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Monday, June 28, 2010

Climategate Dies, But No One Will Run the Obit

I want you to consider what I think is an undeniable and uncomfortable fact; that many so-called "climate change skeptics" are not skeptics at all. They're like the people in the tobacco or asbestos industries denying their products caused cancer. Most of them knew what they were saying wasn't true, but went ahead with the defense anyway, believing their bottom line was more important than your life. It's not a word I use often with any seriousness, but "evil" seems to be the best word to apply here. People were dying a terrible and expensive death, people continue to die that terrible and expensive death and, if these deniers had had their way, people would always die those deaths. Meanwhile, the money would keep rolling in.

As I said, evil.

Now consider how evil it would be if that denial didn't impact a just percentage of the population, but everyone in the world. If you disagree that evil applied before, your argument just got a lot harder to sustain. If climate change deniers' campaign of BS is successful, we can expect that "Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world." What granola-crunching, hippie alarmists warned about that? The pentagon, in 2004. "Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," a pentagon report warned the Bush administration. "Once again, warfare would define human life." This puts the knowing denier in the position of putting civilization itself in danger and deciding that it's worth it to keep making money in the short term.

I'm not going to perform a mind-reading act and start trying to figure out who the charlatans are and who are the chumps. In terms of consequence, it hardly makes any difference. I just want you to be aware that there are people on the "skeptic" side of the argument who aren't just wrong, but willfully wrong. The rest are ideologues and idiots, either unable to think outside their little worldview-box or unable to think much of anything at all.





One problem we've been facing has been that the media has been more than happy to play the role of chump on this issue. Sticking by their foolish theory of "balance," they've approached the issue skeptically themselves, bending over backwards to tell "both sides of the story." In the beginning, there might have been some merit to this approach, but as time went on, it became more and more idiotic. The only parallel that pops into my head at the moment is showing up with a news crew at a burning building and asking, "Is it really burning?" then interviewing some lunatic who claims the fire isn't happening at all. The evidence has become so overwhelming that today 97% of scientists agree that global warming is happening and humans are causing it. Need a consensus before you'll believe something? There you go. Among the experts, the debate is over.

But don't expect the media to go along with that consensus. For websites, controversy draws traffic, for newspapers, it brings readers, for television, it brings viewers. When you stop playing to their side of the argument, the deniers stop showing up. They'll go to the wingnut media where they can be sure their biases will be confirmed. And the media isn't in the informing business, so much as they are in the money-making business. If they share something with the knowing deniers, it's that bottom line. There is no sadder day in the corporate boardroom of a media empire than the day a controversy is settled, the day a scandal dies, the day the fighting stops.

Which would make last Friday a very sad day.

Newsweek:

A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said (or "before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on," in Winston Churchill’s version), and nowhere has that been more true than in "climategate." In that highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal, e-mails hacked from computers at the University of East Anglia’s climate-research group were spread around the Web by activists who deny that human activity is altering the world’s climate in a dangerous way, and spun so as to suggest that the scientists had been lying, cheating, and generally cooking the books.

But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of "falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information" in February. In perhaps the biggest backpedaling, The Sunday Times of London, which led the media pack in charging that IPCC reports were full of egregious (and probably intentional) errors, retracted its central claim—namely, that the IPCC statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforest could be vulnerable to climate change was "unsubstantiated." The Times also admitted that it had totally twisted the remarks of one forest expert to make it sound as if he agreed that the IPCC had screwed up, when he said no such thing.


Big news, right? "Climategate," the one thing left to the deniers to hang their hats on, has collapsed under the weight of its own BS.

Tell it to CNN, who -- as far as I can tell -- has yet to run a story about the death of "Climategate." Yet the big news!! that Obama called Twitter "Twitters" makes CNN's front page.

News you can use.

MSNBC is no better. They don't seem to have caught the story either. Of course, if you go to their "Science and Tech news" page, you will learn about the newest video games. And FOX News? Pfffft! You're kidding, right?

Climategate may be technically dead, but that information is useless if no one knows about it. And, so far, the major TV news outlets couldn't be doing a better job of keeping that information to themselves. If knowing human-caused warming is true and arguing that the opposite is the case is evil, what is it when you know the truth and don't make any argument at all?

-Wisco


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