- - Monday, March 16, 2015

Politics and science can be a lethal combination. When scientists armed with their version of new-age religion draw a policy line that all must toe, objectivity is banished. Climate-change Torquemadas in the U.S. Senate are designing an inquisition to punish organizations that question the government-approved global warming creed. Couched as a means to “request information,” the senators’ queries carry the malevolent tone of a letter from the IRS, seeking further information about a tax return. Fortunately, it’s not yet illegal to tell the senators where to go. (Using this strategy with the IRS is not advised.)

Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Barbara Boxer of California, all Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, dispatched letters last month to a hundred organizations “to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators.” Among the targeted groups are the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Heartland Institute and, of course, Koch Industries.

The senators base their questions on a series of newspaper articles with claims that a prominent solar scientist, Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, accepted funding from corporations and foundations (supporters of the fossil fuel industry), and “failed to disclose [that] when publishing his results.”

Dr. Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has presented evidence in op-ed commentary, some printed in this newspaper, that atmospheric temperatures are more a result of the sun’s intensity than human activity. Such evidence is anathema to the theologians of climate change, who argue that fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming. The record shows that temperatures leveled off nearly two decades ago. Dr. Soon has responded that his research violated no rule of disclosure policy set out by his employer, and the accuracy of his work has been subject to peer review.

Nevertheless, the senators suggest that a vast right-wing conspiracy (perhaps a branch of Hillary Clinton’s nemesis) is underway to undermine the global warming catechism, that dark and shadowy interests are buying scientific rebuttals to the doctrines of the church of climate change. Included in the information they “request” is a list of “funded research efforts … related to climate, climate change, global warming, environmental issues, air quality” and a score of other climate-related fields. Groups are instructed to provide the name of each recipient, his affiliation, amount of payment and a copy of the grant or contract. These senators from “the world’s greatest deliberative body” have fled from honest deliberations to the safety of the closed mind.

Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, a conservative Chicago-based think tank, replied to the senators that their request is “part of a campaign to stigmatize and demonize those who question the alarmist claims of Greenpeace and other far-left groups in the environmental debate.” He did not comply, and politely told them the information they seek is found on the organization’s website.

If senators are concerned about anonymous money influencing American energy policy, they could direct their investigative powers into serious allegations that Russian and Middle Eastern oil interests are funneling money through shell organizations to environmentalists opposed to such needed projects as the Keystone XL pipeline. The man-made global warming doctrine is key for the green-energy tycoons and their backers on Capitol Hill. Voters ranking the weather second-to-last among 15 concerns in a Gallup Poll last year suggests that Americans are just not that into the climate change religion. They’ve got hymns of their own.

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