She's Got Legs?

UPDATE: CEJ’s Tom Yulsman has my favorite one-liner so far:

I’m not sure even Michael Crichton could have dreamed something like this up.

So this Hadley hacker affair will, as Keith Johnson at Environmental Scandal puts it, “spice things up” for a wee bit. It’s too early to jump to any conclusions, so Roger Pielke Jr.’s headline question is apt: “Climate Conspiracy or Much Ado About Nothing?”

For the moment, the histrionics will carry the day and maybe the weekend. One hardcore skeptic is already calling it

a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science.

Meanwhile, an overwrought Michael Tobis offers this:

It’s a travesty that the fate of the world is being reduced to word games.

Please. I thought Freeman Dyson already held that fate in his hands. Actually, Michael, you really ought to wait to see if the story has legs, as they say in the business. It’s not often I find myself nodding in agreement with the folks at Planet Gore, but they are right about this:

If legit, this apparently devastating series of revelations will be very hard for the media to ignore.

Even doubly so if it’s an inside job, as many are now speculating. And if it’s not, then this commenter at RPJ’s  site is thinking what every reporter following this story is thinking:

Whoever hacked these files did it for what’s now occuring. I doubt this is the work of a disinterested hacker. I think the hacker is an interested party who had some idea of what the emails contained.

So there’s a whodunit aspect to this that whets the journalistic appetite. And if more documents and emails follow, in a slow-drip fashion, well, that’s also great journalistic kindling. So all in all, I’d be shocked if the media didn’t follow up on this and start poking around.

11 Responses to “She's Got Legs?”

  1. teofilo says:

    It’s certainly already shown the media’s priorities when it comes to these issues.  I presume you’ve seen Revkin’s contribution.

  2. Tom Yulsman says:

    Oh I bet this baby’s got legs. But what will certainly get lost in the coverage, at least  on television, is that nothing in these emails changes the overall scientific case for anthropogenic climate change.

    That’s probably true even if you remove the hockey stick, and not consider any science Phil Jones and company have done. The case is so multifaceted and broad that it would remain as robust as things get in science.

    But alas, we all know that how this plays out in the public sphere will have less to do with science and much more to do with political blood sport.

    If this wasn’t about the world my children will inherit, it might even be amusing. But I’m definitely not laughing.

    A p.s.: How will the story play in Peoria during Thanksgiving? Maybe that will be the one thing that will cause it to die. But the shrieking class will bring it up again once we get close to Copenhagen, and I’m willing to bet the farm that cable news will follow like zombies, just as they always do.

  3. Keith Kloor says:


    I’ve only glanced at the emails but assuming you’re right, that’s a really excellent point: “nothing in these emails changes the overall scientific case for anthropogenic climate change.”

    I haven’t seen any posts making that case. Perhaps something for you to take on over at CEJournal this weekend.

  4. Keith Kloor says:

    Okay, I’ve obviously behind the curve on this. I just read Revkin’s story, where he says this:

    “The evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument.”

    I’ll have to catch up to the wave this weekend…

  5. Something Tom said is pretty much what I’m saying.

    Every day we discuss “hoax or no hoax” or “good scientists or bad” is a day we’re not discussing what to do about our real substantive quandary. This is another distraction, and even if it dies down quickly it will not have had a positive effect on the real problems we face.

  6. oso loco says:

    “our real substantive quandary” is the determination of how much of present climate “science” is false.  Some is obviously so. 

    For example, claims that the science is “settled” are obviously false.  Claims that “warming is accelerating” are obviously false. As are the predictions of the GCM’s. 

    As for “positive effect” – it will certainly have that.  For the first time since 1998 there’s a bare possibility that the science – REAL science – will prevail.  As opposed to last few years of  “politicized science.”

  7. Oso continues to play the distraction game. Some things are “settled” and some aren’t. Some things are consensus and some aren’t.

    The fact that greenhouse gases are changing climate substantially, in increasing and accelerating proportions is settled scientific consensus, agreed to by all major scientific bodies (recently “overwhelmingly” reaffirmed by the American Physics Society according to their press release). The necessity to either leave most carbon in the ground forever or find a way to take the CO2 permanently out of the atmosphere is about as clear as anything can be to those who have sufficient understanding, or at least the vast majority.

    The woods are crawling with Osos, and it is exactly this phenomenon of science by paranoia that is preventing is from taking action while, year after year, the price tag for a sensible response grows. Eventually, perhaps, the climate system will run completely out of control, billions will die, and the Osos of the world will have won the catastrophe they seem so eager to embrace.

  8. Vinny Burgoo says:

    MT: ‘billions will die’ — isn’t that estimate a bit ‘nonconsensus’?

  9. Steve Bloom says:

    Run up CO2 to 1200 ppm or so, trigerring a big methane pulse and netting a short-term 10C+ temperature excursion, and yeah, I think most climate scientists would agree we’re talking billions, Vinny.

  10. Martin Vermeer says:

    You don’t even have to run CO2 that high… just combine regional climate change with population pressure, peak oil (remember how dependent agriculture is on fossil fuels?) and biodiversity loss, and an MIT Limits to Growth style system collapse doesn’t look only possible, but likely. Those lineprinter graphs from back in 1972 really talk about billions too.

  11. I find the incapacity of skeptics to grasp words like “perhaps” a little bit alarming in itself.

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