The Climate Warriors
How industry-financed PR managers trick the world into believing that global warming is a fake. Chronology of an organized lie.
By Anita Blasberg und Kerstin Kohlenberg (translated by endofthelesson)
The Climate-Warriors, Part 5
The year is 2009. The Financial Crisis has hit media hard. Publishing houses and broadcasters downsize. Every third U.S. news-journalist loses his job. The few left don’t have the time to check facts. CNN disbands its science-unit. Weather forecast announcer Chad Meyers is the resident expert for climate change now. Meyers says: ‘It’s hubris to think we humans can affect global climate in such a way.’
endofthelesson: Klaus Kocks, the enfant terrible of the public relations-scene in Germany, coined the immortal phrase that the colourful flower of public relations grows out of the dung-heap of journalism (“Die bunte Blume der PR blueht auf dem Misthaufen des Journalismus”; ZAPP, 17.02.2010). Communication and media researchers in the Western democracies have repeatedly pointed out that the succession of ‘media crises’ during the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st hollowed out journalism to a dangerous degree. Journalism, in general, simply isn’t capable of doing the job the public somehow expects it to do anymore. But this is not just a post-democratic condition. Media crises are not a force of nature. There is a reason. And the reason, folks, is the simple fact that WE, the once-citizens and now-consumers, are not willing to pay. We’re not willing to pay the full price for quality journalism. Most of us, myself included, are not even willing to devote a decent amount of time and attention to quality journalism. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling to read about the rotten state of the world all the time. So I watch Prince Harry talking about flying the Apache gunship instead.
What is bad for readers and viewers is good for Marc Morano: Many editorial offices now pursue the strategy to neutralize every material statement with a counter-statement claiming the opposite. So, every statement by a climate researcher is counterbalanced by the statement of a climate-change denier – and that saves the press the trouble to provide an answer to the question who’s right and who’s wrong.
Marc Morano keeps a database of several thousand e-mail-addresses of journalists on his laptop. 19 different lists, sorted by categories such as ‘columnists’, ‘TV moderators’, ‘supra-regional science editors’ (‘not as accessible as the others’), ‘local newspaper’ (‘always take something’).
It’s November, 17, 2009. Michael Mann celebrates Thanksgiving with this family. At 9.57 pm a person with the pseudonym ‘FOIA’ blogs on a blog called Air Vent. FOIA reveals the address of a server from which one can download 1000 private e-mails of the most prominent climate researchers world-wide: Michael Mann included.
What happened? Unknown hackers accessed the server of the climate research unit of the University of East Anglia and downloaded private e-mails and documents. Everything stands ready for inspection in the net, just in time for the UN Climate Conference starting at the beginning of December 2009 in Copenhagen.
At that time, Marc Morano was sitting in the back of a rented car driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. His mobile phone rings. He is in California to agitate against a new environmental law. An acquaintance tells him about the hacked mails. Crazy stuff, some of it! In one e-mail, Michael Mann writes that he uses ‘a trick’ to conceal sinking temperatures.
A trick? That can only mean one thing: that the whole business of global warming is a gigantic fake.
Soon the seeming ‘scandal’ has a name: Climategate. Marc Morano puts a so-called feeder onto his webpage. The program alerts him to everything that is written about the researchers’ mails. He collects headlines and assembles them on his own page climatedepot.com – linked to 1,700 other pages. ‘The greatest scandal of modern science,’ he types. Other bloggers link his texts with other texts. These are then linked to others. Like a man possessed, Morano works through the night. Until Climategate has spread through the Google-Universe like a dense web. In only two weeks’ time, the story of the allegedly corrupt climate researchers spreads to 25 million internet pages all over the globe.
Few journalists have bothered to read the original e-mails, but nearly all gratefully accept Morano’s interpretation: ‘The last nail in global warming’s coffin.’ Fox News goes on day after day about the ‘Waterloo of global warming.’ The British newspaper Daily Telegraph warns its readers: ‘If you hold stock of renewable energy companies, divest NOW!’ Even the well-regarded magazine The Atlantic writes disgustedly: ‘The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering’.
The World Climate Conference in Copenhagen ends inconclusively. No results. President Obama’s long-awaited climate protection act fails in the U.S. Senate. A couple of weeks later, in spring 2010, congressional investigation committees acquit the climate researchers fully and completely. The incriminating passages were taken out of context. The ‘trick’ Michael Mann wrote about pertains to the perfectly admissible solution of a statistical problem. The data contain no irregularities. This news, too, makes it into the media. But it is confined to the back pages.
Not even half of the U.S. population believes in global warming anymore.