Saturday, 8 May 2010

The republican war on reality : a new McCarthy era ?

The republican war on reality continues and once again one could the see the huge gap there is between the Belgian and American society. Something i cannot imagine happening in Belgium is the fact Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General (in Belgium : Procureur des Konings) of the state of Virginia started an unprecedented legal attack against climate scientist Michael E. Mann, known as the author of the Hockey Stick graph.
Ken Cuccinelli, a man who is rumoured next elections to be seeking for the post of Governor for the Republican Party and a man who got so offended by an artwork showing a naked breast he had it covered up on lapel pins. (Painting : La Liberté guidant le peuple)
In a 14p civil investigative demand sent to the University of Virginia on April 23 Cuccinelli is asking for all documents around Michael Mann’s research grants and all correspondence he had with a very long list of fellow scientists, but also with sceptics like Vincent Gray, Ross McKitrick, Pat Michaels, etc.
It is remarkable that just after Mann was cleared of the allegations of scientific misconduct by Penn state University, Ken Cuccineli is claiming that Mann may have defrauded taxpayers while trying to get grants (a remarkably unimpressive half a million dollar in the period 1999-2005, after which he left UVA) to fund his research. Of course this is just an excuse and Cuccinelli’s real motive is political. Remember, Cuccinelli also is the man who recently sued the American government over its regulation of greenhouse gases.
Of course the actions of Cuccinelli aren’t welcomed by everyone, some example of comments :
Cuccinelli is taking things too far. Way too far. This has all the trappings of a witch hunt, plain and simple.
Another commentor :
This is a repugnant piece of over-zealousness by the Virginia Attorney General, that I condemn.
(…) To the extent that Virginia citizens are concerned about public money being misappropriated, Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny
(…) I intend to write Cuccinelli expressing my disdain for his actions.
These two quotes do not come from do not come from pro-AGW climate scientists, but from prominent climate skeptics Paul ‘Chip’ Knappenberger and Steve McIntyre. Nuff’ said ?
Meanwhile 255 members of the American National Academy of sciences published an open letter on climate change and the integrity of science :
We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.
Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence.
We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

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