Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Scientists Object to Intellectual Freedom

Libraries define intellectual freedom as the public’s right to examine all points-of-view. Here’s a list of climate scientists who are trying to block your access to alternative perspectives.

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A few days ago, 54 allegedly “leading climate scientists and museum experts” attached their names to An Open Letter to Museums from Members of the Scientific Community. This is a highly polarizing document that splits the world into good guys and bad guys.

The signatories describe themselves as “members of the scientific community” who “devote our lives to understanding the world and sharing this understanding with the public.” Excuse me, but earning a handful of science degrees doesn’t place you in a special category of humanity. You’re still subject to the same ego-trips and short-comings as everyone else.

Lots of us spend our lives “understanding the world” and sharing that understanding with the public. Any academic in any field, any journalist, filmmaker, or blogger can say the same. The people who signed this letter are overwhelmingly employed by taxpayer-funded institutions. Which means they aren’t devoting their lives to science out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re doing what they do in exchange for a pay cheque.

The letter tells us these people “are deeply concerned” that some individuals who give money to museums and who sit on museum boards “profit from fossil fuels.”

Fossil fuels happen to make our world go round. They power our hospitals, heat our schools, and ensure the safety of our food supply via refrigeration. They transport our seniors to medical appointments, our kids to karate lessons, and enable us to expand our horizons through intercontinental travel.

There are downsides to everything, and fossil fuels are no exception. The only place in which we don’t have to make tradeoffs, in which we aren’t compelled to accept the good with the bad, is a non-existent fantasy world.

These self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-appointed busybodies want to transform those who work in the fossil fuel industry into social pariahs – and they aren’t shy about wielding their “scientific expertise” as a weapon:

Drawing on both our scientific expertise and personal care for our planet and people, we believe that the only ethical way forward for our museums is to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation. [bold added]

Let me say this again: holding a science degree doesn’t mean you care about the planet more deeply than the rest of us. Nor does it give you special insight into ethical behaviour.

The letter alleges – but provides no proof of any kind – that some of the money earned by people in the fossil fuel industry ends up funding “groups denying climate change science.” So what? If the science of climate change is sound, it will survive these challenges. If not, it will evolve.

Ultimately, this is a terrifying document. It shows us a group of scientists taking a stand against intellectual freedom – a concept that the American Library Association defines as the public’s right to be exposed to all points-of-view.

In the name of science, the people listed below want to shut down free inquiry, free debate, and free speech. It would be wise not to forget their names:

  • James Hansen, Climatologist; former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology; Director, Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University.
  • Joseph J. Romm, Physicist, Climatologist; former Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy; founder and editor of Climate Progress.
  • Kevin E Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Lead Author 2001 and 2007 IPCC report which won a Nobel Prize.
  • Mike MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute.
  • Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Greg Laden, Paleoanthropologist, Independent Scholar, Writer at National Geographic Scienceblogs.
  • Brad Johnson, Science writer; MS geosciences, MIT
  • Scott A. Mandia, Asst. Chair /Professor – Physical Sciences, Suffolk County Community College
  • Dr. John Abraham, University of St. Thomas, School of Engineering
  • Danny Harvey, Professor of Geography and Climatology, University of Toronto, IPCC Convening Lead Author and Lead Author; Deputy Editor of Climatic Change.
  • Henry Pollack, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at the University of Michigan. Advisor to the National Science Foundation, IPCC member.
  • Jason Box, Climatologist, Professor of Glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Co-author of 2007 IPCC report which won a Nobel Prize.
  • James Powell, Geochemist; former President of the Franklin Museum of Science and former President and Director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.
  • Bob Corell, Climatologist; Head of US Office for the Global Energy Assessment; former Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation.
  • Eric Chivian, founder and Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
  • George Woodwell, Ecologist; Founder and Director Emeritus, Woods Hole Research Center.
  •  Calvin B. DeWitt, Environmental Scientist, Co-founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network, President of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists, and Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Dr Stuart Parkinson, Climatologist; Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility, UK
  • Robert R. Janes, Ph.D. , Archaleologist, Museologist, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Museum Management and Curatorship
  • Matt Lappe, Paleoclimatologist, Environmental Hydrologist, Executive Director, Alliance for Climate Education.
  • Sarah Kornbluth, Biologist; Affiliate of Bee Database Project, American Museum of Natural History and Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers University
  • Sergio Jarillo de la Torre, PhD, Anthropologist, American Museum of Natural History
  • Simon L Lewis, Reader, Global Change Science, at University College London and University of Leeds.
  • Roger Fouquet, Principal Research Fellow, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  • Emmanuel Vincent, Assistant Project Scientist at the University of California, Merced
  • Jonathan Oppenheim, Professor of Quantum Theory, University College London.  Royal Society Research Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
  • David Webb; Emeritus Professor; Previously Professor of Engineering, Leeds Metropolitan University
  • Dr Martin Zaltz Austwick, Physicist, University College London
  • Mona Mehdy, Molecular biologist, faculty at University of Texas at Austin
  • Judith S. Weis, Professor Emerita, Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
  • Jonathan Tunik, Former Evaluation Studies Associate for the American Institute of Physics.
  • Aerin Jacob, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Applied Conservation Science Lab, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • Shaun Lovejoy, Professor of Physics, McGill University, Canada, formerly at the Climate Diagnostics Centre of NOAA
  • Lindy Weilgart, Professor of Biology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Sophie Levina, MD, PhD and Doctor of Medical Sciences.
  • Susan Spencer, Solar Scientist, Founder/President of ROCSPOT.org
  • Erika Crispo, PhD, Evolutionary Ecologist and Biologist, Pace University, NYC
  • Lucky Tran, PhD, Biologist, University of Cambridge
  • Damian Alexander Stanley, Ph.D., Neuroscientist, California Institute of Technology
  • Hanah Chapman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College, CUNY
  • Mark Mason PhD, former primate evolution researcher, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Nicholas R. White, Independent Industrial Scientist, Albion Beams, Inc.
  • David Grinspoon, Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute; Former Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Department of Environmental Studies and Science, Ithica College, Ithica, New York
  • Steven R. Dickman, Professor of Geophysics, Department of Geological Sciences, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York
  • Daniel H. McIntosh, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Harry Frank, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology, Associate Professor Emeritus of Earth and Resource Science, University of Michigan-Flint
  • Lawrence Licklider, PhD Chemistry, University of California, Riverside
  • Andrew H. Maxwell, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Montclair State University
  • Luca Lombroso, Weather broadcaster, DIEF Geophysical Observatory, Italy
  • Richard H. Gammon, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry and Oceanography, University of Washington; Former Head of CO2 Research Group, Global Monitoring for Climate Change (GMCC), NOAA, Boulder, Colorado
  • Dr. Julianne Heinlein, Aquatic Ecologist, Research Associate, Department of Zoology, Michigan State University
  • Andrew S. Johnson, PhD, Research Scientist, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

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see also: Do Joe Romm and Fellow Climate Scientists Think Sexual Misconduct is OK?

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