Using Karl’s Trick To Hide The Consensus

3 comments November 25th, 2009at 09:33pm Posted by Eli

I admit, I haven’t been following this ridiculous global warming pseudoscandal very closely – it was immediately obvious that it was yet another manufactroversy where a whole bunch of conservative politicians and pundits wave around a pair of threes like they just got a royal flush.  Josh has a staggeringly comprehensive and awesome rundown at EnviroKnow, and I have to say that his first point gave me some serious deja vu:

1. The scientific consensus that humans are responsible for climate change — and that we must stabilize concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases at 350 parts per million — remains overwhelming. This latest cybercrime and the private emails it revealed do nothing whatsoever to change that.


Chris Mooney at the Intersection observes that these emails don’t actually imply anything substantive about climate science:

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that all of the worst and most damning interpretations of these exposed emails are accurate. I don’t think this is remotely true, but let’s assume it.

Even if this is the case, it does not prove the following:

1) The scientists whose emails have been revealed are representative of or somehow a proxy for every other climate scientist on the planet.

2) The studies that have been called into questions based on the emails (e.g., that old chestnut the “hockey stick”) are somehow the foundations of our concern about global warming, and those concerns stand or fall based on those studies.

Neither one of these is true, which is why I can say confidently that “ClimateGate” is overblown–and which is why I’ve never been impressed by systematic attacks on the “hockey stick.” Even if that study falls, we still have global warming on our hands, and it’s still human caused.

Hmm, Republicans pretending that questions about the authenticity of one nonessential part of an otherwise overwhelmingly slam-dunk case invalidate the whole entire edifice of evidence?  Where have we heard that before?  Oh, that’s right – because a couple of memos might have been fakes (or reconstructions), that must mean that Dubya didn’t pull strings to get out of Vietnam, and didn’t walk out of his ANG commitment a year early.

Yep, the right is using the exact same strategy they used -successfully – to defuse Dubya’s military service timebomb.  But the reason that worked was that CBS folded, forcing Rather to apologize and essentially retract the entire story, rather than simply pointing out that it was never based on the memos, and was therefore not invalidated by the memos.

Of course, CBS was compromised and probably actively working to sabotage Rather – presumably the scientific community will not do the same.  It also doesn’t hurt that the progressive blogosphere is so much bigger now too, so the pushback should be a lot stronger.

My gut feeling is that this will blow over and do no lasting damage.  But not all by itself.

Entry Filed under: Environment,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


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