Global warming: Fake news becomes no news
For decades, we've heard the Chickens Little cry that the sky is warming. Then, in 2009, a hack of climate researchers' emails at the University of East Anglia indicated that things weren't quite on the up-and-up, science-wise. Climatologists had massaged global temperature records to bolster their claims of man-made global warming, and they had destroyed emails to skirt FOIA requests. "Climategate," as it came to be called, suggested that many of the alarming reports about global warming had been fake news.
It happened again about a month ago. On February 4, Dr. John Bates, "senior scientist" at NOAA's temperature data center (until his retirement in late 2016), reported that his own organization had not quite been on the up-and-up, science-wise. He alleged that Thomas Karl, director of the temperature data center (until his own retirement earlier last year), had "breached [NOAA's] own rules on scientific integrity when [he] published [a] sensational but flawed report" and rushed it into print in order to influence global leaders at the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris in 2015.
That paper, called the "Pausebuster," cited new data purporting to show that the hiatus in global warming since 1998 had not occurred. According to Dr. Bates, however, Dr. Karl had put his "thumb on the scale" by releasing new data that were "misleading" and "unverified." Furthermore, it is unlikely ever to be verified: Dr. Bates also reported that the computer used to process the data "had suffered a complete failure." Hello, Climategate 2.0!
Oh, you'd never heard of it? I bet you've heard a lot about the 2015 Paris Climate Accords that were agreed to in part because of the fake "Pausebuster" data. But the mainstream media have little interest writing stories that refute liberal assumptions, so fake news becomes no news. To hear about Climategate 2.0, you'd have to follow alternative sources like Manhattan Contrarian (where I first learned of it), or Judith Curry, or Watt's Up with That?, or the U.K.'s Daily Mail.
This pattern of fake news followed by no news has been repeated throughout the era of climate change fabulist fear-mongering. In 1989, according to the Associated Press, a director of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) predicted that "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels ... by the year 2000." This was followed by no news about no nations being covered by the sea in 2001.
In 1990, Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton professor and Al Gore adviser, predicted that by 1995, the greenhouse effect would be "desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots." No news in 1996 brought Oppenheimer's error to public attention.
In 2005, UNEP warned that by 2010, some 50 million "climate refugees" would be fleeing low-lying Caribbean and Pacific islands inundated by rising seas. No news in 2011 calmed islanders' fears.
In 2007, Al Gore predicted that the North Pole would be ice-free by the summer of 2013. No news in the fall of 2013 reminded readers that the North Pole was covered in snow that summer.
I could continue at length. Every pseudo-scientist who puts a thumb on the scales of the research he pretends to revere finds cover from agenda-driven news editors who give thumbs down to any story that challenges their liberal presumptions. (The Washington Post was offered but declined to print Dr. Bates's report.) There seems no end in sight for fake news and no news.
But then there is the fact that the Congressional Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is following this story. The committee has subpoenaed NOAA for the data that supported the Pausebuster paper, and NOAA has refused to comply. Fireworks may ensue.