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Posted at 10:03 PM ET, 10/ 9/2010

Politics and science don't mix

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Michael J. McPhaden
Seattle

I cheered Albemarle County Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr.’s August decision to reject Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s demand for private e-mails and other documents related to the research of a former University of Virginia professor who studied climate change. Now, I am dismayed that Mr. Cuccinelli has renewed his probe [“Climate research legal fight heats up,” Metro, Oct. 4].

Judge Peatross’s original decision was clear that Mr. Cuccinelli’s first subpoena lacked merit. Since Mr. Cuccinelli has stated publicly that he does not believe that human activities are responsible for global warming, his persistence raises concern that an elected official might be using the power of his office to pursue a personal agenda rather than to defend his state’s interests.

Political intervention in scientific debate harms the public good. The scientific process has produced human flight, life-saving drugs, telecommunications, abundant food, and cleaner water and air. The same process is helping us understand how and why the climate is changing, the risks involved and options for managing those risks.

If political pressure squelches scientific research, climate change will not magically disappear, but the objective knowledge needed to inform good decisions will. The University of Virginia should continue to resist unwarranted pressure from the attorney general.

The writer is president of the American Geophysical Union.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | October 9, 2010; 10:03 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, environment  
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Comments

This is probably only a real problem in the U.S. The GOP is still trying to impose the practice of equating politics with religion. As long as politics and religion go so hand-in-hand, then yes, politics - like religion - will have no relevance to or business messing with science. Yet these glassy-eyed fools would drag us all to Hell if it meant pretending things like creationism had anything to do with science. When will America wake up from her trance-induced slumber?

Posted by: BillShroyer | October 9, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

The judge was wrong. That Cuccinelli "might" use his power is not a fact but a supposition. The fact is that the taxpayers paid for the research and ALL of the results including "emails and other documents" belong to the taxpayers. If the professor wants to return the funding then he can keep the data private.
The only way that global warming can be reversed by human intervention is by nuclear winter.

Posted by: kaga1 | October 10, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

It is remarkable that Prof. Mann is still being harassed by anti-science politicians, when his most prominent critic is now under investigation by George Mason University for academic misconduct. Edward Wegman, a statistician with no scientific background, somehow managed to convince gullible believers that Mann's work was flawed, and Mann has been the unfair target of criticism ever since. Read more in Friday's USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/10/wegman-plagiarism-investigation-/1

Posted by: RealSkeptic | October 11, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

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