"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes" --Mark Twain (attributed)
It was only a matter of time before the manufactured controversy over stolen climate emails made its way halfway around the world to Wasilla, Alaska.
The right-wing misinformation machine is in full swing. And that machine doesn't have its final cylinder cranking until Sarah Palin jumps into the fray, which she did today in a mistake-riddled, anti-clean energy Op-Ed published in The Washington Post.
Unable to win the climate debate based on facts, science or economics, Palin joins other Republican opponents in attempting to manufacture a scandal by seizing on stolen private emails from University of East Anglia in the UK. But as reported by TIME, the New York Times, and even the Washington Post, these emails do not undermine the overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming.
As we saw during the campaign, Palin is attempting to be too clever by half -willing to acknowledge global warming's impacts on Alaska, while rebuking the sound science that explains it. Palin, who once joined with John McCain in supporting a cap and trade system, is now adding fuel to a campaign run by deniers, big oil and polluters. Thus Palin, who injected life into "the Birther" movement, and poisoned the health care debate with allegations regarding fictitious "death panels," is now polluting the clean energy conversation and giving rise to the global warming "Hoaxers."
Ironically, Ms. Palin's timing couldn't be worse. Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced their latest temperature measurements, which indicate 2009 is on track to be the either the 4th, 5th or 6th warmest year on record -making this the warmest decade on record.
Debunking Stolen Emails:
Unfazed, Palin jumps right into the Republicans' favorite talking points on stolen emails, suggesting scientists manipulated data based on the words "trick" and "hide the decline," plucked from emails sent in 1999. But facts are stubborn things. Since the time that email was sent a decade ago we've seen 9 of the 10 hottest years on record, increasingly powerful hurricanes like Katrina, record wildfires, Alaskan villages falling into the sea, and a 500 year flood in the Midwest. Yet Palin and other Hoaxers really think they have somehow found climate's smoking gun.
But had the Hoaxers performed a simple Google search on the topic being debated in the emails, they would have discovered that the scientific data set was openly discussed and debated in academic journals available to the public for years. (journals including Nature and Geophysical Research Letters).
What's at issue here? "Hide the decline," and "trick," both refer to a public debate over tree ring data and the combination of data sets. Because our direct thermometer record does not stretch back millennia, scientists must use other sources of data to determine past temperatures, including tree rings, which have provided remarkably consistent data for the last 2,000 years. Yet there are some trees in Siberia that had not followed the same patterns as the rest of the trees around the world. Meanwhile data from ice cores, coral reefs, cave measurements and other sources confirm the rising temperatures.
As Tina Fey might say, while Sarah Palin might be able to see Russia from her house, she apparently can't see the climate science forest from the Siberian trees.
Attacking Clean Energy Solutions with the Tobacco Playbook:
Ms. Palin predictably pivots from the climate email sideshow to attack Congressional efforts to cut pollution, create clean energy jobs and increase our national energy security, including the Waxman-Markey legislation. She also attacks the Obama administration for cutting emissions at home and trying to reach an agreement in Copenhagen.
While Ms. Palin is working to boost the Birthers and Hoaxers, President Obama is working to create clean energy jobs. Persuading China and India to join in cutting carbon pollution as part of the talks in Copenhagen would be a historic achievement for President Obama.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Ms. Palin and the Republicans' attack, however, is the company they keep in this manufactured debate. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, desperate to keep Americans buying their oil, trumpeted the stolen climate emails in an attempt to kill a deal at Copenhagen that would reduce the world's demand for their only export.
Who else is standing with them? Like the scene in Casablanca, "round up the usual suspects." The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which regularly sued in support of the tobacco companies, is recycling their "hide the cancer" campaign by announcing a lawsuit against the EPA for finding that global warming is a danger to our health and environment. That's right, the deniers for hire that worked for the smoking industry are now sharing their tobacco playbook with climate opponents.
Ironically, this week's "endangerment finding" by the EPA brings this whole story full circle. After all, the office Ms. Palin was trying to obtain last year -- Dick Cheney's -- was the source of the greatest climate email scandal of all time. Cheney literally refused to read an email from the Bush Administration's own EPA that indicated global warming was real and would damage our health and the environment.
The Bush White House ignored EPA's recommendations, ignored its call to action, and did nothing. That's exactly what Palin and the other Hoaxers want to happen now: Nothing.
Time for Action NOT Distraction:
Opponents of the clean energy agenda literally do or say anything to prevent the United States from ending our addiction to dangerous foreign oil. The manufactured email scandal is just their latest attempt.
If you are tired of distraction, now is the time to call for action. Action on clean energy jobs, action in Copenhagen, and action in Congress. Help push back against the hoaxers with a call for "action not distraction" on your blogs, twitter and emails to friend and co-workers. While the world is watching Copenhagen, we must stand together against the science smear campaign here at home.
It's time for truth to put on its shoes and get into this fight.