Have you no shame, Sen. Inhofe?

America's most prominent global warming skeptic calls for a criminal investigation of climate scientists

Published February 23, 2010 4:01PM (EST)

More fallout from ClimateGate:

Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is calling for a "criminal investigation" into global warming.

[The] Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works believe the scientists involved may have violated fundamental ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and, in some cases, federal laws. In addition to these findings, we believe the emails and accompanying documents seriously compromise the IPCC -backed "consensus" and its central conclusion that anthropogenic emissions are inexorably leading to environmental catastrophes.

If you'd like a detailed response destroying the thesis that the IPCC consensus on climate change has in any way been compromised by the minor errors revealed in recent months, go here.

If you'd like to know what Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who currently runs the Department of Energy thinks, a a recent interview in the Financial Times offers a nice contrast to Inhofe's bloviations.

FT: On the climate threat, do you think there is legitimate concern now about the fact that some of the science, even if it's not flawed, it's been misrepresented, which has undermined the case in many people's eyes.

SC: First, the main findings of IPCC over the years, have they been seriously cast in doubt? No. I think that if one research group didn't understand some tree ring data and they chose to admit part of that data. In all honesty they should have thrown out the whole data set. But science has a wonderful way of self-correcting on things like that. What the public doesn't understand is that as you go forward there will be these things and they will self correct. On balance if you look at all the things the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of experts convened by the United Nations to advise governments in responding to global warming] has been doing over the last number of years, they were trying very hard to put in all the peer-reviewed serious stuff. I've actually always felt that they were taking a somewhat conservative stand on many issues and for justifiable reasons.

FT: But as a distinguished scientist yourself, don't you think that the IPCC crossed the line between scientific research and advocacy?

SC: I don]t think so. My impression about watching them working is that it is one of the things where they have been held up to a very high standard.

FT: In the last three months.

SC: No, since the beginning. Since report number one. Their reports get reviewed. Lots of people are asked to take shots at this in a very serious way that I think is all right because what they're saying is so important. It has economic consequences worldwide. They should be able to say that this is serious science and take a somewhat conservative view. If you look at the climate skeptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It's very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want. In the end, the core of science is deeply self checking.

Finally, if you're wondering how to keep up with the non-stop barrage of pseudo science and abysmal ignorance -- latest example: widespread misinterpretation of the significance of a retraction of a paper about rising sea levels -- well, there's an app for that.

At this point, you just to have to choose your reality. I will choose Steven Chu and endlessly self-checking , self-correcting science over James Inhofe every single day.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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