Not long ago, a Penn State climatologist named Michael Mann became embroiled in a controversy about statistical methods used in interpreting climate data (there’s a timeline of the incident on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists). The news was just released that after Penn State University had already exonerated him, the National Science Foundation has also cleared him of charges of fraud. Setting aside the arguments for or against anthropogenic climate change, the real story was found in the International Business Times online.
First, let’s start with a sentence in the lead paragraph that just made my copy-editor-sense tingle!
The climatologist is being simultaneously attacked by climate change skeptics urging him to decrease emission of greenhouse gases.
Simultaneously being attacked by climate change skeptics, and…? Who else is attacking? And why are the climate change skeptics urging Michael Mann to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases? A. That’s certainly not the aim of a “climate change skeptic” and B. he’s only one man! Sorry, just reading that sentence makes me itch.
Other than that horrid bump in the road, the article pretty much cruises for a bit with a quote from National Science Foundation until it weirdly sticks a “Like us on Facebook” in the middle of the article, making it look like a sub-heading. I’ll pass. Ignoring this plea, further down and the story goes into the background of “Climategate”. Pretty standard stuff. But, then the wheels completely lose contact with the rails:
Climate change, a key issue in the Republican presidential nomination, gained national attention last week after a study was released that aliens, seeing us as a threat to intergalactic order, may attack us because of our unwillingness to care for our planet.
Wait…wut? Um, care to elaborate?
Extraterrestrial intelligence “could attack and kill us, enslave us, or potentially even eat us. ETI could attack us out of selfishness or out of a more altruistic desire to protect the galaxy from us. We might be a threat to the galaxy just as we are a threat to our home planet,” the study explained, adding that “Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilizational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere (e.g. via greenhouse gas emissions), which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth.”
Oh right! That study that the media attributed incorrectly to NASA recently. Why is this inserted into this article? Was the site hacked? Did it really gain “national attention” as much as it just made the national media’s voracious, 24-hour regurgitation stream of not-news? Also, I’m not casting any aspersions on the author when I ask this as I am honestly curious, but is Elvira Veksler a non-native, English speaker? Because, seriously, it’s really, really weird when reading a straightforward little blurb of a story about the politics of climate change someone crams in an aside about the possible annihilation of the world at the hands of alien invaders. The story of the guy in the middle of the so-called Climategate being once again cleared of any wrongdoing should have been enough without stealthy fear-mongering about space aliens.
Then again, it may be just that IBTimes.com is playing up this angle to refute kooks from the left side of the spectrum who reinterpret IBT’s “aliens as destroyers” story for a more fuzzy, feel-good “aliens as saviors” speculative paradigm.
Hey, or maybe the aliens just want to take a quiet road trip, and the movie Paul was the most accurate understanding of extraterrestrials ever.