Brad Smith

Science In Climate Change

Discussion created by Brad Smith on May 4, 2010
Latest reply on May 7, 2010 by Brad Smith

The following item was recently posted on the blog.  What do you think?


Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA),  the Virginia Attorney General, really likes to stir things up and keep  people on their toes.  Earlier this year, he petitioned the EPA to reconsider their findings on carbon dioxide and climate   change, sued the federal government over healthcare reform, and told (pdf) Virginia universities to remove sexual orientation from   their anti-discrimination policies.
Here is USA  Today on Cucinelli's latest adventure:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli "has demanded  that the  University of Virginia turn over documents related to a former  UVa  climatology professor," reports the Charlottesville Daily Progress. The documents involve  five  federal grants received by Mann, who taught at the University of   Virginia from 1999 to 2005.

"This really looks like a witch hunt,  with a politician going after a  researcher," says Aaron Huertas of the  Union of Concerned Scientists, a  science advocacy group. "The people  attacking Mann are sidelining  discussion about climate science with  personal attacks on scientists."

To some, this seems like an attempt to intimidate scientists that  brings back memories of the 2006  Congressional Investigation of Mann's work, which ACS opposed.  If  Cuccinelli finds  something juicy, the politicians and cynics will  guarantee that any  efforts to head off disaster will full-stop and  climate change will  march onward unabated.

Here is a snippet from TheHook article in which a Mann colleague comments on Cuccinelli's demands:

One former UVA climate scientist now working with Michaels  worries  about politicizing— or, in his words, creating a “witch hunt”—  what he  believes should be an academic debate.

“I didn’t like it when the politicians came after Pat Michaels,” says   Chip Knappenberger. “I  don’t like it that the politicians are coming   after Mike Mann.”

Making his comments via an online posting under an earlier version of   this story, Knappenberger worries that scientists at Virginia’s   public  universities could become “political appointees, with whoever is  in  charge deciding which  science is acceptable, and prosecuting the  rest.  Say good-bye to science  in Virginia.”

Knappenberger really cuts to my disgust with this situation.    Academic freedom exists so that scientists can learn about the universe  without the fear of reprisal from the powerful.  Are we now saying that  the powerful can dictate scientific discourse?  If so, it is a sad day.