Quick, name the most distrusted occupations. Trial lawyers? Pretty skuzzy, as witness the disgraced John Edwards, kept from the vice presidency in 2004 by the electoral votes of Ohio. Used car dealers? Always near the bottom of the list, as witness the universal understanding of the word "clunker."
But over the last three months a new profession has moved smartly up the list and threatens to overtake all. Climate scientist.
First came the Climategate e-mails made public in November that showed how top-level climate scientists distorted research, plotted to destroy data and conspired to prevent publication of dissenting views. The British government concluded last week that the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit violated the nation's freedom of information act, although the violations occurred too long ago for prosecution.
The CRU has been a major source of data for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which for 20 years has issued alarms about supposed global warming. The e-mails conclusively establish the intellectual dishonesty of the climate scientists at the CRU and their co-conspirators.
Recently, there have been even more shocking revelations. The IPCC has claimed that warming will cause the Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035. It turns out that that claim was based solely on a pamphlet published by the World Wildlife Federation, based on no science at all. The head of the IPCC was informed that a 1996 report said those glaciers could melt significantly by 2350, not 2035, but he let the claim stand.
As Christopher Booker writes in the Telegraph of London, "A Canadian analyst has identified more than 20 passages in the IPCC's report which cite similarly non-peer-reviews WWF or Greenpeace reports as their authority." Similarly, the Times of London reports that a claim that warming could endanger "up to 40 percent" of the Amazon rainforest came from an anti-smoking activist and had no scientific basis whatever.
"The global warming movement as we have known it is dead," writes Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations in The American Interest. "The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics."
Some decades hence, I suspect, people will look back and wonder why so many government, corporate and media elites were taken in by propaganda that was based on such shoddy and dishonest evidence. And taken in to the point that they advocated devoting trillions of dollars to a cause that was based on flagrant dishonesty and dissembling.