The right-wing swiftboating campaign against climate scientists dubbed “Climategate” by its perpetrators is becoming frighteningly unhinged, accusing climate researchers of Hitlerian fascism for fighting against corruption of science by oil-funded ideologues. Yesterday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the top Republican on the House global warming committee, claimed these scientists were engaging in “scientific fascism.” After Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) denounced his egregious attack, Sensenbrenner defined “scientific fascism” of “intimidation in the scientific community of people who wish to be contrary what the convention wisdom is”:
I’ll define what I mean by scientific fascism. These emails trash the scientific conclusions by those who have disputed Michael Mann’s hockey stick theory. There are information in the emails that the scientific publication Climate Research in which they were published ought to be boycotted because they weren’t doing the politically correct thing. And I understand that the editor of Climate Research ended up getting fired as a result. There is intimidation in the scientific community of people who wish to be contrary what the convention wisdom is.
Watch a compilation of the exchange:
The incident to which Sensenbrenner is alluding in fact involves an admirable event in scientific history, when the scientific community successfully resisted attempts by Exxon-Mobil and Republicans to politicize and corrupt climate research.
In 2003, the journal Climate Research published a paper by astrophysicists Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon which argued that “the current global warming trend is not unique and that an even more dramatic episode occurred centuries ago, before widespread combustion of oil and coal.”
As illegally hacked emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit indeed reveal, the publication of this paper shocked climate researchers, who discussed an array of responses in March, 2003, from a joint response explaining the paper’s flaws to asking colleagues to shun the journal or encouraging the journal to “get rid of the offending editor,” contrarian Chris de Freitas.
What Sensenbrenner and the other smear merchants fail to mention is that the researchers were correct in their concerns that the journal had been taken over by biased ideologues. Despite Sensenbrenner’s claim, no editors were fired because of the climate realists. Rather, the editor of Climate Research, Hans Von Storch, quit in July 2003 because he was suppressed by the journal’s publisher when he attempted to disown the paper’s “severe methodological flaws“:
A science journal editor who recently published an article questioning whether industrial emissions are driving up the earth’s temperature has resigned, saying he was not allowed to publish an editorial repudiating the article.
Five editors — half the editorial board of the journal — soon joined Von Storch in a mass resignation — while Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) held a hearing to promote the blatantly flawed paper during the debate on the McCain-Lieberman climate bill.
The Soon-Baliunas paper turned out to be crass Big Oil propaganda, “underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute and promoted by nonprofit organizations that receive support from energy interests, primarily ExxonMobil Corp.” Journal publisher Otto Kinne eventually admitted in August, 2003, that the Soon-Baliunas claims “cannot be concluded convincingly from the evidence provided in the paper” — but only after the paper had served its political purpose.
We return to the present day, where mainstream environmental reporters have abetted this new, disgusting character assassination campaign. Reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the Associated Press — among many others — have wrung their hands about the ethics of the scientific community while the Fox Business Network compares scientists to Hitler and Stalin and Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com compares them to Nazi eugenicists.
One wishes these reporters would at least read their own, earlier reporting on the Soon-Baliunas affair.
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