Hey there, Avaaz: I’m leaving.

To shed some light on the curiously out-of-context statement above, Avaaz is a web-based not-for-profit ‘global voice of the people’ type thing. Being a good humanist, I joined up some while back to throw my weight behind certain issues. Last week, however, I saw a message from Avaaz in my inbox that has me kissing them goodbye.

After a short break to get a break, let’s break down the email.

Resin Dogs – Gimme a Break

(Avaaz email indented, my comments all normal-text-like.)

Climate deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists are stopping at nothing to kill a Copenhagen deal.

So far so good.

Two weeks ago, hackers stole thousands of emails between a few climate scientists–and then released cherry-picked quotes out of context, absurdly claiming that they question the science behind climate change.

And now the downward spiral begins. This was classic hacktivism: this data, like all data, wanted to be free, and someone helped it out into the wild.  It wasn’t done by climate deniers, it was thousands of documents as well as email, and those who did it didn’t cherry pick any quotes out of context – the entire lot was released.

By the way, I’m curious to know how, exactly, you can take ‘Holy shit, this data doesn’t fit’ and ‘We should really oust the editors of these journals because they’re publishing papers that we don’t agree with’ out of context.

With big money behind it, this misinformation tactic aims to distract the media and the public from the most important conference of our time in Copenhagen — we have to make sure it doesn’t work.

A guy with an internet connection is “big money”?

We urgently need to chip in funds to step up our successful protests and ad campaign in Copenhagen and key cities to counter the denial lobby and get our media and politicians back on track. The industry lobbies are scaling up their fight, let’s take ours to the next level:

If you were on-topic, I’d totally back that play.

In the last 48 hours, the Avaaz community’s voice on climate has been featured in media across the planet, including the Financial Times, the New York Times, the China people’s daily and China’s cable news station, the Guardian, Associated France Presse and many more. Our voice is successfully competing directly with the industry lobby’s scams for attention, now we need to up the volume.

Here’s where I go on the rant you’ve all been waiting for.

If we want to fix the climate, we have to know how it works. Some of the released emails indicate that the CRU researchers had data that didn’t fit our current global warming model. If there’s data that doesn’t fit, then our models need to change to accommodate that data. That’s how science works – if you find new data that doesn’t fit, you figure out why it doesn’t fit and adjust the model accordingly. And then you publish in a peer-reviewed journal to make sure that your math, data collection methodology and models are correct. You publish in a peer reviewed journal because that’s where the people with the necessary training to understand all of the above hang out. You don’t go yelling as loud as you can until everyone forgets about anything that doesn’t add up.

If your car went CHUG-CHUG-KATHUNK one morning, and you called up your mechanic friend about it and described those sounds, he might tell you what was broken. In this case, let’s say it’s a problem with the gearbox, because I know fuck-all about what would make that kind of sound in a car. After talking to your friend, if you then noticed that your car was actually going CHUG-CHUG-BOINK-BOINK-DIDDLE-KATHUNK would you proceed to get a new gearbox because you want the car fixed quicker? No, dumbass, you call your mate again and give him the new data.

For the love of Jebus, a serious breakdown in the fucking basics of how we examine and understand our environment has gone on here. We need to highlight that this problem has occurred and fix it. You want to shut up the climate deniers? Then your science needs to be whiter than white, and it needs to be demonstrably so so you can get people behind you. Just shouting at the top of your lungs so you can drown out everything but your own preconceived ideas helps not one one iota.

I’m not even going to bother with the rest of the email. Suffice to say it’s more of the same, and I’m fed up with half-wits running these kinds of things. If it’s not the asshats at fucking Greenpeace it’s a pack of screaming gen-Yers who don’t understand the importance of science in solving this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Until someone can find me a decent organization that will directly fight these kinds of things with a brain or two, I’ll be pumping all my donations into Wikipedia and the skeptics again this year. I’m pretty sure that if everyone was better educated, we wouldn’t have half of the problems we do now.

Cheers to The Ringmaster for some links if you’d like to read further on Climategate. (Hey, I’d throw money at a foundation to come up with a better way for the media to describe scandals than by using ‘gate’ as a suffix. That would be awesome.)

I need to calm down now.  Here’s a calming Orbital track with a thematic title. Class dismissed!

Orbital – Science Friction