or methods to
get a desired result. I saw nothing that spoke to me of any manipulation,
said one member, Peter Bloomfield, a statistics professor at North Carolina
State University. He added that his impression was the study was an honest
attempt to construct a data analysis procedure.

2. Perhaps well do a simple update to the Yamal post. As we all know, this
isnt about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations. (from me)

This refers to a particular tree-ring reconstruction of Keith Briffas.
These tree-ring data are just one of numerous tree-ring records used to
reconstruct past climate. Briffa and collaborators were criticized
(unfairly in the view of many of my colleagues and me) by a contrarian
climate change website based on what we felt to be a misrepresentation of
their work. A further discussion can be found on the site RealClimate.org
that I co-founded and help run. It is quite clear from the context of my
comments that what I was saying was that the attacks against Briffa and
colleagues were not about truth but instead about making plausibly deniable
accusations against him and his colleagues.

We attempted to correct the misrepresentations of Keiths work in the
RealClimate article mentioned above, and we invited him and his co-author
Tim Osborn to participate actively in responding to any issues raised in
the comment thread of the article which he did.

3. Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will
do likewise. Hes not in at the moment -minor family crisis. Can you also
email Gene and get him to do the same? I dont have his new email address.
We will be getting Caspar to do likewise. (from Phil Jones)

This was simply an email that was sent to me, and can in no way be taken to
indicate approval of, let alone compliance with, the request. I did not
delete any such email correspondences.

4. I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate
peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the
climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this
journal (from me)

This comment was in response to a very specific incident regarding a paper
by Soon and Baliunas published in the journal Climate Research. An editor
of the journal, with rather contrarian views on climate change, appeared to
several of us to be gaming the system to let through papers that clearly
did not meet the standards of quality for the journal. The chief editor
(Hans von Storch), and half of the editorial board, resigned in protest of
the publication of the paper, after the publisher refused to allow von
Storch the opportunity to write an editorial about how the peer review
process had failed in this instance.

Please see e.g. this post at RealClimate:

http://www.realclimate.org/ index.php/ archives/ 2009/ 11/

(3rd bullet itemsee the various links, which lead to letters from chief
editor Von Storch, and an article by the journalist Chris Mooney about the

Scientists all choose journals in which we publish and we all recommend to
each other and our students which journals they should publish in. People
are free to publish wherever they can and are free to recommend some
journals over others. For an example of this behavior in daily life, people
make choices and recommendations all the time in their purchasing habits.
It is highly unusual for a chief editor and half of an editorial board to
resign and that indicates a journal in turmoil that should possibly be
avoided. Similarly, authors are allowed to cite any papers they want,
although usually the editor will note incorrect or insufficient citing.

I support the publication of skeptical papers that meet the basic standards
of scientific quality and merit. I myself have published scientific work
that has been considered by some as representing a skeptical point of view
on matters relating to climate change (for example, my work demonstrating
the importance of natural oscillations of the climate on multidecadal
timescales). Skepticism in the truest scientific sense of the word is good
and is indeed essential to science. Skepticism should not be confused,
however, with contrarianism that does not meet the basic standards of
scientific inquiry.

5 It would be nice to try to contain the putative MWP (from me)

In this email, I was discussing the importance of extending paleoclimate
reconstructions far enough back in time that we could determine the onset
and duration of the putative Medieval Warm Period. Since this describes an
interval in time, it has to have both a beginning and end. But
reconstructions that only go back 1000 years, as most reconstructions did
at the time, didnt reach far enough back to isolate the beginning of this
period, i.e. they are not long enough to contain the interval in question.
In more recent work, such as the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in
2007, the paleoclimate reconstructions stretch nearly 2000 years back in
time, which is indeed far enough back in time to contain or isolate this
period in time.

I think it very useful and worthwhile for scientists to explain the science
and to explain any misrepresentations of what they have said or written
(see Let’s look at one of the illegally hacked emails in more detail — the
one by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth on “where the heck is global warming?”). I
will continue to write about both.

Related ClimateProgress Posts:

Reuters: “ANALYSIS-Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer”
Here’s what we know so far: CRU’s emails were hacked, the 2000s will easily
be the hottest decade on record, and the planet keeps warming thanks to us!
The NY Times blows the story.
Newtongate: The final nail in the coffin of Renaissance and Enlightenment
Competitive Enterprise Institute to sue RealClimate blogger over moderation
The newspaper that publishes George Will (and Sarah Palin) editorializes:
“Many — including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible.”
UK Guardian: “To stop a climate catastrophe … Scientists must stop
sanitising their message”

Clean Energy for the Wild Blue Yonder: Expanding Renewable Energy and
Efficiency in the Air Force

Posted: 28 Nov 2009 06:46 AM PST

Solar arrays are seen at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, NV. The Air
Force can start using more renewable energy and become more energy
efficient while saving taxpayers money. This guest post by Alexandra
Kougentakis, Tom Kenworthy, and Daniel J. Weiss was
first published here.

Listen to a press call on the report with retired Air Force Officer Paul
Clarke, Shangri-La Construction CEO Andy Meyers, and CAP Senior Fellow
Daniel J. Weiss (mp3)

Reliance on foreign energy sources and global warming pose major threats to
the United States’ security. A report by the Center for American Progress
earlier this year determined that “America’s dependence on foreign oil
transfers U.S. dollars to a number of unfriendly regimes, while robbing the
United States of the economic resources it desperately needs for domestic
development and American innovation.”

The problem is particularly acute for the Department of Defense, which is
the world’s largest consumer of energy and whose military operations and
facilities consume significant amounts of energy. In its 2009 report
“Powering America’s Defense,” the military research organization CNA
describes both domestic and overseas defense installations as “dangerously
oil dependent, wasteful, and weakened by a fragile electrical grid.”

DoD spent $3.4 billion on worldwide facility energy consumption in fiscal
year 2007, $1.06 billion of which went to Air Force energy needs. These
costs included electricity and direct use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal
and natural gas, among other sources. Electricity constitutes the bulk of
facility energy expenditures. In fiscal year 2007, DoD spent more than $2.5
billion on nearly 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity. The Air Force’s
portion was $700 million. Electricity accounts for 48 percent of total
facility energy consumption, but it represents 66 percent of all facility
energy expenditures thanks to rising fuel costs.

Spending on petroleum both undermines national security and consumes a
large portion of the DoD’s energy budget, diverting funds from other
potential uses. Within DoD the Air Force is the largest consumer of
petroleum, spending on petroleum-based fuels, including more than 3 billion
gallons of aviation fuel, in FY 2007. This amounts to 56 percent of DoD
expenditures on petroleum-based fuels, and 52 percent of such expenditures
by the entire U.S. government.

The Air Force should address the security challenge posed by its massive
electricity and petroleum use with a clean-energy strategy focused on
deploying renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. Energy
efficiency can reduce the risks to American soldiers and the burdens on
military budgets, and expanding renewable energy for facility
use—particularly on domestic bases in conjunction with the implementation
of a national clean-energy smart grid—would bolster national security. The
smart grid would replace the current, deteriorating conventional
electricity grid with a national network of long-distance transmission
lines that would deliver renewable energy to consumers via electrical
substations. A number of important Air Force bases are in areas with ample
solar energy resources, making the expansion of solar technologies an
attractive option for them.

Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada already has a clean-energy strategy in
place and can serve as an example of a starting point for other bases.
President Barack Obama visited Nellis AFB to recognize the 100th day after
the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He commended
the base for possessing “the largest solar electric plant of its kind in
the entire Western Hemisphere.” Nellis AFB proves that solar electricity is
a viable alternative to fossil fuel generation, and it demonstrates the
significant benefits the Air Force could enjoy from expanding solar energy
and energy efficiency, including greater energy security, lower energy
bills, and a reduction of greenhouse gas pollution.

This analysis will detail how the Air Force can start using more renewable
energy and become more energy efficient while saving taxpayers money. It
will first review clean-energy funding and programs already in place within
the military and the Air Force, then examine military and private aviation
facilities that have shifted to more renewables and efficiency before
outlining challenges to a cleaner Air Force and providing recommendations
on how to overcome these challenges. The paper also projects the benefits
for 11 Air Force bases that have high solar energy potential based on the
implementation of a solar energy and efficiency program similar to that at
Hangar 25, a private aviation facility in California.

Specifically, this report recommends a pilot program to retrofit a small
number of Air Force hangars at a high solar potential base. This pilot
would use Hangar 25’s program as a guide and would clearly show the
benefits to be had from such a program. Other recommendations for making
Air Force hangars more energy efficient include:

DoD and DOE should collaborate for a “clean-energy task force” to guarantee
maximum effectiveness and efficiency in greening projects.
Invest in state projects that reward clean energy.
Implement reforms that would speed clean-energy projects.
Use smart solar financing vehicles that use third-party investments.
Have small-scale renewable energy projects play a bigger role by providing
learning opportunities.

Download the full report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

This posting includes a media file:

Toronto Star: Why media tell climate story poorly

Posted: 27 Nov 2009 12:58 PM PST

This piece by Tyler Hamilton, energy and technology columnist for the
Toronto Star, was first published here.

I apologize on behalf of my profession.

If its true that Canadians and Americans have become less concerned about
the potential impact of climate change, and that more consider global
warming a hoax, some blame can certainly be directed at the news media.

The media (are) giving an equal seat at the table to a lot of non-qualified
scientists, Julio Betancourt, a senior scientist at the U.S. Geological
Survey, told a group of environment and energy reporters during a week-long
learning retreat in New Mexico.

I was among them, listening to Betancourt and two of his colleagues
describe the measurable impacts climate change is having on the U.S.
southwest. Drought. More frequent and damaging forest fires. Northward
migration of forest and animal species. Hotter, longer growing seasons.
Less snow pack. Earlier snow melt.

The scientific evidence reported in peer-reviewed journals is growing by
the day, and it suggests the pace of climate change has surpassed the
worst-case scenarios predicted just a few years ago.

Betancourt is the first to admit the science is constantly evolving and
that the work at hand is highly complex. One challenge is separating the
part of climate change caused by naturally occurring cyclical systems from
the part caused by humans, who since the Industrial Revolution have dumped
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate.

Clearly there is an interaction between the two. But can scientists explain
it with bulletproof precision using predictive models everyone can agree
on? No, of course not. Thats not how science works.

More difficult is that scientists such as Betancourt are realizing the
climate changes observed are not happening in a gradual, predictable
fashion but, instead, in sudden steps. Systems reach a certain threshold of
environmental stress and then pop, they act quickly to restabilize.

These changes also happen regionally, making it difficult for people in one
region of the world to appreciate disruptive changes going on elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, those looking to stall action on climate change – or who
altogether deny that humanity is contributing to global warming – are
exploiting this complexity and lack of certainty.

A recent Pew Research Center poll of 1,500 Americans found that 57 per cent
believed there was solid scientific evidence that the globe is warming,
down from 77 per cent in 2007. The changing attitudes coincide with a
growing effort to discredit climate science in the lead-up to the
Copenhagen talks on Dec. 7 and efforts by U.S. legislators to cobble
together climate legislation that would signal Americas commitment to
reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions.

It also coincides with an economic downturn, during which people are
concerned most about their finances. Theres also a strong likelihood that
people want to hear that maybe this climate change stuff is all a bad dream.

Its much more difficult to have a story in the newspaper or a TV news
segment, explaining the latest study in Nature or Science, than it is to
have an unqualified scientist or spokesman offer a pithy, controversial
quote or sound bite not necessarily grounded in fact.

This reality has given the fossil-fuel lobby a major leg up, writes James
Hoggan, co-author of a Climate Cover-Up and founder of DeSmogBlog.com.
Hoggans must-read book describes in disturbing detail the well-oiled
campaign to confuse the public and confound the science, creating enough
doubt to thwart meaningful action and protect a world economic order built
around the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas.

The Heartland Institute, Friends of Science, and Natural Resources
Stewardship Project are among the groups that make their Rolodex of experts
available to comment on climate issues.

But, as Hoggan points out, most of those experts are anything but. Lift
their veil and they typically are funded by the fossil-fuel industry,
long-retired climate scientists who have not published peer-reviewed papers
for many years, or scientists who are experts but not necessarily in
climate science.

If a doctor recommended that you undergo an innovative new surgical
procedure, you might seek a second opinion, but youd probably ask another
surgeon, writes Hoggan, a public-relations veteran who is also chairman of
the David Suzuki Foundation.

You wouldnt check with your local carpenter, and you certainly wouldnt ask
a representative of the drug company whose product would be rendered
irrelevant if you had the operation.

Still, many journalists under deadline and without the time to verify
credentials, journalists who do not follow climate science and the news
around it, continue to give these so-called experts a soapbox to stand on.
Even those with time to spare often offer up the soapbox out of some
misplaced attempt at balance, giving the impression that the scientific
community is deeply divided.

Once their comments are published, the blogs take over and public confusion
grows deeper. Mark Twain said it best: A lie travels halfway around the
world while the truth is still putting on its boots. The Internet has only
accelerated the speed of travel.

Its why weve been seeing silly stories about global cooling appear in
recent months, or articles about thickening Arctic ice, or the Global
Warming Conspiracy. On Friday, the latest conspiracy story began making its
rounds. Hackers accessed email messages from some climate scientists on an
Internet server at the University of East Anglia in Britain.

The emails, from what Ive read, do show that not all scientists agree, that
some scientists dont like other scientists, and that some scientists are
struggling with the complexity of their work. What these emails do not show
is that theres any conspiracy or that consensus around the reality of
human-influenced global warming is beginning to crack.

Still, that wont stop the skeptics from cherry picking whats in those
emails and claiming this is some kind of smoking gun that will derail
Copenhagen. The blogosphere is abuzz, and news media are never ones to turn
down a juicy controversy. The timing of the hack makes it all the more
suspicious, but no less dramatic.

Its a shame.

I asked Betancourt during his New Mexico talk why the scientific community
has not done a better job of battling the misinformation campaign and
speaking as a more united front.

The problem, he said, is working scientists dont tend to be communications
specialists but are up against people who are. So, for honest, accurate
describing of the science of climate, its more up to the media, and less up
to us.

Related Post:

Media enable disinformer spin 2: What if the MSM simply can’t cover
humanity’s self-destruction?

Climate Progress viewable again by all

Posted: 27 Nov 2009 12:55 PM PST

My apologies for those who use Internet explorer and had trouble accessing
Climate Progress today.

I copied Dr. Currys post from MS Word and that brings in a whole host of
hidden HTML, which screws up the page for IE, but doesnt seem to bother
Firefox, which is why I didnt notice it.

It should be fixed now and I will endeavor to avoid that mistake again.

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