Anthony Watts' blog WUWT is known for inconsistency, its collation of pseudo-science claptrap from around the climate deniosphere, attacks on climate scientists and double standards. I've not posted much from there the past few days because I've been busy. Also because many of the recent WUWT articles are bemoaning a witch hunt, or what passes for a witch hunt at WUWT.
Are climate contrarians witches?
So what is the WUWT definition of a witch hunt? Is it the endless requests for personal emails by right wing lobby groups that Anthony Watts frequently hails on his blog? Is it court cases to push for release of personal emails from climate scientists, like of Michael Mann here and here and here and lots more. Is it harassment of James Hansen to list all his payments from speaking engagements - like here?
No. Those aren't witch hunts in the mind of WUWT deniers. In the latest of a series of articles on the subject, Anthony Watts wrote (archived here):
The letter below from Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona speaks to the worst sort of witch hunt tactics that we’ve seen yet.
The worst sort of witch hunt tactics? Crikey.
Yes, in the upside down world of science deniers, frivolous law suits harassing and hounding climate scientists are not witch hunts. A witch hunt in WUWT terms is a request by Rep. Raul Grijalva for details of funding sources of a handful of contrarians who have testified about climate at US senate committee hearings. The request is about the funding sources of a few climate scientists and others who aren't climate scientists (but were asked by Republicans to testify about climate stuff).
Anthony Watts is so incensed that he's already published several articles on the subject - and it only happened a couple of days ago. He also made an allusion to Michael Mann, who has been the subject of endless vitriol at WUWT and elsewhere, and numerous witch hunts - from Ken Cuccinelli, from the American Tradition Institute and others. Anthony wrote:
I suspect that pulling on these threads will backfire on Grijalva, as this will motivate a lot of people to join the fight against this sort of “climate McCarthyism” The letter is reproduced in full below, with the original PDF also available. It’s like he’s got Mann’s #kochmachine
McCarthyism? That's going a bit too far. You can read the letters and about whom details were requested at HillHeat.com, with the dates of each person's testimony to US government committees. Each letter provides a specific example of testimony that prompted the letter. For example, the letter relating to David Legates refers to him testifying to Congress and questioning human impacts on climate as well as referring to his links to the Heartland Institute.
David Legates' silly nonsense has been mentioned here at HotWhopper too. He told a US Senate committee that CO2 is not just "plant food", CO2 is animal food!
I've also written previously about arguably misleading testimony from Roger Pielke Jr and Judith Curry and John Christy - all of whom were the subject of these latest letters.
Was it a wise move for Rep. Raul Grijalva to ask for funding sources and other details? Perhaps not. Academics should generally be free to work without fear of harassment, at least not without good cause. Does a single letter constitute harassment? I'd say not. It's better described as a fishing expedition (unless Raul Grijalva already knows the answer). In any case, whether the nature of their testimony is "good cause" or not is a matter of opinion. For the people who have attempted to mislead the US government, I don't know that the funding sources would explain their motivation. In most cases it's probably ideology that fuels it. On the other hand, I see no big problem in academics, who testify to the US government, stating their sources of funding. That would apply to anyone at all, not just climate contrarians and disinformers.
Could these letters be described as a witch hunt? Some people might say so. Does it rank up there alongside Senator Inhofe's threatening climate scientists with criminal prosecutions? Not at all. Does it rank alongside Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), calling for scientists to be blacklisted from participating as contributors or reviewers of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report? Not on your nelly. Is it in any way comparable to the vindictive and persistent harassment of Michael Mann by Ken Cuccinelli and others? Definitely not.
WUWTers can rant and rave all they like. The next time Anthony Watts writes about FOI requests and frivolous lawsuits harassing scientists, let's see whether he protests it as a witch hunt.
That's about all I've got to say on this matter.