After the Climate-gate email leak last November, new leaks are springing in the "settled science" in the once arid, airtight debate over global warming, aka "climate change" (as it's been known ever since temperatures stopped rising).
Yet the Times has been AWOL for four days on the latest major development - a revealing BBC interview Saturday with climate researcher Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia and source of the notorious Climate-gate emails suggesting collusion and unacknowledged problems with the data purporting to show rising temperatures.
Jones was interviewed by the BBC on Saturday and made some pretty major concessions, admitting problems with the movement's infamous "hockey stick" graph showing historically high temperatures in recent times. Jones confessed that world temperatures could well have been warmer during the "Medieval Warm Period" of 800-1300 AD than they are today. Jones also admitted he'd detected no statistically significant global warming since 1995.
The Times, whose coverage of the Climate-gate email scandal was sporadic at best, has so far completely missed this latest development. Former environmental reporter Andrew Revkin still contributes to his "Dot Earth" blog at nytimes.com, but has yet to weigh in.
A Wednesday editorial on global warming, "With Stakes This High," did briefly address other climate controversies, like the Climate-gate emails and controversial consulting fees paid to Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's panel on climate change.
The Times gave Pachauri the benefit of the doubt in a February 9 story, but today's editorial was slightly tougher, and mildly reproached the behavior of climate change scientists, while still sticking to its belief that "human activity is largely responsible" for global warming over the past century. The editorial concluded: "Scientists engaged in the issue must avoid personal agendas and be intellectually vigilant and above reproach."
But the real treat was Thomas Friedman's latest column, "Global Weirding Is Here."
Friedman has taken on himself the burden to re-brand "global warming" as "global weirding," perhaps realizing the original phrase no longer resonates in a world of stable temperatures and massive snowstorms. It's quite a convenient term - one can now claim any sufficiently "weird" weather event is a sign of climate change.
Blogger Ann Althouse pointed out Friedman's contradictions. First he argued it's "nonsense" to conclude that climate change is a hoax on the basis of D.C. having a lot of snow this winter:
Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax and, therefore, we need not bother with all this girly-man stuff like renewable energy, solar panels and carbon taxes.
Yet several paragraphs later Friedman argued that isolated weather events are in fact signs of climate change:
Avoid the term "global warming." I prefer the term "global weirding," because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.
The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington - while it has rained at the Winter Olympics in Canada, while Australia is having a record 13-year drought - is right in line with what every major study on climate change predicts: The weather will get weird; some areas will get more precipitation than ever; others will become drier than ever.
Which way is it?