Global Warming Skeptics Unite to Denounce Attorney General's Climate Witch Hunt


Photo Credit: kcvaag via Flickr/CC BY

I reported previously on Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's crusade to target some of the nation's most respected climate scientists in an unprecedented fraud investigation. The investigation is largely a political maneuver designed to capitalize on the anti-cap and trade sentiment that's still strongly held, especially by Tea Party-styled conservatives. However, you'd think that an investigation which attempts to undermine climate scientists' work that supports man-caused global warming would earn the cheers of the small band of vocal skeptic scientists who vehemently oppose them. But you'd be wrong. Even some of the nation's fiercest climate skeptics have denounced Cuccinelli's anti-science efforts. The New York Times' John Collins Rudolf reports:

for nearly a year, Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, has tried to force the University of Virginia to turn over the files of Michael Mann, a climatologist, as part of a broader crusade against the scientific basis of man-made global warming.

One might expect that his efforts would find support among climate-change contrarians, the small but vocal community of scientists and independent researchers who aggressively challenge the mainstream consensus that emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide threaten to dangerously warm the planet. But in reporting the story, I found the opposite to be true: as it turns out, even many of Dr. Mann's chief scientific foes are strongly opposed to Mr. Cuccinelli's fraud investigation.

Rudolf spoke with a veritable who's-who of the nation's top (non-politician) skeptics and deniers -- there's Canadian statistician Ross McKitrick, Stephen McIntyre, the retired Canadian mining engineer and amateur statistician (and primo Michael Mann foe), Thomas Fuller, the author of "Climategate", and the scientist John Christy -- and each and every one of them thought that what Cuccinelli was doing was reckless and wrong.

A number of them even took to "Watts Up With That?", the top online depository for anti-climate science misinformation -- to decry Cuccinelli's misguided crusade.

Here's the skeptic Thomas Fuller: "What Ken Cuccinelli is doing is going fishing for wrongdoing without an allegation of such wrongdoing. That's not how we should be doing things in this country." And here's John Christy: "Do all of us who work as university employees (not federal employees) become subject to being investigated by anyone with a grudge?"

Cuccinelli's investigation would set a dangerous precedent for a number of reasons. One, it would allow Congress to become the authority in interpreting scientific findings -- in subjects most members know little to nothing about. It would further encourage the politicization of science, and deter scientists from pursuing findings that legislators may find inconvenient. The only thing Cuccinelli could accomplish here is kick-starting another political witch-hunt -- at the expense of the scientific process.

I don't often offer kudos to climate skeptics, but in this case I'll make an exception -- thank you for honorably drawing a line in the sand to prevent this foolish, reckless piece of political theater from gaining traction.

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