Belief in global warming had long had a tinge of theology about it, a form of cultism that adherents and defenders elevated to a holy crusade.
Any who questioned the orthodoxy were branded as heretics. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that climate-change skepticism is "treason" and exhorted that "we need to start treating [skeptics] as traitors." In 2007, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen said that meteorologists who were skeptical of man-made global warming should be decertified. The e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit reveal systematic attempts by high priests of this religion to silence scientists who disputed their rigged findings.
The purveyors of the global-warming theology certainly benefited. They enjoyed professional success, received millions of dollars in grants, had influence in policy circles, were invited to international conferences and found personal validation and fame. Never before had it been sexy to have "climate scientist" on your resume.
Proper science unlocks secrets; it does not create them. The scientific method is a social enterprise and requires openness to function properly. Data must be freely available and methodologies subject to strict scrutiny in order to assess whether results can be verified, reproduced and subjected to reliability tests. There is no reason to trust any results based on hidden data and some very good reasons to distrust them. This is the gist of a prospective lawsuit against NASA by Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which calls on the space agency to produce the climate data it has been keeping under wraps. These data are not classified information and should be part of the public record. NASA's stonewalling is suspicious and could augur that another scandal is brewing.
Global warming was an academic Ponzi scheme. Its leading proponents were mini-Madoffs, peddling a vision of global catastrophe to gullible activists, bureaucrats and policymakers. The vision was so vast, the fear it inspired so pervasive, that it seized popular imagination, aided ably by hucksters like former Vice President Al Gore and his science-fiction feature film "An Inconvenient Truth." But like any Ponzi scheme, global warming only worked if everyone kept investing and no one looked at the books. Once the truth came out - of manipulated findings, phony data, rigged peer-review processes and intimidation of skeptics - the scheme began to collapse.
Yet even as the edifice comes down, the adherents of the orthodoxy say that there is nothing to see, that this is all a distraction from the business at hand, that there is still no time to lose, full steam (or solar power) ahead. But it is far too late for that. The veil has been pierced, the myth revealed, the scales have fallen from the people's eyes. The pagan priests are fleeing the temple, their sacred idols are being pulled down, their holy works renounced. Their god, finally, is dead.