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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don Shelby: How will the media handle Climategate Version 2.0?

How will the media handle Climategate Version 2.0?

by Don Shelby,, November 23, 2011

In 2009, emails, apparently stolen, from the University of East Anglia's server were published in snippets. The emails were the private correspondence between some of the world's top climate science researchers. The blogosphere and mainstream media (MSM) picked up on the hacked emails and found words and phrases too delicious to pass up, or to attempt to understand and put them back into context.
And so, the world was treated to the private emails of some of the people who were part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and found what the writers believed was a shocking treasure. The emails demonstrated that the scientists sometimes disagreed with each other.
The media seized on words found in the emails, like "trick" and "hide the decline." Taken out of context, the words raised eyebrows and resulted in a loss of confidence in the climate change argument.
Five investigations were launched. Three of the investigations were conducted in Great Britain, where the University of East Anglia is situated. Two were conducted in the United States, where a number of the emailing scientists lived and worked. The result of each of the investigations found no scientific wrongdoing.
Some of the investigations suggested that scientists be more circumspect when communicating with one another. Don't be so critical of other scientists, they seemed to say. Don't blame the fossil-fuel industry funded obfuscators for your difficulties. Don't get angry at the thousands of requests for your research documents from those who seek to destroy your work. Don't, in other words, be so human.
Out of context
When the out-of-context words that had so jazzed up the Fox News Channel folks were put back into context, those words lost their punch. Nobody was trying to hide a decline from the public. In fact, the scientists had published their findings long before the emails were stolen. And the decline the scientists were talking about had nothing to do with the decline the reporters were talking about. My saddest recollection of the 2009 imbroglio is how awful the mainstream media handled the story.
You don't hear much about that "climategate" anymore. Now, the question is: How will the blogosphere and the mainstream media handle what is being called Climategate Version 2.0?
Apparently, the original hackers of the 2009 emails have dumped another 5,000 on the public. (A searchable database of the stolen emails can be found here.)
These emails seem to have been taken in the original theft and held back for some reason. (None of the new emails are more recent than 2009.)
I think I have an inkling of what that reason may be. The first stolen emails were made public on the eve of the Copenhagen summit on climate science. It seemed purposeful. This email dump comes on the eve of the global climate conference in Durban, South Africa.
Coincidence?  Its purpose, I am assuming, is to derail the conference and any agreements that might be made to curb CO2 emissions. Copenhagen wasn't a complete failure, but there weren't many successes, and the hackers might have popped the vodka in celebration.
I mention vodka, as opposed to champagne, since there is an oddity in this most recent email cache. Whenever a number in the thousands appears in the emails, the transcriber has inserted a period where most of us usually put a comma. Example: We write 237,532. They write 237.532. That kind of mathematic punctuation occurs most often in…get ready — Russia! It also is used all over Europe, but I wanted to see what it felt like to be hysterical.
Gold mine for deniers
I've read most of the emails. There is a gold mine there if you are an out-of-context kind of reporter. I'm not, particularly. The denier community is already at work. They have found certain words in the emails from which to make hay. There are several instances in which scientists use the word "cause," as in, your science is good for the cause. Deniers will say: "See. The scientists are trying to scare us into following their cause."
Or it could be that the scientists may have another cause in mind. My guess is that the cause they are supporting is knowledge over belief. Scientific fact over ideology. Proof over politics. Seems like a cause worth fighting for, to me.
As an outside observer of mainstream media these days, it will be interesting to see if the MSM learned any lessons from its egg-on-the-face rush to judgment in 2009. It appears, at first blush, the MSM has learned a lesson. Many outlets are openly critical of the hack, deliberate in their approach to the information, and looking for context.
The scientists have learned lessons, as well. They have learned that their natural paranoia is grounded in fact. There are people out to get them.
I wonder if the mainstream media can spare just one reporter to find out who in the world is trying to destroy the laws of physics and the scientists who abide by them.
I've got some free time.

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