Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Climate Wars and Sandusky

Who would have thought that convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky would end up being used in the midst of the climate change debate that goes on.

Regarding "Climategate", no less.

A Penn State researcher is threatening to utilize legal action over comments a writer used in a blog post on National Review last week.

In the original post on openmarket.org, pundit Rand Simberg equated researcher Michael Mann to the "Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet."

Classy, minus the c, l and y.

The comments were utilized in a Mark Steyn column on National Review, which lead Mann's attorney to fire off a letter to publisher Scott Budd, demanding a retraction and apology. The comments were stricken from Openmarket.org, which is run by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but still were on National Review as of Tuesday evening (screen shot for posterity below).

While there is still a level of debate over the whole "climate-gate" issue and whether data was botched intentionally for political reasons or not (and, for the record, Penn State said it was not), the use of Sandusky to try to score a cheap political point is a low blow.  One could almost argue slanderous but if not, it's still pretty dirty pool by someone who isn't even a climate scientist. Mann does have a right to defend his name in this instance given his employer and several other investigations from other climate scientists have cleared his as well.

The bigger point isn't the fighting between Mann and a rogue blogger and a pundit.  It's more the continued and unnecessary politicizing of climate discussion.  Whether or not you agree with how much human influence has been made on our climate, politicizing the issue has done little to further the discussion in the mainstream of the changes taking place in our environment and in our climate, regardless of man influence of purely cyclical factors or some level of in-between.  It frankly makes the "debate" an extension of political discourse in this country, which is pretty poor in many respects (not to make this post political).   Comments like this, regardless of which side they are coming from, are inappropriate and don't help not just political discourse but also serve as a low blow and a raw dig that was meant to do little more than score cheap political points.

Unfortunately, with climate, far too often political points are what matter for some.   If we could have more discussion on the level of what Cliff Mass provided last week in his discussion regarding Texas heat, climate science would look far less political and far more scientific. Cliff's discourse should be the goal.