political attacks on climate scientists

Thu, 2012-12-20 16:45Graham Readfearn
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Science Groups Call For Changes To Freedom Of Information Laws in Australia To Protect Climate Scientists From Harassment

TWO leading groups representing thousands of scientists across Australia are asking for changes to the country's Freedom of Information (FOI) laws to better protect climate change scientists from abuse and from deliberate attempts by climate sceptics to unfairly discredit them.

FOI laws are being used to “target and attempt to discredit individual scientists”, say the influential groups, with some applications under the laws resulting in climate researchers being subjected to abuse and harassment

Some scientists are cutting back on their use of email, a vital tool for scientific collaboration, as a result.

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the leading professional association for meteorologists, oceanographers and climate scientists, and Science and Technology Australia, which represents the interests of 68,000 scientists and technologists, have outlined their concerns in a joint submission to the Attorney General's Department, which is currently carrying out a review of the Federal FOI laws. The submission says:

Mon, 2012-09-17 16:56Brendan DeMelle
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Virginia Judge Tosses Frivolous American Tradition Institute Lawsuit

A Virginia judge issued an order today putting an end to the American Tradition Institute (ATI) frivilous lawsuit that sought to compel the University of Virginia (UVA) to release the private emails of climate scientist Michael Mann.

Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, posted the news on his Facebook page earlier today:

Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.

I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.

This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.


The ATI litigation effort was led by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christopher Horner, well-known to DeSmog readers for his anti-science activism.

Thu, 2012-02-02 17:06Guest
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Coal-Powered PAC Runs Harassment Campaign Against Climate Scientist Michael Mann

by Brad Johnson, cross-posted with permission from ThinkProgress.

A coal-industry astroturf group is running a public campaign to harass Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann for his “radical agenda” of climate science. The Common Sense Movement/Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee (CSM/SEAPAC) has established a website asking people to criticize the Penn State Speakers Forum for allowing Michael Mann to speak about the climate change challenge. “Join us in calling on the administration to disinvite the disgraced academic,” the group says on its Facebook page.

On the webpage, CSM/SEAPAC accuses Mann of “manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming”:

On February 9th, the Penn State Forum Speaker’s Series is featuring Professor Michael Mann in a speech regarding global warming. This is the same professor who is at the center of the ‘Climategate’ controversy for allegedly manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming. Join us in calling on the administrators of Penn State to end its support of Michael Mann and his radical agenda.

The suggested text for the letter to editor says Mann is “conspiring with his left-wing cronies to intimidate and silence those who would dare to question his intentions,” tarring Mann with “questionable ethics” and “extreme political activism.”

Tue, 2011-09-20 11:44Guest
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James Powell: Science Denial Is Not Free

The following post is from James Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate ScienceThis is the first post in a 3-part series. It originally appeared at Columbia University Press.

In May 2011 the US National Academy of Sciences declared that “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. Each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risks…. The environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts.” One hundred other national and international scientific organizations agree with the NAS. How many disagreed? None. Zero. Zilch. As one scientist put it, “There’s a better scientific consensus on this than on any issue I know—except maybe Newton’s second law of dynamics.”

One organization that does dispute the NAS and the world consensus on global warming is the US House of Representatives. In April, the House took up a bill to remove the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases, opening a new front in the Republican War on Science (title of a great book by Chris Mooney). Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) offered a countering amendment with language nearly identical to that of the Academy: “Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” The amendment failed 184-240, with one Republican voting in favor and three Democrats against.

Fri, 2011-05-27 05:45Brendan DeMelle
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DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' (Part 2)

Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of the interview from yesterday. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

BD: On pgs 239-241 of the Epilogue, you talk about your discomfort with what you call “aggressive activist stances among prominent scientists,” but at DeSmogBlog we’ve heard from dozens of climate scientists who are simply fed up with lawmakers and the media ignoring the science or hiding behind “Climategate” myths.  In a world where about half the lawmakers in the U.S. completely reject the preponderance of peer-reviewed climate science confirming manmade global warming, how can a scientist remain silent and simply press on while being ignored? 

CS: Scientists are human beings who reflect a diversity of opinions and attitudes.  Of course most of us are fed up with this ridiculous situation, so it’s not surprising that you hear from so many who express those concerns.  I’m fed up, too, but I’m also not alone in my preferences for refraining from “aggressive activist stances.”   I do so because I value science itself more than any individual topic that it addresses. 

I consider science to be one of the most valuable inventions of human civilization, and I recognize how precious and vulnerable to corruption it is as one who believes in objective reality, the fallibility of human perception, and the need for objective methods of seeking truth. I also recognize that public trust in science itself depends heavily upon trust in the objectivity of those who pursue it.  We must walk a fine line between defending truth and trying to force it on other people, and I personally choose to take a cautious approach in walking that line. 

Thu, 2011-05-26 13:52Brendan DeMelle
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DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' - Answer Trivia Qs To Win A Free Book!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Here is Part 1 of the interview, stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

Brendan DeMelle (BD): Your book is about the impacts of climate change far into the future, and as you point out, that means very far into the future, not a 5-year plan that seems far away in the lifespan of a human, but thousands, millions and billions of years from now.  What advice do you have for people who struggle to comprehend the time scale of these impacts? How can people alive today attempt to relate to the deep future?

Curt Stager (CS): We live our lives on short time scales, in which even the end of the work day can seem like “forever” in the future, and we rarely deal with extremely large numbers or quantities on an immediate personal level.  As a result, facing a legacy of climatic effects that stretches many thousands of years into the future can be mind-boggling, even for a scientist.  But that’s actually one of the important points to recognize in this amazing story; our ecological impacts on the planet are mind-boggling in scope. 

We can become more comfortable in handling large sweeps of time with practice, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to grasp exactly what 100,000 years means in order to understand that the changes we’re setting in motion today are far larger than we once thought, any more than it’s necessary to know the exact weight of a bull elephant in order to realize that you’d better not mess with it.

Tue, 2011-03-08 01:12Brendan DeMelle
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Current GOP Is “Party of Science Deniers,” Waxman Says

During a speech at the Center for American Progress Action Fund on Monday, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) came out swinging against Republican climate science denial and political attacks against the Clean Air Act. 

Waxman told the crowd, “it apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries think.”

Rep. Waxman’s frank assessment of the state of political attacks on science in the age of the Koch Congress should garner some interesting responses at today’s House Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations,” where the GOP majority is sure to belittle climate science and ignore the urgent need to cut global warming pollution, yet again. 



Wed, 2011-01-19 18:19Farron Cousins
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New Congress Wastes No Time Undoing Climate Progress

We all knew that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives wasn’t going to be friendly to the environment, but none of us expected the fight to start so soon. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich), the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced today that his committee will be taking on the EPA with gusto.

In a document making its rounds among Republican lawmakers, Upton claims that the EPA has put a “chokehold” on businesses by regulating their emissions and pollution. The Hill obtained a copy of the document titled “Key Issues before the Committee on Energy and Commerce 112th Congress [PDF], which contains the following:

“We believe it critical that the Obama administration ‘stop’ imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit…The EPA is regulating too much too fast without fully analyzing the feasibility and economic and job impacts of the new rules.”

Wed, 2011-01-12 06:27Chris Mooney
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The House Anti-Science Committee?

The House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology certainly isn’t the most powerful in Congress. It doesn’t wield the budgetary clout of Appropriations. It doesn’t oversee massive agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services.

But it’s a historic fixture of postwar, science-centered America—a committee originally formed after the Soviet launch of Sputnik, and one that today oversees the major research agencies: NASA, NOAA, NSF, and numerous others. For much of its history, whichever party controlled Congress, the committee was therefore run by a legislator with a sympathetic understanding of the scientific community—leaders like George Brown on the Democratic side, and Sherwood Boehlert for the Republicans.

That’s why it’s pretty alarming that the committee’s current leadership appears highly unsympathetic to the views of the U.S. scientific community, and particularly U.S. climate science researchers.

Wed, 2010-12-01 12:06Chris Mooney
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How Partisan is Climate Denial?

It was the chief environmental narrative of the 2010 midterm elections. The field of Republican Senate and House challengers, charged bloggers, were a bunch of “climate zombies.” Tea Party backed insurgents were knocking off GOP moderates who took climate science seriously—like Delaware’s Mike Castle—and it was becoming harder and harder to find a good Republican who did accept the scientific consensus on climate change.

Then, when Republicans swept into the House of Representatives, fears about the party’s denialist tendencies compounded further. There was word of “ClimateGate” hearings, aimed at prying loose additional emails and documents from mainstream global warming researchers. Whether or not such hearings actually take place, a vision of today’s U.S. Republican Party as monolithically in denial about what we’ve been doing to the planet has clearly taken root.

It was all, apparently, more than the stalwart Republican moderate Sherwood (“Sherry”) Boehlert could take.

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