Climategate is a non-starter. An inquiry at Penn State determined there existed no credible evidence to suggest that scientist Michael Mann had ever suppressed or falsified any data. On the other side of the Atlantic, United Kingdom Science and Technology has just exonerated those "climategate" East Anglia University scientists, who may have been guilty of "stonewalling-" but again, no one was found guilty of faking data or misrepresenting the global warming crisis.
In response to howling discombobulation by so-called climate-skeptics, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has just called on a group of national science academies to review UN climate science in order to restore public trust.
Somewhere in a 3,000 page UN global warming report, two minor details may have been overstated. Himalayan glaciers may not be melting at quite the pace the IPCC report had at first had reckoned. In fact, it may take two or three generations for those glaciers to disappear - not just one. Holland is still at risk of flooding, but the inundation may fall short a few centimetres than was first estimated. Imminent global catastrophe due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions is no less real.
Let's set the record straight: so-called skeptics rallying behind some celebrated obtuse non-experts have misconstrued some basic science terminology as misquoted and twisted out of context in those hacked emails. Surface air temperature does not always correlate perfectly with the overall heat content of the planet due to the latent heat phenomenon of melting ice and warming oceans. Misinformed hubris notwithstanding, the Arctic will still be ice-free within 20 years.
At the request of the U.S. Congress to examine the M & M controversy, a special committee examined and vindicated the so-called hockey stick graph of climate change. Since then, other studies have confirmed earlier studies of climate change. According to every national academy of science on the planet, the science is settled.
Scientific frustration with overt intellectual dishonesty is easy to understand. Skeptical contention ephemerally shifts in mid-argument: "No, there is no global warming;" to "Yes there is; but global warming is unaffected by human activity" and finally, the rebuttal of last resort: "Yes, human activity has a negative impact on climate, but there is nothing we can do about it given China's profligacy will cancel any restraint on our part." Debating climate skeptics is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.
Many aforesaid skeptics are in the thrall of public relations firms, employing some of very same "scientific experts" who disputed the link between cancer and cigarettes in the 1990s.
As we speak, the burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, when natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount. Clearly, human activity can have a deleterious effect on our globe's climate, especially if man-made carbon initiates a positive feedback loop that releases even more tonnes of methane from melting tundra and methane hydrates from warming oceans. It's this positive-loop "tipping point" part that most global ditherers do not get.
Climate has changed rapidly in the past by natural causes alone, but rapid change has always been accompanied by mass extinctions. To even risk a mass extinction, on the false supposition the climate science is unsettled, constitutes the acme of immorality.
The Denial Machine's organized attack on climate research has succeeded. In Canada, the Harper government has announced it will no longer fund the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmosphere Sciences, including the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) located 1,100 kilometres from the North Pole. PEARL collects data on the changing climate of the Far North, where global warming is found to be most intense. The world's entire scientific community is appalled! Still, this sad news failed to reach Canadian public attention.
One must remember, in 2007 the Harper government introduced new rules to muzzle Environment Canada scientists. This policy requires Environment Canada scientists to get approval from supervisors on written responses to the questions submitted by journalists before any interview.
The Denial Machine is flush with cash, and free speech has been stymied by a knee-capped press - leaving the public grossly misinformed regarding the real dangers of man-made global warming.
Sadly, this whole debate is moot. Continued fossil fuel consumption will continue to raise ocean acidity levels to as much as 150 per cent the preindustrial level over the next century and a half. As a result, marine ecosystems will collapse in our lifetime because of ocean acidification.
When plankton, krill, crustaceans and mollusks vanish as their calcium carbonate shells dissipate, so too will the food web that sustains marine ecosystems globally. Our voracious consumption of fossil fuels will result inevitably in catastrophe, with or without global warming.
Thomas Mueller lives in Rothesay.