Ironically, these scientists have done irreparable damage to the cause they so cherish. Instead of acknowledging the mixed data and encouraging an open dialog within the scientific community and beyond, these self-appointed data despots-aided and abetted by a cadre of celebrity spokesmen and political operatives-chose a path of deception and manipulation. This tactic, now exposed, will only lend added weight to conspiracy theories and criticisms that have surrounded the issue of global warming for the last decade. A cloud of shame now hangs over an issue that-if couched in moderate terms of conservation, or heaven forbid, the Biblical principles of stewardship and human exceptionalism-might have garnered widespread momentum from across the political and ideological spectrum.
But just as parochialism and intolerance within the scientific community have smothered productive dialog and sparked a bitter social divide on the issues of intelligent design and stem cell research, the Machiavellian tactics of climate change activists posing as legitimate scientists threaten to spell the end of a movement that-if couched in less revolutionary terms-had the potential to unite millions and define a generation.
As President Obama prepares for Copenhagen, it will be interesting to see how he responds to Climategate. In light of the controversy now surrounding this issue, it would be imprudent of the President to push forward with his ambitious Green agenda. Then again, the economic welfare of the American people hasn't dissuaded him from pursuing a $200 billion annual tax on energy consumption http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/15/taking_liberties/entry5314040.shtml , and he does have his Liberal benefactors to consider. At the end of the day, the President may well decide that a little academic fraud is a small price to pay for the "noble" cause of change.