Saturday, August 11, 2007

Global warming has become a big-ticket item in the eyes of its supporters. At stake are research funds, jobs and the ability to control lives all over the globe. Most climatologists agree that over the last century, the Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1 degree Celsius.

The controversy centers around the source of the temperature change — manmade or natural causes. Global warming alarmists hold the manmade emissions of CO2 drives climate change, and they seek to suppress any dissent suggesting other causes.

The Washington Times reported July 16 that Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), sent a threatening missive to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington: “Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”

The Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture Department, Commerce Department and Energy Department all are members of ACORE. Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, held hearings on the matter. Following the hearings, the senator sent letters to the agencies asking them to “reconsider their membership in ACORE.”

Speaking at the American leg of Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, said, “Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies.” Referring to skeptics of manmade global warming, he said, “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.” Traitors are either shot or imprisoned. I wonder which Mr. Kennedy has in mind for the skeptics.

The University of Oregon’s George Taylor holds the title of state climatologist. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants to take that title from him. The governor said Mr. Taylor’s skepticism interferes with Oregon’s stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists.

Earlier this year, the Weather Channel’s Dr. Heidi Cullen called for decertifying weathermen who were skeptical of manmade global warming. Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts offered his solution for the “bastards” of what he termed the global warming “denial industry”: “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

“Global warming driven by greenhouse gas pollution (but ultimately by greed, racism and lying) is killing our Planet,” says an article in Media With Conscience. It adds, “Our Planet, the Earth, is under acute threat from Climate Criminals threatening the Third World with Climate Genocide and the Biosphere with Terracide (the killing of our Planet).” Mr. Inhofe maintains a Web site citing these and other many examples of attacks on skeptics of manmade global warming. (See 04373015-802a-23ad-4bf9-c3f02278f4cf).

This kind of suppression of different ideas and dissent is simply the tip of a much larger iceberg that has many roots on today’s college campuses. Suppression of ideas is far more dangerous to our civilization than manmade global warming — real or imagined. Given the horrible history of brutal attempts to silence people who have different ideas or dissent from the conventional wisdom, those of us in the academic and scientific communities should openly repudiate and condemn the efforts to silence global warming skeptics. This is particularly so in light of the mounting evidence that manmade CO2 emissions have little or nothing to do with climate change. (See id=c5e16731- 3c64-481c-9a36-d702baea2a42).

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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