I’m generally not a fan of reposting others’ content, but I found this so compelling that I had to share. As I was reading through the assimilated works of Climate Progress, I came across some statements made by NASA’s premiere climatologist, James Hansen. While these remarks were made in December 2009, in light of the death threats leveled against Australian climate scientists recently they are particularly timely. He wrote:
I am now inundated with broad FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests for my correspondence, with substantial impact on my time and on others in my office. I believe these to be fishing expeditions, aimed at finding some statement(s), likely to be taken out of context, which they would attempt to use to discredit climate science”¦. The input data for global temperature analyses are widely available, on our web site and elsewhere. If those input data could be made to yield a significantly different global temperature change, contrarians would certainly have done that ”” but they have not.
Harassment like this has even prompted a strongly worded reply from AAAS yesterday (American Association for the Advancement of Science) who wrote, in part:
We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists. Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public. This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.
Scientists and policymakers may disagree over the scientific conclusions on climate change and other policy-relevant topics. But the scientific community has proven and well-established methods for resolving disagreements about research results. Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that are controversial. The scientific community takes seriously its responsibility for policing research misconduct, and extensive procedures exist to protect the rigor of the scientific method and to ensure the credibility of the research enterprise. Moreover, we are concerned that establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.
The implication of these threats is that climatologists are lying or fudging their data to achieve some personal end. One outrageous claim often bandied about is that scientists publish results affirming human-caused climate change just so they can get more research dollars. Arguments like these can only be made by people who have no idea how the scientific funding process actually works. I could go off on my own rant here, but I’m going to lift again from James Hansen who wrote the following in an open letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand:
BTW, do you really believe that scientists make up or exaggerate global warming to get research funds? Our salaries do not depend on how much research the government funds. Government scientists get paid for working 40 hours a week, regardless of how long they work. My wife claims it is about 90 hours a week, but I say about 80. If you succeed in getting the government to cut back on science, because you don’t like the results, the main effect will be erosion of our competiveness relative to other nations. Your hounding of scientists does not bother me, but it may discourage young people from entering the profession, contributing to a national spiral into second or third rate technical and economic status. Perhaps, instead of questioning the motives of scientists, you should turn around and check the interests (motives) of the people who have pushed you to become so agitated.
I couldn’t have put it any better.