Friday, March 26, 2010

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri Criticizes Senator James Inhofe for Persecuting Climate Change Scientists

"I sincerely hope the world is not witnessing a new form of persecution of those who defy conventional ignorance and pay a terrible price for their scientifically valid beliefs."--Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri

Rajendra Kumar Pachauri is the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Today, the U. K. Guardian published an op-ed Dr. Pachauri wrote titled "Don't Hound the Climate Scientists" (3-26-10).

Dr. Pachauri criticizes climate change denialists in positions of power, such as Senator James Inhofe, for persecuting climate change scientists and accusing them of crimes. I agree with Dr. Pachauri: the political persecution of the climate scientists by the conspiracist Senator James Inhofe is despicable. The Senator is even demanding that the Justice Department investigate a list of scientists to see if they have committed research misconduct and crimes.

Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma is spearheading a vicious and mendacious campaign to intimidate and repress brilliant scientists who study global warming. The Senator, his political operatives, and other opponents of anthropogenic global warming---the tabloid U.K. Daily Mail, Fox News, Pravda, Libertarians, 9-11 "Truthers," and computer hackers (criminals)---are using a noxious slurry of dirty tricks, disinformation, manipulation of the media, and illegal activity to discredit and destroy climate scientists.

Senator Inhofe and other conspiracists in the denialist camp are depicting anthropogenic global warming as as a hoax perpetrated by scientists who are conspiring to steal our money and seize power.

Dr. Pachauri observes in the Guardian (3-26-10):

To dismiss the implications of climate change based on an error about the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are melting is an act of astonishing intellectual legerdemain. Yet this is what some doubters of climate change are claiming. But the reality is that our understanding of climate change is based on a vast and remarkably sound body of science – and is something we distort and trivialise at our peril...

Even more unfortunate is the effort of some in positions of power and responsibility to indict dedicated scientists as "climate criminals". I sincerely hope the world is not witnessing a new form of persecution of those who defy conventional ignorance and pay a terrible price for their scientifically valid beliefs. [See full text.]

According to an earlier article in the Guardian (3-1-10):

Climate scientists say Senator James Inhofe's call for a criminal investigation into American as well as British scientists who worked on the UN climate body's report or had communications with East Anglia's climate research unit represents an attempt to silence debate on the eve of new proposals for a climate change law.
Inhofe's document ends by naming 17 "key players" in the controversy about CRU's stolen emails, including the Britons Phil Jones and Keith Briffa.

"I think this is like a drag net, just to try and catch everyone whose name happens to be on this list. It's guilt by association and I thought those days were over 50 years ago," said Michael Oppenheimer, of Princeton University, who is on the list of 17 scientists. "It looks like a McCarthyite tactic: pull in anyone who had anything to do with anyone because they happened to converse with some by email, and threaten them with criminal activity."

Inhofe is also accused of further fuelling a spike in hate mail and politically motivated freedom of information requests in the three months since the emails of climate scientists were stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

Rick Piltz, a former official in the US government climate science programme who now runs the Climate Science Watch website [here], said Inhofe and others were getting in the way of scientific work. "Scientists who are working in federal labs are being subjected to inquisitions coming from Congress," he said. "There is no question that this is an orchestrated campaign to intimidate scientists."

Michael Mann, a scientist at Penn State University who is on Inhofe's list of 17, said that he had seen a sharp rise in hostile email since November.

"Some of the emails make thinly veiled threats of violence against me and even my family, and law enforcement authorities have been made aware of the matter," he told the Guardian.

He said the attacks appeared to be a co-ordinated effort. "Some of them look cut-and-paste."...

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at Nasa's Goddard Institute who is also on the list of 17, said he had seen an increase in freedom of information act requests. "In my previous six years I dealt with one FoIA request. In the last three months, we have had to deal with I think eight," he said. "These FoIAs are fishing expeditions for potentially embarrassing content but they are not FoIA requests for scientific information."

He said Inhofe's call for a criminal investigation created an atmosphere of intimidation. "The idea very clearly is to let it be known that should you be a scientist who speaks out in public then you will be intimidated, you will be harassed, and you will be threatened," he said. "The idea very clearly is to put a chilling effect on scientists speaking out in public and to tell others to keep their heads down. That kind of intimidation is very reminiscent of other periods in US history where people abused their position."

Other scientists on Inhofe's list of 17 admitted they were disturbed by the threat of criminal prosecution.

"I am worried about it, I have to say," said Raymond Bradley, director of the climate science research centre at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who is also on the list of 17. "You can understand that this powerful person is using the power of his office to intimidate people and to harass people and you wonder whether you should have legal counsel. It is a very intimidating thing and that is the point."

Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican on the Senate's environment and public works committee, released a document last week suggesting scientists be investigated for breaking three laws and four government regulations.

The document, produced by members of Inhofe's staff, recycles now familiar sceptic arguments about the stolen emails from East Anglia and the mistakes in the IPCC report.

But climate scientists say the report takes the campaign to a new level by threatening criminal prosecution. The report calls for the inspector generals of all US government agencies touching on the environment to investigate the scientists as a first step to possible prosecution.

"The minority staff of the Senate committee on environment and public works believe the scientists involved violated fundamental ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and, in some cases, may have violated federal laws," the report says. [See full text.]


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