It seems a bit of a stretch to find a silver lining here. If anything, "climate-gate" is likely to lead to even more people being confused as to the real scientific consensus. You argue that treating deniers as flat-earthers has not worked - but what is the alternative? When skeptics come up with claims that just aren't true, what is the alternative to saying "no, that just isn't true - and here's why"? What else can you do but debunk the myths? While we could always do better at communicating scientific results to the general public, I think scientists were already working pretty hard at doing this. I don't think they needed a media tempest-in-a-teacup to convince them that this was important.