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There were some remarkable letters sent last Thursday by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) of the Committee on Energy and Commerce that raise questions about the intimidation of scientists who have found the twentieth century to be anomalously warm. The letters are directed to three climate scientists and two administrators; especially the letters to the scientists (Michael Mann, Malcolm Hughes, and Raymond Bradley) call for information that is either already widely available or not germaine to questions of science. Keying off a 2/14/05 Wall Street Journal article that highlighted the work of climate contrarians Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, the letters ask for curriculum vitae, sources of funding, funding agreements, locations to data archives and other lengthy questions about data existence, data requests, explanations of “alleged errors” raised by McIntyre and McKitrick, and detailed questions about their science. More intimidating, it seems to me, is that the scientists are asked to explain their roles in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the leading body behind the consensus view of anthropogenic climate change.

Some of these requests are so detailed as to be nearly impossible to fulfill (for example, “provide the location of all data archives relating to each published study for which you were an author or co-author”).

This is unprecedented, as far as I know, and has the air of a scientific witch-hunt. This is at a time when the consensus view of manmade global warming is reaching an all-time high–even the U.S. Senate has expressed its sense that something needs to be done. It’s a story, I think, that bears close watching.

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