One of the strangest things about the ongoing non-controversy over the hacked climate emails is that it's revealed how irrational much of the thinking behind global warming denial really is. It's always been understood that people have fundamental reasons for resisting the idea that man's behavior is causing the climate to change--especially if they're deeply comfortable with said behavior. But I hadn't realized how many people actually--I mean really, truly--believe that climate change is a nefarious conspiracy concocted by elite liberals to . . . do what, exactly?It's that final point that seems to have logic faltering from the climate denial camp--and it's happening right when they'd most like us to believe they've found their 'A-ha!' or 'whatever-gate' moment. As far as I can tell, these people that feel that a few awkward (and sometimes mean-spirited) emails between a couple climate scientists disprove the entire body of scientific evidence on the subject feel that way because they also believe there's been some sort of plot by climate scientists to deviously mislead the public.
A Global Warming Conspiracy Without a Cause
But why? Why on earth would scientists conspire to trick everyone into thinking temperatures are rising? The only reasons actually posited by climate change skeptics are vague at best and ridiculously paranoid at worst.
Various commenters on TreeHugger posts have cried that the aim of such conspiracy is to acheive mass "thought control" or to create a "world government." Skeptic pundits like Glenn Beck and Sen. Inhofe don't do much better.
It seems that many skeptics have been so eager to have the theory of anthropogenic global warming 'proven' false they haven't bothered to construct a viable motive for their conspiracies, which are often led by Al Gore and now the scientists at the CRU. Either that, or they simply aren't considering anything at all--their denial is a prolonged reaction against something they feel will cause an infringement upon their personal freedoms, and has no true logical basis.
It's one thing to disagree with the conclusions drawn from studies, believe that more research needs to be done, or deny the findings--it's quite another to actually feel that there's an ill-meaning cabal of elite scientists who are constructing a vast conspiracy. But that's what some people actually believe--and they often happen to be the most vocal on the comment boards. It's enough to discourage your friendly neighborhood climate blogger--I was so worried that all those comments were popping up that I didn't sit back and think about how ridiculous they were.
Not Buying the Climate Change Conspiracy Theories
And thankfully, a TreeHugger survey shows that our readership overwhelmingly continues to believe that climate change is a very real threat, despite the onslaught of anti-climate science comments we got in the wake of the hacked email event. And mainstream news services like Reuters have agreed that there's nothing incriminating in the emails--just some seriously bad etiquette.
Sen. James Inhofe US's leading climate change denier
Yglesias has some thoughts on this 'conspiracy' phenomenon as well:
What I wonder for those, like Senator James Inhof and Cato Institute Vice President Roger Pilon, who seem to think these emails prove the existence of a nefarious conspiracy to defraud the public about the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is what's the purpose of this conspiracy? . . . what's the upside for Kerry in taking this issue up in the first place? Or Barbara Boxer or Henry Waxman? How is it that the government of China, which is clearly reluctant to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, doesn't seem to have any qualms with this science? Maybe political parties from across the spectrum in France endorse consensus climate science because they're under the influence of the nuclear energy industry, but why does this political consensus extend to the U.K. and all across continental Europe? Are David Cameron and Angela Merkel in the grips of growth-hating socialist ideology? And what about the scientists themselves? Where's the upside? Normally to posit a giant conspiracy you need some plausible account of the motives.I have yet to hear any credible response to this--or any response at all really. Yglesias then notes the obvious: "It shouldn't take a genius to note that opposition to the scientific consensus is extremely concentrated among political movements with strong ties to the coal and oil industry."
Fear Without Reason
People's concerns that global warming will force them to give up luxuries and comforts, and will lead to government regulation, has obviously been targeted by oil and coal companies. But while they can stir fear, and spread doubt, one thing they cannot do is provide a valid reason why scientists--the vast majority of those in the field--should conspire to push a hoax onto the international community.
I guess the reality that there are thousands of scientists meticulously compiling and analyzing data around the world is just far less compelling.