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Late Night: Climate Change and Banana Republicanism

Last week Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma issued a bizarre “Minority Report” of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in which he called for a criminal investigation of American climate scientists:

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) today asked the Obama administration to investigate what he called “the greatest scientific scandal of our generation” — the actions of climate scientists revealed by the Climategate files, and the subsequent admissions by the editors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)….

Just prior to a hearing at 10:00 a.m. EST, Senator Inhofe released a minority staff report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which he is ranking member. Senator Inhofe is asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether there has been research misconduct or criminal actions by the scientists involved, including Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

On the science, Inhofe is, of course, wrong. There is no sane reason to doubt that the 2007 IPCC report is essentially sound: none of the recent “revelations” change that, because they are all nonsense. “Climategate” was always an absurdly hyped pseudo-scandal where the only discernible “crime” was the computer hack on which it was based. The famous “Hockey Stick” model of long-term temperature change has not been “debunked,” but has in fact been vindicated, and anyway is not the Central Pillar of the case for human-caused climate change.

So it is tempting to just laugh at Inhofe — the man is a clown. But as all small children know, clowns are always much less funny than they are incredibly frightening.

Let’s put this in perspective: a sitting United States Senator has called for a criminal probe of scientists because he does not like their conclusions. And also because he has decided to accept wholesale the allegations, insinuations, and downright misrepresentations of certain journalists who have amply demonstrated their utter unaccountablity and lack of anything remotely resembling a scruple.

This is all, in a word, appalling. And while Inhofe is surely grandstanding, playing to the Crazy Choir, let’s face it: if the GOP regains the Senate, Inhofe will once more be chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. With subpoena power.

It sounds crazy — and it is. But, frankly, it really could happen here, scientists compelled by law to appear before a Senate committee to answer the question “are you now, or have you ever been, someone whose research said humans are making the planet warmer?”

This is, quite frankly, precisely what James Inhofe says he wants us to do, and I think it would be a dangerous mistake not to take him at his word. Because, then, who would there be to stop him? His party? Centrist Democrats? Sensible Opinion Writers for Respected Publications?

Sorry, kids, but we’re all going to have to get up off our asses about this. We need a climate bill with teeth, now. And we need to defend our scientists. Vigorously. Now.

[Note: disagreement is OK, but please no disagreement that fails to address a point made in the post, contains no links, or is a conspiracy theory of the “climate science is a hoax so scientists can get rich” class. Thanks. –Thers]

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A community college professor from upstate NY. My wife & I have 347 children, all of them rotten.