as the great climategate debacle unfolds…

The Climategate e-mails reveal nothing more than scientists frustrated with predatory denialists and their cherry-picked, bad faith arguments and demands .
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Illustration from Diesel’s Global Warming Ready ads

There’s a good reason why most public relations reps and business managers will tell you never to compose an e-mail you wouldn’t want to be made public. Some companies with which I worked went so far as to ask us to imagine what we were sending to colleagues being on the front page of a major website. Clearly, the CRU research team could’ve used a little training with their digital communication skills. And maybe better firewalls to protect themselves from anonymous hackers sorting through their e-mails and picking out what look like a climate change denialist’s wildest fantasies in the most potentially incriminating messages that give plenty of fodder for conspiracy theorists and ardent critics’ position that global warming might as well be a big joke.

If you’ve already rejected climate models and scientific investigations into the issue of global warming, taking a look through these selected e-mails would quickly convince you that there really is a conspiracy to politicize and manipulate research while silencing opposing views. In reality, you would be looking through a frustrated team’s anger at their vehement critics who constantly accuse them of fraud and demand that study after study be repeated until they come back with something the denialists want to see. There’s a bit of an issue with that idea however. To those who want to reject a scientific proposition, the only good study is one that agrees with their ideological results. The CRU could do the same experiment a million times, literally, and still fail to get a pundit who thinks that global warming is a scam or a conspiracy theory to back down. In the heat of their rants, the scientists said things they shouldn’t have said and went overboard in trying to outmaneuver their political opponents. Well, did you think scientists were perfect and immune to emotions?

And here’s where we come to the hypocrisy of the global warming debate. Denialists point out that science is not always perfect and that scientists can be swayed by political pressure. Therefore, when they try to debunk the data being produced in the scientists’ reports, they’re just being skeptics with a critical eye. But at the very same time, any paper, book or op-ed article which claims that global warming isn’t happening or it’s just one, big conspiracy to collect unfair taxes on businesses, is immediately accepted and defended even after every scientist with any qualifications in meteorology and climatology showed it was full of holes and how. Criticism on the anti-warming side appears to be reserved only for environmentalists and mainstream researchers as their own side gets a free pass every time. Then, the very same people who wholeheartedly embrace virtually every contrarian for ranting against the IPCC and environmental research groups, accuse scientists who also fall pray to political sentiments of being wrong in every possible aspect of their work because they’re prone to political pressure and personal opinion just like the rest of us.

Really, this is no way to study climate or help the environment. As I’ve said before, the entire issue is now an excruciatingly sadistic game of political whack-a-mole with far too many people screaming their heads off and an ever decreasing focus on the science. For all the denialist celebration and back patting over the breach of CRU’s servers and the red meat thrown out by the hackers, they still haven’t produced rival climate models to explain the phenomena currently attributed to global warming without having to cherry pick data sets and play with the years and data sources to get the outcome they want. Without doing strict and careful research, which should’ve been carried out regardless of whether it was being suppressed or not, their position is not going to become scientifically stronger no matter how many climate research labs they hack and how many potentially incendiary e-mails they choose to release to the press. With the political game in their favor for now, they have to produce good science rather than just gloat over how many scientists their rhetoric can drive to madness.

# science // climate change / climategate / global warming

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