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Mar 8, 2010

Are you now or have you ever been a climate scientist?

Accusation of criminality against leading climate scientists takes the denialist campaign of harassment and intimidation to new lows.

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The accusation of McCarthyism has been thrown around for years, usually in situations where there is no real parallel with Senator Joe McCarthy’s1950s witch-hunt aimed at uncovering Communists. Now Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe has called for climate scientists associated with the IPCC to be investigated for criminal violations the spectre of McCarthy has chillingly returned.

A document prepared by minority staff of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works claims scientists mentioned in emails stolen from the Centre for Climatic Research (CRU) at the University of East Anglia are guilty of manipulating data and obstructing its release. It lists federal laws they may have violated and names 17 climate scientists — some of the most eminent in the world — who Inhofe’s staff claim should be investigated for possible criminal investigation.

The accusation of criminality against leading climate scientists takes the denialist campaign of harassment and intimidation to new heights, beyond that of cyber-bullying, character assassination and black operations.

“I am worried about it, I have to say,” Raymond Bradley told The Guardian. Bradley is the director of climate science research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and one of those named on the list.

“You can understand that this powerful person is using the power of his office to intimidate people and to harass people and you wonder whether you should have legal counsel. It is a very intimidating thing and that is the point.”

In 1950 McCarthy famously produced a piece of paper that he said listed the names of known Communists working in the US State Department. Reputations were ruined simply by being named by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

One McCarthy tactic was to call for a blacklist of people to be banned from employment — in government, industry and, most notoriously, in Hollywood. To their eternal shame some Hollywood studio heads capitulated and denied employment to more than 300 people deemed un-American.

Today, the call for a blacklist has come not from Inhofe but from his fellow denialist Rep James Sensenbrenner, of Wisconsin (McCarthy’s state), who in November wrote to the IPCC demanding that scientists whose names appear in the stolen CRU emails be blacklisted from all further work with the IPCC.

Climate denialism long ago stopped being an argument about science and became a cause of right-wing populists determined to defeat the gains of liberals and progressives. It is perfectly natural Christopher Monckton should be travelling to the United States soon to address a rally of the Tea Party, a movement close to the far right of the Republican Party.

Sarah Palin has predictably taken up the denialist cause. A woman who believed Africa was a country can now quote from CRU emails in interviews. The jihad against climate science and climate scientists has energised the populist Right in the most politically backward US states.

Two weeks ago the South Dakota legislature passed a resolution calling for “balanced teaching of global warming in the public schools of South Dakota”, the type of resolution that now sees creationism taught alongside evolution. What does Ian Plimer think of his new friends?

The draft resolution noted there are “a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological and ecological dynamics” that affect climate. The inclusion of “astrological” and “thermological” suggests buffoons run South Dakota.

And last month the Utah House of Representatives passed a resolution rejecting climate science. One supporter of the Bill said “environmentalists were part of a vast conspiracy to destroy the American way of life and control world population through forced sterilisation and abortion”. You can’t make this stuff up.

In 1953, after he had left office, President Truman condemned McCarthyism as “the corruption of truth, the abandonment of the due process law”. Inhofe is the new McCarthy; environmentalism is the new communism. Murdoch news outlets around the world light the bonfires on which scientists accused of witchcraft are to be burned.

Denialism has become mad, bad and dangerous, and people of goodwill everywhere must resist it.

Clive Hamilton —

Clive Hamilton

Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University

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56 thoughts on “Are you now or have you ever been a climate scientist?

  1. Flower

    You could be onto something there Meski since experiments to date reveal high rates of carbon fixation and algae can be grown on non-arable – even arid land without any need for fresh water in cultivation. My un-informed reservation at the moment is the use of “non-potable” water for algae cultivation if that should mean “treated” waste water from hazardous industrial sites.

    And while time is not on our side, dedicated scientists performing all the research are ostracised and multi-national grim reapers, (aided and abetted by the likes of Swizzle Eyes, Carter, Plimer et al) continue their carnage of the biosphere with impunity while we Australian armchair critics provide ourselves and our children with every toy and electronic gadget known to man.

    Our motor vehicles pump out in excess of 2.2 billion kilograms of CO every year (which burns to CO2) during which time, the citizens of this nation are dubbed the fattest on the planet. Meanwhile it’s two steps forward for our scientists and three back.

    In the US we can add to Clive’s list, the likes of denialist bile bag, Rush Limbaugh from the climate mafia, promoting his right-wing, hate message:

    1) (To an African American female caller): “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back. ”

    2) “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South.”

    Then we have an ever-expanding list of denialist Republican politicians – fearmongering, double-talking, double-living troglodytes who made their reputations by being down on homosexuality publicly, only to lose them by going down on homosexuals in private.

    Fifty five year old father of four, Republican Roy Ashburn, a vehement gay opponent, whose public condemnations have contributed to isolating the US’s gay community from mainstream, is the latest hypocrite, forced from the closet.

    Of course, to the denialists, the gay community are not good at procreating which means fewer slaves to do the dirty work of desecrating the planet’s ecosystems.

    Meanwhile ignorant denialist sycophants put their fingers in their ears and shout “Lalalalala!” as loudly as they can.

  2. EngineeringReality

    @WORDFACTORY “Most ordinary people understand that burning coal and oil IS heating the planet. But most of us don’t buy the Hollywood Armageddon script you’re also trying to sell us that demands radical social change.”

    You’ve fallen for the uninformed tripe that the denialists are heaping onto the debate.

    The sad fact is that stopping our greenhouse gas emission doesn’t need to have “radical social change”.

    We would already be there if we do two things – generate our electricity from renewable sources (and since a bee’s dick of the population are involved in the electricity generation industry then changing the way these people generate the electricity that our whole society uses is hardly “radical social change”).

    The second is to switch over our transport infrastructure over to hydrogen powered or electric vehicles. Again no big radical social change. Everyone buys new cars eventually – and business does so more frequently. Last year almost 1 million new cars were purchased in Australia.

    So within short order increasing number of vehicles on our roads would be emission free. Again hardly radical social change. Look how many DVD players and flat screen TVs have been purchased at the expense of VHS and CRTs – and that social change happened without any problems – but it could be described as “radical change” if you wanted to.

    The climate change denialists want to scare everyone that helping the environment means giving up your car and air conditioning and meat and becoming a lentil munching hippee sitting in the dark – but the truth is so far from that.

    Just achieving these two things and Australia would be able to hold its head up high and know that it had truthfully cut its emissions but at least 50% – and this is with today’s technology.

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that doing the right thing means any sacrifice in our standard of living. Thats why I became an engineer – to improve society – and our engineers and scientists already have enough knowledge and technology to change our society over to a much lower polluting one without us really feeling much change – apart from learning how to plug in our cars instead of queuing up at smelly petrol stations and having renewable energy flowing into our houses when we flick our power switches on.

  3. Flower

    Accolades to Clive Hamilton, one of the few independent whistleblowers who’s not afraid of the big bad morons in the denialist camp. The jury on CRU is still out yet vicious little men and women are standing at the gallows, noose to the ready and baying for blood.

    And just how selective are the posters on this thread?

    Did we hear their mutterings when a study, conducted by Boshra Yazahmeidi and Professor D’Arcy Holman of School of Population Health at UWA, surveyed 302 academics in 17 institutions across Australia, and found 142 cases of suppression where our very own governments leant on our academics?

    Did they remain mute when it was found that affected researchers had their research reports blocked, faced abnormal delays in pursuing or publishing their research, or were directly ordered to modify or sanitise their results by a government agency? Several events related to environmental and health problems – toxic chemicals in the environment, exposure to infection risks, etc.

    Did these wailers hit the web, outraged to discover that the Ombudsman, investigating the Howard Government’s administration of the FOI Act, noted in his report that “there is concern that charges are being unreasonably determined and applied by agencies as a means of deterring FOI requests.”

    And what about a request for documents on the effects of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef, involving 538 hours of “decision making time” at a cost of $12,718?

    Or perhaps the two-year request for information on a politician’s travel which was abandoned when a newspaper was quoted a fee of $1.25 million — a cost related to contacting everyone the politician met?

    Instead, these posters employ the duckshoving strategies of a used car salesman. It’s much more profitable to kneecap dedicated climate scientists in faraway places, who’ve been harassed, hindered, threatened and ridiculed by barking dogs (clutching brown paper bags), who hail from the climate underworld and who never flinch from an opportunity to scheme and plot, no matter how sordid or demeaning.

  4. Rush Limbugh

    Hey Hamilton here is a piece of writing from Matt tabbi from Rolling Stone Magazine, it documents the different financial bubbles that Goldman Sachs has created…you know Goldman…that company your favourite Liberal Malcolm Turnbull used to work for…

    read this phaggot and then tell me AGW people arnt corrupt bastards.

    BUBBLE #6 Global Warming

    Fast-forward to today. It’s early June in Washington, D.C. Barack Obama, a popular young politician whose leading private campaign donor was an investment bank called Goldman Sachs — its employees paid some $981,000 to his campaign — sits in the White House. Having seamlessly navigated the political minefield of the bailout era, Goldman is once again back to its old business, scouting out loopholes in a new government-created market with the aid of a new set of alumni occupying key government jobs.

    Gone are Hank Paulson and Neel Kashkari; in their place are Treasury chief of staff Mark Patterson and CFTC chief Gary Gensler, both former Goldmanites. (Gensler was the firm’s cohead of finance.) And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits — a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an “environmental plan,” called cap-and-trade.

    The new carboncredit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

    Here’s how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy “allocations” or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

    The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the “cap” on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison’s sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

    Goldman wants this bill. The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigmshifting legislation, (2) make sure that they’re the profitmaking slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for capandtrade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.) Back in 2005, when Hank Paulson was chief of Goldman, he personally helped author the bank’s environmental policy, a document that contains some surprising elements for a firm that in all other areas has been consistently opposed to any sort of government regulation. Paulson’s report argued that “voluntary action alone cannot solve the climatechange problem.” A few years later, the bank’s carbon chief, Ken Newcombe, insisted that capandtrade alone won’t be enough to fix the climate problem and called for further public investments in research and development. Which is convenient, considering that Goldman made early investments in wind power (it bought a subsidiary called Horizon Wind Energy), renewable diesel (it is an investor in a firm called Changing World Technologies) and solar power (it partnered with BP Solar), exactly the kind of deals that will prosper if the government forces energy producers to use cleaner energy. As Paulson said at the time, “We’re not making those investments to lose money.”

    The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utahbased firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets. There’s also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in greentech … the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energyfutures market?

    “Oh, it’ll dwarf it,” says a former staffer on the House energy committee.

    Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won’t we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe — but capandtrade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private taxcollection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it’s even collected.

    “If it’s going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it,” says Michael Masters, the hedgefund director who spoke out against oilfutures speculation. “But we’re saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That’s the last thing in the world I want. It’s just asinine.”

    Cap-and-trade is going to happen. Or, if it doesn’t, something like it will. The moral is the same as for all the other bubbles that Goldman helped create, from 1929 to 2009. In almost every case, the very same bank that behaved recklessly for years, weighing down the system with toxic loans and predatory debt, and accomplishing nothing but massive bonuses for a few bosses, has been rewarded with mountains of virtually free money and government guarantees — while the actual victims in this mess, ordinary taxpayers, are the ones paying for it.

    It’s not always easy to accept the reality of what we now routinely allow these people to get away with; there’s a kind of collective denial that kicks in when a country goes through what America has gone through lately, when a people lose as much prestige and status as we have in the past few years. You can’t really register the fact that you’re no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you’re no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things that are no longer there.

    But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It’s a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can’t be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can’t stop it, but we should at least know where it’s all going.

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