Every time I post about ClimateGate, it seems, Sheril brings me back down a few notches by pointing out that even if this scandal does not change the science of climate change one whit, it nevertheless has major implications for public opinion and the framing of the issue. Indeed, in the public arena, “ClimateGate” hurts badly the cause of curtailing our greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to the way the incident has been spun and used, quite effectively, to suggest that the science of climate is all bogus.
I really don’t disagree with Sheril’s points; rather, I would add the following to them. Back when Bush was president and in power, I and others gained immense momentum by demonstrating–including through internal emails and the like–how the administration and the fossil fuel industry had conspired to undermine the legitimate science of climate change. As Matthew Nisbet would have put it, we therefore successfully exploited a “political wrongdoing” type of framing of the issue; The Republican War on Science helped to crystallize this message.
What’s so insidious about “ClimateGate,” in this sense, is that now the tables have been completely turned. I don’t believe the new charges are nearly as outrageous as the old charges were; I certainly don’t think they support the ridiculous claims about the bankruptcy of climate science they’ve been used to support. But nevertheless, I understand well the power of generating outrage by crusading against those in power and suggesting their malfeasance, wrongdoing, and corruption. Despite the invalidity of their position, you have to credit the Moranos of the world with a brilliant tactical move–and right now, I just can’t say how bad the damage is going to be. All signs at the moment point to massive.
I’ll be saying much more about this tactical side of “ClimateGate” in the coming days.
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- WHAT IS REALLY MELTING IS SUPPORT FOR THE CLIMATE HOAX | RUTHFULLY YOURS | December 10, 2009