Recently 20 scientists, firm believers in CAGW and proponents of policies to reduce it, sent a letter to the White House supporting a call by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for criminal prosecution under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act of scientists who disagree with them.
Hello?! Anybody ever heard of the First Amendment—you know, that stuff about freedom of speech and of the press?
Or, for those who don’t like America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, anybody ever heard of Lysenkoism and all the harm it did to science in the Soviet Union? (“The Lysenkoists employed Stalinist terror in their struggle with Darwinian biologists for bureaucratic and academic positions. Anti-Lysenkoists faced the threat of public denunciation, loss of Communist Party membership, loss of employment position and arrest by the secret police. Between Lysenko’s grip on power and the ‘disappearances’ of numerous of his opponents, it would be years until the Soviet biology program would recover. Similar political strong-arm tactics also hobbled the Soviet nuclear physics program, requiring Soviet scientists to follow only theories that had the Communist Party’s blessing. This forced them to steal working designs from the United States, including the decisive Teller-Ulam hydrogen bomb design.”)
Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry took the 20, and Whitehouse, and Grijalva, all to the woodshed in a great op ed yesterday at Fox News, which she reproduced on her very popular “Climate Etc.” blog. Here’s an excerpt:
The demand by Senator Whitehouse and the 20 climate scientists for legal persecution of people whose research on science and policy they disagree with represents a new low in the politicization of science.
The role of these 20 scientists is particularly troubling. The consequence of this persecution, intended or not, is to make pariahs of scientists who are doing exactly what we expect of researchers: to critically evaluate evidence and publish that work in the scientific literature.
Minority perspectives have an important and respected role to play in advancing science, as a mean for testing ideas and pushing the knowledge frontier forward. While President Obama bows to no one in attacking climate ‘deniers’, he recently made an important statement in a town hall meeting at the University in Iowa on the importance of challenging received knowledge in a university setting:
“Because there was this space where you could interact with people who didn’t agree with you and had different backgrounds from you … I started testing my own assumptions, and sometimes I changed my mind,” he said. “Sometimes I realized, maybe I’ve been too narrow-minded; maybe I didn’t take this into account; maybe I should see this person’s perspective. That’s what college, in part, is all about.”
That’s even more what real science is about. It is important for scientists to engage the public and to work with policy makers to assess the impacts and unintended consequences of policy options. However, it has become ‘fashionable’ for academic scientists to advocate for certain political outcomes, without having much understanding of the policy process, economics, or the ethics of such advocacy.
What these 20 scientists have done with their letter is the worst kind of irresponsible advocacy. Attempts by powerful people to silence other scientists, especially in this brutal fashion, is a recipe for stifling scientific progress and for making poor policies.
Climate policy has been limited by an overly narrow set of narratives and policy options. Expanding the frameworks for thinking about climate change and climate policy can lead to developing a wider choice of options in addressing the risks from it.
That is how democracy is supposed to work. We search for solutions that can garner a critical mass of support. We don’t try to criminalize our political opponents, and especially should not try to criminalize scientists who have a different view.
Show your solidarity with honest scientists who question CAGW, and your concern to protect the world’s poor from harmful climate policies, by signing our Petition: Forget ‘Climate Change’, Energy Empowers the Poor!
Featured image courtesy of ClimateDepot.com.