A few weeks ago, my ‘Pot Lid’ paper got a favorable mention on Tallbloke’s climate blog. Today I find that acting on a request from the U.S. Department of Justice, a platoon of British policemen descended on Tallbloke’s house and seized several computers.
This isn’t about ‘Pot Lid’. There was another big dump of 5,000 or so climate-related e-mails (inevitably dubbed Climategate II) just prior to the Durban summit, and Tallbloke was one of a handful of people who received early notice of the new revelations. The cops are hoping to find evidence leading back to the leaker.
It is a bit chilling, however (pun intended) to have police raiding a fellow blogger. Jeff Id has also been very helpful to me, and has also received official notice from WordPress that an investigation is underway.
This game is played for very high stakes.
Next day follow-up: Strangely, the Guardian newspaper seems to be quoting the Norfolk police as saying that the raid on Tallbloke was prompted by the ‘ongoing’ investigation into the original Climategate leak. No mention of the U.S. DoJ, despite the timing of events.
Also, Tallbloke has reported that the police do not consider him a suspect, that his computers will be cloned and returned. Of course, that does nothing about all those garish newspaper headlines describing a police raid on his home, giving his real name and his place of employment. Plus, the climate debate has always been nasty, and there are those on the ‘warmist’ side who view a police raid on a ‘denier’ blog as cause for giddy celebration. Take for example this comment I found on Greg Laden’s blog:
‘This is just a loose yard that, when authorities start pulling on it, the whole climate denier network is going to come unravelled. It’s going to be fun to watch.’
I am of two minds about the whole affair. On the one hand, I am very concerned about free speech rights. Bloggers have been rallying to the support of Tallbloke, sending donations so he can replace his computers, and so on. Especially given that he is not even a suspect, merely a vulnerable public link in a rather tenuous chain of evidence, I can only applaud and agree.
But then I suppose my support of Tallbloke, and my accepting his previous help, makes me guilty by association, a willing part of ‘the climate denier network’. Let me say that I really dislike that word. It’s a label designed to shut people up, to marginalize them as immoral and irrational. I don’t like the term ‘alarmist’ very much either. It obviously is the case that some critics of climate science are ‘deniers’ in the sense that they are anti-science nut jobs who look no further than FOX News when forming their opinions. It is no less obvious that some supporters of climate science are ‘alarmists’ in the sense that they hate capitalism, fear and loathe technology, and would much prefer living in a ‘carbon dictatorship’. I don’t think either side should be characterized based on its worst, most hostile, most extreme proponents. I generally go with the much less loaded terms ‘warmist’ and ’skeptic’. On that spectrum I can then locate my own position as a ‘lukewarmist’.
This episode reminds me of the storm that descended a few years ago on Michael Mann, the creator of the famous (or infamous) ‘hockey stick’ graph. There were excited ‘deniers’ who wanted criminal charges to be brought against Mann for fraud and scientific misconduct. The Attorney General of Virginia made public statements about the possibility of that happening.
While I think Mann’s work was of questionable value, and fell far short of proving what it claimed to prove about the Medieval Warm Period, talk about fraud or criminal charges was abusive and excessive. Steve McIntyre showed a lot of class when he spoke up in Mann’s defense regarding such charges, and offered Mann his support.
I’ll be following this story, and my best wishes go out to Tallbloke and Jeff Id. But frankly I would prefer to try and stay focused on the science.