The Climate “Witch Hunt” Backfires

McCarthy HearingsSenators Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks ‚Äì including The Heartland Institute ‚Äì demanding that they divulge any funding they have provided to scientists skeptical of the left’s crazy opinions about the causes and consequences of climate change. Congressman Ra√∫l M. Grijalva did them one better, sending letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who dare to question their fake “consensus.”

All this is because Greenpeace persuaded its friends at some major media outlets to recycle decade-old accusations that one innocent climate scientist, Dr. Willie Soon, failed to disclose grants his employer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, solicited, vetted, and profited from to support his work on everything except climate change.

Go figure!

In their testimonies before Congress, the eight targeted scientists offered varying degrees of skepticism that humans are the primary driver of climate change or that specific policies being proposed by government to deal with the issue of climate change were ineffective at curbing climate change or too costly. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact.

Go figure!

The scientists being targeted are Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. of The University of Colorado; Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. David Legates of the University of Delaware; Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama; Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Robert Balling of Arizona State University; and Dr. Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University.

As a result of these inquiries, many scientists, members of the media, and others have equated these inquiries and pressure to McCarthyism. (But let’s be fair to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy; he was never guilty of using the tactics his critics allege. See Stan Evan’s magnificent book on the subject, Blacklisted by History, for the full story.)

Even Michael Mann, the controversial climate scientist at Penn State who is one of the biggest advocates for government action to address climate change told the National Journal, “It does come across as sort of heavy-handed and overly aggressive.”

The American Meteorological Society sent a letter to Representative Grijalva saying, “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to the same 107 groups expressing concerns over the attacks on academic freedom. The letter explains, “Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.”

According to the New York Times, “Andrew Dessler, a mainstream [sic] climate researcher and a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, said that he had concerns about “fishing expeditions” by Congress into researchers’ work, especially drafts of testimony requested in the letters from Representative Grijalva.”

Professor Pielke explained on his blog, “The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues…I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”

Dr. Curry has responded by saying, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus.”

Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well financed advocacy groups and politicians with many “conflicts of interests” of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.