Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology at Penn Sate warned last Friday, of an impending witch hunt against science, should the Republicans take control of Congress in the midterm elections. Stating that as a scientist, he should, in theory, have no stake in the elections at all, but based on statements that he cited in a recent Washington Post editorial, he essentially has no choice but to fight for his ability to continue his work without harassment. Mann, who is perhaps best known as the originator of the hockey stick graph that Al Gore made famous, described specific threats made against him and other climate scientists by two Congressmen and one state Attorney General should the Republicans prevail in November. Mann was implicated in the so-called “Climategate scandal” as the result of a number of questionable emails emanating from Britain’s East Anglia University, which five separate independent investigations have confirmed to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot, initiated by those who prefer doubt to the facts on this issue.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has stated that if he becomes chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he will initiate an aggressive investigation on climate science, focusing largely on the otherwise dead and forgotten email scandal. Issa, it should be noted, received considerable funding from oil & gas and electric utility interests. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) claims he will do the same if he takes over a committee on climate change and energy security.
Similarly, Virginia State Attorney General and Tea Party darling, Ken Cuccinelli, continues to investigate the University of Virginia, where Mann worked previously, despite the fact that his subpoena was rejected in court due to a lack of objective evidence of wrongdoing. Undeterred, Cuccinelli has now appealed to the State Supreme Court, despite the fact that his case rests on claims made by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) that have since been discredited. Barton’s biggest campaign contributors by far were fossil fuel industries.
As Mann correctly points out, the physics and chemistry that linked CO2 with global warming were first understood by Sweden’s Svante Arrhenius in 1896. Arrhenius won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903.The primary scientific debate in the many years since then, has not been been over if, not how much warming will occur, given the innumerable variables involved.
What strikes me as the most pathetic in all of this is the vast number of people upon whom the irony here will be lost. Never mind that the Democrats sat idly by in the face of some of the biggest and most destructive scandals in world history perpetrated by the previous administration, choosing instead to be a bunch of good sports that look ahead rather than behind. No truth and reconciliation commission for our people. Not after two highly questionable presidential elections with clear evidence of fraud, a massive war costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and a priceless amount of international good will, built on a complete foundation of lies, a terrorist attack with a number a serious unanswered questions and a financial meltdown built on deregulation that has all but the wealthiest elite reeling and hoping for some kind of relief.
But when these Republicans, unique among all the political parties in the world today, come back, if we let them, they will come ready with hammer and tongs in hand, prepared to drive us further back into ignorance, denial and ever higher profits for the energy companies that they serve. Does anybody really think that’s going to make things better, or perhaps just better for them?
What I’m seeing is not a pretty picture. The house is burning and these Republicans are standing together with eyes closed and arms linked, blocking the exits, making sure that we all go down together. And why are they doing this? What principle are they defending? Or is it not a principle at all but only just, like schoolyard bullies, because they can?
RP Siegel is a Professional Engineer and the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though can we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
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