Climate Deniers Champion Persecution, Not Proof

Galileo's tomb in Tuscany (Flickr's Rob Glover)

In 1600, the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for his then heretical belief that the Earth rotated about the Sun.  And it took nearly 360 years before Galileo was finally pardoned by the Pope for his scientific studies demonstrating the same. While we no longer literally burn scientists at the stake, they still face persecution for upsetting the apple cart.

Take the case of Dr. Michael Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, who authored a key paper demonstrating the earth warming at a rapid rate over the last century. Some of his e-mail correspondence was stolen, and rather than the thieves being found and prosecuted, the deniers of climate change including the self-appointed Chief climate change denier Senator James Inhofe, went after Mann. They never provided a shred of scientific data disproving Mann’s conclusion.

Last month, yet another of so many investigations that I’ve lost count, completely cleared Mann of any wrong doing. In fact, the repeated exonerations of Mann lend even greater validity to his climate change research, which has withstood far greater scrutiny than the fact that the oil and gas industry has contributed more to Senator Inhofe’s campaign chest than any other industry.

Or take the case of Dr. Charles Monnett, who published a paper on his observations of drowned polar bears. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formerly the Minerals Management Service (MMS) which permits oil and gas wells, investigated Monnett for some completely unrelated, alleged, and obscure violation of ‘procurement’ processes.

Nonetheless, misguided investigators grilled him for hours about his polar bear observations, confiscated his field research notebooks, and even inquired about his relationship with Al Gore. Feeding off the seriously off-track investigation, the climate deniers claimed that climate change must not be real because of the investigation. BOEMRE put Monnett on administrative leave and suspended scientific research on polar bears that he’d had some involvement in. Then, last month the investigation stalled, BOEMRE hasn’t formally charged him with anything, he’s back at work, and the suspension of the polar bear research was reversed.

Climate deniers should do the research, provide the evidence, and publish in peer-reviewed scientific publications. The problem is, climate deniers don’t have the evidence. So instead, they persecute the scientists, just like Galileo was persecuted for his unpopular, but correct science.

Isn’t it time for a change? The press should stop giving ink and air time to deniers using junk science. Real climate science demonstrates the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions now; the Earth can’t wait even a few more years, let alone the nearly 360 years it took to vindicate Galileo.