Implications of “Climategate” in the Global Warming Debate

bearsA neighbor came over to set me straight on global warming a few days ago. He had read about “Climategate,” and saw it as evidence that an international cabal is plotting to take over the world and enslave the masses. He believes that one of the tactics in this strategy is the crusade to stem global warming by controlling pollution, and he is convinced that the Copenhagen Treaty will destroy American sovereignty and establish “global carbon tax tyranny.”

Despite his earnest arguments and exhaustive research, I was not convinced, but I have to admit that “Climategate” has given the environmental movement a black eye. Here’s what happened.

Someone hacked into the servers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and found e-mails and documents that show researchers apparently trying to “fix” the global warming debate.

Some e-mails show them conspiring to squelch dissent, and others show data apparently being manipulated to make the case for human involvement in global warming. As you might expect, this has sparked an explosion of “I-told-you-so” blogs by opponents of pollution control legislation.

eugeneSo it was comforting to read an article on the subject by Eugene Robinson (photo at right) in Truthout today. To me, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist is a calming voice of reason in a shrill world of “spin.” He is often a guest on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show, and he can be counted on to put things in perspective with refreshing common sense and gentle good humor.

In today’s article, the 54-year-old Washington Post columnist surveys the hysteria among “climate change deniers,” and concludes that the embarrassing emails don’t change the facts.

“The purloined e-mail correspondence published by skeptics last week – portraying some leading climate researchers as petty, vindictive and tremendously eager to make their data fit accepted theories – does not prove that global warming is a fraud,” he points out. “If I’m wrong, somebody ought to tell the polar ice caps that they’re free to stop melting.”

Robinson points out that:

The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don’t know.

It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced each other, but so far they haven’t gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.

I know that my neighbor – and the other skeptics who think global warming warnings are part of of a conspiracy to subjugate the unthinking masses – will not be convinced by Robinson’s low-key explanation. But I hope the world’s leaders will not be deflected from their efforts to control pollution just because a bunch of scientists proved to be embarrassingly unprofessional.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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