AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter
The investigation was launched by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) following the revelations that the research of Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory was secretly financed by the fossil-fuel industry, including Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and Southern Company. Soon testified before Congress in 2003 questioning the scientific consensus on fossil-fueled global warming.
Grijalva sent letters to the universities of seven other academics who have been Republican witnesses challenging the climate-science consensus, asking for testimony-related financial disclosure. Seitter responded by condemning the investigation.
"Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers," Seitter wrote in the AMS response. "Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom."
Not mentioned by Seitter is that six of the seven targets of the Grijalva investigation are AMS members.
Judith Curry was elected a Fellow of AMS in 1995 and a councillor of AMS in 1997. John Christy received a Special Award from AMS in 1996, and was elected a Fellow in 2002. David Legates has been the faculty advisor to the Student Chapter of AMS and is an AMS certified consulting meteorologist. Richard Lindzen has received AMS's Meisinger and Charney Awards and was a member of the AMS Council. Robert Balling is a member and frequent presenter at AMS conferences. Roger Pielke Jr is an AMS member.
Pepperdine and American Enterprise Institute historian Steven Hayward is the only investigative target not in the American Meteorological Society.
These AMS members are notable for their public denunciation of the scientific community and specific scientists, including other members of AMS.
Below are some examples.
"The problem is that Obama is listening to scientists that are either playing politics with their expertise, or responding to a political mandate from the administration (probably a combination of both). Not just administrators in govt labs (e.g. [Gavin] Schmidt, [Tom] Karl), but think of the scientist networks of John Holdren and John Podesta: to me the scariest one one is [Michael] Mann to [Joseph] Romm to Podesta." - Judith Curry, 1/21/15
"When you're an alarmist, being wrong, lying, cheating, misleading the public and killing jobs simply do not count against you — even when the allegedly human-caused global warming stopped in 1996." - David Legates, 10/16/13
"[The hacked University of East Anglia email correspondence] is clear proof of what we have suspected: That these thugs have strong-armed and subverted the peer review process by demanding they be reviewers of papers critical of their work, removing editors who are not predisposed to their views, and even threatening to boycott journals that publish papers with which they disagree.” - David Legates, 1/18/10
"Because this issue has policy implications that may potentially raise the price of energy significantly (and thus essentially the price of everything else), the U.S. Congress should not rely exclusively on the U.N. assessments because the process by which they were written includes biased, false, and/or misleading information about one of the most murky of sciences – climate." - John Christy, 3/31/11
"[The Draft National Assessment on Climate Change] is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science. . . . History tells us that when scientists willingly endorse sweeping governmental agendas fueled by dodgy science, bad things soon happen." - Robert Balling, 4/15/13
"It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going." - Richard Lindzen, 9/28/13
"Current global warming alarm hardly represents a plausible proposition. Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, the failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from climategate and other instances of overt cheating." - Richard Lindzen, Congressional testimony, 11/17/10
Hill Heat has previously compiled a list of dozens of attacks made by Roger Pielke Jr, a political scientist, against climate scientists.
Roger Pielke Sr, Pielke Jr's father and another climate scientist who has testified before Congress rejecting the climate science consensus, was elected a Fellow of AMS in 1982. Pielke Sr was a member of the AMS Committee for Statements on Weather Modification. AMS's official statement on climate change was issued in August 2012, after significant delay. Pielke Sr was a likely source of such delay, as he strongly advocated for changes to weaken the statement. Pielke Sr has accused fellow AMS members including Tom Karl, Ben Santer, Tom Peterson, Tom Wigley, and Peter Thorne of "inappropriate" behavior, "collusion," and "conflicts of interest" to suppress dissenting views [his].
This is not the first time the executive director of the AMS has criticized efforts to hold climate deniers publicly accountable.
Seitter previously criticized the science-activist organization Forecast the Facts for "apply[ing] public pressure" on "broadcast meteorologists who are identified as 'deniers' based on views they have expressed with respect to climate change."
Dozens of television weather reporters who have attacked climate science and scientists are AMS members. At least twenty television weathermen who publicly reject basic climate science are AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologists, the society's seal of approval granting them scientific legitimacy in their role as weather and climate communicators.
"The AMS maintains that peer-review is the appropriate mechanism to assess the validity and quality of scientific research," Seitter wrote, "regardless of the funding sources supporting that research as long as those funding sources and any potential conflicts of interest are fully disclosed."
The pursuit of that disclosure is, of course, the stated purpose of Grijalva's investigation, as the scientific community failed to ensure such disclosure in the case of Willie Soon.
According to the AMS bylaws:
Members should conduct themselves in an ethical manner and reflect dignity and honor on their profession. Members should base their practice on sound scientific principles applied in a scientific manner. Members should not direct their professional activities into practices generally recognized as being detrimental to, or incompatible with, the general public welfare. Members should refrain from making exaggerated or unwarranted claims and statements.
Either the claims made by AMS and the rest of the global scientific community are exaggerated, unwarranted, and detrimental to the general public welfare, or the claims of the academics under investigation are. Either the burning of hundreds of billions of tons of fossil fuels is disrupting the climate and threatening the public welfare, or the global scientific community has been corrupted into deceiving the general public into policies that would unnecessarily transform global energy production through massive government intervention. Either the climate conspiracy theorists are ethical AMS members, or all of the other members are.
For decades now the AMS has looked the other way and pretended this fundamental conflict within its ranks does not need to be resolved.
The American Meteorological Society seems uninterested in maintaining the ethical standards of its members and defending scientific integrity. Its executive director is compounding the error by criticizing Rep. Grijalva for taking action to do just that.
UPDATE: The AMS letter has been endorsed by industry-funded science denier Steven "Junkman" Milloy. In a tweet linking to Seitter's letter, Milloy wrote, "The new climate CONSENSUS is that skeptic persecutor @RepRaulGrijalva is an idiot."
Climate-disinformation academics (clockwise from top left): Willie Soon, David Legates, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Steven Hayward, Roger Pielke Jr, Richard Lindzen, John Christy
Over the weekend, multiple news organizations reported on the undisclosed funding of Harvard-Smithsonian's Dr. Willie Soon by Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, and other greenhouse polluters. "There are just so many things that we do not know about how the climate really works and what are the factors that cause it to change," Soon testified before the U.S. Senate in 2003, "to really jump to the conclusion that it will all be CO2."
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is asking the universities of seven academics, some of whom are climate scientists, others social scientists, who are part of a small stable of repeat Republican witnesses on climate science and policy.
Soon and the targets of this investigation have appeared at least three dozen times before Congress over the past twenty-five years to question the scientific need to limit greenhouse pollution.
"I am hopeful that disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institution's name and assist me and my colleagues in making better law," Grijalva wrote. "Companies with a direct financial interest in climate and air quality standards are funding environmental research that influences state and federal regulations and shapes public understanding of climate science. These conflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions. My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships."
The letters request the institutions' disclosure policies, drafts and communications relating to Congressional testimony, and sources of external funding for the academics in question.
The disclosure requests are needed because Congressional "truth in testimony" rules require witnesses to disclose government funding sources, but not private or corporate funding. Under Republican control, the rules are unevenly implemented, with not-for-profit witnesses required to submit pages of additional disclosures, while corporate-sector witnesses are not.
The seven academics who dispute the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming who have been asked to disclose their funding are (dates of Congressional testimony in parentheses):
- David Legates, Department of Agricultural Economics & Statistics, University of Delaware climatologist (6/3/14, 7/29/03, 3/13/02)
- John Christy, University of Alabama atmospheric scientist (12/11/13, 9/20/12, 8/1/12, 3/31/11, 3/8/11, 2/25/09, 7/27/06 (video), 7/20/06, 5/13/03, 5/2/01, 5/17/00, 7/10/97)
- Judith Curry, Georgia Institute of Technology climatologist (1/16/14, 4/25/13, 11/17/10, 4/26/07, 7/20/06)
- Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric physicist (11/17/10, 5/2/01, 7/10/97, 1991 (Senate), 10/8/91)
- Robert C Balling Jr, Arizona State University geographer (3/6/96; North Carolina Legislature 3/20/06)
- Roger Pielke Jr, University of Colorado political scientist (12/11/13, 7/18/13, 7/20/06, 5/16/07, 1/30/07 (video), 7/20/06, 3/13/02)
- Steven Hayward, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University historian (5/25/11, 10/7/09, 4/22/09, 3/12/09, 3/17/99)
Update: Further appearances by Curry, Pielke Jr, and Christy in 2006 and 2007 have been added (h/t Dr. Curry).