“Climategate” is, obviously, a PR debacle of the first magnitude. It’s also a first-class piece of agitprop—faced with the reality of a U.S. presidential administration finally getting onto the AGW bandwagon, global warming skeptics have been running scared for some time now. Dropping this bombshell on the eve of Copenhagen is aimed at the one audience that might still intervene to save them—the U.S. Congress, which will have to ratify anything Obama signs in Denmark . . .and which is now going to be that much less likely to do so, given the confusion that the revelation of these emails is going to cause.
Climate scientists haven’t helped themselves either–as the Guardian points out, the response of the University of East Anglia was nothing short of hare-brained. And Jones et. al. should be resigning pronto instead of acting like this is all much ado about nothing. They’ve done tremendous damage to their own cause, all the more so as the science beneath all of it remains fundamentally sound. Marine biologist and SF maestro Peter Watts provides good context in this regard.
Not that global warming deniers were ever really that worried about the evidence in the first place. Their core ideology centers around a conspiracy-laden meme whereby climate scientists and bureaucrats systematically falsify and distort evidence as part of a master plan to gather us all into One World Government. Climategate will play into their hands, fueling what Hofstadter once called the “paranoid style” in American politics. What’s particularly interesting about those who propound this meme is that they want to have it both ways: they see themselves as insurgents fighting a corrupt system, when the truth of the matter is that they’ve been running that system for decades now. We can read their hysteria as the product of their anxiety at being forced from power. And their propaganda has been nothing if not effective, causing people who should know better to deride environmentalism itself as a “religion” . . . . as though the idea that decades of sustained industrial activity might impact the world’s climate is somehow on a par with believing in invisible sky fairies or the transmutation of bread into the flesh of some dead god. Pulling off this hack on East Anglia constitutes their masterpiece. The result is nothing short of catastrophic.