Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No climate conspiracy after all

Two days ago I posted that we should expect an increase in climate change reporting because of the extreme heat in Ontario and the soggy summer out west. Today's CBC Radio program The Current takes up this very point, asking if this is the "Pearl Harbour" moment that mobilizes action on climate change. I'll say no more on the that subject.

Climate change is also in the media today for another reason - the report of an official inquiry into the so-called "Climategate" in the UK, where e-mails had been stolen from a server used by climate scientists at the UK's University of East Anglia and selectively released on the internet in a way that made it seem the scientists had been faking their results (see my posting 19 December 2009). There's nothing the media loves more than a good conspiracy story, even if it is far-fetched and even if the so-called "evidence" consisted of internet postings supposedly revealing the contents of stolen e-mails. Honourable but anonymous thieves thieves uncover a Norwich-based conspiracy to deceive the world about a phantom menace despicably named "climate change" - how could that not raise global alarm bells? If only Peter Sellers were still alive, we could have sent Inspector Clouseau to get to the bottom of it!

But alas, in the absence of the late, great detective who stopped deranged Inspector Dreyfus from destroying the world, it was decided to instead establish an independent panel of inquiry to look into the matter. The findings were released today. And unsurprisingly, the inquiry found the British climate scientists guilty of no more than being overly prickly when questioned about their results. No surprise there: if you have ever dealt with academics, most are swell people, but there does remain a residual population of thin-skinned types who long for the good old Oxbridge/Ivy League days when professors were never questioned by anybody, and apparently the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia has its own fair share. But no scientific fraud nor conspiracy nor attempts to destroy civilization took place. It turns out the menace to global peace and stability is not a gaggle of rogue scientists, but that thing they were studying.

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