25 February 2010

Red Meat

James Inhofe (R-OK) is an irresistible attraction to many in the climate debate. A commenter has pointed out that the Senator has released a report -- his latest of many -- in which he indicates that his staff will be looking at whether climate scientists have broken any laws, based on the CRU emails. In my view this sort of announcement is what you do when you don't think that the law has in fact been broken. If he had any evidence of law breaking he'd be acting not via announcement. So I think that it is just a bit of clown-like bluffing, serving up red meat for the partisans, but little else.

Senator Inhofe is not alone in serving up red meat for his partisan followers. Over at ClimateScienceWatch, Rick Piltz focuses on the Inhofe report to also use these scientists for his own partisan purposes. In his comments he adds a good deal of intensity to the issue, writing about "trials" and "possible referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution." This is just as over-the-top as the Senator's report, and just as unhelpful -- if Piltz's concern is to improve the role of climate science in policy and politics (I assume that such improvement is not high on Senator Inhofe's agenda).

Talking about the prosecution of scientists is a good way to get a debate going, and this thread will meet that demand (keep it respectful, please). However, it should be realized that the actions of Senator Inhofe and those who take his bait miss what matters most here, and that is not individual scientists and their personalities or characters, but rather, the integrity of the institutions in which they reside. Those who wish to discuss issues of science policy as related to climate science, please use the comments in the post on my debate with Bob Watson. Those wanting more of a food fight can use this post. I know where I'll be paying most attention.