The New Freedom of Information

I am no scientist, and I have little knowledge of the science behind climate measurement and modelling. But at the same time, I've had no particular reason to doubt the "consensus" of man-made global warming.

Nonetheless, I know a little about coercion and bullying, and this is has shaped my perception of the discussion surrounding climate change. When a dissenting opinion is branded "denialism" and when the mainstream media unite to eulogise science that it has consistently failed to analyse with even a modicum of scientific training, I begin to have doubts.

When the global temperature - once again - fails to follow even the direction of consensus climate models, I begin to feel uncomfortable that mankind is capable of accurately determining what is going to happen to the temperature of the planet in the foreseeable future.

When French A level exams contain substantial sections in how to converse about climate change, I begin to suspect propaganda.

But of course, this is science we're talking about. If anything, the scientific mind demands to be challenged, and invites contrary opinion - however unqualified - in order to test its theories, and thus provide a key means to improve upon those theories.

The hacking of Norwich CRU, which unearthed files revealing concerted efforts to avoid requests for data from those with opposing opinions (including those made via the Freedom of Information Act and subject to criminal penalties for abuse) shows just how little interest in scientific rigour and the dissemination of information one of the four key suppliers of climate analysis to the IPCC has.

But it also shows that in an age where the speed of advance in technology has far exceeded the ability of most to understand it, that attempts to hide, distort and conceal information are subject to a new kind of freedom. One that the state is far from being able to control, and one that threatens to bring one of the defining issues of a generation crashing back down to earth.


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