That there might be a money motive behind climate change alarmism is usually dismissed by true believers. Scientists operate in a world of facts and hard data, it's assumed, standing apart from mere mortals, who act subjectively and selfishly, swayed by self-interest. The ClimateGate scandal hopefully will shatter, once and for all, that rather naive perception.
Alarmist-in-Chief Al Gore's profit motives already have been pointed out. But everyone knows he's a political huckster (and a former theology student who found a new religion), not a scientist. But scientists too are human -- all too human, as these e-mails reveal -- making them subject to all the baser motives, petty rivalries and herd-think with which the rest of us struggle. Ideology, political considerations and a craving for celebrity (think NASA's James Hansen) can also color their objectivity and work.
This isn't a slam on scientists, or on science, just a long-overdue acknowledgment that they don't always belong on the pedestal on which we place them. And the sooner Americans recognize this, the safer we'll all be from the dangers of science in the service of political extremism.
The Wall Street Journal has two related pieces on today's Editorial Page -- link and link -- I would highly recommend.