Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A very small tragedy

In the ongoing mini-drama over the acquisition of electronic-format documents by deception from the obscure Heartland Institute think-tank, the fabrication of another and the subsequent publication of the batch on a number of warmist web-sites, we see a further development.

This is the online confession by an even more obscure person by the name of Peter H. Gleik, who purports to be a "water and climate analyst", published in the Huffington Post.

His choice of outlet tells you much of what you need to know about Gleik, and much that you don't. But one's disinterest is somewhat strengthened by one of his allies, Andrew Revkin, who writes of the confession in The New York Times. Such is the self-absorption of this man, and his lack of perspective, that he writes of Gleick's use of deception as "his personal tragedy and shame".

But, Revkin writes, the "broader tragedy" is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the "rational public debate" that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.

These are, it seems, characteristically emotive words, but it is hard to accept the idea of this being a tragedy – much less a "broader tragedy", given all that is happening in the world.

As to the debate, though, there have been millions or articles on the subject of global warming, hundreds of thousands of programmes on the broadcast media and hundreds of books written, with as many websites on the issue. Rarely, it seems, has there been a broader debate on any one subject – and the warmists lost.

Now, the public is largely indifferent to the global warming thesis, treating alarmists claims more often with derision than the concern that their authors would wish. Thus, if Peter Gleick is not getting the continued debate at the level he wanted, it is a rather small tragedy.

Nevertheless, it has given the Heartland Institute a boost, and a much-needed fund-raising opportunity, and has given the increasingly narrowly-focused, self-obsessed "deniers" a new "gate" with which to amuse themselves. And Dellers is having a field day, which is always good fun.

Overall, though, the greatest achievement of the "deniers" has been to turn the subject into the tedious backwater that it has become. Without the prominence and the heat (if one dare say that), the political traction goes and eventually the scare withers on the vine, which it is now doing.

What is of greater concern now is the regulatory aftermath, where the costs and burdens of regulation continue to multiply. And they lie within the greater realms of politics, where too many in the global warning game fear to tread.

As always, it will be politics rather than science which shapes events, with the likes of the euro crisis having a far greater effect on global warming expenditure than a thousand persuasive scientific papers. The reality of the money running out tends to focus the mind. And against such particular events, Gleick and his "fakegate" is a very small tragedy indeed.