Global warming alarmists have lost ground lately, but Congressional Democrats have implemented a new strategy: try to “silence” those with other views.
In separate instances, three Democratic senators and one Democratic representative have attempted to intimidate more than 100 companies, organizations and academics that diverge from the liberal view that climate change is catastrophic. The politicians have requested private information about their funding and asked for that documentation.
The parties who were asked to disclose donors weren’t the only ones outraged. The Wall Street Journal, American Meteorological Association and others criticized the intimidation attempt, but the three broadcast networks have ignored the issue entirely. There wasn’t one mention the politicians requests during morning or evening networks news between February 24 and March 18.
Democratic members on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., conducted one inquiry. They wrote letters to more than 100 groups on February 25, that asked for documentation regarding “payments made” during the last ten years “in support of scientific research and scientists, as well as support for other efforts related to climate change.”
The letters went to conservative and libertarian non-profit organizations and think tanks like The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and The Heartland Institute, as well as corporations like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell.
The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial that the Democratic senators were “trying to smear climate skeptics” and “silence those who are winning the argument,” while Congressional Republicans condemned it as “wholly inappropriate.”
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) warned that congressional inquiries into specific critics of climate change science based on their beliefs “sends a chilling message to all academic researchers.”
Cato Institute was one of the organizations that refused to supply the information calling it an “abuse” of power.
“In short, you may wish to deter Cato’s efforts to change the climate of ideas, but you abuse your authority when you attempt to intimidate people who don’t share your political beliefs,” Cato President and CEO John Allen replied in a March 13 letter to Boxer, Markey and Whitehouse.
Koch Industries Senior Vice President Mark Holden also responded to the senators March 5. On behalf of the corporation, he said “we decline to participate in this endeavor and object to your apparent efforts to infringe upon and potentially stifle fundamental First Amendment activities.”
Republican senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is chaired by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., opposed their Democratic colleagues’ inquiries.
All 11 GOP members of the committee wrote a letter to the same groups on February 27, saying they were “deeply concerned the [Democrats’] letter calls into question the importance of scientific discovery and academic freedom.” They also told recipients “to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond.”
Another inquiry was conducted by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee. In letters dated February 24, 2015, Grijalva asked seven universities to reveal all “sources of external funding” for certain academics at the schools based on their views about climate science. Many, but not all the people targeted, were climate skeptics. Grijalva also requested every draft of “testimony before any government body or agency” and all “communications regarding testimony preparation.”
One of those “investigation” letters went to University of Colorado Environmental Studies Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. He denied ever receiving funding from “any fossil fuel company or interest” on Feb. 25 on his website and called Grijalva’s attempt a “politically-motivated ‘witch hunt’ designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.” He included image of “McCarthyism” in his response.
According to Pielke, Jr., he’s being portrayed as a “‘climate skeptic’ opposed to action on climate change” when in fact he has called for carbon taxes. His “crime”? Testifying before Congress and saying it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
Even outsiders opposed Grijavla’s investigation.
“Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers,” AMS Executive Director Dr. Keith L. Seitter said in a February 27 letter to Grijalva.
Penn State’s Earth System Science Center Director Michael Mann, of “hide the decline” fame and a climate alarmist actually criticized Grijalva’s investigation. Mann told the National Journal February 25 that the request by Grijalva for academics’ correspondence appeared “sort of heavy handed and overly aggressive.” But Mann said “no scientists should have any qualms” about disclosing their funding.
Grijalva’s letters were prompted by a February 21 New York Times article that alleged Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Dr. Wei-Hock Soon had failed to properly disclose his funding sources. Soon has argued for years that warming and cooling cycles are impacted far more by astronomical influences than human activity.
Soon responded to “attacks in the press” on March 2 saying, “This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.”
On March 17, the Journal editorial said the members of Congress were “betting that the threat of a federal investigations will muzzle academics and companies that question their climate-change agenda.”
The Journal commended the groups and individuals refusing to disclose their private information saying, “We’re glad to see the dissenters aren’t intimidated.”
In contrast to the networks’ omission, media outlets including The New York Times, Politico and The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog reported one or both of the requests by Congressional Democrats. Although these outlets were not fans of the climate skeptics their stories did include criticism of Democrats’ inquiries and each quoted climate science critics.