I am a scientist. I have a PhD in Geology and a lot of experience in both academia and industry. I currently work for a major international cooperative science program, the IODP, which is focused on deep ocean drilling for climatological, tectonic, earthquake hazard, and biological/evolutionary basic research purposes. Side benefits include the potential for discovering new medicines and new sources of energy.
We rely on science – academic and industrial – to make the things we use, to understand the world we live in so that we can survive as a culture and as a species.
The decisions we make as a culture have results that are often contingent upon our grasp of reality – real data, real facts, real results.
The following article at Chris Mooney’s web site should be ringing even more alarm bells than are already ringing.
Industry can often be ugly, and the profit motive makes for some serously poisonous history and behavior…but at root, making money requires recognizing reality…hence the recent spate of articles from industry regarding global warming, peak oil, chemical pollution and so on. Not universal, not particularly heartfelt or sincere…but it is happening, and companies are trying to get the “Green” label on their activities for a damned good reason.
Academia can also often be ugly – puerile, immature, selfish, self-aggrandizing, hiding motives and methods in high-minded rhetoric while squelching new ideas and maintaining a medieval guild-like system of apprenticeships, sexism, and old-boys clubs. But academia, unfettered “pure” science, forms the theoretical and practical basis for nearly every scientific advancement, from the internet, to GPS, to superconductors, to new medicines, to new understandings of how the world and the universe works.
Now, we are under direct attack on a number of cultural fronts…and there is a new front opening – direct government attacks on scientists who do “inconvenient” research.
Michael Mann is a world-renowned climatologist. His data and methods have expanded our abilities to
- Gather and interpret climate proxy data all over the globe
- Extend the available data set back in time for purposes of calibrating models and testing hindcasting climate predictions
- Explain and explore new hypotheses regarding the ocean-climate-continent heat/water/air circulation system
- Understand carbon (and other nutrient and element) cycles through time, and corellate with ice and sediment cores in remote regions.
His “Hockey Stick” paper represented a massive advancement of our understanding of the climate record and provided a series of new tools, tests, hypotheses and predictions in the climate sciences.
As such, that paper became the target of a large number of sophisticated and idiotic attacks, ranging from the moronic Wall Street Journal attempt, to the much more well-couched but still libelous and dishonest works of McIntyre and McKitrick (whom I will not link to, but can be found in the above-linked essays, rebuttals and articles).
Not just Michael Mann, but an entire spectrum of scientists have contributed to a long-term, large-scale, complex and growing understanding of how our climate works, what dangers we face, how we are exacerbating those dangers, and what we can do about those problems.
Now, Joe Barton, Republican Chair of the House Committe on Energy and Commerce is threatening Mann, and the entire scientific community, by sending Letters (PDF) requesting extremely detailed, time consuming, intrusive, invasive and chilling amounts of information regarding Mann’s (and many others’) history, funding, methods, publications, and everything else under the sun.
Barton is using the Wall Street Journal editorial as basis and justification for his actions – a letter that has been roundly, soundly, and directly debunked by Mann and others at RealClimate, and is, anyway, based on the idiotic and uninformed rantings of a writer (or ghostwriter) who is dredging up large amounts of already debunked and addressed criticisms.
This amounts to nothing less than an attempt to quell, quash, silence, and shackle scientists by threatening them directly, impugning their reputations, and hampering their research by burying them in governmental paperwork and bureaucratic procedural garbage.
The war on science is ramping up.
I urge you to come to our defense.
Help us, help science.
Modern science makes everything you use, and our discipline forms the basis for survival of our species on this planet.
Write Letters to the committee.
Join and contribute to The Union of Concerned Scientists.
Write letters to the editor.
Go to Real Climate and register your support.