I feel the need to write my thoughts on the “scandal” being referred to as “Climategate.” In case you’ve missed it, here’s a summary from Brad Johnson of Think Progress’s Wonk Room:
Two weeks ago, thousands of illegally hacked emails from a British climate research center were dumped on a Russian webserver, timed to influence the politics of of the international climate negotiations commencing next week in Copenhagen, Denmark. Beginning Thanksgiving week, conservative media and Republican politicians have compared the climate scientists whose private emails were hacked to Hitler, Stalin, and eugenicists, saying they are involved in a global conspiracy to defraud and possibly take over the world. The Climategate â€œscandalâ€ â€” a swiftboating intimidation and smear campaign against science â€” is the right-wing rage from Stephen Dubner to Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck to Lou Dobbs. Like the original Watergate scandal involving right-wing operatives who burglarized the offices of their political opponents, the real crime is the original break-in.
Now, I haven’t been reading that much about this, because after determining that it wasn’t a big deal, I was not interested in hearing more right-wing hysteria. But as I understand it, the scientists in question were merely sexifying their data in order to make trends clearer. Furthermore, they weren’t doing so arbitrarily like so many of us would be prone to do, but instead were applying specific algorithms.
Also, as Jeff Masters of Weather Underground is quoted on Climate Progress, â€œEven if every bit of mud slung at these scientists were true, the body of scientific work supporting the theory of human-caused climate changeâ€”which spans hundreds of thousands of scientific papers written by tens of thousands of scientists in dozens of different scientific disciplinesâ€”is too vast to be budged by the flaws in the works of the three or four scientists.â€
Frankly, I’m pretty frustrated with our country’s traditional media for not asserting this point more into their conversations. David Roberts puts it really well (as he always does):
[The right-wing noise machine] is an industry that uses dishonesty to defend corporations. Plain and simple. Everyone ought to know that by now and it ought to frame media coverage of these dreary “skeptic” controversies. Yet the press seems to think that every new claim or contrived controversy from the industry deserves to be met with the same furrowed brow, the same quote and counter-quote presentation of “sides,” the same chin-scratching atmospherics of doubt. It’s always the world’s scientists and scientific institutions being asked to defend their integrity, not the professional dissemblers and character assassins.
We just need to keep these points in mind when we watch, read, or listen to the news these days, I guess.