Judith Curry Responds To the Global Warming Witch Hunt

The saga of the global warming movement’s jihad against skeptical scientists – including those whose skepticism of man-made climate change orthodoxy is moderate enough to make them dislike the “skeptic” label – has grown to include the formidable Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

She says she was working up a blog post on the subject of “Conflicts of Interest In Climate Science” when she discovered she was on the target list of witch-hunting Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva. In addition to Curry and Dr. Roger Pielke, whose response to the inquisition I covered earlier this week, the list of targeted apostates includes David Legates of the University of Colorado, John Christy of the University of Alabama, Richard Lindzen of MIT, Robert Balling of Arizona State University, and author Steven Hayward (who is not related to this author).

Democrats in Congress might not have much interest in getting to the bottom of the IRS abuse-of-power scandal, but they’re all over threats to the lucrative cash cow and political power source represented by the global warming movement.

The current crusade involves trying to intimidate dissenting scientists and writers out of the public square by accusing them of being intellectually dishonest henchpersons working for Big Oil. The idea is that funding global warming skeptics has enabled oil companies to influence congressional action, which is something only Big Green is allowed to do. (You may never see a more perfect example of hypocrisy than the climate-change movement’s ironclad belief that their vast funding is one hundred percent pure and noble – even when, as Curry notes, it comes from those eeeeeevil fossil fuel companies, who donate enormous sums of money to universities and environmental groups.)

Curry writes at length about the varying conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements for scientific publications (whose alleged transgression by Dr. Willie Soon kicked off the current warmist frenzy, although they can’t seem to poke any holes in the actual work product he published.) Curry accurately notes that prominent members of green advocacy groups are themselves in technical violation of such disclosure requirements on a regular basis, but it never seems to be an issue for them, because their money is considered spotlessly clean, and their organizations are presumed completely devoid of selfish interest.

Curry dismisses this attempt to re-define “conflict of interest” as almost solely referring to financial support from business interests that would be harmed by environmental regulations. “The intense politicization of climate science makes bias more likely to be coming from political and ideological perspectives than from funding sources,” she writes. “Unlike research related to food and drug safety and environmental contaminants,  most climate science is easily replicable using publicly available data sets and models. So all this, in my opinion, is frankly a red herring in the field of climate science research.”

I would go further and snort with derision at the notion of the Church of Global Warming being motivated primarily by ideology and passionate belief in their pseudo-scientific religion. It’s all about the money.

There are titanic sums of money to be made from the global warming hoax. Just ask Al Gore; he’s easy to find, as you can see the carbon footprint of his vast estate from orbit. If you find Gore too boring to converse with at length, just hang out at an international climate change conference and wait for the private jets and limousines to start rolling in. You can discuss the financial benefits of climate change hysteria over one of the fabulously expensive meals climate grandees are known to prefer at the five-star establishments where their confabs are held.

Statist politicians are absolutely in love with global warming theology, because it lets them shake corporations down for cash, seize control of industries, use tax money to forge crony relationships with major donors, and shove the Little People around. The cash value of this political, economic, and cultural power is incalculable. Not to undersell the riches of the fossil fuel industry – which Democrats keep forgetting to thank for hauling Barack Obama’s moribund economy out of recession after six grueling years – but I think Big Climate is worth more. A lot more. That’s why Big Oil has bought stock in Big Climate.

“It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus,” Curry says of the global warming jihad, noting that an explicit call to wage such a war against “deniers” can be found, not coincidentally, at barackobama.com. As she explains, going along with the enforced “consensus” of politically-useful man-made climate change is very much the path of least resistance for a scientist; constant assault from politicians, media, and angry online mobs await those who dare to deviate. (Funny, I was raised to believe that’s the exact opposite of how “science” works. In fact, the heroic mythology of science taught to every school child portrays the close-minded forces of medieval religious zealotry suppressing scientific challenges to their orthodoxy using their era’s version of the tactics employed by the global-warming faithful against apostates today.)

Curry delivers her personal declaration of independence:

As a scientist, I am an independent thinker, and I draw my own conclusions about the evidence regarding climate change. My conclusions, particularly my assessments of high levels of uncertainty, differ from the ‘consensus’ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Why does this difference in my own assessment relative to the IPCC result in my being labeled a ‘denier’? Well, the political approach to motivate action on climate change has been to ‘speak consensus to power’, which seems to require marginalizing and denigrating anyone who disagrees.

The collapse of the consensus regarding cholesterol and heart disease reminds us that for scientific progress to occur, scientists need to continually challenge and reassess the evidence and the conclusions drawn from the evidence.

Why stop there?  Even the “consensus” in favor of Big Bang cosmology has been given a potent challenge by quantum physicists in recent weeks. There could be a Challenged Consensus Quarterly magazine to review all the “settled science” that gets shaken up with every passing news cycle. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about theories becoming widely accepted because they seem to fit the available data. The Church of Global Warming is all about suppressing data – both past and present – to keep a widely accepted theory alive long past its expiration date.

Curry thinks Rep. Grijalva’s witch hunt is a “really big mistake.” As she puts it, “I am wondering on what authority Grijalva is demanding this information? He is ranking minority member of a committee before which I have never testified. Do his colleagues in the Democratic Party support his actions? Are they worried about backlash from the Republicans, in going after Democrat witnesses?”

I don’t think there’s much worry among congressional Democrats about Republican backlash these days, Dr. Curry; the Republican spine has become harder to detect than climate change.

What we should take away from the whole sorry episode is that this zeal for challenging the character of climate-change skeptics – while excusing both the political/financial connections, and sloppy science, of true believers because their cause is supposedly noble – represents the final degeneration of the global warming movement into pure politics.

Science is empirical. Politics is subjective. Politics is the real where the “right” people get to be wrong without consequence because their motivations are supposedly unimpeachable, while the “wrong” people can never be right because they’re convicted without trial of the great political crime of self-interest… or they’re held as accomplices to some disfavored individual or corporation’s self-interest.


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