Today marks 150 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. The model of evolution through the process of natural selection was laid down so definitively within that book that the core principles are as firm now as they were then. The quality of that work set standards for scientific rigour and principle. Continuing research builds upon a huge body of knowledge.
However, since then those who have felt threatened by Darwin's work have desperately tried to discredit Darwin and his theory by cherry picking writings in letters and books which seemed to confirm their own evolution denial bias, a bias usually informed by dogma. Evolution deniers have ranged from claiming Darwin admitted God did it to Darwin was responsible for the holocaust. Even a story about a death bed recantation did the rounds.
So it's with some sense of ironic timing that the CRU email leak has the climate change deniers drooling. I haven't by any means read all the emails (frankly some of it was boring, some of it way above my head), but to me it seems like a storm in a teacup.
Admittedly there's no doubt that the leak is damaging to the perception of climate science, as the Cult of Denial has already started cherry picking quotes out of context as evidence of either a dastardly conspiracy to falsify the evidence to satisfy evil lefty political masters in their machinations to tax us all to penury, or of money grubbing Ferrari driving playboy scientists chasing after the next research grant to fund their lavish lifestyles.
Oddly though, most of blogland's Cult of Denial acolytes haven't actually referred to scientific evidence or even challenged it, instead the right wing blog hive mind seems to have decided to cross link to each other's rehashing of emails in a kind of free market fundamentalist mutual masturbation.
As with Darwin's theory, the deniers are cherry picking emails and phrases out of context to confirm their own wacky theories. Free thought and objectivity don't get a look in.
Let's face it, if any of the data produced by the CRU had been falsified, then a keen-eyed denial cultist would have spotted it long before now.
Sure, there's some personal score settling in some of the emails which is less than professional, but not particularly out of the ordinary, or as bad as some the current commentary on the right wing denial blogs. Most seriously though are the apparent attempts to silence sceptic research, which on the face of it is troubling. However, we haven't heard from the scientists themselves yet so any judgement on this issue is premature. That doesn't seem to stop some bloggers triumphantly cracking one off though.
It would have been great news if the emails contained definitive evidence that climate change science had been debunked, but the leaked emails are not the killer blow to climate science the deniers are wetting themselves about. Not even so much as a lightly smoking gun. Other than the damage from the media frenzy fed by the right wing deniers (and partially by a panicky and obtuse George Monbiot), the reputations of some scientists will have been soiled, their methodology will get a kick up the backside and their material re-examined.
So on the face of it, the Cult of Denial's inquisitors, despite their self righteous whooping, are so far burning only straw men. Unfortunately many will not see this and the emails will be permanently carved into their mythology of climate denial, and like their mindless hockey stick criticisms will continue to be a pain in the backside of those with respect for objective free thought.
The science is still strong but it doesn't stand still. Like all science, the current knowledge about our climate and our impact on it will continue to change as new research becomes available and new and better conclusions are sought. Like evolution, climate science moves on with advances in our understanding of the world.
The Cult of Denial can't accept that, instead loudly shouting down change, trying to drown out the rational voices of the science heretics who threaten their cosy dogma.
It's been 150 years since Darwin published his landmark work, and it's still an achievement to be celebrated. But 150 years later we are still facing the closed minds of anti scientific ignorance.
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