But on the web there's one breaking story after another. A few months back the big story was that lone amateur sleuth Steve McIntyre had finally got hold of some tree-ring data he'd been requesting for years, and had found out that the latest Hockey Stick showing a rapid rise in temperatures at the end of the 20th century were based on just 12 trees in the Yamal peninsula in Russia. In fact maybe just one tree - The Most Influential Tree In The World.
Then at the end of last month influential climate sceptic Lord Monckton of Brenchley made waves with a viral campaign against the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Treaty that he said was going to be signed by world leaders next month. But which probably isn't going to be signed now.
And now there's the latest revelation, which is that someone seems to have hacked into the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, and deposited 160 MB of emails, documents, pdfs, data, and Fortran computer code on a website in Russia for anyone to download and read. Or maybe it wasn't a hacker, but the mole that's said to lurk inside CRU: Deep Cool.
You never get news like this on the Beeb. Which is why I don't listen to it much. Except to see what they're not reporting these days. All the real news is on the web.
So I've been reading bits and pieces of the stuff that's emerging as hordes of climate sceptics have begun to explore this windfall. The emerging consensus seems to be that it's genuine stuff, and no hoax. If only because Hadley CRU have said that they've been hacked. The bits of stuff I've been reading today don't sound like a hoax. Here, for example, is an explanation why Steve McIntyre's Freedom Of Information requests were refused:
And what sort of people were there on Steve McIntyre's website, Climate Audit (CA)? Sceptics! Contrarians! Every last one of them. Very definitely not the sort of people to be handed CRU's raw data. No way. Steve McIntyre also doesn't publish in peer-reviewed journals, but publishes on his website instead, and gets peer-reviewed in the comments. And you get to understand why in email #1047388489.
So, ha ha, if sceptics ever did get to air their views in any peer-reviewed journal, that journal would be de-legitimised, for having the gall to publish unreasonable and wrong ideas. Neat, eh? No wonder you never hear from the sceptics: they can't get published.
Smokers should watch what's happening here. Because the parallels between AGW and Passive Smoking are remarkable. Both involve an inflated and largely imaginary threat from minute amounts of gas in the atmosphere. Both involve a lot of singularly bad science produced by zealots claiming to be unquestionable authorities. Both dismiss sceptics as being a tiny minority in the pay of either Big Oil or Big Tobacco. And in both cases the mass media carry their consensus opinion as gospel truth. And while one calls for the complete reconstruction of Western civilisation, the other demands the destruction of convivial traditional cultures.
AGW and Passive Smoking are almost twin sisters. Except that the war on smoking is far older, and the perils of smoking tobacco are far more deeply established in the public mind than the perils of AGW. In some ways, it may even be that the cultural war on tobacco provided the blueprint from which the AGW scare was constructed: Identify an ubiquitous threat; carry out arcane and authoritative research into it; prophecy mass death; stampede both public and politicians; demand sweeping lifestyle changes to avert the threat. If public scepticism and resistance to AGW has mounted extraordinarily rapidly, it's probably because the AGW threat was never well-established in the public mind, and because demands of the warmists were intolerably greater than those of the antismokers.
There's also the similarity that both AGW and Passive Smoking are the products of well-funded universities and research establishments, and they are accepted as genuine threats by almost all governments and all political parties and in all mainstream media, while the resistance to them is conducted by individuals out of their own resources. It's the broadcast media versus the internet. It's a mechanised army up against a ragtag guerrilla movement. It's Goliath versus David. It's central authority versus dispersed dissent. It's government versus people.
And in the matter of AGW, the people are being surprisingly successful in tearing apart the pretensions and exaggerations of all those universities, all those media outlets, all those governments. It's beginning to look as if the AGW scare is losing momentum, as more and more people question it. And if the people prevail in the face of a massive AGW media propaganda onslaught, it will be an extraordinary victory for the determination of individual men and women. It will be a victory for a certain kind of democracy. And it will be tremendous blow for authority, for established political power.
If the AGW scare can be defeated, then so can its sister, the Passive Smoking scare. If the research underpinning the AGW scare is has been largely constructed from unproven climate simulation models and suspect historical climate data, Passive Smoking research - indeed all smoking research - is far more questionable, far more ill-founded and insubstantial. AGW science is in large part hard science based upon physics and the physical measurement of temperature. But Passive Smoking science is soft science which largely consists of statistical conclusions spun out of data from questionnaires. It barely merits the title of 'science' at all. If the AGW scare can be defeated, then Passive Smoking should be a walkover by comparison. And if AGW is defeated, and shown to be an illusion, it will call scientific and political authority into such question that people will be bound to ask, 'What else have they been fooling us about?' And Passive Smoking is an obvious candidate. What's needed is a willingness to question authority, to not defer unquestioningly to scientists and doctors and media pundits and governments, but to call them to account.
So smokers should watch the unfolding AGW drama. They should watch very closely. And learn.