The Big Question: Does 'climate-gate' matter politically?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer some insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

What will be the ultimate political impact of "climate-gate"?

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said:

The impact is both scientific and policy related. If scientists are afraid to share their research in order to purposefully misreport real findings, that's a problem. And if politicians make policy decisions based on bad science, that's a problem. More information about these e-mails and the original research is needed now.

Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) said:

While the ultimate political impact of the climate-gate scandal remains to be seen, it raises serious and disturbing questions on the validity of the science used to measure climate change just days before the Copenhagen climate conference.

Corrupt scientific data simply cannot be used to implement a binding climate change treaty as is the case now, and the Administration should not even consider entrusting the economic future of our nation to an international climate treaty in light of the climate-gate scandal.

Michelle D. Bernard, president and CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum, said:

With unemployment at 10 percent, there was little chance that cap-and-trade legislation was going anywhere in this Congress. Even if most Americans express a general concern about climate change and a desire to improve the environment, they are much more concerned about joblessness and under-employment, and they know that making energy more expensive can only slow growth and discourage job creation.
 
Although expectations for climate change legislation were already low, this scandal will have an important political effect: It will add to the already overwhelming perception that the government can't be trusted. So far this year, the public has seen Congress pass an $800 billion stimulus bill, which was discovered to be loaded with pork and wasteful spending. The White House has offered numbers of how many jobs have been saved, only to have those numbers quickly exposed as error-filled.  The public has seen corporate bailouts followed by outrageous executive bonuses, and learned that politically-connected banks have scored huge profits while collecting taxpayer support.
 


And here we have climate-gate, evidence that scientists -- who are supposed to be above politics and in pursuit only of the truth -- sending emails about falsifying data, avoiding disclosure requirements and rigging the peer review process. The public who has learned about this outrageous behavior has to be mystified that so many public leaders don't seem interested in examining just how widespread this malfeasance is (especially given that many of the scientists receive taxpayer support) and seem only to want to brush it aside so they can continue to advance policies predicated on the idea of a scientific “consensus” that is now suspect.
 
The bottom line: The main political consequence is an already cynical public is becoming even more jaded. 


Justin Raimondo, editorial director at Antiwar.com, said:

No, not yet -- not until the "mainstream" news media simplifies the story and then makes it generally available in a simple narrative form. Perhaps some brave politician will express skepticism about the global warming religion, and the media can report it that way.

John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:

The ultimate impact should be a complete rejection of the fraud claiming that humans are causing global warming. It is reasonable to expect that some political fallout will occur because truth about this matter is gaining momentum. 31,000 physical scientists (meteorologists, atmospheric experts, and others in related scientific fields) have signed a petition rejecting the notion that humans are causing warming. That should have been enough. Only one-quarter the number of scientists promote the absurd Al Gore theory and most of them are social scientists not involved in physical science fields.  As for impact of the discovery of fraudulent doctoring of data  related to this issue, consider that East Anglia's Jones, one of the culprits, has just stepped down from his post. Politicians in the U.S. had better realize that the truth is gaining momentum. Any who continue to promote the discredited view could pay a price.

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit blogger, said:

Of course ClimateGate matters politically, and the damage has only begun. Rasmussen polling shows a sharp decline in belief in global warming, and what's most striking about that is that the traditional-media cheerleading for Copenhagen, Cap-And-Trade, etc., has continued unabated. Most traditional news outlets (Jon Stewart doesnt't count) have ignored or downplayed the ClimateGate story so far, meaning that what we're seeing in the polls at the moment is the impact of alternative media alone.

The Big-Media stonewalling may or may not break down, but the story is already out, and politicians playing to the debunked Big Media storyline just look more and more foolish -- or dishonest -- to more and more voters the longer they keep this up.  This won't help their electoral prospects. It also has ramifications for health care: If you can't trust them on global warming, can you trust them on cancer screenings?

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

It brings a correction. We are at a phase now of almost hysteria; a kind of scientific fin de siecle seeing the end of the world here, there and everywhere. People like Al Gore have taken on cult status much as esoteric religious figures do on occasion. I think it is a fear of the future ahead; a fear of the end of things in our own lives; a fear of the passing influence of a generation. This is how fin de siecle worked in the late 1800s. We are still at the turning and the century hasn’t really begun yet but it is just around the corner. When the world starts again the priests of environmental hysteria will disappear much as the Sixties gurus did.