Hacked emails: They're trouble, serious trouble, but not BIG trouble

Hacked emails: They're trouble, serious trouble, but not BIG trouble
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“Climate scientists should not let themselves be goaded by the irresponsibility of the deniers into overstating the certainties of complex science or, worse, censoring discussion of them. “

This is one of the annoying voices of reason currently dampening what the denial industry is lauding as “climategate.”

The story, for those catching up, is about a series of emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. They are embarrassing, sometimes humiliating evidence that climate scientists – even really, really good ones – are human and are apt to make mistakes or write intemperately when they think they aren’t being watched.

The quote above comes from the Washington Post editorial today, and it regrets that in a “climate of denial,” certain “researchers show how not to respond to global warming skeptics.” Basically, the Post says that denial of denial should be based on evidence, not on counter tactics. Then, the editors conclude that, yes, the actual climate change deniers have had a couple of good days of chortling, but: “None of it seriously undercuts the scientific consensus on climate change.”

An even harsher wake-up call came today from UK Guardian columnist George Monbiot (inset). DeSmog regulars will recognize Monbiot as a fellow traveller – one of the most outspoken advocates for sensible policy on climate change, a tireless defender of science and a snarling critic of the intellectual and financial corruption rife in teh denial industry.

But here Monbiot turns the pointy end of his pen toward CRU Director Phil Jones, calling (for a second time) for his resignation and – well – tut-tutting at the whole inadequate reaction to the current tempest. As Monbiot says, when you have been caught making a mistake, there are two reactions: you can wear out your voice – and your credibility – arguing over the details and severity of the actual offense; or you can say you’re sorry and show why we should believe that you won’t do it again.

Currently, Jones and company have been leaning toward the former, and they’re drawing out a tedious conversation in the process.

It’s hard to watch this – galling to see the deniers having such fun in this manufactured debacle. It’s worse having to listen to sage advice that goes against people whom we have come to respect enormously. I don’t personally know that Jones has to be sacked, but I have to admit that it would be savvy for him to at least offer to step aside before someone in authority makes a move to give him a push. Then we can all get back to the science, which is overwhelming and frightening, regardless of the quibbles raised in this, so-ephemeral little crisis.

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