Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hot Air

I haven’t written anything about the “Climategate” story because from the very beginning it smelled fishy to me, and besides, anything with “-gate” attached to it automatically makes me think that someone’s trying to make more out of something than it really is. But if you want a good primer on the whole story, check out what Think Progress has put together on it.

In mid-November, thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit webmail server — a top climate research center in the United Kingdom — were hacked and dumped on a Russian web server. Polluter-funded climate skeptics, along with their allies in conservative media and the Republican Party, sifted through the e-mails, and quickly cherry picked quotes to falsely accuse climate scientists of concocting climate change science out of whole cloth. The skeptics also propelled the story, dubbed “Climategate,” to the cover of the New York Times and newspapers across the globe. According to a Nexis news search, the Climategate story has been reported at least 325 times in the American press alone.

While the hacked e-mails may reveal that scientists might not have nice things to say about climate change deniers at times, they do nothing to change the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use are raising temperatures and making oceans more acidic. As the right attempts to use the Climategate story to derail the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference this week, arctic sea ice is still at historically low levels, Australia is still on fire, the northern United Kingdom is still underwater, the world’s glaciers are still disappearing and today NOAA confirmed that not only is it the hottest decade in history, but 2009 was one of the hottest years in history. But how did the right-wing noise machine hijack the debate?

I suspect that one of the reasons that the right-wingers latched onto this is because they know that being a climate-change denier just sets off the liberals, and they can never resist an opportunity to do that, even if it’s childish and lets the world see that they have no other motive than to behave like spoiled brats or conspiracy nuts. That’s their shtick. But I wonder how tolerant they would have been if somehow some anti-war House Democrats had showed up at NATO headquarters when President Bush was trying to coax our allies into helping us out with Afghanistan? The wingers would have gone into full self-righteous high dudgeon mode to the point you could have bought tickets for in on pay-per-view. Yet they think it’s perfectly acceptable for them to horn in on the conference in Copenhagen.

Like I said, this manufactured scandal over scientific research into climate change is pure bullshit. The dead giveaway is that Sarah Palin is writing an op-ed about it. That right there should be your first clue.