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Republican Leader Blasts Own Party’s Climate Scientist “Witch Hunt”

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Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the Science committee of the US House of Representatives, has raised “strenuous objections to what I see as the misguided and illegitimate investigation” into three leading U.S. climatologists whose work has been important in establishing human agency as a cause of global warming.

The investigation was initiated by another Republican Congressman, Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee. Described by some as a “witch hunt” reminiscent of the McCarthy-era hunt for Communist sympathizers, it was ostensibly prompted by a Wall Street Journal article which quoted an economist and a statistician questioning the scientists’ methodology and results. Most scientific research in the U.S. is funded in part by the Federal Government, which under President Bush has routinely subordinated science to policy.

Barton, a right-wing “true believer,” has also been a force behind efforts to eliminate the estate tax and force “indecent” broadcasts off the radio airwaves. But with his power over energy policy he is perhaps most important as a point man in the right wing’s anti-science crusade. In that capacity, he has demanded the three scientists turn over to his committee details on all their funding, everything they have ever published, and the baseline data for those publications.

Congressman Boehlert called the precedent “truly chilling” because it “seeks to erase the line between science and politics.” The purpose of the investigation, Boehert said in a letter, “seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them.”

In a sad coincidence, one of the scientists, Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, just became a naturalized U.S. citizen last month. Welcome to George Bush’s America, Professor.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • Kurt

    Increasingly, our public SERVANTS are forgetting themselves. I hope the scientists involved will have the courage to tell the preening Texan where to stick it!

  • gonzo marx

    simply another chapter in the entire Rovian strategy to implement orwellian Newspeak with the GOP as “Big Brother”

    discredit,destroy,distract,distort and deny



  • If the findings of these ‘climate scientists’ were primarily political or ideological in origin rather than actually based on scientific research, which I believe is what has been alleged here, then there IS something to investigate.


  • Heh. He’s known as “Smokey Joe” Barton in some circles in Texas. It’s kind of like a tobacco state representative backing Tobacco Institute “Science”…

  • And here I thought it was because he’s the owner of the legendary Smokey Joe’s Cafe…

    BTW, I believe Barton is not running for reelection.


  • Why should Joe Barton run for reelection? He’s already sucked up plenty of cash from political action committees.

  • Unfortunately the Wall Street Journal online is paid content. If any readers can refer us to the actual article, it would be appreciated.

  • Similar article at the Albuquerque Tribune. Arianna Online also has an extensive thread about the controversy.

  • RJ

    “he has demanded the three scientists turn over to his committee details on all their funding, everything they have ever published, and the baseline data for those publications.”

    So, he wants there to be some actual context provided, in light of their findings?

    It’s like McCarthy-ism!!!