Climate McCarthyism or Just Stupidity?

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is a fool. Is he a dangerous fool or just a typical political buffoon?

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My suspicion is the latter. But I could be wrong.

Here’s the story. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, late last month sent letters to seven universities seeking information about the funding for their academics who he concluded were on the wrong side of the highly-charged topic of global warming. His implication was clear: anyone who disagrees with the conventional, and often politically-motivated, views on climate must be a tool of some special interest group, a shameful “denier.” Those who disagree with orthodoxy must be pocketing gold from bad guys.

That’s the current and conventional mantra from global warming alarmists, and the Obama administration, for whom Grijalva is carrying water. Disagreement can only mean corruption.

In particular, Grijalva (an undistinguished back-bencher) was reacting to a New York Times article revealing that Smithsonian-Harvard Center for Astrophysics researcher Willie Soon allegedly failed to disclose oil industry funding for his work. Astrophysicist Soon is skeptical of the conventional analysis that global warming results from man-made carbon dioxide emissions, pointing to solar radiation.

Grijalva’s letters to the academic institutions singled out Roger Pielke, Jr., of the University of Colorado; Judith Curry of Georgia Tech; Richard Lindzen (retired) of MIT; John Christie of the University of Alabama; David Legates of the University of Delaware; Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University; and Robert Balling of Arizona State University. Of the lot, Hayward is the only non-scientist. He’s a historian.

Grijalva’s letter to the University of Colorado was bizarre, suggesting that Pielke, who has exposed the invisible empirical relationship between global warming and extreme weather events, disagreeing with Obama science advisor John Holdren, was a heretic. As I’ve written here before, Holdren is an entirely unreliable and biased source of science advice, an acolyte of the discredited population control zealot Paul Ehrlich. Holdren hasn’t studied extreme weather events; Pielke has.

Several of the targeted researchers have pushed back. Pielke denies support from politically incorrect funders. Beyond that, he says he’s so tired of ad hominem attacks from climate change crusaders that he’s simply not going to discuss the issue further (although his father has long been an important figure in the field). I suspect he won’t be able to resist joining the fray.

The Breakthrough Institute, where Pielke is a fellow, commented, “Grijalva’s beef with Pielke is plainly ideological. Pielke is not a climate skeptic. He has long affirmed the view that human emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the planet, and his work on weather extremism has been widely cited by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. Moreover, he has endorsed a carbon tax and President Obama’s carbon pollution regulations.”

Judy Curry, a respected climatologist, has been a probing critic of the climate models that have failed to predict the last 18 years or so of no significant global warming. She said she has taken no money from fossil fuel interests that she is aware of, although that’s up to the university to discern. Beyond that, she said, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus. The political motivations of all this are apparent from barackobama.com:  ‘Call out the climate deniers.’” The web site is a political action group with close ties to the Obama administration. First Lady Michelle Obama is among the founders.

Curry added, “I don’t think anything good will come of this. I anticipate that Grijalva will not find any kind of an undisclosed fossil fuel smoking gun from any of the 7 individuals under investigation.”

Pepperdine’s Hayward, unlike Pielke and Curry, is a political conservative and caustic Obama critic. He said in a posting titled “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Climate Skeptic,” that “it appears I have really gotten under the skin of the climate cultists (almost certainly Greenpeace, the John Birch Society of the environmental movement, is behind this).” He added that “there are no undisclosed financial supporters of my writing. I’ve received – and am receiving – no grants, honoraria, consulting fees, good karma baubles, or even Christmas cards from any fossil fuel interests, although I’d be proud and open about it if I did.”

Willie Soon responded to his critics on March 2: “The fact that my research has been supported in part by donations to the Smithsonian Institution from many sources, including some energy producers, has long been a matter of public record.” Soon said, “I am willing to debate the substance of my research and competing views of climate change with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is a shame that those who disagree with me resolutely decline all public debate and stoop instead to underhanded and unscientific ad hominem tactics.”