It has been a weird, weird thing having a ringside seat at the messy unravelling of the greatest scientific scandal in the history of the world. The only experience in my life even vaguely similar was queuing outside the Wag club in the spring of 1988 watching all the straight people staring at us freaks, and thinking to myself: ‘God, just imagine how totally awesome it would be if this Acid House craze ever caught on.’
From a tiny germ of a story on a few specialist blogs, Climategate has gone über-viral in a way few of us sceptics could ever have dared hope. As I write, the name has clocked well over 30 million Google hits, which for me has been a bit like being a proud parent watching his singing, dancing little girl suddenly grow up to become Madonna — for ‘Climategate’ was sorta, kinda, partly my baby.
What happened was that on the Thursday when I picked up the story from the Watts Up With That website I noticed in the comments that someone called Bulldust had said: ‘Hmm how long before this is dubbed ClimateGate?’ I took Bulldust’s ball and ran with it using the Climategate headline in all the stories I wrote thereafter. Others subsequently came up with better monikers: Mark Steyn’s ‘Warmergate’ is cleverer and funnier. But by then it was too late. In the first week alone — with a bit of help from Drudge — my Telegraph blog had landed over 1.6 million hits. Climategate had stuck and my teeny, tiny, spear-carrying role in the history of language was assured.
Of course, the real stars of this story are two Canadians named Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. One is a statistician, the other an economist, and if there’s one absolute certainty in this mucky, confused business it’s that McIntyre and McKitrick will one day be acclaimed as perhaps the most heroic and significant scientific double-act of our age.
Why? Because if it hadn’t been for the groundwork of these two brilliant men, humankind would now be that much closer to shelling out for the biggest and most pointless bill ever devised. Forty-five trillion dollars: that it is how much, according to one estimate by the International Energy Agency, it is going to cost us all to deal with the supposed threat of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
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