A Chance for Media Redemption on Hackergate?

Leftover turkey anyone?

Hopefully this turkey of a story won't fly. Image from Flickr commons.
Today another hacked batch of 5,000 emails purporting to be from the Climate Research Center at the University of East Anglia was leaked by unknown parties.  It’s old, discredited news. Let’s hope the media exercises due diligence and practices objective journalism instead of blindly reinforcing the climate skeptics’ distorted claims.

When a similar batch of emails was unloaded without permission in 2009, many in the media hastily reported some of the information as solid facts and did not bother to understand the information in its broader context.  As a result, the science was distorted, twisted and misrepresented, and a stream of sloppy reporting ensued and was repeated over and over all too often.  Some in the media joined the climate naysayers who tried to argue that the climate scientists had doctored scientific data to exaggerate the world’s climate crisis.  They tried to unravel the facts and upend the science.

Nine independent investigations later confirmed that the scientists in 2009 did not manipulate the data or exaggerate the science. But the hackers, with the unwitting aide of the press, accomplished their goal of derailing international climate talks and confusing the public on the facts of climate change.

Didn’t we learn a lesson from that dump? Will we really be duped a second time? The timing alone – once again right before international negotiations – is good reason alone to immediately question the sources and their motives.

Dumping unauthorized emails in the media without attribution should not only be questioned, but quickly dismissed outright as a desperate tactic.   We know by now that the polluters who stand to gain by continuing to pollute will go to any extreme.

How much expert scientific study do the climate skeptics need?  Two reports this month again stress the urgency of the climate crisis.  Global carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than the worst case scenarios projected only four years ago, reported the U.S. Department of Energy and 2010 was the “record year for CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement manufacture.”   And a United Nations report found that climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events, such as heat waves, wildfires and floods.    The U.S. National Academy of Sciences last year said that climate science is a “settled fact,”  “the Earth system is warming.”

Enough already.

Amid the ongoing climate crisis of extreme weather we’ve seen this year and dire warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, yet again polluters want to change the subject.  Let’s not let another spurious string of hacked emails from unknown, cowardly sources distract us from the real task of stopping climate change.