Climategate: Al Gore's Political Tin Ear
I've said a few times that the Climategate emails remind me of the Spycatcher affair, with all the efforts of the alarmist establishment to suggest that there's nothing to see in the emails simply meaning that ordinary people really want to see them (hence the "Tiger Woods Index" issue). Today, Al Gore proves to be economical with the truth in his interview with Slate:
Q: How damaging to your argument was the disclosure of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University?
A: To paraphrase Shakespeare, it's sound and fury signifying nothing. I haven't read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old. These private exchanges between these scientists do not in any way cause any question about the scientific consensus. But the noise machine built by the climate deniers often seizes on what they can blow out of proportion, so they've thought this is a bigger deal than it is.
Unless Gore is just speaking clumsily, and simply means the most recent email he read was ten-years-old, he's lying, misinformed, or both. The last email actually dates to Nov. 12 2009. The emails as a whole outline a campaign of disinformation and distraction that has lasted for 13 years. Who is really in denial here?
Now, as to whether the emails indicate any problems for the "scientific consensus," I can think of three ways in which they do off the top of my head:
1. They call into question the whole notion of "consensus." There is a clear effort to stop skeptical views being published in the peer-reviewed literature. It is easy to maintain a consensus if you control whose views are heard. That does not make the consensus any more than illusory, though.
2. There are clear problems identified with the paleoclimatogical claims that the recent warming is unusual (problems that Gore just dismisses on the basis of curve-fitted computer models). If it is not unusual, then the "scientific consensus" is nothing more than a curiosity. Little or no political action will be necessary beyond some adaptive measures.
3. The emails indicate that there may be some serious questions to be raised about the temperature record, to the extent of genuinely questioning whether it has been warming. See Willis Eschenbach's masterful post at Watts Up With That? for the reasons why this may be the case.
All the hand-waving in the world from the alarmists cannot detract from these objections. If Al Gore really thinks that the sound and fury from people worldwide who have actually, unlike him, read the emails is insignificant, then he has once again proven that he possesses the world's biggest political tin ear.