Before you read any further, I'll have to say that IANAS (I Am Not A Scientist), so my entire knowledge of climate change rests entirely on what's reported by the media.
It was with a sinking feeling that I heard about Climategate, a 'scandal' surrounding the leak of more than 1000 emails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia last November. Coming before the Copenhagen climate conference, the emails were seized upon by climate change sceptics that there was something rotten in the state of East Anglia. Some in the media couldn't resist such a controversy and as this roundup shows, took the opportunity to decry the scientists involved and by extension, undermine the science.
No doubt, there will be awkward shrugs from these pundits now that a third independent investigation has exonerated the scientists of 'fudging the data' to prove that climate change is real. It's not all good for those involved however, since the investigation found the scientists guilty of a lack of openness and transparency. In short, by being uncooperative and stonewalling its critics, these scientists have scored an own goal by creating the impression that they had something to hide.
Especially when the leaked emails cast a damaging and unflattering light on their behavior and added fuel for sceptics. Even after this recent investigation, most sceptics will treat this as a whitewash and will remain so until the end of the world.
Moving away from the scientists and their lamentable conduct, the science has survived unscathed; there's no debate about that part. The question is, "what should we do about it?" While governments have been failing to agree on the proper course to take, what can we do as individuals?
Well for a start, the more energy we conserve, the less fossil fuels we need to burn. And if preserving the environment is too altruistic for you, how does lower electricity bills sound? Simple things like turning off the light if you're stepping out of the room, even for a minute, helps to save a tiny bit of electricity. Or turning off your mains and not relying on the standby mode. Or choosing more power efficient gadgets. These are small changes in your everyday behavior.
So, the next time you're feeling too warm, perhaps the fan is good enough, skip the air-con. Or turn the temperatures up in the office. I'm wearing a jacket now in my freezing office even as I'm typing this, which is such a big waste of electricity. A small thing goes a long way.
Vincent Chang / Former Senior Tech Writer
Vincent has written enough about tech to know that he doesn't know enough about tech. But that's not keeping him from going jargon-heavy about processors and mobos. After all, "you can't stop the signal".
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