Six Things We Learned from 'Climate Gate': Rob Hopkins on the CRU Hack


I needed a break. If only the sea would stop rising.
Image credit: Tommi Grover

Ahh, 'climate gate', that was a bit of fun, wasn't it? From being accused of trying to "discredit anyone who disagrees with [our] orthodoxy" simply for reporting that one prominent climate 'skeptic' happens (or happened) to also believe the holocaust was a lie, to Brian being accused of being a 'spin-doctor' for daring to point out a) that some people believe climate change is a giant conspiracy, and b) asking for the evidence, we've had our fair share of angry comments. But we're not the only ones that have been examining this event, and Rob Hopkins has an excellent summary of the lessons we learned from 'climate gate'. I'll give you a clue—'climate change is a hoax' is not one of those lessons.Rob starts his excellent Six Things We Know for Sure in the Wake of 'Climate Gate' by confessing that he too has been getting some angry emails from people calling on him to denounce climate science on the back of these emails. On the contrary, says Rob, but there are lessons to be learned. A brief summary is included below, but head on over to Transition Culture for the full account of Rob's always entertaining and illuminating perspective:

1. Climate change is a very real and present danger.
Contrary to angry diatribes across the blogosphere, the emails have disproven nothing about the established science of climate change. With the help of Greenfyre, Rob asks for some specifics about what the emails show"We are talking about a scientific case that has been built up over 20 years or so of peer-reviewed science. As Greenfyre puts it, "Which studies were compromised, how? Be specific. Cite papers and data sets. What is the evidence? Where is it? What work is affected? How? Show me the evidence that says so". It is much easier just to fling muck around than to be specific. Nothing has emerged this week that puts the actual science behind climate change in question at all."
2. Scientists are Human Beings It's been said elsewhere, but one of the big revelations of the emails is that scientists have feelings, and they get mighty annoyed at people they consider to be practicing bad science, or who accuse them of doing the same. And sometimes this may lead to less than perfect behavior. Rob points out that it would be instructive to see the emails they were being bombarded with: "I get emails from conspiracy theorists, and they can be very unpleasant and aggressive. I usually ignore them, and can completely understand anyone else doing the same (although it is true that I am not funded by the taxpayer)."
3. That There Are Major Dirty Tricks Campaigns at Work. Duh. Rob refers to Jeff Masters' piece for a primer on the Manufactured Doubt Industry, and lobbyist efforts to undermine science.

4. That There is No Vast Conspiracy to Uncover. Brian covered the same ground pretty comprehensively in his debunking of the Great Global Warming Conspiracy, but Rob is clearly amused "that some of the very same people who argue that peak oil is a scam, a con cooked up by the New World Order (whoever they are) in order to manipulate oil prices and become vastly wealthy, are unable to discern the similar hand of the oil industry behind the push on climate scepticism (in spite of clear evidence of Exxon, for example, funding climate contrarian organisations)."
5. Even if There Was, Conspiracy Theorists Would be the Last People to Uncover It. This one cracked me up. Apparently we're not the only ones who are occasionally accused of colluding with dark forces to push the climate hoax. Rob tells us there are references online to "Rob Hopkins and his paymasters", usually culminating in some spurious allegations and dubious connections that can hardly be called 'research': "starting out with the idea that everything the world is connected, linked by some nefarious network, and then looking around for bits of 'evidence' that you can then cobble together to prove your point is not research." Quite.

6. That Climate Change is Not the Only Reason to Break Our Love Affair With Oil. Encouragingly, even many of the folks who continue to question man-made climate change in our comments grasp this point. Fossil fuel dependence sucks, whichever way you look at it. The sooner we can transition to clean, renewable technologies, and efficient, low impact communities, the better for everyone. Even the skeptics.

Good work Rob. Onwards! If I may add a seventh point we've learned - the addition of 'gate' on the end of any word to insinuate scandal is getting mighty old. Nixon has a lot to answer for.

Tags: Activism | Peak Oil | United Kingdom