Six Months Late to a Game That's Long Been Over: NYT, Newsweek Acknowledge ClimateGate's Damage
The fallout from ClimateGate (link is to the NewsBusters tag), the name eventually given to the scandal resulting from the unauthorized posting of over 1,000 emails and dozens of documents obtained from University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, goes back a full six months to November of last year.
On November 20, Australia's Andrew Bolt crisply described the contents of the aforementioned items as providing substantial evidence of: "Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more."
Six long months later, as the American Thinker's Marc Sheppard observed, both the New York Times and Newsweek have recognized the fallout while still not conceding the argument. The Times does so in an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal about crumbling public support in Great Britain and elsewhere, while Newsweek's Stefan Thiel addresses "The backlash against climate science."
What a difference three years makes, says Sheppard:
Of greater note -- the same powerhouse publication that in its August 2007 cover story -- The Truth about Denial -- described climate skepticism as “an undermining of the science” now challenges the same AGW orthodoxy it once preached.The Times's Rosenthal bitterly clings to settled-science silliness in her first paragraph, and shortly thereafter notes a plunge in public support that has been present for three months:
Of course the claimed scientific consensus has never really existed. But the CRU e-mails showed that there wasn't even confident consensus among scientists who presented a public front of being entirely in lockstep. This is best illustrated in a memorable passage from a Kevin Trenberth e-mail (Trenberth is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado):
Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?
... A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.
Newsweek's Thiel is even harsher on the warmists' conduct and temperament:
Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.
This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on Saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather). …
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.
In a delicious piece at the American Interest, Walter Russell Mead asserts how totally unacceptable the Times's attempt at "better late than never" is. In a critique that could equally be applied to Newsweek and the vast majority of the establishment press, Mead writes:
The backlash against climate science is also about the way in which leading scientists allied themselves with politicians and activists to promote their cause. Some of the IPCC’s most-quoted data and recommendations were taken straight out of unchecked activist brochures, newspaper articles, and corporate reports—including claims of plummeting crop yields in Africa and the rising costs of warming-related natural disasters, both of which have been refuted by academic studies.
Just as damaging, many climate scientists have responded to critiques by questioning the integrity of their critics, rather than by supplying data and reasoned arguments. When other researchers aired doubt about the IPCC’s prediction that Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035, the IPCC’s powerful chief, Rajendra Pachauri, trashed their work as “voodoo science.” Even today, after dozens of IPCC exaggerations have surfaced, leading climate officials like U.N. Environment Program chief Achim Steiner and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research head Joachim Schellnhuber continue to tar-brush critics as “anti-Enlightenment” and engaging in “witch hunts.”
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.
Who knows, in a few more months or years, somebody may write a story about the damage that the culture of cocooning and coddling did to a movement that only slowly learned that it had lost the public trust. Somebody might even interview the editors and journalists involved to find out why the collapse of the climate change movement’s political momentum was too unimportant to print while the news was still fresh. Somebody else might look at that journalistic culture and write a story about how failures of aggressive reporting and news editing undermined the credibility of some of the greatest news gathering organizations on earth.
But I wouldn’t publish any of that stuff too quickly. Stories this big and this rich need to be properly aged.