Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists

From The Guardian:

Some of America's leading scientists have accused Republican politicians of intimidating climate-change experts by placing them under unprecedented scrutiny.

A far-reaching inquiry into the careers of three of the US's most senior climate specialists has been launched by Joe Barton, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce. He has demanded details of all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published.

Mr Barton, a Texan closely associated with the fossil-fuel lobby, has spent his 11 years as chairman opposing every piece of legislation designed to combat climate change.

He is using the wide powers of his committee to force the scientists to produce great quantities of material after alleging flaws and lack of transparency in their research. He is working with Ed Whitfield, the chairman of the sub-committee on oversight and investigations.

The scientific work they are investigating was important in establishing that man-made carbon emissions were at least partly responsible for global warming, and formed part of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which convinced most world leaders - George Bush was a notable exception - that urgent action was needed to curb greenhouse gases.

The demands in letters sent to the scientists have been compared by some US media commentators to the anti-communist "witch-hunts" pursued by Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.
I recall seeing this some weeks back on a media outlet or another blog, and it was every bit as outrageous then as it is now--the McCarthy parallel is perfect. The article mentions that a spokesperson for Barton said all the necessary evidence has been collected for review, but I hope that doesn't mean the scientists complied with his demands. Indeed, I think their best course of action at this point is to provoke a contempt of congress charge. As Cindy Sheehan has made plain, dragging cowardly tools like Barton into the sunlight has a way of making it clear that at long last, they have no decency.

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