Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

Ask U.VA to Protect Its Scientists from the Political Witch Hunt

with 11 comments

Please read this Washington Post editorial and consider sending a message to University of Virigina officials.  I sent the letter posted here to President Teresa Sullivan, Carol Wood (Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs), Richard Kast (Associate General Counsel), and Susan Harris (Secretary to the Board of Visitors).  Academic freedom is at stake and we do not want another climategate false controversy which is what I see coming.

Dear Dr. Sullivan:

I am deeply concerned about the agreement made between your institution and American Tradition Institute (ATI) which would allow ATI access to personal email correspondence and other documents from Dr. Michael Mann and more than thirty other scientists. I fully support the changes requested by Union of Concerned Scientists, American Geophysical Union, American Association of University Professors, and Climate Science Watch to better protect the private correspondence between professional scientists and to prevent exempted documents from being released.

Dr. Mann’s temperature reconstruction that shows modern climate warmer than at any time in the past millennium (the hockey stick) has been duplicated by many international scientists using different types of data and different types of data analyses. There is no reason to suspect any wrong-doing on his part or the others.

There is more at stake here than just academic freedom. Human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are warming the planetary system and increasing risks to public health, national security, and financial stability. There is no scientific debate about this. The United States National Academy of Sciences (2010) stated “a strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems…. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

Unfortunately, the general public is not getting this message because those that oppose pricing carbon are sowing doubt in order to delay action. Leading the charge of manufactured doubt are political think tanks such as Chris Horner’s ATI and Competitive Enterprise Institute as well as the anti-climate science media outlets such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Their tactics are working. As the science grows stronger each year polls shows the public becoming less certain. It has gotten so bad that some Republican candidates for President have backtracked from their earlier positions that humans were causing most of the observed climate change.

The only reason that Chris Horner and Kenneth Cuccinelli wish to see private emails is because they hope to find something that, when taken out of context, could be spun to create a false controversy. Make no mistake about it. If they get their hands on private email messages from Dr. Mann and others, they will try to use those emails to manufacture a false conspiracy just like emails stolen from Climate Research Unit in November 2009. Those innocent emails were leaked out of context to sabotage the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and they are still being referred to today by US Congressman in House hearings who wish to delay action. It would be a shame to see “climategate” replayed again two years later with this time University of Virginia being in the spotlight instead of University of East Anglia.

Please do not trust them to honor the gag order.

Sincerely,

Scott A. Mandia
Asst. Chair/Professor of Physical Sciences
Suffolk County Community College
Selden, NY 11764

Cc: Carol Wood, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs
Richard Kast, Associate General Counsel
Susan Harris, Secretary to the Board of Visitors

The letter from UCS, AGU, AAUP, and Climate Science Watch I refer to in this post.

Please consider sending a letter.  The contact info for these people can be located via their search page.  (I do not wish to publicize those email addresses here.)  If you do send a letter please post it as a comment on this blog post and then congratulate yourself on taking initiative.

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Written by Scott Mandia

August 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

11 Responses

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  1. Most disturbing.
    For what it’s worth I’ve copied this post over at http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com.
    I hope to come up with my own letter shortly.

    Thank you for getting this information out there.

    Peter Miesler

    Peter Miesler

    August 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

  2. Before rushing to endorse this attempt to block citizen’s access to the results of government-financed research, one should read (or re-read) President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961 – see http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwightdeisenhowerfarewell.html). Eisenhower was concerned lest “a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” He went on to worry that public policy might “become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    Was he warning of efforts such as that by Professor Mandia to block the citizenry from viewing government-sponsored information relevant to policy issues affecting their welfare? Make your own judgment; however I argue that the argument to restrict the global warming debate only to a “scientific-technocratic elite” is worrisome. (see http://cei.org/op-eds-articles/eisenhower%E2%80%99s-second-farewell-warning).

    Comments and criticisms solicited.

    Fred Smith

    Fred Smith

    August 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

  3. Nonsense, Fred. This is a witch hunt being pushed by people like you who can’t stand that the evidence points to AGW. Mann’s data is all public; anybody who wants to can check his work. No government sponsored scientific research is being blocked from public access or scrutiny. Can’t say the same for the plagiarized Wegman report. Why aren’t you pushing for them to release their data? Subsequent research independently done by others have buttressed Mann’s work, while expanding on it. Cuccinelli and company are fishing for dirt to spin their way in correspondences that lie outside of legitimate FOI requests. It’s a bullying tactic to try to silence the science and scientists. Where’s the probable cause for going through the private emails? There is none, though Cuccinelli laughingly tried to suggest that because Mann made a statistical error in a more than decade old paper (one that did not alter the main conclusions of the work), by listing that paper in his CV when applying for later grants he was knowingly using bad science to get money. Really. If a scientist makes a mistake in a paper somewhere, and cites that paper he’s guilty of fleecing the public? You support a chilling extension of government power into the heart of scientific debate. For shame.

    Robert Murphy

    August 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  4. Fred, I’m familiar with Eisenhower’s speech, in fact was recently revisiting it, see http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10612/

    It’s ironic hearing a representative of the Competitive Enterprise Institute trying to hide behind Eisenhower’s warning. Looking at your funding it appears CEI is intimate with that self-destructive military-industrial complex Eisenhower was warning Americans about.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php

    “With more than a $3 million annual budget, CEI is supported by both conservative foundations and corporate funding. Known corporate funders in addition to ExxonMobil include the American Petroleum Institute, Cigna Corporation, Dow Chemical, EBCO Corp, General Motors, and IBM. One of CEI’s prominent funders is conservative Richard Scaife who has provided money through the Carthage and Sara Scaife Foundations. CEI is also heavily supported by the various Koch brother foundations.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    I wonder why won’t Heartland Institute share all of their personal emails leading up to their latest conference so we the people might possibly ascertain what HI’s real motivations were and how the available information was structured for presentation at the conference?
    ~ ~ ~

    Besides one doesn’t need personal emails and working papers to establish if the published science is accurate.

    citizenschallenge

    August 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm

  5. I hope I’m not being inappropriate but thinking about Fred Smith’s above comment inspired me to do a little recollecting regards CEI. One old article in particular seems as though it does fit into this discussion because it outlines the subtle misdirection and manipulation that’s so evident in Fred Smith’s above words, but in another incarnation:
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2009/10/13/phil-jones-and-ben-santer-respond-to-cei-and-pat-michaels-attack-on-temperature-data-record/

    “Phil Jones and Ben Santer respond to CEI and Pat Michaels attack on temperature data record”
    Posted on October 13, 2009 by Rick Piltz ~ ClimateScienceWatch.org
    ~

    “Prof. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK and
    Ben Santer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory comment

    in response to a petition to EPA
    by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Pat Michaels,
    which misleadingly seeks to obstruct EPA’s process
    in making an “endangerment” finding on greenhouse gases.

    This new CEI tactic is to call into question the integrity of the global temperature data record and, by implication, the integrity of leading climate scientists.”

    {…}
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    The above is just a tease, read the entire article, it’s educational. . .
    if draining and depressing… it leaves me shaking my head wondering how does respectability confront ruthlessness?

    citizenschallenge

    August 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm

  6. Well, here is an offering, right now it’s my latest draft, I put it out here because I hesitate sending it and want to chew on it a little longer. . . and to see if anyone has any comments or critiques.

    =========================================
    Teresa A. Sullivan, President
    University of Virginia
    Madison Hall
    president.sullivan@Virginia.EDU

    Honorable President Sullivan,
    I’m just a little guy watching this show from the sidelines. Admittedly, I have nothing of substance to add, that hasn’t already been said many dozens of times over.

    Instead, I simply wish to share some frank personal observations and opinions regarding this concerted attack on academia that is going on between Cuccinelli and now American Tradition Institute and the University of Virginia. It’s important because this same sort of attack on science is happening with greater frequency, and therefore I wish to offer a few thoughts for your consideration.

    What about America’s historic respect for personal freedom and privacy? Is that worth defending?

    Academics are thinkers, most are also gregarious, that is, with those who are intellectually compatible. Personal discussions and musing and tossing out wild conjectures… investigating problems from every angle… playing devil’s advocate… sharing information and mistakes… chewing on and digesting every scrap of information they come across. Then they go to work following established protocols in their scientific work and publications. Like most motivated self-aware individuals they strive to do the best work possible. Their goals are accuracy in their observations, leading to an educated realistic understanding, always striving to continue filling in missing details and building upon their current knowledge.

    And there are lots of them always looking over each others shoulders, cross checking, looking for and following new leads, or gaps, or perceived mistakes in others work. Lot of cross checking and balances going on within that global community of scientists.

    It is telling that the Cuccinelli, ATI, et al. have presented no actual indication of actual fraud,
    they simply have faith that if they dig deep enough they will find something… anything, to help them prove themselves right. What’s right about that?

    May I ask: Why are personal emails and working notes suddenly important for discovery regarding the voracity of the published global temperature records? Specially considering how many varied sources support the basic temperature reconstruction with a high degree consistency.

    Have the neocons turned us into Russia?

    You are the University of Virginia, I like to imagine a proud university, a bastion of thought and intellectual freedom, yet you are getting ready to allow obviously politically dedicated folks… mind you, folks with a passionate sense of mission for stopping any Global Warming awareness, into the closets and dresser drawers of anyone whom they have a grudge against? What’s up with that?

    Where is the defense of scientific integrity in that?

    Sincerely,

    citizenschallenge

    August 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

    • Thank you for taking the time to compose and send this message. I just wish more would follow your lead.

      Scott Mandia

      August 19, 2011 at 9:43 pm

  7. Oops, forgot I posted that draft, sorry.

    Well this is closer to what I’m going to send. Though I won’t sent it till tomorrow, might change a bit more, but I think I’m pretty close.

    And yes Scott, it is sort of heartbreaking, the massive apathy that’s filled our country.

    ===========================
    Honorable President Sullivan,

    I’m just a little guy watching this cynical attack on academia that has been playing out between AG Cuccinelli and now the American Tradition Institute vs. the University of Virginia from the sidelines. 

    You certainly know the facts better than I do so I won’t presume to add anything to that.  Still considering these sorts of attacks on science are happening with greater frequency I feel compelled to share some frank personal observations regarding the important precedent you will be setting as you move forward.

    Have you given due consideration to the type, that is motivation, of the desired search being attempted?  
What about Americans, including scientists, historic respect for personal freedom and privacy?  
Isn’t that worth defending with vigor?

    Academics are thinkers, most are also gregarious, that is, with those who are intellectually compatible.  Personal discussions and musing… tossing out wild conjectures… investigating problems from every angle… playing devil’s advocate… sharing information and mistakes… chewing on and digesting every scrap of information they come across.  Then they go to work following established protocols in their scientific field and publications.

    Like most motivated self-aware individuals they do their best work possible.  Their goals are accuracy in their observations, leading to an educated realistic understanding, always striving to continue filling in missing details and building upon their current knowledge. 

    Moreover there are many of them, always looking over each others shoulders, checking and cross checking, looking for and following new leads, or gaps, or perceived mistakes in others work.  Given the global community of competing scientists there are many checks and balances at work that despite all the blogosphere/media talk simply have not been shown to be broken.

    It is telling that the Cuccinelli, ATI, et al. have presented no actual indication of actual fraud. They simply have faith that if they dig deep enough they will find something… anything, to help them “nail” Mann.  What’s right about that?

    May I ask: Why are personal emails and working notes suddenly important for discovery regarding the voracity of the published global temperature records?  Specially considering the many varied independent studies that support Mann et al’s basic temperature reconstruction with a high degree consistency. 

    It’s this flaw in ATI/Cuccinelli’s logic that they should be pressed on.  What are they trying to find that is relevant to the scientific debate?  They have produced nothing, instead resembling bullies who resent the scientists work thus resort to witch-hunts for information that has no bearing on science, but might offer some useful dirt anyways.  Why would you consent to such an unwarranted intrusion at your university?

    You represent the University of Virginia, I like to imagine a proud university, a bastion of thought, intellectual freedom, and unfettered learning, yet sounds like you are getting ready to allow obviously politically dedicated folks… mind you, folks with a passionate sense of mission for stopping any Global Warming awareness, into the closets and dresser drawers of anyone whom they have a grudge against?  What’s up with that?

    Where is the defense of scientific integrity in that?

    Sincerely,
    Peter Miesler

    citizenschallenge

    August 21, 2011 at 12:01 am

  8. [...] and other scientists, it is clear that people such as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli and Chris Horner of Competitive Enterprise Institute and American Tradition Institute, who are still seeking [...]

  9. [...] For background on this case, see: http://climscifoi.blogspot.com/2011/09/ati-uva-intervention.html and my letter to U.VA President Teresa Sullivan. [...]

  10. [...] Ask U.VA to Protect Its Scientists from the Political Witch Hunt (08/12/11) [...]


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