Climategate 2: More ado about nothing. Again.

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitNov 22, 2011 11:30 PM


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Geez, this again? Seriously?

Two years ago, someone hacked into a University of East Anglia server and anonymously posted thousands of emails from climate scientists. Quickly dubbed "Climategate", global warming deniers jumped on this, trying to show that these scientists were engaging in fraudulent activities. However, it was clear to anyone familiar with how research is done that this was complete and utter bilge; the scientists were not trying to hide anything, were not trying to trick anyone, and were not trying to falsely exaggerate the dangers of climate change. I wrote about this when it happened and then again quickly thereafter, showing this was just noise. Accusations of fraud were leveled at climate scientist Michael Mann, but time and again he was exonerated: like this time, and then this time, and then this time, and of course this time, and then my favorite, this time. Climategate was widely denounced as a manufactured controversy, except, of course, by denialists. Because they denied it. That's axiomatic. However, like a bacterium festering away someplace dank and fetid, Climategate is poised to infect reality once again: The Guardian is reporting that a second cache of stolen emails has been released anonymously, and once again the cries of conspiracy are being heard. However, it looks like these emails aren't really new, and were simply from the original stolen batch, but were held back until today. Mind you, the emails from the first Climategate were released right before a big climate conference, in an obvious attempt to derail it in the media. This new batch was released days before a similar conference, in what appears to be a similar propaganda move.

[UPDATE: Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) has called on the US intelligence community to investigate who stole these emails. I think this is the right move. We still don't know who did this two years ago, and I'd be fascinated to see who was behind it. H/T Michael Mann on Twitter.]

Climate change denial blogs picked up on this immediately of course. There are examples in the Guardian article linked above. But this is the usual hue and cry, with nothing really new. About all this supposedly new material Michael Mann said:

Mann called the new batch of emails "truly pathetic" and said they reflect desperation among climate deniers, who have failed to pick holes in the science. "They have instead turned to smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails in their effort to try to confuse the public about the science and thereby forestall any action to combat this critical threat."

It's hard for me to argue against this, given what Dr. Mann has gone through the past few years. Attacked constantly, exonerated repeatedly, he knows the climate change denialist methods probably better than anyone. The University of East Anglia, from which the stolen emails originated, issued a press release:

This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

That last bit about Berkeley is from just a few weeks ago, showing once again that global warming is real, and that Dr. Mann's results show that there has been a sudden, recent, and large increase in global temperatures. None of this comes as a surprise to any of us who have been covering this for the past few years. I wonder, though, if the mainstream media have learned their lesson? Think Progress wonders the same thing. So, with the Noise Machine ready to blast into full gear, let me be very, very clear:

Global warmingis real. Independent studies confirm it. Vastamounts of evidencesupport it. 97% of climate scientists who study it agree with this. It's almost certainly caused by human activity.

Got it? The evidence is overwhelming, and no amount of noise will stop that. But that's why the noise is made, to distract you. We are long past the time when this was simple skepticism -- the open and honest questioning of evidence -- and are now well into full-blown denial. This second release of emails is more evidence for that, especially given the timing. And in some sectors that won't make a difference -- cough cough Fox News cough cough -- because they are impervious to evidence. So if this doesn't blow over immediately -- as well it probably should -- then expect to see a lot more of this:

Related posts: - Case closed: “Climategate” was manufactured - Climategate’s death rattle - New independent climate study confirms global warming is real - New study clinches it: the Earth is warming up - The global warming emails non-event

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