Energy & Environment

Meteorologists warn of ‘chilling effect’ from Democrat’s probe of climate research

The American Meteorological Society is warning a top House Democrat that singling out funding provided to certain climate scientists “sends a chilling message to all academic researchers.” 

The meteorological society said it is committed to transparency, but took issue with letters sent by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) this week asking universities to provide documents on the funding that was provided to seven professors for climate research. 

{mosads}”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,” director of the meteorological society, Keith Seitter, wrote in a letter to Grijalva on Friday. 

Seitter said Grijalva’s request “impinges on the free pursuit of ideas.”

Grijlava’s inquiry came after The New York Times revealed Harvard professor Willie Soon received more than $1.2 million from the Koch Foundation for his research. Soon broadly questions the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to humanity.

The Koch Foundation is bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, two politically active conservative donors who run a private oil and gas company.

Soon did not comment to the Times about the Koch’s backing but has said corporate funding does not influence his research.

Critics say the report raises broader questions about whether fossil fuel companies are secretly bankrolling efforts to undermine climate change science.

“If true, these many not be isolated incidents,” Grijalva said in his letters.

The meteorological society, however, says peer review is the “appropriate mechanism” to check the “validity and quality” of research. 

Senate Republicans are joining the meteorological society in pushing back on Grijalva.

Led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading skeptic of climate change research, Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to the same universities saying they are “deeply concerned” by the Democrat’s request.

“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” the Republicans wrote.

They said the request for universities to disclose funding was “wholly inappropriate.”

“We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond.”

— Updated at 2:04 p.m. 

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