Wed Nov. 17, 2010 3:00 AM PST
A year ago this week, the already-heated global warming debate exploded into allegations of a massive scientific fraud when a trove of emails between climate scientists was stolen and posted online. Portions of the emails were cherry-picked and taken out of context to create the impression that researchers were engaged in a sinister plot to mislead the public and silence detractors. Dubbed “ClimateGate” by global warming deniers, the ensuing hype succeeded in further clouding the public’s understanding of climate science.
Never mind that it was a noncontroversy—that myriad models and reams of data have concluded that the planet is warming due to human activity, or that five separate investigations have confirmed that the ClimateGate scientists did nothing improper. In the combustible world of climate denial, the email release added fuel to the fire, reigniting old attacks on science in the blogosphere and among right-wing members of Congress—including a few who are in line to lead powerful House committees next year.