It’s been 10 years since Climategate, when thousands of emails between climate scientists were publicly released by either hackers or leakers. The Observer had a long review of the affair last Sunday:
Climategate 10 years on: what lessons have we learned?
A series of leaked emails was leapt on by climate-change deniers to discredit the data, but their efforts may have only slowed the search for solutions
What seemed most remarkable about this article was the author’s unshakable belief in the reality of climate change.
The affair was dubbed Climategate by those who deny the existence of global warming and it remains one of modern society’s most troubling affairs. Many observers believe it helped delay measures that might have slowed climate change and given humanity more time to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, its key cause.
Climategate marks its 10th anniversary this month – an opportune moment to reflect on just how serious was its impact on society, and to look at the effect it had on those who were trying to stop Earth from being ravaged by rising seas, spreading deserts, disappearing coral reefs and suffocating heat.
The author clearly believes that climate change is happening, and that it’s caused by carbon dioxide, and it will bring “rising seas, spreading deserts, disappearing coral reefs and suffocating heat.” Anyone who doubts it is a “denier.”
The author then lists the supporters of the climate scientists whose work had been called into question. There’s “Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University.” And “Guardian writer Fred Pearce.” And “Mike Hanlon, former science editor of the Daily Mail.” Also “Fiona Fox, head of the UK’s Science Media Centre.”
Several official UK reports on the affair also supported Jones. One inquiry – by Sir Muir Russell, a senior civil servant – specifically praised the “rigour and honesty” of Jones and his colleagues while another, chaired by Lord Oxburgh, found “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice”.
And then there was “the US Environmental Protection Agency” and “physicists at University of California, Berkeley, … led by Professor Richard Muller.”
Such powerful endorsements might have been expected to end deniers’ claims about Climategate. However, they have continued since 2009 to accuse Jones and others of collusion and fraud.
Here perhaps is the key to the whole defence mounted by the author: he believes that all these “powerful endorsements” by authorities of one sort or other should be expected to silence the sceptics. He is mounting a long argument from authority. How can you possibly doubt all these authorities?
But this is what Climategate was really all about: distrust of authority. Can we trust authorities? Must we place our unquestioning trust in authorities of every kind? Must we believe what we are told?
This goes far beyond climate science. What we’re actually seeing is an accelerating global loss of trust in authorities of every kind. It’s not just that we don’t believe climate scientists. We don’t trust the mainstream media. We don’t trust the UN and the World Health Organisation. We don’t trust the EU. We don’t trust ASH. We don’t trust the Pope. We don’t trust the FBI and the CIA and the NSA. We don’t trust Hillary Clinton. We don’t trust Donald Trump. We don’t trust Jeremy Corbyn. We don’t trust Boris Johnson. And of course we don’t trust Greta Thunberg.
We don’t trust anyone.
Trust is something that must be earned. And when trust is broken it’s almost impossible to recover.
Climategate brought a deep loss of trust in climate scientists. But should any of them have been trusted in the first place? Why should we automatically believe anyone who says they’re a “scientist” or a “doctor” or an “expert”? Shouldn’t we be sceptical about everyone, at least until they’ve earned our trust, by proving their good faith?
The Observer article mentioned in passing “hiding the decline.” This was when one line in a graph of proxy temperatures showed an inconvenient decline, and so was concealed. Here’s an explanation of it again:
Oddly enough, the physicist in this video, explaining and expressing outrage at the trick that was used to hide the decline, is none other than the Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller cited in Sunday’s Observer article as one of the illustrious experts supporting the climate alarmists. Did he change his mind, and stop being a climate sceptic? Or was he once an alarmist, but now a sceptic? Does he now think that the trick used to hide the decline was perfectly legitimate? I very much doubt it. Once it’s understood how the trick was pulled off, it’s impossible to trust the people who did it ever again.