If you live in the United States, and rely solely on Pravda New York Times or similar for your news, you’re probably unaware of Climategate. Basically, the entire premise of the global warming/carbon footprint craze of the past few years turns out to be totally bogus. From the RealClearPolitics.com overview:
Global warming “skeptics” had unearthed evidence that scientists at the Hadley Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia had cherry-picked data to manufacture a “hockey stick” graph showing a dramatic-but illusory-runaway warming trend in the late 20th century.
But now newer and much broader evidence has emerged that looks like it will break that scandal wide open. Pundits have already named it “Climategate.”
A hacker-or possibly a disillusioned insider-has gathered thousands of e-mails and data from the CRU and made them available on the Web. Officials at the CRU have verified the breach of their system and acknowledged that the e-mails appear to be genuine.
For even more damning evidence of a conspiracy to defraud the world, pervert the scientific process, and cover things up, check out this post from Australia. Because they still have, you know, “journalists” interested in investigative journalism there. One day, we might import some of these useful fellows from Australia to the United States….
While Climategate is a scandal of the first order, and all Americans (indeed, all humans) should care about it, as real estate people, we need to take a look at how Climategate will impact the industry.
Because of all the hype around “green”, there have been a number of organizations that have sprung up to try and take advantage of it for marketing purposes. EcoBroker designation is just one example; Green Real Estate Education is another one. And the granddaddy of them all: NAR’s Green Designation.
Thing is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going “green”. There are real issues with how housing impacts the environment: water, air quality, trash, harmful chemicals, etc. And people of all types enjoy saving money on energy costs. You don’t have to be a disciple of the Goracle to embrace recycling or installing more energy-efficient lights.
But, might I suggest that all these “green” designation programs — and every realtor who has such a designation — start to back away rapidly from the “global warming” or “climate change” or “carbon footprint” rhetoric? There has always been significant disagreement on how valid this whole carbon footprint deal is anyway, and Climategate pretty much nails that coffin shut. Unless you’re a radical, or a “scientist” whose grant funding depends on such things being true, the revelation that most of the climate data has been faked, under political/economic pressure, makes “global warming” the equivalent of invoking Papa Legba for protection.
I wrote about NAR‘s wonderful new consumer website: HouseLogic.com in my Inman column recently (link is for subscribers only). It’s a great new site, and hopefully a great strategic initiative for NAR.
It might be a good idea to go through the content on that site — including the tool for homeowners — and start scrubbing it of reference to “carbon footprint” or “climate change”. Even though HouseLogic.com is, at its heart, a political venture, it is not a partisan political venture — nor is it a handmaiden of the green movement. It is something that focuses on issues related to housing, homeowner rights, and real estate industry issues.
The last thing that NAR or HouseLogic.com needs is to be connected — or to be seen to be connected — to a discredited and discreditable ideology that is based on fraud, lies, and cover-ups. At best, HouseLogic/NAR will be seen as clueless and out of touch — a dangerous thing in the age of instant information — and at worst, as a AGW fanatic.
By shifting the focus towards the core issue of saving money on heating bills, electric bills, water bills, etc., I believe that the site can maintain its trajectory of successfully appealing to homeowners.
Just as an aside, Climategate is yet another example of how “social media” and “citizen journalism” are impacting the world we live in. Take a look at some of these comments from a Houston Chronicle editorial that completely ignores the Climategate scandal:
Apparently, the clowns on the Houston Comical editorial board do zero research prior to sitting down at the keyboard to compose their lies. The “researchers” at East Anglia have been exposed as the perpetrators of a massive fraud by manipulating statistics. Yet, here comes the Comical citing the liars at East Anglia in support of their thesis. It’s all over the news – even the Houston Comical. (Maybe the editorial board doesn’t read the Comical – only the press releases of the DNC.)
The material was taken from servers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – a world-renowned climate change research centre – before it was published on websites run by climate change sceptics.
One of the emails under scrutiny, dated November 1999, reads: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
The lesson in the social age is that organizations do not get a grace period when news or information breaks. There is no patience on the part of the connected consumer. Waiting a couple of days to gather one’s thoughts, formulate a response, etc. may not be the ideal strategy for dealing with breaking stories.
There’s something to be learned there too for real estate professionals.