Lunch, With a Side of Climate Denial

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You might think the recent exoneration of the scientists involved in the so-called “Climategate” scandal would have put a damper on efforts by climate change deniers to exploit the issue. But the leaders of the anti-science movement were still at it on Friday, as the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute hosted a lunch briefing on Capitol Hill to continue playing up the “controversy.”

“The Climategate Scandals: What Has Been Revealed And What Does It Mean?” featured Cato’s Pat Michaels and John D’Aleo, a meteorologist who runs the skeptic outlet ICECAP. It also featured Chick-Fil-A catering, which seemed to be the chief draw for many of the young House staffers in the audience.

 

The briefing was a rehashing of many tired points: other climate scientists are mean to climate skeptics; the world is not actually getting warmer; but if it was, the problem isn’t burning fossil fuels, it’s the sun, water vapor, or volcanoes; satellite temperature readings are more reliable than surface temperature readings; there are many scientists who disagree with the consensus on climate change but are just too scared to speak up.

The panelists spent a lot of time on “Climategate,” arguing that the incident proves that global warming is “a catastrophe that never was,” as Heritage senior policy analyst Ben Lieberman put it. Of course, he noted that he was already a skeptic well before the emails were leaked: “I’ve been a fairly hardnosed skeptic for years. After Climategate I realized I wasn’t skeptical enough.”

Since the panelists spent a lot of time complaining about how the investigations into “Climategate” were just “whitewash,” I asked Michaels what they would accept as an objective examination of the emails. His response? Nothing could ever satisfy the skeptics. “I don’t think the can of worms can be unloaded,” said Michaels. “It’s just not going to happen.”

He said it would be difficult “to find someone with expertise on this” who is a “purely objective person.” He also took the opportunity to subtly downplay his industry ties, and portray scientists funded by grants and universities as equally biased. “How can you have expertise and not be supported in some way?” he said. “That makes this a difficult situation.”

So, the skeptics will never be satisfied, nor will they abandon their flogging of the emails as the smoking gun proving that climate change is a giant conspiracy. (Never mind that the emails didn’t put a dent in the vast body of scientific evidence on climate change.)

The event itself was a case study in how these guys manage to keep this non-issue alive. Discover‘s Sheril Kirshenbaum has an excellent post up about their strategy and why it works (hint: the Chick-Fil-A is part of it). In any case, don’t expect the skeptics to give up on Climategate any time soon. Heritage and CEI are planning another event on the matter for June 17.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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