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Ben Pile: Climategate II – Derailing The Re-Railing

So… Part two of the Climategate series is out. Popcorn is flowing.

It’s too early to say anything that isn’t already being said about what the new emails revealed. But, as per usual, what’s being said about what the emails do or don’t reveal is interesting.

Leo Hickman is the first to the scene

The lack of any emails post-dating the 2009 release suggests that they were obtained at the same time, but held back. Their release now suggests they are intended to cause maximum impact before the upcoming climate summit in Durban which starts on Monday.

The BBC’s Richard Black was not far behind, quoting the a University of East Anglia (home to many of the climate researchers)…

The university says it has “no evidence of a recent breach in our systems”, and suggests that the cache – posted on a Russian server – has “the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks”.

The central argument from those invested in the climate debate seems to be that the release of these emails is a ‘deliberate attempt to derail the climate talks in Durban’.

It would seem so. But when is the best time to publish information pertaining to the climate debate? The proximity of the COP17 meeting didn’t stop the International Energy Agency announcing just two weeks ago that,

Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system […] The agency’s flagship publication, released today in London, said there is still time to act, but the window of opportunity is closing.

And the looming meeting in Durban didn’t stop the publication of the IPCC report into extreme weather:

Regarding the future, the assessment concludes that it is virtually certain that on a global scale hot days become even hotter and occur more often. “For the high emissions scenario, it is likely that the frequency of hot days will increase by a factor of 10 in most regions of the world”, said Thomas Stocker the other Co-chair of Working Group I. “Likewise, heavy precipitation will occur more often, and the wind speed of tropical cyclones will increase while their number will likely remain constant or decrease”.

Why weren’t the journalists at the Guardian as suspicious of the timing of these documents as they are now about the release of these emails? The two reports above, are consistent with the raised tone with which the Guardian has been reporting on climate matters recently. Fiona Harvey, for instance, covered the IEA’s report with the dramatic words:

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change –The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.

And Harvey was equally credulous about the IPCC report.

Extreme weather will strike as climate change takes hold, IPCC warns

Heavier rainfall, storms and droughts could wipe billions off economies and destroy lives, says report by 220 scientists – Heavier rainfall, fiercer storms and intensifying droughts are likely to strike the world in the coming decades as climate change takes effect, the world’s leading climate scientists said on Friday.

There are double standards in play: it’s okay to step up the alarm on the eve of climate talks, but to throw any questions about the provenance of climate change alarmism into the mix is to ‘deliberately derail’.

I’ve made the point about timing myself, before. It seems that each autumn, the alarmist narrative goes into overdrive. Back in 2008, for instance, the ink on the UK’s new Climate Change Act was barely dry by the time the COP meeting was underway. As I said at the time,

The point of all this is that the UK Government’s need to have successfully created a a strong climate law, in place by now, December the 1st 2008, is owed, not to the Government’s commitment to ‘saving the planet’, nor even the UK population, but to the designs its members have on being ‘world leaders’.

Timing is everything, after all.