“Move along now, please… Nothing to see here…” was the predictable burden of Sir Muir Russell’s investigation into Climategate. Are we surprised? Any other conclusion would have made world headlines as a first for the climate change establishment. This is the third Climategate whitewash job and it would be tempting to see it as just as futile as its predecessors. That, however, would be to underrate its value to the sceptic cause, which is considerable.
This is because Russell’s “Not Guilty” verdict has been seized upon as an excuse to reinstate Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia CRU, this time as Director of Research. That is very good news. It spells out to the world that the climate clique looks after its own; that there is no more a culture of accountability and job forfeiture for controversial conduct in AGW circles than there is in parliamentary ones; that it is business as usual for Phil and his merry men. Or, to put it more bluntly, the brand remains toxic.
Apart from Michael “Hockeystick” Mann, there is no name more calculated to provoke cynical smiles in every inhabited quarter of the globe than that of Phil Jones. The dogs in the street in Ulan Bator know that he and his cronies defied FOI requests and asked for e-mails to be deleted and that people only do that if they have something to hide. Every time some UN-compliant government or carbon trading interest group tries to scare the populace witless with scorched-earth predictions of imminent climate disaster and cites research from the East Anglia CRU – of which Phil Jones is Director of Research – it will provoke instant scepticism.
As I pointed out earlier this week, the AGW lobby has recently shown signs of belatedly getting its PR act together, of assuming a false humility, of being less dogmatic, in an effort to win round public opinion. It is an attempt to turn over a new leaf – on the Dave Cameron model, to detoxify the brand. It is, of course, a ploy to recover lost credibility and impose upon the public more effectively. Putting Phil Jones back at the centre of the picture completely wrecks that rehabilitation scheme. It is as if Dave appointed Lady Thatcher to oversee his “compassionate Conservatism” agenda.
The problem for the more sophisticated warmist propagandists is that, on this occasion, the attempt to construct a Cameron-style “modernised” climate scare party collided with the primeval instinct of the British academic and public-sector establishment to protect its own. It shares with the Spanish Legion the principle of never abandoning its wounded. None of our boys will ever be taken out by the sceptics, is the rule, no matter how badly they goof up.
So, this is an important and encouraging development for everybody dedicated to blowing the AGW scam out of the water. It means one of the principal pillars of the IPCC that might have been cosmetically repaired now remains irretrievably compromised. The next few years will be critical for the survival of the AGW superstition: it is now, partly due to Climategate and partly to the global recession, fighting for survival. This latest blunder significantly lessens its prospects of pulling through. A big thank you to Professor Edward Acton and the climate establishment at the University of East Anglia and elsewhere, without whose purblind sense of entitlement the eventual overthrow of this false orthodoxy might not have been possible.