Climategate and the Hamster Effect

Witnessing the spectacle of climate warmists scampering hither and thither in the face of predatory evidence that they and their pet theories may be doomed, I’m put in mind of the behavior of hamsters who suddenly find themselves trapped in a cage with a hungry snake. The ensuing drama is instructive.

First the hamsters freeze as if in a state of petrifaction induced by utter disbelief. When it dawns on them that they have what looks like an insoluble problem on their tiny paws, they begin to shake and fidget, and soon they are darting feverishly from one side of the cage to the other, endlessly back and forth, seeking an escape hatch which simply isn’t there. It occurs to them that they are cornered, there is no way out, and they start digging furiously into the sand floor, emitting plaintive squeals of fear and despair as the snake slowly uncoils from its torpor and begins its relentless approach.

One feels for the caged hamsters. They are, after all, in an unenviable position, and being swallowed whole by a snake is certainly nothing to make light of. One may analogously sympathize with many of our climate warmists who, confronted with megabytes of recently released data indicating that the climate models have been rigged, the source materials contaminated, suppressed, or lost, and the empirical results fudged to consort with a pre-existent theory, are now reproducing the ritual actions of our unfortunate hamsters. Poor benighted creatures, but for all our empathetic concern we can at least take comfort in the fact that we are not in their place.

I’ve heard and watched the newscasters, benumbed at first, now scurrying haplessly to and fro, in full denial mode, struggling to mitigate the effect of the new information emerging from the Hadley CRU. See how they spin! It is almost harrowing to observe them desperately trying to convince themselves -- and us -- that the current environmental scandal which calls the entire climate research structure into serious doubt is not as critical as it initially seems, hoping against hope that the issue will just go away.

Or, since they are not actually hamsters despite the close resemblance and enjoy greater latitude for improvisation, they adopt a go-for-broke strategy, intensifying the climate warming scenario in the assumption that amplifying a lie renders it credible. Thus, to give one example, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s science program Quirks & Quarks warns of rising temperatures, massive flooding, abandoned islands, and hundreds of thousands of refugees if we refuse to support the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen. The hundreds of millions of fiscal refugees, burdened not with rising temperatures but rising taxes, who would suffer from this species of make-believe are obviously a non-factor.

With a few welcome exceptions, for which we must be grateful, the newspapers and journals are no better. Article after article attempts to downplay the significance of the ophidian facts, emails, memoranda, codes, notes, obiter dicta, graphs, and figures which show that the climate warming doctrine -- especially with respect to the human contribution known as anthropogenic global warming -- is, at best, merely a hypothesis, and, at worst, an out-and-out fraud. Journalists and science commentators are scuttling madly from one side to the other of the theoretical cage they have built for themselves, saying on the one hand, yes, the stream of emerging details may appear to damage the warming thesis, but on the other hand, no, they are only a minor glitch in the great system of discovery and (presumably authentic) revelation. One should not, we are given to understand, pay too much attention to an ostensible cluster of offhand remarks by a clubby group of playful or impolitic scientists.

Nevertheless, as the fellow travelers, bloviating pundits, and collar-tightened scientists must intuitively realize, the game is up, for thousands of pages of incriminating data cannot be pretended away. And I suspect there is more to come. The viper of bitter truth slides remorselessly forward and will not be deterred by their evasive zigzags and the pitiable squeaks that are meant to pass for sober evaluation and discreet analysis. Ultimately, these are gestures of burrowing reinterpretation on the part of the impotently ensnared, which will not impress the advancing snake. They are in for a mega-bite.

Unless, of course, a miracle should occur, the cage door open, and an indulgent hand reach inside to rescue the hamsters from their plight, ensuring that the snake starves to death while the hamsters frolic in relief and gratitude. This, too, could happen. As we know all too well, there is more than one indulgent hand ready to perform an act of tender, self-interested, and hamster-friendly mercy.