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The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Bullying Ways

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Maybe it was the ship of climate researchers that got stuck in the ice on their way to measure the effects of global warming on the South Pole. Maybe it was Miami not being submerged by the end of 2015. But Americans have begun to develop a healthy skepticism when it comes to the most extreme claims of the climate warriors.


Hysterical predictions that haven’t panned out have taken a toll on the credibility of scientists, and one would think environmentalists would want to be more careful about how they state their case going forward. Just 39 percent have “a lot of trust” in information received from climate scientists, according to a Pew Research poll released this week. Only 28 percent say they believe climate scientists understand the causes of global warming, and 19 percent say climate scientists know what should be done to address it.

Moreover, all those trend lines are moving away from the alarmists. Americans increasingly believe they’ve overstated their case and that massive government interference in the economy is not necessary to further understand the problem of climate change and address it.

This would seem to be good news – limiting the money wasted on non-productive efforts to address the problem in a conjured climate of fear and doubt.

But there’s a lot of money in the global warming fear game, and the people who make that money don’t intend to give up easily. This explains the “investigative reporting” initiative led by former Washington Post editor Steve Coll from his new outpost at Columbia University that attempted to tie Exxon-Mobil to some kind of campaign to mislead the public about the dangers of global warming.


It explains the ill-fated and now embarrassing campaign led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to prosecute Exxon-Mobil for allegedly deceiving investors about the impact of global warming on their future earnings and to go after policy groups, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, that question the orthodoxy.

And it explains another recent development – an intimidation campaign launched by the Union of Concerned Scientists to force the American Geophysical Union to stop accepting donations for research from Exxon-Mobil.

If Exxon-Mobil is involved in truly resolving these issues, if it is funding research that may reveal truths not acceptable to the enforcers of the orthodoxy, the “scientists” of the UCS want no part of it. It’s not just a matter of saying only approved things; it’s also getting money only from approved sources.

“Exxon-Mobil has long behaved shamefully in response to the scientific consensus of climate change and the urgent need for emissions reductions that AGU has forcefully communicated,” read a letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists to the AGU board. “We teach our children not to prevaricate; we should expect no less from corporate leaders.”

Behaved shamefully … by standing with more than half the people in America in disagreement with the Union of Concerned Scientist’s views on global warming.


It’s troubling but not surprising the Union of Concerned Scientists would behave this way. From its founding on northeast college campuses during the Vietnam War to now, it always has approached science more as a policy debate than a truth-seeking endeavor.

One of its first big stunts was a one-day research stoppage at MIT in 1969 to protest the amount of research being performed there in partnership with the U.S. military. It attempted to paint virtually every scientific finding of the Bush years as compromised and even circulated a petition in 2004 saying the administration “has continued to distort and suppress science.” It pushed a story about how antibiotics given to animals we eat will make humans resistant to treatment from these medicines until it finally had to admit defeat and back off.

The Union of Concerned Scientists curiously seeks to enforce what it sees as the consensus view on climate but refuses to acknowledge the solid consensus view that genetically modified organisms are safe. It says genetically engineered crops “have the potential to cause a variety of health problems and environmental impacts.”

Its brethren in the scientific community can’t even pretend to go along with this. One called UCS’ stance “at best wildly misleading and at worst an all-out fabrication.” Another wrote: “It would be nice if a leading, highly trusted scientific group held itself to the same evidence-based standards it holds others, but that is not the case.”


But that’s the thing. The Union of Concerned Scientists is not actually dedicated to informing citizens about science. It is dedicated to promoting Democratic Party policy initiatives and has been for so long that nearly all its political contributions going back nearly 40 years have gone to Democrat Party candidates.

Why does this matter? Who cares whether this group of scientists back Democrats or Republicans or even whether it seeks to bully the American Geophysical Union into turning down contributions from Exxon-Mobil?

It’s because we need to be able to believe in science, to trust its conclusions with regard to policy.

This is much more than a rivalry among eggheads in lab coats. Lives hang in the balance. It would be nice if the UCS could hold itself to the standards it holds others or at least try to live up to its name.

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