political attacks on climate scientists

Mon, 2010-11-22 15:48Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Will the New Congress Subpoena Climate Scientists?

Originally posted at DiscoverMagazine.com.
Multiple investigations over the last year have failed to uncover any serious wrongdoing in the year old “ClimateGate” fiasco over climate researchers’ pilfered emails. Substantively, the matter is dead. But politically is quite another matter—it remains to be seen how long “ClimateGate” can walk the earth as a zombie.

There have already been attempts to reawaken the corpse. Most prominently, Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli launched a harassing investigation of famed climate researcher Michael Mann’s career at the University of Virginia, demanding a wide range of emails and documents. And since the November 2 elections, there have been concerns that the new Republican Congress may join in the rite. Several top House Republicans have indicated that they may want to hold “Climategate” hearings (although more recently, there has been some apparent backing away from this idea).

The question now becomes whether incoming Republicans will follow through on such plans—or if it’s all just a head feint. If they’re serious, they can expect a powerful response from scientists, much like the strong mobilization against Cuccinelli organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Association of University Professors, and many others.

Tue, 2010-11-16 15:41Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Incoming Head of House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa Now Says He Is Unlikely To Probe 'Climategate'

It seems that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has lost his appetite for pursuing a ‘Climategate’ investigation, according to The Hill. Rep. Issa is the presumed chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the 112th Congress starting in January.

Perhaps it was just GOP chest-thumping in the run-up to the midterm elections.  Who knows?

But at least Rep. Issa has recognized the giant waste of time and taxpayer money another investigation into Climategate would represent.  After all, every independent investigation into the so-called ‘Climategate’ scandal has exonerated the scientists, and nothing has undermined the scientific consensus on climate change. (Although it’s worth noting that nobody has bothered to investigate the actual theft of the climate scientists’ emails or probed the role of a small group of climate skeptics in blowing it out of proportion.)

Skeptics and deniers cried bloody murder, and everyone (except hard-headed skeptics and deniers) now knows that Climategate was a ginned-up nontroversy whose proponents failed to “prove” that global warming is a “hoax.” 

There is no doubt that Rep. Issa and other incoming GOP committee chairmen will find plenty of other ways to waste time and taxpayer money “investigating” the baseless accusations lobbed at climate scientists in the climate denial machine’s long quest to confuse the public about global warming. 

But with Rep. Issa seemingly bowing out of the race, who will be the first GOP climate zombie to dig Climategate up again from the depths of the right wing conspiracy graveyard?

Wed, 2010-11-03 18:04Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Welcome the GOP Anti-Science Caucus - Only Four GOP House Members Acknowledge Science of Climate Change

Just how bad is the new crop of Tea Party-infused GOPers when it comes to scientific understanding of climate change?  Pretty mind-bogglingly abyssmal. 

A new analysis by the Wonk Room with research by Daily Kos contributor RL Miller details the denial among the new crop of Climate Zombies that will be walking the halls of Congress.

Among the findings: “45 of 97 Republican freshmen and 85 of 166 reelected Republicans are confirmed climate zombies. There are no Republican freshmen, in the House or Senate, who admit the science is real.”

Yikes.

Head over to the Wonk Room for the full report.

Thu, 2010-10-21 14:40Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

UVA Defends Against Ken Cuccinelli Attacks On Climate Science and Academic Freedom

The University of Virginia has filed two new responses in its ongoing court battle fending off Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically-motivated witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann.  UVA correctly alerts the court that crazy Cuccinelli’s ‘investigation’ is “an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” [PDF of filing].

Cuccinelli’s relentless campaign to waste Virginia taxpayer money attacking Mann continues, despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on UVA’s or Mann’s part. Instead the row hinges entirely on Cuccinelli’s zeal to pollute public discourse with his own climate denial, clogging the courts with a thinly veiled attack on academic freedom that the Washington Post labeled “a pernicious fishing expedition.”  

UVA argues that Cuccinelli’s latest demand for documents related to Mann’s research repeats the exact same arguments that Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross rejected in August.  Cuccinelli merely recycled his previous non-starter of a complaint in an ongoing effort to woo the Tea Party and stoke the fire for his ambitions to run for higher office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSexamined Cuccinelli’s original arguments and confirms they have been recycled again to further harass Mann and his colleagues.

“Scientists are proud of UVA for standing up to this relentless rubbish,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “This investigation has never been about fraud or the facts. Cuccinelli is abusing his power to fight a public relations war against scientific findings.”

Mon, 2010-10-18 13:49Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

NY Times Editorial: Cheney-trained Republicans Have Disappeared In a Fog Of Disinformation on Climate

The New York Times editorial today focuses on the influence of Dick Cheney’s brand of denialism to explain the fact that none of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate accept the scientific consensus that human activities are largely responsible for climate disruption. 

The editorial “In Climate Denial, Again” notes that GOP candidates this election season are “re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.”

The current crop of fact-challenged candidates running on the GOP ticket range from the outright deniers like Nevada candidate Sharron Angle to the “wiggly” position demonstrated by the likes of California’s Carly Fiorina - a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers - who remains “unsure” about the scientific foundation confirmed by all of the world’s top scientific institutions.  

According to the Times, “all are custodians of a strategy whose guiding principle has been to avoid debate about solutions to climate change by denying its existence — or at least by diminishing its importance. The strategy worked, destroying hopes for Congressional action while further confusing ordinary citizens for whom global warming was already a remote and complex matter.”  

The Times editors guess that former Vice President Dick Cheney “has to be smiling” about the lock-step denial and confusion campaign continued by this crop of Republican candidates.  

Thu, 2010-10-14 11:17Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Calgary Herald Uses Royal Society Report as Soapbox to Preach Climate Change Denial

An editorial in the Calgary Herald praises the latest report from Britain’s Royal Society entitled “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science”. Though the Royal Society’s report is anything but skeptical of the science of climate change and the tangible impacts it will have on populations, the Calgary Herald inappropriately cites the reputable organization’s report in an effort to deny climate change and attack climate legislation that would hurt their bottom line. 

In response to the misperceptions held by some media and members of the public about climate change (despite the overwhelming scientific consensus), the Royal Society produced a definitive guide to the science of climate change that summarizes the current scientific evidence on climate change. It highlights the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some room for further investigation to improve confidence, and where substantial uncertainties remain. Far from claiming that there is any lack of consensus that climate change is happening, the report demonstrates, in layman’s terms, where the science is established, and where more scientific work is still needed.

Fri, 2010-10-08 14:19Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Washington Post Op-Ed by Mike Mann: Get the anti-science bent out of politics

Prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, who has endured a seemingly endless political attack on his work, has penned an excellent op-ed in today’s Washington Post, calling on fellow scientists to recognize and resist the efforts of anti-science politicians to distort their work.

Mann notes the danger of a GOP take-over of key climate change committees in Congress, pointing out the war on science and reason promised by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) if he takes over chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and similar views expressed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner if he takes the helm of the committee on climate change and energy security. The denier duo plan to re-hash the wasteful investigation into the non-scandalous dead end known as Climategate, if propelled to leadership positions.

Mann writes:

“We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.”


“Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.”

“the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science. How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?”

 

Mon, 2010-10-04 19:26Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Cuccinelli Revives Witch Hunt Against Michael Mann and Climate Science

 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has revived his witch hunt against prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, recycling pieces of his earlier botched subpoena into a new Civil Investigative Demand aimed at Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s previous witch hunt was blocked by Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross, who ruled that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his subpoena, which The Washington Post editors noted “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition.”

But Cuccinelli has re-strung the same stale Climategate bait on his fishing pole, “extending his assault on academic freedom” as expected. Oh, and he’s going to appeal Judge Peatross’s ruling, in a remarkable display of hubris that is sure to embarrass Virginia yet again.

In his latest political attack on climate science, Cuccinelli demands seven years’ worth of Dr. Mann’s emails, documents and just about every other shred of paper and bytes related to one state grant Mann received during his tenure at UVA. Cuccinelli wants to see every email Mann exchanged with a list of 39 other scientists, as well as Mann’s communications with his secretaries and research associates, related to the state grant. Cuccinelli only stripped his inappropriate request for documents related to federal grants after Judge Peatross smacked down that trolling effort, although he vows to appeal to re-open that garbage can.

Wed, 2010-09-29 16:58Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Climate Cover-Up Called "Superb" Book By Former TIME Editor

Charles Alexander, the former editor of TIME Magazine, has praised the book Climate Cover-Up by DeSmog co-founder Jim Hoggan and contributor Richard Littlemore as a “superb” resource documenting the political attacks on climate science.

Writing in the current issue of Conservation Magazine, Alexander highlights Climate Cover-Up as one of three books written this year “documenting the paid political attack on climatology, which is nothing less than a paid political attack on science itself.”  The other titles Alexander recommends include Eric Pooley’s The Climate War and Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt, both excellent and complimentary resources for anyone wishing to learn more about the ongoing attack on climate science and scientists.

Here is Alexander’s full review of Climate Cover-Up:

Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (Greystone Books) was written by James Hoggan, owner of a successful Vancouver, B.C., public-relations firm, and his colleague Richard Littlemore. They are not radical environmentalists. They are businesspeople appalled at what other businesspeople have done to discredit global warming and help give the practice of public relations a bad name. With insider knowledge of PR tactics, the authors explain how deniers, funded directly or indirectly by industry, use their powers of persuasion in advertising and in factoids and viewpoints planted in the media. Hoggan and Littlemore reach a stark conclusion: “Reputable newspapers and magazines are today acting in a confused and confusing manner because a great number of people have worked very hard and spent a great deal of money in an effort to establish and spread that confusion … We have lost two decades – two critical decades – during which we could have taken action on climate change but didn’t.”


The Huffington Post featured Alexander’s review of the three books today on its website, generating an all-too-common flame war in the comments section, with climate deniers offering up plenty of misinformation and talking past everyone else, including Alexander, who tries in vain to steer them towards credible sources on the realities of climate change.  Some things never change, unfortunately.

Wed, 2010-09-01 11:53Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Washington Post Editorial Slams Ken Cuccinelli "Embarrassing" Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist

The Washington Post penned an excellent editorial yesterday deriding Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political attack against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, a former UVA professor whom Cuccinelli has targeted in a witch hunt.  

The Post editorial notes that “the overblown critique of climate science that emerged early this year continues to underwhelm,” citing several examples of the recent rash of politically-motivated attacks on climate science, including the much-ado-about-nothing ‘Climategate’ episode last winter, the repeated attacks against the integrity of the U.N. IPCC, and of course Mr. Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against UVA and Mike Mann. 

This week’s ruling by Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross confirming that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his witch hunt “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition,” the Post says.

But that hasn’t checked “Mr. Cuccinelli’s zeal,” since he immediately announced plans to re-rig his fishing pole and try again to smear Dr. Mann, “thereby extending his assault on academic freedom,” says the Post.

The editorial closes with sharp criticism for Cuccinelli’s attempt to “embarrass Virginia”:

“We hope he rethinks his course. At this point all he can do is waste more taxpayer money, force the university to waste more of its money and embarrass Virginia in a way that can only harm its higher education system.” 

Check out the full editorial, 
A judge puts a damper on Mr. Cuccinelli’s U-Va. witch hunt.” 

Pages

Subscribe to political attacks on climate scientists