Scientists skeptical of climate-change theories say they are increasingly coming under attack — treatment that may make other analysts less likely to present contrarian views about global warming.
“In general, if you do not agree with the consensus that we are headed toward disaster, you are treated like a pariah,” said William O’Keefe, chief executive officer of the Marshall Institute, which assesses scientific issues that shape public policy.
“It’s ironic that a field based on challenging unproven theories attacks skeptics in a very unhealthy way.”
Two climatologists in Democrat-leaning states, David Legates in Delaware and George Taylor in Oregon, have come under fire for expressing skepticism about the origins of climate change. Oregon Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski is publicly seeking to strip Mr. Taylor, widely known as the state’s climatologist, of his position because of his stance.
“There has been a broad, concerted effort to intimidate and silence them,” said Myron Ebell, director of energy and global-warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “It’s the typical politics of the hard left at work. I think these are real threats.”
CEI, which previously listed Mr. Legates as an “adjunct scholar,” has published multiple reports questioning the science behind global-warming theories and has been criticized for accepting donations from companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp.
Mr. O’Keefe said his organization doesn’t deny the existence of global warming but questions the methods used by individuals and groups advocating for new government restrictions to combat the phenomenon.
“We have never said that global warming isn’t real,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “No self-respecting think tank would accept money to support preconceived notions. We make sure what we are saying is both scientifically and analytically defensible.”
In an interview with local NBC affiliate KGW-TV, Mr. Kulongoski, a Democrat, said he hopes to take away Mr. Taylor’s job title because his views do not mesh with the political opinions of most lawmakers in Oregon, including the governor.
“He is Oregon State University’s climatologist. He is not the state of Oregon’s climatologist,” Mr. Kulongoski said. “I just think there has to be somebody that says, ‘This is the state position on this.’ ”
Mr. Taylor was appointed to the position in 1991, when Oregon’s legislature created a state climate office at the college. Mr. Kulongoski wants to change the position to a governor-appointed one. State Sen. Brad Avakian, a Democrat, is sponsoring a bill supporting such a move.