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Thursday 23 February 2012

Protesting Too Much

Not getting much attention from mainstream media outlets – no doubt because of that great global conspiracy ranged against them – is a storm of faux outrage coming out of the climate change denial lobby over the obtaining of otherwise confidential documents from the Heartland Institute, yet another of those Astroturf lobby groups that seeks to muddy the waters around climate science.

The story is straightforward: the documents, revealing who buys into Heartland, and who in turn is bought by Heartland, were obtained by one Peter Gleick, a scientist heading the Pacific Institute. He then owned up to an act of deception – pretending to be someone else – and the storm duly kicked off. Those kicking off in the most vigorous style are all firmly in the denial camp.

Mainstream scientists have distanced themselves from Gleick’s deception, but at the same time, bodies such as Greenpeace are running with the information he obtained, with at least one federal employee appearing compromised by accepting a monthly stipend from Heartland, a body that has in the past taken money from Big Tobacco to question the risks of passive smoking.

This may explain the vehemence and sheer nastiness of the reaction from the denial lobby: Heartland have put out their statement via Anthony Watts’ site (no surprise, as they have recently paid him $90,000), and some of the comments are a wonder to behold. This should surprise no-one, given the standard of some of the contributions to Watts’ site, as I noted some time ago.

Meanwhile, the Mail has allowed Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips to pen a shrieking tirade on the affair. Mel talks of the “climate change swindle”, describes Anthony Watts’ site – paid for partly by Heartland money – as “invaluable”, and rails against “warmist stooges”. She takes as data an assertion from Heartland that a document cited by Gleick is a forgery.

And that’s not all: in an outburst the Mail may come to regret publishing, Mel tells of “the scientific doctrine at the heart of AGW theory: ‘Make up the evidence to fit the dogma’ and its closely associated moral principle, ‘There is only one truth and that is AGW; all who say otherwise are liars, whose destruction by any means is the highest moral act, amen’”. This is followed by reference to “warmist propaganda”.

Mel’s rant is echoed by James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, a previous attendee of Heartland events, who sneeringly (that being the Del Boy default mode) compares Gleick to Johann Hari, plays the victim in continuing proof of Olbermann’s dictum, and like Mel protests just a little bit too much. It’s clearly OK to anonymously hack emails, but not to get Heartland to spit out factual information.

There will be more to come on this. And Mel and Del might not emerge unscathed.

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