A little over four hundred years after the Salem witch trials, witch-hunts are still used as a tactic of social persecution and a vehicle to censure those who do not conform to a special interest agenda. From Salem to McCarthy to today’s attacks on so called “climate skeptics,” witch-hunts tear the fabric of a free society.
In the past week, Greenpeace initiated an attack on Dr. Willie Soon, a scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, because of his research on climate change and now several members of Congress have sent letters to 100 organizations that either raise questions and doubts that human activities using fossil energy are causing catastrophic climate change and/or might have provided funds to scientists who are labeled “skeptics.” Letters also have been sent to at least seven universities where some “skeptic” scientists are affiliated. These letters request a lot of funding information.
The misguided assumption, behind what appears to be a politically orchestrated attack on the credibility of those who question the climate orthodoxy, is that their findings and science-based beliefs are insincere and for sale to the highest bidder. The problem with this assumption is that it implies that scientists and researchers who rely primarily on public funding for their climate work are not motivated to tailor their research to the beliefs and policy views of their funding sources.
In 1994, Nightline anchor, Ted Koppel ended a program dealing with climate skepticism this way, “… issues have to be debated and settled on scientific grounds, not politics. There is nothing new about major institutions seeking to influence science to their own ends. The church did it, ruling families have done it, the communists did it, and so have others, in the name of anti communism. But it has always been a corrupting influence, and it always will be. The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works.”
In 2005, then President of the George C. Marshall Institute, Jeff Kueter, wrote a Policy Outlook on the issue of climate funding. Ten years later Jeff’s analysis and conclusions are every bit as relevant as they were then.
Today we republish Jeff’s Policy Outlook. What is apparent is that in the climate change debates of 2005 and 2015 the tendency is to smear and demonize those whose views don’t conform to the prevailing climate orthodoxy.