The firing of Alvin Weinberg as ORNL Director was a major landmark in the decline of science in the United States. Weinberg was a great scientist, who invented the Light Water Reactor - he patented it - the dominant reactor type of the 20th century. Weinberg was an early advocate of the breeder reactor, but not of the fashionable fast breeder. Rather he championed a highly innovative reactor concept, the molten salt reactor, a reactor which Weinberg probably believed would probably solve all of the problems of nuclear power. Weinberg was concerned about nuclear safety, and got into political trouble, because he pushed for nuclear safety research, at a time when a powerful click in Washington, viewed safety concerns as standing in the way of nuclear progress. There is little doubt, that Washington Power interests, including Congressman Chester E. (Chet) Holifield, AEC Commissioner James Ramsey, and AEC Reactor Research Director Milton Shaw, were behind Weinberg's firing, Weinberg believed that it was important to understand the social and political role of science in the United States during the mid-20th century, and coined the term, big science, but he was blind to the impact of power interests on the course of American science.
was responsible for the birth of modern science.What Galileo did that was so criminal was to invent the telescope, which in turn allowed him to observe for the first time in human history, the moons of Jupiter. The observation of the moons of Jupiter circling the planet offered confirmation of the heliocentric world view, the view that the planets including the earth, circled the sun. This heliocentric view had been percolating through astronomy for a couple of centuries, but Galileo started a scientific revolution with his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Galileo's book did two things. First it opened up the eyes of European intellectuals to the case for the heliocentric world view, but beyond that it advanced the status of science as a harbinger of a new age.
There was a price to be paid for creating an intellectual revolution. Although the Inquisition had initially given its approval to Galileo's "Dialogue" before its publication, Galileo had committed some political transgressions in the text of his book, that quickly surfaced once it fell into the hands of his enemies. Galileo had committed the sin of arguing that the sun rather than the earth was the center of the universe. For this sin Galileo was tried and imprisoned by that most evil arm of a frequently evil 17th century Catholic Church, the Inquisition. Galileo was tried for and convicted of the appalling crime of heresy, and condemned by the Inquisition to living under house arrest for the rest of his life.
The tradition of the Catholic Church's persecution of Galileo Galilei has been now taken up by some Republicans who are advocating criminal prosecution of climate scientists. Right wing grand Inquisitor, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, has demanded an investigation of criminal misconduct by climate scientists without offering a shred of evidence that any crime has actually been committed.
"The world’s leading climate scientists engaged in unethical behavior and possibly violated federal laws,"Inhofe told a senate committee. Roger Pielke, Jr. commented,
this sort of announcement is what you do when you don't think that the law has in fact been broken. If he had any evidence of law breaking he'd be acting not via announcement. So I think that it is just a bit of clown-like bluffing, serving up red meat for the partisans, but little else.Now lest you think that Roger Pielke, Jr., is a typical left wing climate science ideologue, you really ought to check out what a real left wing climate science ideologue, Joe Romm, has to say about Piekle, whom Romm classifies as a climate skeptic.
sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices.This theory does not explain why Edward Teller, long an icon scientist for the American political right, made no qualms about his acceptance of the AGW theory in a speech to the American Chemical Society in 1957. Nor was his 1957 speech the only time Teller focused on AGW. Thirty years later, Teller wrote,
While the magnitude of the climatic impact of greenhouse gases is currently uncertain, the prospect of severe failure of the climate, for instance at the onset of the next Ice Age, is undeniable.Clearly then Teller was no anthropogenic climate change skeptic. Thus the notion that climate change is a left wing hoax is preposterous. Teller came up with his own solution to climate change, a solution that involved geo-engineering, rather than windmills.
There have been plenty of serious scholarly reports that have exonerated Climate scientist from the charge that their conclusions are the product of of professional misconduct.
In a report that criticized some of Michael Mann's findings, but exonerated him of misconduct charges, The National Research Council acknowledged: “There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other “proxies” of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, . . . The researchers concluded that the warming of the Northern Hemisphere in the last decades of the 20th century was unprecedented in the past thousand years. In particular, they concluded that the 1990s were the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year. Their graph depicting a rise in temperatures at the end of a long era became known as the “hockey stick.” The Research Council committee found the Mann team’s conclusion that warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last thousand years to be plausible, but it had less confidence that the warming was unprecedented prior to 1600; fewer proxies — in fewer locations — provide temperatures for periods before then. Because of larger uncertainties in temperature reconstructions for decades and individual years, and because not all proxies record temperatures for such short timescales, even less confidence can be placed in the Mann team’s conclusions about the 1990s, and 1998 in particular.
A Penn State committee stated: “The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.
More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.
In addition a 2006 report by the National Academy of Science found no scientific misconduct by Mann.
Any attempt to try Dr. Michael Mann, or almost any other climate scientist, would see a parade of witnesses with unquestionable scientific credentials, including Nobel Prize winning scientists, who will state that Dr. Mann has engaged in valid scientific research, and that his findings were not the product of scientific misconduct.
Yet the Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, attempted to pillage a University of Virginia warehouse, in hopes of uncovering some evidence that Dr. Mann had done something wrong. What evidence did Mr, Cuccinelli have to justify his belief in Mann’s misconduct? According to Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr., absolutely none. Despite being told by Judge Peatross, that there was no objective grounds for asserting that Dr. Mann had engaged in any misconduct, Cuccinelli has launched yet another witch hunt investigation of Dr. Mann. Cuccinelli is now demanding the right to rummage through all of Dr. Mann's university of Virginia emails for a seven year period when Man was associated with the University of Virginia, as well as his professional working documents. Paradoxically, the research that Cuccinelli wants to investigate has nothing to do with climate change. It has nothing to do with Dr. Mann's famous hockey stick, nor was Dr. Mann the principle investigator. In short, Cuccinelli is looking for any excuse to discredit Mann.
Attorneys for the University of Virginia have responded to Cuccinelli's latest fishing expedition with a counter filing that alleges Cuccinelli's sweeping demands are not based on any specific allegations of wrongful conduct, that they demand access not only to Dr. Mann's paper history, but all documents too and from Dr. Mann by 38 other scientists and scholars, but curiously not, the principal investigator of the research project, or of co-investigators other than Dr. Mann. The UVa lawyers also allege that Cuccinelli's engaged in impermissible infringement on academic freedom.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science viewed the treatment of Dr. Mann as
“a search for some basis on which to discredit these particular scientists and findings, rather than a search for understanding.”Clearly we need to begin to speak of the persecution of Dr. Mann. The fact that right wing crackpots don’t like Dr. Mann’s conclusions does not mean that he has committed major scientific errors let alone engaged in deliberate misconduct.
Republicans like Inhofe, Palin, and Cuccinelli are not the only American politicians who have engaged in clownish, silly, anti-science behavior. When the National Academy of Sciences found that the Indian point nuclear power plant was of vital importance to the New York state electrical supply and to the state's economy, then State Attorney General and now Govenor elect Andrew Cuomo, pronounced the report "baloney”, proving that his contempt for science and scientists is at least equivalent to Inhofe's and Cuccinelli's.
Cuomo's anti-science, hysterical attempt to paint the Indian Point Reactor as dangerous will ultimately backfire on him. Likewise, the disgraceful Republican attempt to target distinguish scientists like Michael Mann with witch hunting excursions, will eventually cost the Republican party dearly.
We can accurately describe Inhofe's and Cuccinelli's treatment of Dr, Mann as a persecution. But Dr, Mann is likely to have the last laugh on his persecutors. One sure way to establish your name in the history of science is to be targeted, like Galileo, by an anti science progrom. And by linking themselves to the persecution of Mann, Republicans would see attached to their party no small infamy.