Guest opinion. Dr. Tim Ball
I knew I was having an impact as a skeptic when I received a call from George Monbiot, reporter for The Guardian. I told him as much. I said I would answer questions about the science. Of course, the first question was about funding, because he had already determined the story and only sought quotes to fit the narrative or to pretend he had balance. I said I had never received funding from any energy company and started to talk about the science. The interview ended.
Monbiot did express outrage when the emails were leaked, but it was about the response of the CRU.
“Why was CRU’s response to this issue such a total car crash?”
He then justified their behavior because,
Climate sceptics have lied, obscured and cheated for years. That’s why we climate rationalists must uphold the highest standards of science.
Apparently struggling with what went on, he later wrote,
But the deniers’ campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way. No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.
It appears he was in the dilemma because he had not functioned as a journalist, but as a messenger for the political message about global warming, that he and his newspaper favored. The deception about global warming was only effective because of the aiding and abetting of the mainstream media.
Those most active in pushing the false information were exposed in the leaked Climatic Research Unit (CRU) emails. They represented very influential media outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They sought information by indicating their willingness to carry the message. For example, on July 23, 2009 Seth Borenstein, a national science writer for the Associated Press, sent an email to the CRU). He wrote,
“Kevin, Gavin, Mike, It’s Seth again. Attached is a paper in JGR today that Marc Morano is hyping wildly. It’s in a legit journal. Watchya think?”
WUWT identified the unprofessional nature of the relationship in a December 12, 2009 article. They were all willingly, albeit unknowingly, used by the powerful – the people they ostensibly despise.
In my recent article about the motive behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deception on global warming, I challenged people to offer an alternative suggestion to my proposition that it was about political power and control. “Follow the money” was the predominant comment. It is true that for most in the lower echelons, funding and career enhancement were predominant (Figure 1).
Upton Sinclair said,
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Or as Machiavelli more pungently said, “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”
However, money was not the reason for the cabal who orchestrated the entire deception. They were members of the Club of Rome because of their power. Sometimes that power came from their wealth, but most were already wealthy. Some, like Al Gore or Maurice Strong, made additional money from their involvement, but that was not the motivating factor. Gore would have given all that money for the 1500 votes that kept him from the US Presidency. As Lord Acton (1837-1869) famously said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” What is rarely quoted is the sentence that follows, which reads, “Great men are almost always bad men.” Acton elaborated on that idea with this variation,
“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.”
Everybody knows information is power. Control of power through control of information has evolved, like everything else. Those with power needed a conduit for their version of information. In the global warming deception, they found a media willing to be the messenger. Instead of performing their original role of exposing and limiting power, they aided and abetted.
The US Founding Fathers set up a system of checks and balances to prevent concentration of power. They knew the public did not have time to monitor what was actually going on, so, the media was given “freedom of the press” power to investigate and expose what was going on.
One part of the United States Constitution First amendment prohibits the making of any law, abridging the freedom of speech, or infringing on the freedom of the press.
In those days the media was the Fourth Estate, a term posited by Edmund Burke, author of the important adage that
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
But Burke also identified the power of the Fourth Estate when he said,
There are three estates in Parliament but in the Reporters Gallery yonder there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all (sic).
English poet William Cowper (1731 – 1800) summarized the power in his 1782 poem, “The Progress of Error”. The focus was already sensationalism and exploitation of fear.
How shall I speak of thee or thy power address,
The God of our idolatry, the press?
By thee, religion, liberty and laws
Exert their influence and advance their cause;
By thee worse plagues than Pharaohs land befell,
Diffused, make Earth the vestibule of Hell:
Thou fountain, at which drink the good and wise;
Thou ever-bubbling spring of endless lies;
Like Eden’s dead probationary tree,
Knowledge of good and evil is from thee!
This speaks to the control of the media up until recently. The global warming deception may be the last great fraud perpetrated on the people and promoted by the mainstream media. Today, the Internet supersedes the power of the media to control the message, and therefore be vulnerable to control by the powerful. It is why powerful people are trying to limit the Internet.
Stephen Cooper identified the role of websites, like WUWT, in his 2006 book, Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers as the Fifth Estate. It is no surprise that the growth of these web sites was coincident with the decline of the mainstream media. Just as politics overtook science, so it overtook the media, but it was the old politics of party affiliation that people despised, but still practiced in national and regional legislatures. The reaction was polarization and extremism. Politics adopted the dictum, that if you are not with me, you must be against me. Media became more and more sensationalist, so it wasn’t just the sky that was falling, but the entire universe. In both cases the facts became the casualty. Farhad Manjoo identified the result in his book True Enough: Learning to Live in Post-Fact Society. The Amazon abstract says,
Why has punditry lately overtaken news? Why do lies seem to linger so long in the cultural subconscious even after they’ve been thoroughly discredited? And why, when more people than ever before are documenting the truth with laptops and digital cameras, does fact-free spin and propaganda seem to work so well? True Enough explores leading controversies of national politics, foreign affairs, science, and business, explaining how Americans have begun to organize themselves into echo chambers that harbor diametrically different facts—not merely opinions—from those of the larger culture.
Manjoo overlooks the major problem, namely that most people don’t know the facts or how to interpret them objectively. Wikipedia is a classic example of the problem. It addresses the need for as much information, from as many perspectives as possible. These noble, but naïve, objectives were quickly abused as WUWT identified. In climate, William Connolley’s monopoly and biased control of entries, was an example. Most people have no idea whether, what they are reading is fact or fiction, or fact with a political bias.
As this was evolving education, which was always about indoctrination rather than education, failed to teach basic skills of analysis and interpretation. The word, discrimination, which traditionally meant “recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another”, became politically incorrect, socially and intellectually.
There was fierce debate about whether the CRU emails were leaked or hacked. Beyond the legal ramifications, was the important point that somebody thought that, what was going on in climate science was scientifically and morally wrong. Release date of the emails in November 2009 was to block further political action by the Conference of the Parties scheduled for Copenhagen. At that meeting, the plan was to introduce global taxation and transfer of wealth with political control that transcended national boundaries. Apparently the “leaker”, unlike Monbiot, thought that this was a bridge too far when based on false and deliberately manufactured information. Sorry folks, but the end does not justify the means.