Paul Greenberg

Whenever any dissent from their dogmas is expressed, the high priests of the Cult of Climate Change have a simple response. Shut up, they explain.

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The spirit of the whole enterprise was summed up in an email from the all too ample archives of the Climategate scandal. The email emphasized the need to keep the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change free of any dissenting views: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to define what the peer-review literature is."

If some balky scientist didn't toe the climate-change line, then his article simply wouldn't make the official report. As if it had never been written. Problem solved. As neatly as it was by the notorious hockey-stick graph that turned out to be too neat to be credible.

The current state of the debate over climate change, its causes and effects, was put into just a few comprehensive words by that eminent political scientist Randy Newman: "It's a jungle out there/ Disorder and confusion everywhere...." Which is what happens when scientists decide they have to be politicians, activists, propagandists or all of the above in a righteous cause, or at least a self-righteous one. They wind up getting carried away, and their judgment vanishes along with their ethics.

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After all, anything's fair in love and war -- and debates over climate change. The result isn't science but ideology.

See the misadventures of one Peter Gleick. And, before him, the whole, encyclopedic saga of Climategate with its cache of emails showing scientists being anything but scientific. Instead, they sounded like a cabal of Grand Inquisitors determined to protect the faith by expelling any heretics from their closed ranks.

It's a story as old as Galileo's trial, and the climateers' attempts to suppress dissenting opinions may prove just as futile. For no matter how determined the censors are, some scientist somewhere is going to refuse to shut up. Much like Galileo Galilei, after being forced to recant his heresy about the Earth moving around the sun, is said to have muttered under his breath: Eppur si muove! And yet it moves.

These days a professor may not lose his head for saying what he believes but his academic tenure. Or he may find he can't get his research published. Even if censoring him requires monkeying with a memo or redefining the whole peer-review process. Yet some scientists will speak up anyway, if only in private. Or maybe at a small, intimate gathering sponsored by the Heartland Institute.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.