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“ClimateGate” redux: An opportunity to show learning …

November 22nd, 2011 · 4 Comments

There is a term out there in common use: lessons learned.  The term, in fact, is fundamentally flawed: we should speak in terms of “lessons identified” (pdf).  

Years ago, a British Army general explained to me that the United Kingdom (U.K.) has a “lessons identified” rather than “lessons learned” program. “We identify lessons, only to forget them, and then to identify them at another time . . . often at too great a price.” He concluded, “. . . and we are striving to change this.”

A lesson is “learned” if, when the opportunity presents itself, behavior and action have changed due to those lessons.

When it comes to the mass media (journalists), such an opportunity has presented itself.

Starting almost exactly two years ago, the global community was regaled with story … after story … after story in what was cointed “Climate Gate”. This mass release of stolen emails supposedly (based on highly selective editing and misrepresentation) created the basis for questioning the global scientific consensus surround the Theory of Global Warming and humanity’s impact on the climate. As Brad Johnson highlighted earlier today

There have been nine independent investigations of the allegations made based on the stolen emails of scientific fraud and wrongdoing, and all of them cleared the scientists. In addition, a Koch-funded project independently confirmed the validity of the data at the heart of the claims of manipulation.

Just a few weeks ago, John Stewart reviewed Climate Gate 1.0

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Sadly, the basic nature of human psychology works against the corrective process:  a falsehood, once embedded is extremely difficult to turnaround. And, sadly, the very efforts at correcting often reinforce the falsehood. And, this is even without dealing with the fact that there is a massive fossil-foolish machine (with the serious support of Faux News and the rest of the Murdoch disinformation empire) seeking to reinforce and expand on that disinformation.

Earlier today, another batch of stolen emails were released (notice passive voice … who released them?) and the disinformation machine is already spinning up to foster continued and deepened global confusion about the status and quality of climate science.  As climate scientist John Abraham put it

While Texas experiences record droughts that cost $9 billion and while the evidence of climate change becomes more clear, the denialists quit discussing the science. Instead, billionaire oil tycoons continue their personal attacks against scientists.

These emails are, reportedly, all from prior to 2009. E.g., those electronic thieves seeking to foster confusion about climate science held back this material for several years seeking an opportune moment to seek to create noise.  That the world community is gathering in Durban, South Africa, to discuss climate issues creates an eerie similarity to the 2009 release just prior to the Copenhagen climate summit.

The question, this time around, is whether “the” media and journalists have actually learned a lesson from 2009 and will actually engaged in truthful reporting rather than providing stenographic services to truthiness and lies.

See:

Update: Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) responded with a call on the intelligence community to investigate these hackers determined to disrupt international negotiations:

This is clearly an attempt to sabotage the international climate talks for a second time, and there has not been enough attention paid to who is responsible for these illegal acts. If this happened surrounding nuclear arms talks, we would have the full force of the Western world’s intelligence community pursuing the perpetrators. And yet, with the stability of our climate hanging in the balance with these international climate treaty negotiations, these hackers and their supporters are still on the loose. It is time to bring them to justice.

Tags: Energy