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.