"... to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough — the prime requisite is rightly to apply it." --Rene Descartes
"Don't bother me with facts, Son. I've already made up my mind." --Foghorn Leghorn
As world leaders prepare to gather in Copenhagen to discuss a global strategy for combating climate change — a strategy likely to involve a substantial growth of government power at the expense of individual and economic liberty — a shockwave of controversy threatens to shatter what many have come to view as settled science.
As a result of the intrepid work of several warming skeptics skilled in the art of hacking into computer systems, an extensive network of corruption at the heart of the international climate change movement has been exposed. According to thousands of e-mail exchanges now made public, it has been discovered that several of the individuals responsible for the scientific evaluation and verification of global warming theories are guilty of systematically manipulating, withholding, or destroying data that threatened to undermine the veracity and legitimacy of arguments for man-made climate change.
This is a classic example of the politicization of science. In a gross affront to their vocation's guiding credo, men and women of science allowed an emotionally and politically charged ideology to muddle their thinking and corrupt their work. Guided, no doubt, by a fierce conviction in the righteousness of their cause, these scientists have abused the public's trust in their professional integrity; they have abused the power of their position to take an entire industry hostage. Without hesitation or shame, they sought the professional ruin of dissenters within their ranks and knowingly perpetrated intellectual fraud upon the global community — all in service of a narrow political agenda that resonated with them on a personal level.
Ironically, these scientists have done irreparable damage to the cause they so cherish. Instead of acknowledging the mixed data and encouraging an open dialog within the scientific community and beyond, these self-appointed data despots — aided and abetted by a cadre of celebrity spokesmen and political operatives — chose a path of deception and manipulation. This tactic, now exposed, will only lend added weight to conspiracy theories and criticisms that have surrounded the issue of global warming for the last decade. A cloud of shame now hangs over an issue that — if couched in moderate terms of conservation, or heaven forbid, the Biblical principles of stewardship and human exceptionalism — might have garnered widespread momentum from across the political and ideological spectrum.
But just as parochialism and intolerance within the scientific community have smothered productive dialog and sparked a bitter social divide on the issues of intelligent design and stem cell research, the Machiavellian tactics of climate change activists posing as legitimate scientists threaten to spell the end of a movement that — if couched in less revolutionary terms — had the potential to unite millions and define a generation.
As President Obama prepares for Copenhagen, it will be interesting to see how he responds to Climategate. In light of the controversy now surrounding this issue, it would be imprudent of the president to push forward with his ambitious green agenda. Then again, the economic welfare of the American people hasn't dissuaded him from pursuing a $200 billion annual tax on energy consumption, and he does have his liberal benefactors to consider. At the end of the day, the president may well decide that a little academic fraud is a small price to pay for the "noble" cause of change.
Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty. He is also chairman of the Center for a Just Society. For more articles and resources from Mr. Connor and the Center for a Just Society, go to centerforajustsociety.org