As we now know from the Climategate Emails, this band [of Climategate scientists] saw the Medieval Warm Period as an enormous obstacle in their mission of spreading the word about global warming. If temperatures were warmer 1,000 years ago than today, the Climategate Emails explain in detail, their message that we now live in the warmest of all possible times would be undermined.
With the help of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the highest climate change authority of all, they published what became the icon of their movement - the hockey stick graph. This icon showed temperatures in the last 1,000 years to have been stable - no Medieval Warm Period, not even the Little Ice Age of a few centuries ago.
But the UN’s official verdict that the Medieval Warm Period had not existed did not erase the countless schoolbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly sources that claimed it had. Rewriting those would take decades, time that the band members didn?t have if they were to save the globe from warming.
Instead, the band members turned to their friends in the media and to the blogosphere, creating a website called RealClimate.org. “The idea is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly ?bombshell? papers that are doing the rounds” in aid of “combating dis-information,” one email explained. One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team - U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley - would take on particularly crucial duties.
Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known -Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, ... Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia?s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world?s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.
All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it - more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred - over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.
This scandal grows more astonishing by the day - in its extent, its effect, its shamelessness, its savage intolerance and its betrayal of science. But this aspect of Climategate also sounds a deep warning of how easily the new technology of information dissemination can be hijacked by only a few well-placed extremists. Add that to Google’s promotion of Al Gore last week on its home page, and you can see and fear the potential.