Sunday, December 6, 2009


The media now speaks of “climategate,” one of many such “gates” inserted in headlines since the historic 1972 burglary of the Democrat national office in Washington’s Watergate Hotel.

But this “gate” so far has little resemblance to the original. Sensing that the Cuban counter-revolutionaries caught red-handed at Watergate were not just petty thieves, a team of reporters from the Washington Post “followed the money” to those who hired them--in the White House. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman dramatically portrayed Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in the 1974 film, All the President’s Men. They proved Nixon was indeed a crook.

However, those waxing indignant about “climategate” have shown no interest in identifying the criminals, much less following the money behind creating this “scandal” on the eve of the Copenhagen Summit and the opening of debate on climate legislation in the Senate. Instead all the focus has been on the victims of the crime, portraying them as perpetrators of “climate fraud.” And, since they were among the many scientists from around the world contributing to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, politicians with a definite money trail to Big Oil and Big Coal are saying the whole notion of anthropogenic (human caused) global warming must now be recognized as a hoax.

Congress is holding hearings. The UN has pledged to look in to the charges of fraud. Some have demanded Al Gore return the Oscar awarded for his film An Inconvenient Truth, since it was based on lies.

John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, put things in the proper perspective when he told congress,

“These kinds of controversies and even accusations of bias and improper manipulation are not all that uncommon in science. The strength of science is that these kinds of controversies get sorted out over time by the process of peer review and continued critical scrutiny by the knowledgeable community.”

Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was more blunt in congressional testimony,

“The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus . . . that tells us the Earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity. Climate change is not just a theory, it is a documented set of facts.”

James McCarthy, chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, agreed in a letter to Senator Boxer of California,

“The body of evidence that human activity is a prominent agent in global warming is overwhelming.”

Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown uttered a rare sensible sound bite,

“With only days to go before Copenhagen, we mustn't be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics.”

But, instead of standing in solidarity with those under vicious attack, the academic employers of at least two of these scientists–East Anglia in Britain and Penn State--have pressured them to take a leave pending “investigation.” This gives credibility to the witch hunt charges that their whole body of work is suspect.

In the most serious challenge for humanity to date appeasement of those destroying our biosphere should not be on the agenda. By all means work for integrity in science. But we can live with human failings of individual scientists. Our grandchildren won’t be able to live as humans currently do with a six degree centigrade rise in the Earth’s temperature.

Bill Onasch