Last weekend was a good one for climate-change deniers. A hacker stole and released scores of documents, including personal e-mail exchanges, from a server at Britain’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, a premier climate-change research center. “This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud,” proclaimed one skeptic.
Not quite. Assuming the documents are genuine — the authenticity of all has not been confirmed — critics are taking them out of context and misinterpreting at least one controversial e-mail exchange. None of it seriously undercuts the scientific consensus on climate change. But a few of the documents are damaging for other reasons….
Many — including us — find global warming deniers‘ claims irresponsible and their heated criticism of climate scientists unconvincing….
By our reckoning — and that of most scientists, policymakers and almost every government in the world — the probability that the planet will warm in the long term because of human activity is extremely high, and the probability that allowing it to do so unabated will have disastrous effects is unacceptably large. The case that governments should hedge against that outcome is formidable enough.
So the Washington Post opines today in an editorial, “Climate of denial.” I’m not posting this because of their analysis of Hackergate, although they come to the same big-picture conclusion Reuters did (see Reuters: “ANALYSIS-Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer”).
No, what’s of interest to me is two other points. First, while some in the blogosphere are decrying anybody who uses the term “denier” — The Post editorial board uses it a whopping 5 times in 5 paragraphs, the two above and these three: