Stephen Milloy, op-ed in The Financial Post, Aug. 2, 2006
California Attorney-General Bill Lockyer is apparently trying to position California as a leader in the movement to silence scientific debate.
The State of California has filed a request in federal court to force automakers to disclose all documents and communications between the companies and the so-called "climate skeptics." California accuses these skeptics of playing a "major role in spreading disinformation about global warming."
The underlying litigation is a lawsuit by General Motors,
DaimlerChrysler Corp. and the Association of Automobile Manufacturers against the state of California challenging its greenhouse gas emissions limits for new cars, light-duty trucks and sport-utility vehicles (Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Catherine Witherspoon, No. 04-6663).
California has been joined in the lawsuit by environmental activist groups including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense.
In a pretrial discovery motion, California and the environmental groups asked for: "All documents relating to both global warming and to any of the following individuals: S. Fred Singer, James Glassman, David Legates, Richard Lindzen, Patrick J. Michaels, Thomas Gale Moore, Robert C. Balling, Jr., Sherwood B. Idso, Craig D. Idso, Keith E. Idso, Sallie Baliunas, Paul Reiter, Chris Homer [sic], Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Frederick Seitz, Willie Soon, and Steven Milloy, including but not limited to: a. All documents relating to any communications between you and these individuals, and b. All documents relating to your relationship (or the relationship of any automobile manufacturer or association of automobile manufacturers) with any of them, including but not limited to payments directly or indirectly from you or any other automobile manufacturer or association of automobile manufacturer to any of them."
The state then goes on to quote from Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On.
"Ever since climate change took center stage at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Pat Michaels and Robert Balling, together with Sherwood Idso, S. Fred Singer, Richard S. Lindzen, and a few other high-profile greenhouse skeptics have proven extraordinarily adept at draining the issue of all sense of crisis. They have made frequent pronouncements on radio and television programs, including a number of appearances by some of them on the Rush Limbaugh Show; their interviews, columns, and letters have appeared in newspapers ranging from local weeklies to The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In the process they have helped create a broad public belief that the question of climate change is hopelessly mired in unknowns.
"The tiny group of dissenting scientists have been given prominent public visibility and congressional influence out of all proportion to their standing in the scientific community on the issue of global warming. They have used this platform to pound widely amplified drumbeats of doubt about climate change. These doubts are repeated by virtually every climate-related story in every newspaper and every TV and radio news outlet in the country.
"By keeping the discussion focused on whether there really is a problem, these dozen or so dissidents -- contradicting the consensus view held by 2,500 of the world's top climate scientists -- have until now prevented discussion about how to address the problem."
California then asserts: "As set forth above, defendants are entitled to review the documents most likely to contain internal dissent at the manufacturers and the most likely such documents are those dealing with the tactics of entities like the GCC [Global Climate Coalition] and individuals like the 'climate skeptics.' "
The automakers responded by stating: "The so-called 'climate skeptics' are not on trial in this case, and the court should resist defendants' attempt to put them on trial. Nor does this case require the court definitively to resolve questions regarding 'global warming' writ large. At most, as plaintiffs have stated before and will state again at the risk of redundancy, the only relevant issue in this case with respect to global warming is the much narrower issue of what impact, if any, the A.B. 1493 Regulations will have on global warming. To adjudicate this issue, the court will need to assess the greenhouse gas reductions that the A.B. 1493 Regulations will cause and then compare these reductions to the proffered experts' view about how much this level of reduction will affect the global climate. In the context of this battle-of-experts, defendants' attempt to plumb the plaintiffs' files for documents regarding defendants' hit-list of 'climate skeptics' is beside the point."
There are at least three points to make here.
First, California and the global warming lobby doesn't like what the skeptics have to say and, by virtue of this sort of intimidation, is apparently out not only to silence the skeptics but to make sure that no one dare support the skeptics lest supporters be implicated as aiding and abetting thought crimes against California-approved, politically correct global warming science.
Next, I wonder whether Attorney-General Lockyer disclosed to the judge that Gelbspan is a rather dubious character -- for example, he misrepresented himself as a Pulitzer Prize winner on the jacket of The Heat Is On. Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer, nor was he ever even nominated.
(Click here for a response to Milloy's slander.)
Finally, A-G Lockyer has a track record of trying to silence scientific debate. In 2001, for example, the pro-gun control Lockyer gagged California state experts who opposed Lockyer's dubious plans for pre-sale ballistics fingerprinting.
This is no way to decide a trial -- or a scientific debate. In both instances, however, the merits of the case seem beside the point.
Steve Milloy is publisher of junkscience.com.