Roger Pielke Jr., a respected climate scientist at the University of Colorado, announced recently on his blog that he is being investigated by congressional Democrats. Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a letter to the university demanding to see all disclosure policies that are applicable to Pielke, detailed information about any sources of external funding and grants he may have received, as well as any communications related to external funding. He also wants copies of any speeches and testimony before lawmakers Pielke has delivered, as well as salary and travel expense information.
Pielke is one of seven climate scientists being targeted by congressional Democrats. Why are these seven scientists being targeted? Well, the common thread is that all of them are skeptical, to one degree or another, of the claims made by global warming alarmists.
In the words of the Democratic spokesman for the natural resources committee, these seven scientists seem “to have the most impact on policy in the scientific community.” It is a witch hunt, pure and simple. Grijalva and his fellow Democrats are abusing their power to try to dig up any information they can use to discredit these scientists and silence debate over the necessity of draconian government action to deal with climate change.
For his part, Pielke is standing firm, and it seems unlikely that the attacks on the tenured professor are going to do any damage. On his blog, Pielke has made it clear just how misguided this assault on him is:
The Congressman and his staff, along with compliant journalists, are busy characterizing me in public as a “climate skeptic” opposed to action on climate change. This of course is a lie. I have written a book calling for a carbon tax, I have publicly supported President Obama’s proposed EPA carbon regulations, and I have just published another book strongly defending the scientific assessment of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] with respect to disasters and climate change. All of this is public record, so the smears against me must be an intentional effort to delegitimize my academic research. . . . Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none.
The Scrapbook can remember, just a few years ago, when Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli was pilloried by the press for months for launching an investigation into University of Virginia climate scientist Michael E. Mann, whose famous “hockey stick” graph showing the rise of global temperatures has been widely discredited. Of course, there were crucial differences in that investigation, namely, that hacked emails from the University of East Anglia that had been released to the public provided substantial evidence Mann might have been falsifying data. In other words, Cuccinelli’s investigation had a legitimate pretext, unlike Grijalva’s. Unfortunately for Cuccinelli, since Mann was a global warming alarmist toeing the Democratic line, the legitimacy of the concerns about his research were deemed largely irrelevant by the press.
As for how Pielke might fare in this blatant attack on scientific and academic freedom being waged by elected representatives, well, the fourth estate is once again acting like a fifth column. “So far, I have been contacted by only two reporters at relatively small media outlets. I’d say that the lack of interest in a politician coming after academics is surprising, but to be honest, pretty much nothing surprises me in the climate debate anymore,” Pielke says.