[Joe Barton]'s goal wasn't scientific clarity but political intimidation. That was the conclusion of Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican who chairs the House Committee on Science, which also claims jurisdiction on climate change issues. He wrote a blistering July 14 letter to Barton: "My primary concern about your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review. This would be pernicious." He added that the precedent set by this effort "to have Congress put its thumbs on the scales of a scientific debate" was "truly chilling."
Barton's investigation may be a last roundhouse swing in this bash-the-science strategy. Perhaps it pleased energy and natural resource interests, which gave Barton $523,099 in his 2004 congressional race, and Exxon Mobil, which has given him $17,500 since 2001. But this battle is ending. A consensus is emerging among responsible Republicans and Democrats. The basic science on climate change isn't in doubt any more. The question is what to do about it.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.