It is beginning to look like the theft of Emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia was an over-reach. A group of National Academy of Science members have been discussing how the War on Science has broadened out and now threatens science in general. In an obvious attempt to intimidate, Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has made this other purloined correspondence public, eliciting much hand wringing from the usual suspects. Make no mistake, the barbarians are at the door.
Joe Romm has a Romm length post up about the penultimate Email from George Woodwell
We are dealing with an opposition that is not going to yield to facts or appeals from people who hold themselves in high regard and think their assertions and data are obvious truths. There are lessons to be learned from the legal profession for defending one's professions. Take any challenge, not as something to be addressed directly, but as an opportunity to add substance to the case. If the opposition opens an issue, make the issue theirs, and so hot that they have to let go.This is the heart of the matter. Eli knows a lot of people in the climate science community whose work does not impinge much on climate change (regional pollution, ozone issues, chemical kinetics, etc) Up till now they have operated on the assumption that they and theirs will be left alone if they keep their heads down, but this is becoming untenable as the war against science broadens. The NAS members are beginning to realize that the attack on Phil Jones and Mike Mann is but the opening salvo.
Those who stole the e-mails were criminals, not those who wrote them, and the argument must be for jailing the criminals, not investigating the scientists, all of whom were doing their jobs properly, sorting perspectives, data, analyses of data and how to proceed logically and forthrightly. We must make the issue what it is, the most troubling environmental and political challenge the world has ever faced. Those who deny the biophysical facts of the world would deny the reality of the law of gravity. The product of such denials is systematic progress in destroying this civilization. If one wants a view of where that process leads, take a quick look at Haiti at the moment.
The University's response to the challenges of Mann were totally wrong, misguided confessions that they have doubt as to the University's wisdom in employing and supporting him. And we, the scientific community, in an equally misguided effort at showing reasonableness and objectivity, participated.
The NAS members need to take the lead in withdrawing respect and collegiality from the Pielkes, the Lindzens and the Christys. Minnows like Douglass will sink of their own weight and the Lomborgs and McKitricks will have no support.
Agitprop like Douglass, Christy and Singer, will have a much tougher time getting published, because they have abused the default assumption of working in good faith and editors are finally becoming aware of this. Fantasists like Soon, Gerlich and Chilingar will be laughed out of town.
Andy Dessler and others have organized a response defending climate science that appears in the Houston Chron. They need support, go over there and hit the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons. Their science is good, but they do not understand the need to defend Jones, Mann and the CRU against outrageous attacks.
It is instructive to look at the tobacco wars. For a long time a small group of former scientists and a few wanna bes provided cover for the public relations types who ran the disinformation campaign. Just to name two, Fred Singer and Fred Seitz provided ammunition that the tobacco companies used to make sure that millions of additional people died. That anyone takes Singer seriously is evidence of a moral failing.
It was only when the biomedical scientific community decided to cease extending any respect to those providing cover for Big Tobacco that any progress was made. It took a long time, but you stopped seeing "Prof. X disagrees because Prof. X was simply read out of respectable company if he tried to deny the obvious in the New York Times while attempting to publish in Nature.
UPDATE: James Annan who quite rightly is unhappy about the current climate writes
You haven't had much climate science here recently, mostly because all that's been in the news relating to climate science, well...isn't actually anything to do with climate science really.and points to an article on the ABC blog by Prof. Stephan Lewandowsky on the Australian Broadcasting Network Drum, which, as James says, we need more of
Sceptics seek answers and scrutinise arguments before accepting the current state of scientific knowledge as fact. Denialists dismiss sound arguments, solid data, and experimental evidence in favour of propositions that have long been shown to be flawed.UPDATE: Joe Romm is mystified by what a Romm length post is: Comprehensive.
The world's pre-eminent scientific journal, Nature, therefore refers to those who cling to long-debunked pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories while dismissing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed studies by their true label — denialists.
The potentially devastating consequences of denialism are brought into sharp focus by the sad history of South Africa's AIDS policies. Despite having one of the world's highest rates of HIV infections, the government of President Thabo Mbeki went against consensus scientific opinion 10 years ago and declined anti-retroviral drugs, preferring instead to treat AIDS with garlic and beetroot. Politicians even accused a leading South African immunologist of defending Western science and its "racist ideas" for his insistence on scientific treatment methods. According to a recent peer-reviewed Harvard study, this denialism cost the lives of more than 330,000 South Africans.
For that, President Mbeki and his associates are now held in richly deserved contempt around the world.
Precisely the same fate awaits denialists of climate change.