Stephanopoulos: ClimateGate Complicates Copenhagen for Obama

ABC's George Stephanopoulos actually brought up the ClimateGate scandal as a topic for discussion during the Roundtable segment on Sunday's "This Week."

As NewsBusters has been reporting since this story broke more than a week ago, television news outlets have been quite disinterested in the controversy now growing with each passing day.

Breaking this trend, Stephanopoulos aggressively waded into this seemingly verboten subject by mentioning how it complicates President Obama's trip to "Copenhagen to deal with climate change."

George Will of course agreed saying that the release of these e-mail messages raises a serious question about why America should "wager trillions of dollars and substantially curtail freedom on climate models that are imperfect and unproven."

Not surprisingly, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman found "not a single smoking gun" in those e-mail messages (video in two parts embedded below the fold with transcript and commentary by myself and others involved in this debate):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: And meanwhile, he is also going to be dealing with health care, right now on the floor of the Senate, going he announced this week to Copenhagen to deal with climate change. And it comes at a time when the politics seem to be changing a little bit in this.

Let me show our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. It shows whether people believe global warming is occurring. That number is going down. July 2008, 80 percent of the public; down to 72 percent now. And there's been a sort of a real partisanship. Look at Republicans, 74 percent believed global warming was occurring back in 2008. Now, a 20-point drop to 54 percent.

George, there has been a partisanizing of this issue, and then you throw in one more complication we've had over the last week. This Climate Research Institute at East Anglia University, someone hacked into their e-mail account and showed a bunch of emails between scientists, which opponents of climate change legislation said proves that they are rigging the science and trying to hide information that runs counter to their theories.

GEORGE WILL: It raises the question of -- we're being asked to wager trillions of dollars and substantially curtail freedom on climate models that are imperfect and unproven. And the consensus far from being as solid as they say it is, and the debate as over as they say it is, the e-mails indicate people are very nervous about suppressing criticism, gaming the peer review process for scholarly works and all the rest. One of the e-mails said it is a travesty, his word, it is a travesty that we cannot explain the fact that global warming has stopped. Well, they shouldn't be embarrassed about that. It's a complicated business, and that's why we shouldn't wager these trillions.

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: All those e-mails -- people have never seen what academic discussion looks like. There's not a single smoking gun in there. There's nothing in there. And the travesty is that people are not able to explain why the fact that 1998 was a very warm year doesn't actually mean that global warming has stopped. I mean, that's loose wording. Right? Everything is about -- we're really in the same situation as if there was one extremely warm day in April. And then people are saying, well, you see, May is cooler than April, there's no trend here. And that's what -- the travesty is how hard it has been to explain why that's bad reasoning.

WILL: One of the emails, Paul, said he wished he could delete, get rid of the medieval warming period. That lasted 600 years...

KRUGMAN: It's not -- read -- this has all been explained. What he meant is they want to put a start on it. We have an end to it, we don't have a start on it. There's a lot of loose use of language when you're just talking among each other. And what (inaudible) really meant, deleting would be meant that, you know, we don't know when this thing started, because we don't have very good data back then. There weren't any weather stations. And that's what the context was.

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The interesting thing about this is, which goes back to our previous discussion is, and having done a lot of this polling during the Bush administration, which is when you give people a choice between improving the economy and jobs, and improving the environment, at times of economic prosperity, the numbers for improving environment go above jobs. At a time when there is a recession or at a time when there's a difficulty in the economy, people say let's focus on this, let's not focus on the climate. The best route to passing climate change legislation is creating jobs and then (inaudible).

COKIE ROBERTS: But the difference between that kind of polling and what George just showed in our ABC poll is that -- is that people are not agreeing on the facts. It's not a question of asking about the legislation.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: If they want to go to a different position, they have a tendency to then doubt...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's what might be happening here, is people who are opposed to cap-and-trade are changing their minds on global warming.

(CROSSTALK)

DAN SENOR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: In June of this year, the House voted, close vote on cap- and-trade, 219 to 212 votes. One out of five congressional Democrats voted against the cap-and-trade bill. If that vote were held today, against the backdrop of this news, plus even worse economic numbers to Matt's point, I guarantee you'd probably have two-five and probably lose those eight Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

KRUGMAN: Nancy Pelosi was very clever to get that in her pocket when she could.

ROBERTS: But for the president to then be going to Copenhagen with all of this going on, becomes somewhat problematic for him, I think.

WILL: But what I was going to say there is that the United States pledges to reduce its carbon emissions 83 percent below the 2005. That will not even be seriously attempted, and here is why. That would mean we would have total carbon emissions equal to the United States in 1910, when there were 92 million Americans. Furthermore, our per-capita carbon emissions in 2050, when he says this is going to happen, when there's going to be 420 million Americans, would be on a per-capita basis what we had in 1875.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He may face a credibility problem as well. I mean, I think the issue is, I think the president had to go to Copenhagen. It was the only way to get the Indians and the Chinese to go as well. But, Paul, as he goes, he'll be making a commitment that he can't necessarily keep unless the Senate follows through.

(CROSSTALK)

KRUGMAN: Everyone understands that. And I just want to say, I'm surprised, George, that you lack faith in the power of the marketplace. All this cap-and-trade is about is putting a price on carbon emissions, and people will do amazing things given a market incentive.

WILL: Speaking of the marketplace, the biggest industry in the world right now may be fighting climate change. There are billions, trillions of dollars on the table, and when you say, well, they are academics and they are scientists and they talk in funny ways -- academics are human beings, and the enormous incentive to get on the bandwagon on global warming, the financial incentive, the market driving this, is huge.

KRUGMAN: There is tremendously more money in being a skeptic than there is in being a supporter.

WILL: Hardly.

KRUGMAN: It's so much easier, come on. You got the energy industry's behind it. There are 20 times as many believers as there are skeptics in the scientific community. They get almost equal time in the media.

(CROSSTALK)

WILL: Is there a larger venture capital firm in this country than the Energy Department of this government, which right now is sending out billions and billions of dollars in speculation on green energy?

ROBERTS: But I think that's something that the American people want. I mean, we want green jobs. We don't want to see those polar bears on those ice floes without any ice around them. All of that. I think, coming up with ways to have the energy that we use without causing global warming and polluting the air is something that is something desirable.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: I agree, the public wants that. But if Uncle Joe doesn't have a job, they say let's -- don't worry about the polar bears right now.

(LAUGHTER)

Readers likely began laughing when Krugman said with a straight face:

There is tremendously more money in being a skeptic than there is in being a supporter...It's so much easier, come on. You got the energy industry's behind it. There are 20 times as many believers as there are skeptics in the scientific community. They get almost equal time in the media.

Skeptics get almost equal time in the media? Yeah, that's why this appears to be the first time ABC addressed this ClimateGate issue.

As for there being more money in being a skeptic than there is in supporting this myth, the facts say otherwise.

The Science and Public Policy Institute issued a report on the money involved in funding the global warming debate in August concluding, "Over the last two decades, US taxpayers have subsidized the American climate change industry to the tune of $79 billion."

By contrast, the same study found that the media bogeyman "Exxon Mobil gave a mere $23 million, spread over ten years, to climate sceptics."

As usual, Krugman was making things up.

Of course, those outside of Nobel awards committees that are truly familiar with his work know that Krugman quite often strays from reality when the agenda warrants it.

Regardless, it was indeed surprising and quite pleasant to see Stephanopoulos bring ClimateGate up for discussion Sunday. 

I wonder if this means more news outlets are going to start honestly looking at this issue.

Stay tuned.

*****Update: As I imagined folks involved in this debate would be surprised by this Roundtable discussion, I asked a number of well-known climate realists for their opinion about what the significance of this segment is. 

First up is the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner:

IMO the only meaning one can find in this is two-fold: first, just as the NYT covering this (to frame the debate, after all, their guy is heavily implicated) ok'd it for the others to cover, if again by jangling shiny objects of titillating email commentary to bury the issue -- it's the fraud, stupid.

Second, this daring foray by the establishment media into the world going on around them did raise the issue of Obama replicating the Clinton-Gore policy failure, acknowledged serially by Team Obama up to this week as what doomed Kyoto: making a political commitment in a treaty that there is not support for in Congress. Obama has now abandoned his abandonment of that approach. So, the press have broken the seal on what will prove the ultimate message of Copenhagen and the treaty: Obama went rogue just as Clinton did with Kyoto in 1997, dooming the successor treaty in the name of saving it. And I cannot thank him enough. 

Department of Energy staffer Brian Valentine:

I think the mass media opened debate on the CRU contemptible fraud and abuse with the hopes that people "in the know" could show viewers that the whole issue of fraud was really quite minimal, and although there was a little "data massaging" etc the incident meant nothing and everybody who is anybody knows AGW is going to kill everybody if we don't sacrifice ourselves in the process of fixing it.

It will end up, however, exactly where they didn't want it: viewers will come away with the conviction that the CRU fraud was worse than they imagined in the first place and anybody still demanding to "do something" about "climate change" ought to be institutionalized or hanged.

Anthony Watts chimes in:

I don' t know what sort of world NYT reporters live in, but I am now convinced that some like Paul Krugman have no clue about the real world people live in elsewhere.

Watts also noticed a comment at ABCNews.com from Western Washington University professor Don Easterbrook:

I've spent 4 decades studying global climate change and as a scientist I am appalled at Krugman's cavalier shrugging off the Hadley email scandal as 'just the way scientists talk among themselves.' That's like saying it's alright for politicians to be corrupt because that's the way they are. Legitimate scientists do not doctor data, delete data they don't like, hide data they don't want seen, hijack the peer review process, personally attack other scientists whose views differ from theirs, send fraudulent data to the IPCC that is used to perpetuate the greatest hoax in the history science, provide false data to further legislation on climate change that will result in huge profits for corrupt lobbyists and politicians, and tell outright lies about scientific data. 

Posted by: Don Easterbrook | Nov 29, 2009 1:57:05 PM 

Piers Corbyn, the astrophysicist of www.WeatherAction.com who was featured in a NewsBusters post Thursday, chimes in:

What ABC have aired is significant and shows that the propagators and creators of  the 'accepted wisdom' on the Climate Change scam realize they might not get away with it. The future is up for grabs and it is up to all who hold that science and policy making must be evidence-based to hammer away to make their representatives and scientists ACCOUNTABLE.   Rather than allow the reprehensible revelations of ClimateGate speak for themselves ABC like BBC stage pseudo-debates about debates to give the viewer a carefully filtered set of supposed 'facts' and before you can even think about them a smooth-talking 'expert' butts in and tells you what to think.  

Ironically the former masters of controlled media - Russia - is in the lead on open debate on this! I urge people to examine for themselves the true depths to which the GlobalWarming / Climate Change deceit machine has sunk and have a look at the RussiaTV video. Contrary to the brazen lie "malaria never occurred in Russia before" by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) representative in Moscow the fact is there were 10 million malaria cases in Russia in 1921 - reported in the New York Times. The Climate Changers denial of the truth in Russia would be equivalent to a modern US politician claiming the dust-bowl never happened or the Titanic never sank.   For proper reportage of the ACTUAL revelations of Climategate have a look at this.   

The ABC piece is atrocious in the way manipulation and falsification of scientific data by the guardians of that data is portrayed as somehow acceptable or normal. Speaking as a scientist I say it is utterly reprehensible and the perpetrators of these obnoxious acts should be sacked disciplined and if at all possible imprisoned. The matter is as serious as Watergate, or more so - because the economic direction of the world is at stake.   The piece also propagated the brazen bogey myth that Big Oil opposes the Climate Change scam. However much they looked both ways in the past I know from my own experience of attempting to sell forecasts to Big Oil that they do NOT welcome the firm stance by WeatherAction for testable science. The fact is that for Big Oil ClimateChange hype is a win-win-win game. Oil prices are kept artificially high, their asset values and share prices soar and they play at carbon trading and receive massive handouts for silly green projects. Keeping that game going is much more important to them than scientific truth or knowing about extreme weather events a year ahead.   It is time now for honest green campaigners to get off the Titanic of Climate Change hype while they can, and stand tall themselves to preserve bio-diversity, rain-forests and defend nature's hosts of treasures for their own sake. If honest greens do not jump ship now they and what they thought they stood for will get dragged down by the gathering world wave of revulsion against everything green, everything scientific, and everything involving state spending and dear to the chattering classes.

Yes to evidence-based Science and Public Policy! -  No DEAL in Copenhagen!  

Image courtesy NewsBusters member Bob Keyser.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.