Opinion: Once again with Climategate's dark and destructive arts
March 19, 2013
In 2009, shortly before the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, hackers published a haul of climate scientists' emails. That was the first 'Climategate.' Two years on came another batch, and a few days ago a third.
Do the releases tell us more about the science or the hackers?
By Paul Brown
Climate News Network
LONDON – "Black ops" is what the military call it – using false radio messages, news releases and newspapers, leaflets, and creating conspiracy theories so the enemy is confused, demoralized and loses the stomach for the fight.
It worked so well in World War II that, in every conflict since, all sides have used the dark arts. Many of their methods and secrets are classified, too effective a weapon to allow to fall into the hands of the enemy.
The military are not alone in using black ops, however. The practice has excellent propaganda value in the commercial world, too.
A classic example has emerged in the last few days. A new leak of hundreds of thousands of emails between climate scientists is revealed. The climate deniers are having a field day. A new Climategate looms (see Watts Up With That?, which describes itself as "the world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change").
Just to recap: In the battle over whether climate change matters and whether the world should do anything about it, nothing has recently been so potent as the leaking of emails between scientists.
Load of bunk
These are alleged (by climate deniers and others) to show a conspiracy between scientists to cook the evidence and leave out inconvenient facts in order to falsely show that man-made climate change is happening.
Successive inquiries have shown that allegation to be a load of bunk, but that has mattered little. The damage had already been done, doubt had been sown, and successive rounds of climate talks failed.
What was startling about the whole saga was that the black ops side of it went almost unnoticed. The whole leak was put down to climate deniers hacking into private emails "in the public interest" to unearth the "conspiracy." Therefore, the argument ran, it was somehow a legitimate quest – at least there were no condemnations of what is both illegal and disgraceful behavior.
If you were looking for a motive for the hackers, it could be to further the interests of the fossil fuel lobby, which wants no action on climate change. But not many journalists - or anyone else - bothered to look.
But scroll forward to this week. Along with the thousands more (probably innocuous) leaked emails came an extraordinary memo from the alleged leaker, anonymous of course, but showing all the brilliance of the best black ops in the business.
Signing himself/herself "Mr. FOIA," (for "Freedom of Information Act"), the leaker claims to be an insider blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to foist climate change on an unsuspecting world.
The memo is written in perfect English, and it comes with classic black -style disclaimers: The writer claims claims English is not his first language, implying that he is neither British nor American.
He notes there is "no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil." The Republicans didn't plot this, he adds, and "USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK. There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere."
Mr. FOIA even shows he has feelings for the scientists he is accusing of a criminal conspiracy. He pleads with climate deniers everywhere to protect the privacy of the email senders "where their personal lives are concerned" but asks the deniers to sift through all 220,000 of the emails for evidence of conspiracy, because he has not time to do it himself.
His motivation, Mr. FOIA claims, is entirely pure. He is not in anyone's pay; it is a matter of conscience. He is acting to prevent trillions of dollars that could be used for inventions to help mankind from being diverted to prevent climate change, which is not happening anyway.
This, he says, is his motivation: "It's easy for many of us in the western world to accept a tiny green inconvenience and then wallow in that righteous feeling, surrounded by our 'clean technology' and energy that is only slightly more expensive if adequately subsidized.
"Those millions and billions already struggling with malnutrition, sickness, violence, illiteracy, etc. don't have that luxury. The price of 'climate protection' with its cumulative and collateral effects is bound to destroy and debilitate in great numbers, for decades and generations."
So there you have it. Mr. FOIA is trying to save the poor. Never mind the fact that his invention of a gigantic climate conspiracy – and his attack on legitimate science – serves the interests all polluting industries, and in particular Big Oil, far more than it would ever help the poor.
Cimate deniers, gullible to a man and woman, have seized on his storyline with glee. To them Mr. FOIA is a selfless hero who should get a medal. It is magic stuff. It is classic black ops. And it ought to be in the training manual of every secret service on the planet.
Paul Brown is an editor of Climate News Network and a former environment correspondent of The Guardian.
Climate News Network is a journalism news service led by four veteran British environmental reporters and delivering news and commentary about climate change for free to media outlets worldwide.
The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering climate change. Contact editor Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at] dailyclimate.org
Find more Daily Climate stories in the
This work byis licensed under a .
Based on a work at
Recent DailyClimate.org coverage