Lindzen contra Grijalva

The wretched Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva has sent letters to seven university presidents based on his concerns about the heterodox climate-related testimony of professors at the institutions. He has sought “detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made global warming,” as the Washington Post’s Joby Warrick put it in “House Dems: Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?”

Our own Steve Hayward has proudly proclaimed his membership in the Magnificent Seven, but Steve is in good company. Retired MIT Professor Richard Lindzen is also on the list. The climatistas, as Steve calls them, really hate Lindzen. Lindzen is a prominent atmospheric physicist with the cachet of MIT and he has felt free to set forth the facts that mock the climatistas as he sees fit.

Professor Lindzen responds to Grihalva’s crusade with a column in today’s Wall Street Journal. The column — “The political assault on climate skeptics” — is accessible indirectly here via Google.

In his Journal column Professor Lindzen notes the failure of reality to conform to the predictions of the climatistas. He touts the virtues of an increase in the level of carbon dioxide. He disputes the proposition that extreme climate events have become more frequent.

“Yet world leaders,” he writes, “are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.” You can see why they hate this guy.

Professor Lindzen sketches the background of Grijalva’s crusade. Note the contemptible role of the New York Times in creating the mise en scène at the behest, one may reasonably infer, of the Times’s friends at Greenpeace:

Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.

The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeace noted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.

The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals— David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr. , Steven Hayward and me—about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.

The Times and Rep. Grijalva seem to share the same friends at Greenpeace. Enter the grating Grijalva:

In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.

Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.

Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense—and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.

The American Meteorological Society responded with appropriate indignation at the singling out of scientists for their scientific positions, as did many individual scientists. On Monday, apparently reacting to criticism, Mr. Grijalva conceded to the National Journal that his requests for communications between the seven of us and our outside funders was “overreach.”

Where all this will lead is still hard to tell. At least Mr. Grijalva’s letters should help clarify for many the essentially political nature of the alarms over the climate, and the damage it is doing to science, the environment and the well-being of the world’s poorest.

How would the mainstream media react if a Republican congressman lobbed threatening inquiries hounding seven university presidents regarding the funding of professors’ research? Or if Republican congressmen sent threatening letters to the heads of left-wing think tanks? They would summon the ghost of Joe McCarthy. The Times would lead the pack and we’d still be hearing about it.

Steve Hayward’s post on this topic is “Are you now or have you ever been a climate skeptic?” After we heard from Politico reporter Alex Guillen, John followed up with “Blowback against Democrats’ McCarthyite investigation continues.” Let me note for the record that we believe Politico runs in the same small circle of friends of Greenpeace as the New York Times and the wretched Rep. Grijalva.

STEVE adds: I am by no means done with this episode, but this week is another travel- and event-filled week that is limiting my time here on the site.  But this is a good occasion to pass along the worthy suggestion of one of our faithful readers:

Maybe they should make a movie about your merry little band. How about Magnificent Seven II? I can see it now: Using nothing but their wits, a band of 7 supergeeks–for–hire—and thanks to Rep. Grijalva, we’ll soon know by whom—protect the global village from the ravages of the UN. Imagine black helicopters shooting Hellfire hockey sticks! The drama of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice decisions! Scintillating dialogue (“The Parties agree to the operationalization of the modalities within a common but differentiated framework.” “Oh yeah? Well we don’t need no stinkin’ modalities!” Followed by the furious rat-a-tat-tat of a keyboard. Compelling, no?) And to spice things up, sex scenes written by the master himself, Rajenda Pachauri! The possibilities are endless. Can you say blockbuster?