Just a year ago, the Climategate files — a collection of emails, data, and computer source code — were somehow purloined from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit and made public. PJ Media was one of the first news organizations to cover them, with the first breaking news story out within hours of their first discovery (“Hacker Releases Data Implicating CRU in Global Warming Fraud“).
The full consequences are not yet clear, but the files’ release probably led to the collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference — to which the Obama administration had committed no little amount of political capital — and certainly contributed to the public’s increasing skepticism about the supposed consensus of climate science.
In some ways, the most surprising part of the Climategate files was how well they confirmed the dark suspicions of climate skeptics: there really were problems with replicating some of the most quoted results, there really had been some questionable manipulations made so the data would present the “right” picture, and there really was a somewhat covert group, composed of scientists on the “human agency” side of the argument and certain “reliable” environmental journalists, who were working together to suppress counter-evidence and assassinate the reputations of the skeptics.
Almost exactly a year later, Julius Assange and the WikiLeaks website revealed another collection of similarly purloined data. This time, the data was a collection of diplomatic cable traffic among American diplomats all over the world, some of it considered very sensitive — classified SECRET. Again, the purloined messages proved very embarrassing to the authors, although in this case the damage wasn’t just to egos and reputations; the cables did damage to American interests, even to national security.
On December 3rd, the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom published one of a series of stories based on the cables, this one titled “WikiLeaks cables reveal how U.S. manipulated climate accord.” The United States really was applying considerable political and diplomatic pressure on other players; the scientific “consensus” had long since been subsumed by the pressure to score a political win. As the Guardian put it:
Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.
The bribes — sorry, I mean promised aid — was no mean amount of money. The Guardian reports amounts in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. The government of the Maldives set their price at $30 million. With a population of roughly 300,000, that is $100 per person in a country where the average household gets by on $450 a year.