Now that we've hit the hottest day in 15 years here in Philly, along with record-breaking heat all over the northeast, I gotta ask: Wouldn't this be an appropriate time to build a bonfire and label it "James Inhofe's new home"?
That might sound harsh, but it's just the flip side of Senator Inhofe's family (with the inveterate climate-change denier's blessing, no doubt, since he posted the photos on his own Facebook page) building an igloo they labeled "Al Gore's new home" back when the northeast was experiencing record snowfalls.
The thinking, if you can call it that, was that record-breaking cold, wet weather proved that long-term trends in climate science were all bogus. It was a popular enough meme that our own Editorial Board had to address it. Well, if record snow proved climate science wrong, then record heat must prove the previous proof wrong... right?
More seriously, though, this is as good a time as any to check in with the climate deniers' favorite hobby horse, the stolen emails they dubbed 'Climategate.' Just as Inhofe's igloo was a fun one-day story that eventually melted as temperatures warmed, the 'scandal' we were promised when a couple of damning phrases were cherry-picked from a massive volume of private conversations among scientists also seems to have dissipated in the strong light of the sun.
These corrective developments, unsurprisingly, haven't gotten the same front-page treatment the stolen emails did, but it's worth noting that:
- The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee found no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming.
- An investigation from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the first independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s work, found no errors that would undermine the central conclusions regarding mankind's contribution to climate change.
- Closer to home, Penn State concluded there is “no substance” to allegations that a prominent scientist at the center of a controversy over global warming data engaged in academic misconduct.
- Even UK's Sunday Times, one of the biggest 'Climategate' cheerleaders, had to retract their story challenging the IPCC about Amazon rain forests, and explicitly apologized to the climate scientist whose work the paper had breezily maligned.
Meanwhile, as global temperatures have continued to set and break records, any evidence of serious fraud or overall error in the AGW model has failed to materialize. 'Climategate' turned out to be, as I said when it broke, nothing more than a tempest in a teabag.
This won't stop denialists from continuing to generate even more warm carbon dioxide on the issue, and the average reader will reamin, as the deniers hope, confused about who's right. If you had to read any of the above developments here rather than in bigger mainstream sources, that's a good indication of how well the carefully orchestrated 'Climategate' hoax worked. The point was not to offer any credible argument against the scientific consensus, but only to sow doubt - especially right before Copenhagen - among the majority of the public as to how much consensus there really is.
Remember, weather is not climate. But it's hot - really hot - right now, and if nothing else that can serve as a reminder that, ultimately, it's going to get hotter.
UPDATE 7/7: Yet another inquiry finds nothing behind the 'Climategate' headlines: 'Climategate' inquiry clears scientists of dishonesty - now when do we get the investigation into the actual crime, the stealing of the scientists' private emails?