While the well-intentioned legions settled into the first full day of wrangling the minutaie of what may emerge as a Copenhagen climate accord, a well-aged rump of climate change deniers continued the campaign to hijack the talks Tuesday.
The most obvious denier effort was the first of a two-day alternative conference in the elegant Danish Writers’ Union building in downtown Copenhagen. There, a greying, mostly male crowd, numbering between 30 and 50 through the day, gathered to deny the science and denounce the 15,000+ conference goers across town.
But regardless that the assembled codgers and their mostly superannuated speakers are howling in the scientific wilderness – denying sea level rises that are already occurring and celebrating the robust nature of glaciers already in retreat – the denier frenzy continues to disrupt productivity in the modern conference centre a couple of kilometres away.
It’s not just the vision of Bjorn Lomborg, heading onto enemy territory to do his climate change stand-up routine for Al Jazeera. It’s the fact that people like Dr. Rejandra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly feel that they have to take time away from their intended purpose to discuss and dismiss the emails that were stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Pachauri began a major briefing today on the evolution of the coming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC by mentioning the emails and reaffirming his conviction in the science.
The other thing that continues to muddy the picture is the unabated journalistic interest in the email story, and the apparent acceptance that its outbreak, mere weeks before the climate conference, was somehow a coincidence. When the story broke and people like Marc Morano from the denial site ClimateDepot.com and Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute offered themselves out for instant interviews, no one asked how these curiously well-informed commentators came to know so much about the stolen emails – or whether they knew anything about how they came to be public. No one seems to have asked the Cato Institute’s oil-soaked Pat Michaels how he was ready with his money quote (“This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud.”) when the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin called for a reaction.
No, instead the of “balanced” journalism carries on unabated. The London Times and the Telegraph (at least) covered the denier fest. (But, with apologies, NOT the Mail, contrary to an earlier reference here). The times was taunting. They pointed out some of the scientific falacies. The Telegraph at least mentioned that the conference was funded by the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, an Exxon recipient of record. The question no one ever seems to answer, though, is this: if everyone knows that the deniers are agenda-driven, science-challenged and, in so many cases, stained with oil money, why do they cover them at all?