Vladimir Putin Masterminded the Climatology Scandal!
December 8, 2009 1 Comment
Hippies everywhere are in agony: the skeptics of anthropogenic global warming have loaded their rhetorical quivers with stolen emails from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit.
Many are calling the email evidence “Climate-gate,” but I think people who affix “-gate” to every scandal are part of a scandalous confederacy of dunces that I like to call Watergate-was-not-a-scandal-involving-water-you-idiots!-gate.
The now-notorious emails don’t prove that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is a hoax, as some have asserted; but they are extremely bad publicity for the climate-change lobby on the eve of an epic summit in Copenhagen.
With the global economy in shambles, the appetite for a tax on carbon (don’t give me this “cap and trade is a free market” nonsense) has waned in the United States; meanwhile, rising powers like China and India are loath to arrest their growing fossil fuel consumption.
But one country stands to benefit not only from maintaining the global energy status quo, but potentially from global warming itself: Russia, a major purveyor of fossil fuels that would be able to unlock vast fuel deposits in the Arctic Circle if ice melting trends continue apace.
That’s why it’s really no surprise that the hackers who stole emails from the East Anglia CRU were very likely on the payroll of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Guess who was the first director of the FSB, after it rose from the ashes of the KGB? The same guy who still pulls the strings there and everywhere else in Russia: Vladimir Freaking Putin.
Don’t you get it, people?! Putin masterminded the whole thing to derail the Copenhagen conference and increase his vast oil wealth!
Hippies 0, Putin 1,000,000!
Is the climatology scandal really that big of a deal?
Scientifically: not really. Politically: possibly.
A revved-up James Fallows dissects Page One stories from the NY Times and Washington Post on the topic, noting that the NYT frames the issue in terms of “science vs. ignorance,” while the WaPo is fixated on the “-gate” style scandal and gives equal time to the skeptics.
Fallows thinks this is a case-study-level example of crappy journalism on the part of the WaPo. But as ROTI tipster C. Dave (who forwarded Fallows’ article along) points out, the NYT is addressing the issue to its global audience of intellectual citizens, while the WaPo is reporting from its position as the pre-eminent source for Washington political news.
This issue SHOULD be seen differently through those disparate lenses, because it impacts very differently in each sphere.
As ALWAYS, Jon Stewart and his Daily Show crew delivered one of the more incisive looks at the matter:
Anyone who takes a hard, serious look at the substance of the climate controversy [I don't want to belabor the issue since it's not exactly breaking news, but here is a good overview] can see that the hacked emails don’t debunk anthropogenic global warming. They merely reveal top climate scientists speaking frankly about their efforts to assert their arguments in the intellectual realm. There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, the stolen emails ARE news because they indirectly raise concerns about the anthropogenic global warming consensus that lies behind the Copenhagen conference, the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill pending before the US Congress, and all other efforts to squelch carbon emissions worldwide.
Some scientists arguing that human-caused global warming presents a threat to human life and civilization have played fast and loose with the facts before. Take the notorious “hockey stick graph,” which received prominent play in the work of Al Gore and the UN International Panel on Climate Change’s influential reports:
The “hockey stick” appeared to show that temperatures were skyrocketing at an unprecedented pace. Unfortunately for the scientists and politicians that promoted it, it turned out to be based on cherry-picked data. Most notably, it denies the existence of the Medieval Warm Period, which is supported by significant evidence (but does not, it’s important to note, disprove anthropogenic warming either).
What I find most bothersome about the hockey stick graph, when taken in concert with the leaked emails, is that scientists who had questions about the graph were given a gigantic runaround by the researchers who promoted it.
Their concerns later turned out to be entirely legitimate.
The emails demonstrate efforts by the East Anglia scientists to not just disprove but effectively crush the opposition, by leading vocal protests against any peer-reviewed publications that dared run skeptical papers, and by elbowing those papers out of consideration in IPCC discussions.
Since the case for marshaling all of humanity’s resources to battle anthropogenic global warming is so often based on a supposedly rock-solid scientific consensus that only a creationist or nincompoop would question, it is somewhat disturbing to note an apparent pattern among some top climatologists to squelch dissenting voices and to refuse to share the data upon which their conclusions are based.
While there is clearly a strong scientific consensus that has coalesced around the argument that man’s carbon contributions to the atmosphere are accelerating a warming effect that threatens the environmental status quo, this is not the same thing as DEFINITIVE PROOF that carbon emissions will kill us all. In this context, treating skeptics as lunatics or charlatans is no way to conduct good science.
I firmly agree with Marc Ambinder’s take on the matter:
Climate change scientists aren’t blameless. The future of planet earth is at stake, and while the evidence is on their side, they’ve also conceived of and executed a public relations campaign to convince the public and policymakers of the urgency of the problem. In doing so, they’ve simplified conclusions, at times, or deliberately pointed to worst case scenarios when the middle of the bell curve would do just fine. The science has remained cumulative and solid, but the selling of this science hasn’t — and that, if anything else, fuels the critics.
Ultimately, the East Anglia email controversy is significant because it reveals that top climate scientists are not perfect, and that their arguments should not be accepted with unthinking obeisance.
More importantly, though, it has lit a fire under those who want to see the Copenhagen talks fail. That’s why the East Anglia computers were hacked, and that’s why certain emails were cherry-picked to cause a maximum firestorm.
Passing laws in the United States to combat global warming will not be an easy task…to say nothing of convincing still-developing superpowers like China and India to scale back their emissions. Scientific consensus does not equate with political consensus, even at a time when there is significant evidence for anthropogenic warming. The leaked emails go right for the soft spot of the political case.
Domestically, it is going to be difficult for the administration to convince Congress to take another vote on climate change legislation in 2010. In mounting a campaign against the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the House, the business lobby was very successful in scaring the bejeezus out of moderate Democrats. Today, they argue that cap-and-trade legislation amounts to a “tax” and that India or China — which won’t have to curb its emissions by the same magnitude — will steal hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.
Dealing in probabilities here, is it preferable to accept a short-term anchor on economic growth in order to improve the health of the commons? Is this a political sustainable vote? It is not clear whether, in 2010, there are enough Democrats who will say yes. That’s one reason why Congress will probably wait until the economy improves.
If the leaked emails turn just a few “yes”es to “no”es, it’s a big win for the status quo.
This is what happens when the liberal West tries to take on Czar Vladimir and his army of digital ninjas...
The UN’s IPCC is obviously reeling from this PR firestorm at what they hoped to be their finest hour.
Putin’s cyber spies stuck it to them when they least expected it; Russia had supposedly taken a more accepting stance on global warming in recent months.
They have wasted no time fingering a suspect for the hacking mischief that has distracted the world from the effort to cut carbon emissions:
The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services.
The leaked emails, which claimed to provide evidence that the unit’s head, Professor Phil Jones, colluded with colleagues to manipulate data and hide “unhelpful” research from critics of climate change science, were originally posted on a server in the Siberian city of Tomsk, at a firm called Tomcity, an internet security business.
The FSB security services, descendants of the KGB, are believed to invest significant resources in hackers, and the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices, deeming them “an expression of their position as citizens, and one worthy of respect”. The Kremlin has also been accused of running co-ordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighbouring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations, although the allegations were never proved.
“It’s very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services,” Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Copenhagen at the weekend. “It’s a carefully made selection of emails and documents that’s not random. This is 13 years of data, and it’s not a job of amateurs.”
While the world warms, Russia hopes to reap the profits, both now and in the future.
Quoth Putin, “an increase of two or three degrees wouldn’t be so bad for a northern country like Russia. We could spend less on fur coats, and the grain harvest would go up.”
More importantly, he could unlock more black gold in the frozen tundra:
Much of Russia’s vast oil and gas reserves lie in difficult-to-access areas of the far North. One school of thought is that Russia, unlike most countries, would have little to fear from global warming, because these deposits would suddenly become much easier and cheaper to access.
It is this, goes the theory, that underlies the Kremlin’s ambivalent attitudes towards global warming; they remain lukewarm on the science underpinning climate change, knowing full well that if global warming does change the world’s climate, billions of dollars of natural resources will become accessible. Another motivating factor could be that Russia simply does not want to spend the vast sums of money that would be required to modernise and “greenify” Russia’s ageing factories.
Putin is a sly devil.
While we all drown in a horrific Waterworld dystopia, he will reap massive profits and build a giant yacht fueled by the tears of Chechens. He’ll sail the seas, listening to ABBA, cuddling with nubile models and occasionally nuking any interloper who comes near.
Global warming may destroy civilization, but rest assured, Putin will still triumph.