'Science Is Dying': What Media Are Really Missing About ClimateGate

December 3rd, 2009 2:16 PM

While most global warming-obsessed media have either ignored or downplayed the significance of the growing ClimateGate scandal, the Wall Street Journal has been on top of this story since it first broke two weeks ago.

On Thursday, Journal editorial page deputy editor Daniel Henninger penned a piece that should be an absolute must-read for all the so-called journalists in America that have either intentionally boycotted this controversy or have participated in hiding its seriousness from the public.

Called "Climategate: Science Is Dying," the article exposed some inconvenient truths far more ominous than anything in Nobel Laureate Al Gore's award winning schlockumentary:

Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold: First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once. [...]

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. [...]

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies. [...]

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton's Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank.

As NewsBusters reported in March, the New York Times Magazine wrote a lengthy article about Dyson which included his skeptical view of global warming. This led the fear-mongering website Climate Progress, and its fear-mongerer in chief Joe Romm, to come down on the Times "for publishing an extended, largely favorable profile of Freeman Dyson, a true climate crackpot."

Readers should also recall how Dr. S. Fred Singer, the esteemed Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia, was disgracefully attacked in an ABC "World News" hit piece in March 2008.

But I digress:

Beneath this dispute is a relatively new, very postmodern environmental idea known as "the precautionary principle." As defined by one official version: "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." The global-warming establishment says we know "enough" to impose new rules on the world's use of carbon fuels. The dissenters say this demotes science's traditional standards of evidence.

The Environmental Protection Agency's dramatic Endangerment Finding in April that greenhouse gas emissions qualify as an air pollutant—with implications for a vast new regulatory regime—used what the agency called a precautionary approach. The EPA admitted "varying degrees of uncertainty across many of these scientific issues." Again, this puts hard science in the new position of saying, close enough is good enough. One hopes civil engineers never build bridges under this theory. [...]

If the new ethos is that "close-enough" science is now sufficient to achieve political goals, serious scientists should be under no illusion that politicians will press-gang them into service for future agendas. Everyone working in science, no matter their politics, has an [sic] stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails. Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.

And, if we had an honest press versus a news media filled with political activists, this would be the tenor of the discussion since ClimateGate first broke.

After all, this isn't just about global warming, cap and trade, or the environment.

What these e-mail messages demonstrate is a concerted effort by a limited number of highly-influential scientists to control the dissemination of information for political reasons. 

If this is allowed to go unchecked, not only does science lose all credibility in the future, but also raises questions about what other established truths were politically fabricated.

If that's not a storyline media can seek their teeth into, what is?