Republicans and science organizations are warning that Democratic lawmakers’ investigation into funding for research by climate scientists who challenge the party line on global warming will have a “chilling effect” on scientific inquiry, not to mention independent thought.
“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,” Keith Seitter, director of the American Meteorological Society, wrote in a letter to Rep. Raul Grijalva.
Rep. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, wrote to seven universities last week, asking them to disclose funding for scientists that challenged the theory that human activities were the main cause of global warming.
Grijalva was joined by Democratic Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island who wrote letters to 100 companies, trade groups and organizations with ties to coal and oil companies. Senators asked these groups to disclose how much money they have spent funding climate science.
“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the [Democrats’] letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” Republican Senators wrote to the same universities and business groups.
“We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond,” Republicans wrote. “Above all, we ask that you continue to support scientific inquiry and discovery, and protect academic freedom despite efforts to chill free speech.”
Republican and scientist rebuttals come after a week of Democrats and environmentalists criticizing the funding received by Smithsonian scientist Dr. Willie Soon. The New York Times reported Soon received $409,000 from Southern Company, an electric utility that uses coal power, without disclosing the information to scientific journals he was published in.
The Times obtained documents that Greenpeace received from a 2009 Freedom of Information Act request showing Soon’s funding from a subsidiary of Southern Company. The story sparked what has been dubbed a climate “witch hunt.”
In the wake of the report, Democratic lawmakers lambasted Soon for taking money from Southern and launched a broad investigation into funding received by climate scientists who are seen as dissenting from mainstream views.
“Companies with a direct financial interest in climate and air-quality standards are funding environmental research that influences state and federal regulation and shapes public understanding of climate scientists,” Grijalva wrote to the presidents of seven universities housing supposedly skeptical scientists.
But was Soon doing anything wrong? Climate scientists get funding from all sorts of sources, including the government. The Obama administration has spent billions on global warming research in the last six years. In that time, they have used government-backed science to justify more regulations on energy production. Some climate scientists even get funding from environmental groups and liberal foundations that promote policies aimed at curbing or even banning fossil fuels, yet there is no mission to out and discredit them for conflict of interest.
The “witch hunt” has already forced one scientist out of climate research for good. University of Colorado climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke announced he was bowing out of climate research because of pressure from politicians and environmental groups.
“I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject,” Pielke wrote on his blog.
Pielke, who has been labelled a “climate denier” by liberal groups, believes that mankind is responsible for global warming and has supported policies, like carbon taxes, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
His heresy? Pielke questioned claims made by the Obama administration that global warming was causing weather to become more extreme. Pielke disagreed, which earned him the ire of the White House.
“Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none,” Pielke wrote. “He simply disagrees with the substance of my testimony – which is based on peer-reviewed research funded by the US taxpayer, and which also happens to be the consensus of the IPCC (despite Holdren’s incorrect views).”
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