I’ve received some emails asking me
what I know about “Climategate” – the alleged scandal exposed when thirteen
years of emails at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia,
UK, were hacked, and disseminated by right wing sources. The hacked emails certainly demonstrate
unethical and secretive behavior by some of the key people at this
organization. But what exactly
does it all mean?
I think two issues arise. The first concerns organizational
behavior, and is a genuine problem.
It receives little notice.
The second is whether any of this is relevant to the global warming
issue. This is unfortunately the
most important, because ignorant people (and worse) have claimed the hacked
emails demonstrate dishonesty and fraud by scientists regarding the most
important issue of our day.
The misuse of emails taken entirely
out of context by people who literally do not know what they are talking about
is fully exposed in a great Youtube broadcast that I hope every denier of global warming denier will take the time to
watch. I think the rest of us
should take a look as well – it’s entertaining as well as devastating and as a
side benefit, demonstrates the utter intellectual bankruptcy of the right.
What is the real issue here? People associated with global
warming research acted unethically in trying to suppress articles they disagreed
with. They tried to keep control
of their data, and often referred to opponents in disparaging terms. In short, they acted as members of
almost any organization tend to act when under intense hostile pressure from
the outside: they confused their organization’s well-being with the mission the
organization was established to accomplish. They fell into an “us vs. them” mentality.
Ironically the most intelligent
condemnations of this failing have come from fellow scientists and the science
press. The Nov. 28 issue of New
Scientist takes them to task for abuses of
scientific ethics. Meanwhile right wing sources have continued to make their case with
But does any of this bear on the
global warming issue? No. No more than corrupt and dishonest
Catholic bishops discredit spirituality.