DEBATE: Are Congressional Progressives Misusing Their Office to Scapegoat Climate-Change Deniers?

Attempts by Far-Left House Members to Stifle Debate Are Reminiscent of McCarthy era

By Merrill Matthews

(Tribune News Service/TNS) – Who’s the best person to lead a witch-hunt? A witch, of course.

Keep that in mind when you hear progressive members of Congress claiming they are investigating whether research grants have influenced the views of several well-respected environmental scientists. Because in the public’s mind, the people most likely to sell their opinions to the highest bidder aren’t scientists but … politicians.

Progressive critics are trying to smear the character and reputations of some environmental scientists because they disagree with other environmental scientists — and activists.

While there are some differences, in general the witch-hunted scientists question whether the earth is warming, or whether it will warm as much or as fast as some predict, and how much of a role humans and fossil fuels play in that change.

Ironically, the ones being targeted happen to be on the correct side of the data — at least for the time being.

Global temperatures have remained relatively flat for the past 17 years, prompting The New York Times to ask two years ago, “What to make of a warming plateau?”

Climate-change debates can be very sophisticated, using complex scientific data that go way over the heads of most Americans — including the congressional smear-mongers, who, incidentally, are not themselves environmental scientists.

For example, a leading critic is Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who has an undergraduate degree in sociology.

Many of the environmental scientists on the pro-warming side also get research grants.

The Obama administration hands out more than $2 billion each year to scientists engaged in climate research. And you can bet that the ones most likely to receive those grants are those who agree with Obama on climate change. Do the critics believe those scientists are letting the money determine their views?

And let’s not forget that members of Congress also take donations — lots of them from major environmental groups. Should we ask if these witch-hunters are bought and paid for by their biggest campaign donors?

Here’s another question: Why don’t the media investigate who’s behind the money that funds many of the environmental groups and liberal politicians?

Last summer, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the former prime minister of Denmark, alleged that Russia was secretly funding the anti-fracking movement.

“I have met with allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-government organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas,” Rasmussen asserted.

Oil and gas revenue accounts for more than half of the Russian government’s budget. Might Russia be secretly funneling money to pro-environmental organizations and politicians in an effort to slow down U.S. energy production so Russia can sell more of its energy at a higher price?

The fact is that congressional smear-mongering is really a form of political bullying.

Members of Congress can target an individual, company or industry to create false impressions and cast doubts with little or no evidence — and get a lot of media attention doing it.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid recently conceded he lied when he accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of not paying his taxes. Reid is also engaged in smearing the Koch brothers, who give money to conservative groups.

The fact is that virtually all nonprofit research organizations (mine included) and many scientists receive donations and grants — often from multiple sources, including nonprofit foundations — to support their research, not to influence their conclusions.

The public should be outraged, but not at well-respected scholars and organizations engaged in open and public debate about climate change.

It should be outraged at elected officials who try to boost their own careers — and donations — by attacking others who know much more about a topic than the smear-mongers ever will.

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Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Irving, Texas.

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‘Deniers’ Cynically Take Millions From Far-Right to Smear Top Climate Scientists

By Wayne Madsen

(Tribune News Service/TNS) – The capital’s right-wing lobbying legions are far off-base charging that a handful of congressional progressives are conducting McCarthy-style vendettas against climate-change deniers. And they are super-hypocritical, as well!

After all, these ultra-conservative policy institutes, websites and pundits are funded out of the deep pockets of such environmental devastators as Koch Industries, British Petroleum, Freeport McMoran, Massey Energy, DuPont and North American Coal Corp.

The tens of millions of dollars committed to this “debunking” cause each year also support a number of scientists — including some at major universities — who shamefully attack the findings of such renowned climate scientists as James Hansen and Bill McKibben.

It was Hansen who added the gravitas of NASA research to prove that devastating climate change is a clear and present danger. And it was Hansen who reaped a whirlwind of vitriolic abuse from the pollution lobby for standing up to the climate-change deniers.

McKibben, the world’s leading environmental writer and the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Vermont’s Middlebury College, also has been attacked unmercifully by the misguided supporters of fossil fuels.

One can argue, as Hansen and McKibben have, about whether a cap-and-trade tax regimen is a proper method for dealing with climate change.

But what cannot be ignored are the overwhelming scientific facts that point to our planet passing a point of no return with regard to the effects of man-made global climate change. Consider the facts of just a few of many recent events:

— Australia has been dealing with an intense drought for a decade, and the lack of fresh water in Perth has resulted in that city being forced to desalinate sea water.

— An unprecedented drought in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a megacity of 20 million, and an epochal drought in California point to the unarguable drastic effects of climate change. Brazil is already considering how to deal with “water refugees,” and California, Arizona and Nevada may not be far behind.

Those who deny the planet is undergoing climate change from man-made pollutants claim that the climate scientists are Chicken Littles who are running around yelling, “The sky is falling!” However, it’s the climate-change deniers who are the veritable ostriches with their heads buried in the sand.

One of the chief ostriches is Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK, the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Inhofe’s cheap publicity stunt of tossing a snowball inside the Senate chamber after a snowstorm in Washington was supposed to be proof that there is no global warming.

However, it’s not “global warming” that’s the issue; rather, it is the weakening of weather-dependent currents like the Gulf Stream that is causing extreme fluxes from bitter cold to intense heat in the Atlantic Ocean and other maritime littoral regions.

Inhofe, the author of “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” relied upon the typical pejorative term “alarmists” used by “conspiracy theorists” to taint bona fide climate-change scientists who have proven their case in thousands of peer-reviewed papers and studies.

Inhofe’s snowballs and insults aside, the U.S. government did conclude that 2014 was the warmest year on record. That scientific fact, added to many other record-breaking metrics around the world, have some members of Congress, including Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., asking the right questions about what entities are paying for the “junk science” on climate change.

Grijalva is justifiably concerned for the welfare of the people in his district and state. With the Colorado River and Lake Mead running dry, Arizona cities like Phoenix, Tucson and Tempe, in addition to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, face an uncertain water future.

The congressional representatives from those and other climate-change-affected areas have every right to find out who is paying for the bogus science on a looming environmental catastrophe.

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Wayne Madsen is a journalist and author specializing in national security affairs and international relations.