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Like Anthony Watts, I have only recently discovered the best, funniest and truest ever thing written about Climategate: an hilarious essay, published in 2009, by author Michael Kelly.

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It begins:Like an Aristophanes satire, like Hamlet, it opens with two slaves, spear-carriers, little people. Footsoldiers of history, two researchers in a corrupt and impoverished mid-90s Russia schlep through the tundra to take core samples from trees at the behest of the bigger fish in far-off East Anglia. Stepan and Rashit don't even have their own e-mail address and like characters in some absurdist comedy must pass jointly under the name of Tatiana M. Dedkova. Conscientious and obliging, they strike a human note all through this drama. Their talk is of mundane material concerns, the smallness of funds, the expense of helicopters, the scramble for grants. They are the ones who get their hands dirty, and their vicissitudes periodically revived my interest during the slower stretches of the tale, those otherwise devoted to abstruse details of committee work and other longueurs. 'We also collected many wood samples from living and dead larches of various ages. But we were bited by many thousands of mosquitos especially small ones.' They are perhaps the only likeable characters on the establishment side, apart from the exasperated and appalled IT man Harry in the separate 'Harry_read_me' document, and I cheered up whenever they appeared. 'Slaves' is horseshit, and 'footsoldiers' insulting, but if scientists are allowed to put a creative spin on facts, I can certainly do so. They are respected scientists: in fact, it emerges, eminent or destined to be eminent. But they talk funny and are at the beck and call of CRU, are financially dependent on them; when the film is made they will be comedy relief, played by Alexei Sayle and the dopey one out of The Fast Show.In the early parts of the story those who are to become the bigger players are not much better off, though. The mails start in 1996 when they have not yet attained world fame and the ear of statesmen, and often do not know where their next grant is coming from. There are moments of poignance:As always I seem to have been away bullshiting and politiking in various meetings for weeks! I try to convince myself that this is of use to us as a dendrochronological community but I am not so sure how much that is really true these days.After an intro like that, how could you possibly not want to read on? And just in case you foolishly don't, let me at least treat you to Kelly's riff on the absurdity of warmism:The real ending is up to us.At this point we are already guaranteed to be the laughing stock of the future, for having entertained this nonsense for even a single year. A cautionary tale of mass hysteria, comparable to the witch-burners or the millenarian doom-cults, all the more so because we were more technologically advanced and fancied ourselves so superior to them.If you're a fairly youngish person reading this, you can expect one day to have bratty grandkids dancing around you taunting you about it. 'Ha ha ha! In Granddad's day they were afraid of carbon dioxide! Ha ha ha!' They will breathe on you. 'Look, look, I'm poisoning Granddad! Look, I'm destroying the planet with my poison breath! Oh no, Granddad – I think I'm going to fart – shall I put a cork in? Granddad, there's a cow in the field going to fart – shall we kill it? Granddad, do you think Mummy will burn in hell for driving a car? Do you call them the Devil's Chariot, Granddad? Do you think light-bulbs are sinful, Granddad? Do you flog yourself when you turn one on? Do you think Mummy was sinful for having children, Granddad? Should I not have been born, Granddad? Granddad … you're choking me…'And also to his wise, measured, summation of what it is we really learn from the Climategate emails:The scientists depicted in the CRU mails have little directly to do with all that. They are just doing their job. They are deluded, some have crossed the line between scientist and lobbyist, but, based purely on the evidence of these mails, they are not deranged misanthropists and haters of civilisation like many of the people who have enthusiastically embraced their theory.I think only a couple of them are anything close to conscious and deliberate f-words. Only a couple of them are genuinely unpleasant people, and even they would be genuinely surprised if you told them that. 'Seems like we are now the bad guys,' Phil Jones says wonderingly after the 'Kinne character' of Climate Research refuses to bow to all their demands. They genuinely believe their theory is correct and that they are doing right in bending all the rules to serve it. It has been an idee fixee with them since before the mails open; and of course their careers are now built upon it. They are a clique, not a conspiracy.They should be objects of pity, for the most part. Anyone can be wrong. Their failings are human ones of seeing what you want to see, preferring your friends to strangers, not going out of your way to do the right thing if it will harm your career. But these failings and the behaviour they have indulged in have absolutely no place in science or the determination of public policy.'Climate science' is rotten, a joke. But the real rot is in the media. All through these mails there are examples of scientists doing the right thing, standing up against groupthink, calling their friends to account, sometimes even among the inner circle. But the honourable ones have had to fight not only the zombie scientists but the journalists who unquestioningly arrayed themselves with them. Save for a few loose-cannon columnists the media by and large have been a bloody embarrassment, acting as unpaid flacks to zealots, hysterics and hucksters.Where were you? Where are you now? This used to be the stuff that Pulitzers were made of. The thing is, there is much that is shocking and outrageous but so far little that is actually really new in these files. It's just all the things skeptics have been saying for years, but straight from the guilty parties' mouths.There is no shame in having been deceived or mistaken. The shame would be in failing to admit that when it stares you in the face. If someone like George Monbiot has the integrity and courage to admit these revelations are appalling, there is no excuse for anyone else not doing so.I used to groan at people who thought the net could, would or should take over from the mainstream media. But it looks as though it may have to do so. There are stories that can only be covered properly by a big organisation's resources, but I for one am not going to pay to be lied to and treated like an idiot. What are you for, if not to be on the people's side in cases of this kind?But the net can only take us so far. We aren't going to fix this by sitting mesmerised in front of a screen compulsively clicking on links and reading about it. There need to be letters and faxes, angry and unequivocally demanding phone calls to politicians, above all demos. Where are our marches? Where's our ten tons of shit dumped on someone's lawn? Why are the other side always making all the noise?This essay is gold, I tell you, gold. What makes it so is the way it combines close textual analysis with a broader appreciation of the overarching narrative; the way it employs witty analogies, tropes, digressions, asides, high and low cultural references, complex structure, colourful turns of phrase to lure the reader in and make the argument more attractive, readable, comprehensible, enjoyable, worth pursuing right to the end…Maybe – contra some of our more rabid trolls – non-scientists do have something to contribute to our understanding of the climate debate after all….

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