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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dan Vergano, USA Today: Science group [AAAS] decries attacks on climate scientists

Science group decries attacks on climate scientists

by Dan Vergano, USA Today, June 29, 2011

Leaders of the nation's most prominent scientific organization on Wednesday condemned personal attacks on climate scientists

In a statement, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chaired by Caltech's Alice Huang, decried the political attacks upon researchers that have become a hallmark of public discussion of climate science.
"We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists. Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public. This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems," says the statement.
In particular, the statement criticized recently-publicized wide-ranging Freedom of Information Act requests made for e-mail communications of researchers such as Penn State's Micheal Mann and NASA's James Hansen. "Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial," says the statement. "Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial."
In response to a AAAS news release noting its involvement in such requests, the American Tradition Institute, a Washington, DC-based free-market advocacy organization [actually, a Koch-funded, extreme right-wing, faux think tank full of non-declared lobbyists that has its fellows write books so it can buy them up from amazon and wash the money back to them], released its own statement, noting that open records laws allow anyone to request public records of taxpayer-funded officials. "The notion that application of laws that expressly cover academics is an 'attack' on them is substantively identical to Hollywood apologists who call application of other laws to Roman Polanski an attack on Polanski. They lost the plot somewhere along the way," said ATI's Chistopher Horner, in the response. [that is a pretty sick comparison, wouldn't you say? just shows what kind of awful people they employ]
Climate scientists have endured personal attacks as a result of their findings for more than a decade. In 2009, a hacker stole climate scientists' emails from a British lab, a brouhaha that concluded with investigations clearing them of wrongdoing but in some cases chiding them for lack of transparency. Mann and others faced a 2006 Congressional committee investigation centered on a George Mason University team report critical of climate scientists (that report team itself is now under investigation for plagiarism and other shortcomings [shortcomings that include entirely misrepresenting the works they cited, according to the original authors]). In 1995, a fossil-fuel-industry-funded group questioned the integrity of federal climate scientist Ben Santer [he was completely exonerated because it was totally trumped up, but it all caused all kinds of stresses in his personal life, but hey what do they care -- to this day Fred Singer still spouts the lies, and he knows full well they are lies, but he doesn't care so long as the fossil fuel industry keeps paying him to say them.].
In a commentary on the political attacks on climate scientists and climate science, researcher Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., noted that personal attacks upon scientists -- covered in articles such as this one -- serve to divert public attention from the larger question of how society should respond to the already-evident and continuing increase in global temperatures that has occurred as a result of fossil fuel emissions adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Which may be their real purpose, he adds. "The fact that we are arguing over the science today means things are going to get a lot worse," Gleick says. "I worry things will get a lot worse before they get better."
On that note, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today reported that monthly normal U.S. temperatures from 1981 to 2010 were 0.5 degrees higher than the 1971-2000 ones. The finding continues two decades of climate reality matching the general predictions of climate scientists.

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