Climate Witch Hunt Now Official: Think Tank Subpoenaed

A meeting of Attorneys General.
A meeting of Attorneys General.

We’ve already seen the start of this, but it was only penknife rattling, a group of avaricious lawyers pushing their (wrong) version of climate physics. Yet the mix of greed and ignorance has turned poisonous.

Here’s the new headline: CEI Fights Subpoena to Silence Debate on Climate Change

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today denounced a subpoena from Attorney General Claude E. Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands that attempts to unearth a decade of the organization’s materials and work on climate change policy. This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore…

The subpoena requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information. It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, from 1997-2007, by April 30, 2016.

On March 30, 2016, Attorney General Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore, and attorneys general from Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, as well as Attorney General Walker, held a press conference in New York City to announce “an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combating climate change.” Schneiderman said that the group, calling itself “AGs United for Clean Power,” will address climate change by threatening criminal investigations and charges against companies, policy organizations, scientists, and others who disagree with its members’ climate policy agenda.

Perhaps you’re an environmental zealot and, in opposition to all evidence, believe what the climate models say and that global temperatures will soar a degree or so over the next century, the same sort of climatological difference as moving the 70 miles south from Mt Pleasant to Lansing, Michigan, returning the earth to a level when life was more fecund and widespread. Now, given your zealotry and given that this is a democracy, a system of government where everybody’s opinion on matters in which they have not the least expertise is required, like lawyers pretending to know radiative transfer and cloud parameterization, you will undoubtedly be happy that Government is sticking it to the private think tank CEI.

Why? Because you’re a zealot.

That being so, you won’t possibly understand anything else I have to say. Click here instead.

Attorney General of the Virgin Islands? Good grief. God bless the Virgin Islands, but this ought to show you how confident the mainland crew of ambulance chasers are. They don’t want their own names on an act which, though legal, is immoral and stupid. They’re behind it, however, because they like the idea of harassing CEI. At the least, it will cost CEI a packet, money which would have instead gone to something useful (defined as anything not involving politics).

At best, this will be a move pour encourager les autres, defined as people like Yours Truly, who have never received penny one from any energy company, or energy company affiliate; indeed global warming has only cost me money.

And even if, as sadly did not happen, Exxon gave me money for my opinion of the wild, persistent, glaringly obvious, non-ignorable, and by now exasperatingly plain errors in climate models, what business is that of the Government?

Only because the Government has decided what the science should be. And that the Government wants to punish those who disagree. And that the Government sees yet another in a long, unending sorry string of opportunities to put the squeeze on somebody with money. Evil.

Chance of success? I don’t mean of science, which has given up the fight. You haven’t heard from the stock of brains at universities, dependent as they all are on the titanic teats of toparchy, over this subpoena, have you? Where are they protesting that science has been damaged. Cowards. I mean, will the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands—mixing the one-true religion with the State! the horror!—-prevail upon CEI?

I’m guessing not, but what I don’t know about the law could fill a library. (This incident has not filled me with ambition to learn more law, either.) The blog Overlawyered (amen) says:

If the forces behind this show-us-your-papers subpoena succeed in punishing (or simply inflicting prolonged legal harassment on) groups conducting supposedly wrongful advocacy, there’s every reason to think they will come after other advocacy groups later. Like yours.

Incidentally, one of the key words the non-scientist of the Virgin Islands demands CEI search for in its emails is “global cooling.” Now if that isn’t revealing, I don’t know what is.

On global cooling, a phenomenon the Government was saying was true in 1971, this broadcast (at about 3 minutes in).


  1. Jeff Wood

    In some circle of Hell, Lysenko is smiling.

    I hope the CEI comes out fighting.

  2. It’s a representative democracy. You’ve been listening to Trump whine about how we are not behaving as a democracy when we aren’t one.

    The zealots also have children suing the government–a form of extreme child abuse if I’ve ever seen one. The child is merely a means to an end, not a true human being. Of course, with all the abortions, it had to come that children aren’t fully human either. They are just objects to be used.

    Actually, I don’t believe CEI is the object of this witch hunt—it’s the donors. A non-profit think tank is useless to the government, but the donors are great targets. Witness the IRS actions against PACS (which Congress held the usual hearings on and did NOTHING). Unpaid bloggers are useless, too. What are they going to get from you? Compare that to a rich donor to CEI.

    I wrote about this on my blog—it has been compared to the tobacco suit. The only objective of the tobacco suit was to get a new stream of income for the government. No one outlawed the deadly menace, they just taxed it. No one is going to outlaw global warming questioners—they are going to tax them. And just like with cigarettes, the money will not go to educating people on global warming, but instead to line the pockets of politicians.

    Note that Michael Mann has not prevailed against Tim Ball or Mark Steyn in spite of over five years of effort. He appears to have hoped to wear them out. If CEI wants to avoid this problem, I suggest they change names frequently and hide money in the same fashion as Democrats. Hillary makes millions running “charities”.

    Gary: Colleges have always been the propaganda capitals of the US and most countries. You have young, idealistic people NOT paying a thing to live and go to school in many cases. They have all the time in the world to be foolish and obnoxious and they need a target. It’s been true since at least the sixties in the USA, later in China and elsewhere, too. My question remains why the parents pay to have their kids brainwashed. If we ever figure that one out……

  3. Dr. Bubba

    The only proper response is a chuckle and the statement “No such documents exist that are responsive to this request.” Let them hold CEI in contempt.

  4. Gary

    Sheri: the parents just want them to get good jobs and be happy. The brainwashing is an added feature they aren’t really aware of, or if they do see it, it’s too pervasive to fight. The irony is that one of the premier goals of the university is to teach “critical thinking” while never examining the criteria for judgement.

  5. Gary: Sorry, not buying any excuses. When my niece lived with us, we knew more about what she was learning in school than her own parents did. We even got one teacher who was telling kids incorrect things about guns to go through a concealed carry class to learn about guns. If we could do it, others can too. Parents need to wake up and DO something. It’s not too pervasive to fight—it takes time and effort, but it can be done. If nothing else, just don’t pay for the child to be indoctrinated. Let them pay their own way. I’m just not going to agree that parents are blameless in this. The job of parents is not to make kids happy—it’s to teach kids right from wrong and create responsible adults. Sadly, too many just don’t care.

  6. Horrific example of climate change?? Science is dead. There are hundreds of studies on coral and many say it’s doing fine. If this is horrific, we have nothing to fear but the government driving us into poverty and desperation with their lies and deceptions.

    Did anyone actually read the papers? Exxon said the science was new and unsettled. It was.

    So where’s the RICO investigation into allegations of data manipulation in government funded agencies? There are many articles discussing this—if the government is deceiving us, shouldn’t they be slapped with a RICO investigation? Oh, I forgot. They want the MONEY. Sorry.

  7. Briggs


    A legal apology for government usurpation of science? And to think that critics warned about overreach with RICO. Sheesh.

    Even let yourself slip down the slope of law when you should thinking about physics is an admission of failure. The government’s asinine move has no excuse. In the entire history of science there has been nothing as stupid.

    Even accepting the false premise, with cigarettes the question was “Does smoking cause harm?” With climatology it’s not as simple as unschooled lawyers tell it.

    First question is, “How much of the change in climate has been caused by man?” Not a soul on earth knows the answer to that question. But the government lies and says it does know. The second question, for lawyers, is “How much of the change ascribed to humans caused harm and how much caused benefit?”

    And nobody knows that either. Many claim to know, but their claims are hot air because the models that purport to answer the first question have been proven wrong time and again and again and again and again some more.

    Shakespeare in Henry The Sixth had it right.

  8. In the entire history of science? Maybe not direct government intervention, but there was Galileo and the Scopes trial.

  9. Briggs,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Physics is really pretty clear that more energy getting absorbed by the surface than radiating away explains observed patterns of warming, so feeling pretty confident on the physics, per every national academy, physical science organization etc. I don’t promise to chase alternative physics, but if you have a favorite counter-theory – perhaps the elusive exception to the first law of thermodynamics? – I’m happy to hear it.

    “government usurpation of science … In the entire history of science there has been nothing as stupid.”

    Huh? “The” government doesn’t have particularly more to do with the multi-century history of climate science than it does with cosmology, geology or other areas of basic research. The world’s governments have tended to fund agencies studying the physical world, climate, weather, etc., which have contributed.

    ““How much of the change in climate has been caused by man?” Not a soul on earth knows the answer to that question.”

    It is widely accepted scientific knowledge that the majority of modern warming (since mid-century) is anthropogenic, from multiple causes but chiefly GHGs. See AR5 section on attribution.

    Perhaps you are arguing for “know” in the sense of “with zero uncertainty”. That is not the usual standard for scientific knowledge – or a necessary threshold for rational risk mitigation. The available evidence overwhelmingly argues the case. There is minimally no question that the strongest known energy influence on earth’s radiation balance is the warming influence of greenhouse forcing. Whether some undetected influence still exists is a fine question – but it is reasonable to expect that something capable of changing the temperature of an entire planet would be a relatively visible effect.

    “How much of the change ascribed to humans caused harm and how much caused benefit?”

    Read AR5 WG2, Impacts. There are examples of positive impact such as reduced cold mortality in some regions, local positive crop impacts, but the net summary of impact is negative and growing over time.

    “the models that purport to answer the first question have been proven wrong time and again”

    Frequently asserted, rarely supported. Current temps are just above the midpoint of model means; multi-decade trend was accurate to within 0.02°C/decade as of AR5, etc. No reason to assume physics isn’t playing out nicely within current range of understanding (which, granted includes some significant uncertainty, but uncertainty is relevant on both the low and high end of warming and impact.)

    “models have skilfully simulated many large-scale aspects of observed climate changes, including but not limited to the evolution of the global mean surface air temperature in the 20th century” (Raisanen 2007), “coupled models have been steadily improving over time and that the best models are converging toward a level of accuracy that is similar to observation-based analyses of the atmosphere” (Reichler and Kim 2008), “global temperature continues to increase in good agreement with the best estimates of the IPCC” (Rahmstorf et al 2012), “claim that climate models systematically overestimate the response to radiative forcing from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations therefore seems to be unfounded” (Marotzke and Forster 2015) etc.


  10. Briggs


    Galileo was one man, and he was thrown into deep kimchee for being a jerk. The Scopes trial is closer, but again, it was just one man.

  11. Briggs

    Geoff Price,

    You know not of what you speak. Models simulating anything is a necessary but far from sufficient condition on being able to make skillful predictions—which they do not. This proves we do not understand the climate well. End of story.

    I have much on this topic. See the Classic Posts, or use the Search Box.

  12. Sheri,

    “There are hundreds of studies on coral and many say it’s doing fine.”

    I have never heard of a comprehensive study of the state of world coral saying it’s “doing fine”, that is rather absurd. There are multiple stressors on coral. You are probably referring to some isolated study of a local coral at some point in the past finding no issues. That’s not the question.

    Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, “Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008”
    “Estimates assembled through the expert opinions of 372 coral reef scientists and managers from 96 countries are that the world has effectively lost 19% of the original area of coral reefs; 15% are seriously threatened with loss within the next 10–20 years; and 20% are under threat of loss in 20–40 years. The latter two estimates have been made under a ‘business as usual’ scenario that does not consider the looming threats posed by global climate change … current rates of climate change pose the greatest threat to the long-term sustainability of coral reefs and human coastal communities”

    “So where’s the RICO investigation into allegations of data manipulation in government funded agencies?”

    Where’s the evidence one is needed? This generally tends to be uninformed internet conspiracy nonsense, “Steve Goddard” type claims.

    The data is public. Temperature records are independently reproduced, just find the same results. See Berkeley Earth. Are you unaware why homogenization type adjustments are required?

  13. Briggs, I looked through a few classic posts. It will probably not surprise you that I think most of this is pretty standard internet anti-AGW stuff, i.e. not based on much and pretty easy to correct. Like others you have put a lot of work into this co-created view of a “world gone mad”, but there is an enormous amount of straw man, i.e. you are not in general very good about accurately relaying what the mainstream view in climate science actually is. Your work here lives in a bubble. It’s true, there has been a big break from reality somewhere, and it is either the world’s scientific minds and institutions who have had this break or it is this internet bubble you all live in that’s had a bit of a break. I consider the fact that you cannot accurately relay the theory, understanding and evidence as accepted by the scientific world at large to be a bad sign, I’m afraid.

    Some exception is your commentary on statistics, clearly your area of expertise, which I tend to find more interesting. As a quick reaction, I’d say your arguments are better used to skew silliness like “no statistically significant warming in N years!” vs. the (relatively straw man) arguments you are actually making about mainstream scientists.

    An honest question, you’ve clearly been at this for awhile. If you go back 15 years say, and then look ahead, are you surprised by the continued warming consistent with physics, the data coming back on Argo analyses showing continual ocean heating, the march of global records including 2016. Was there a point back then that you really thought the physics was made up, and surely the climate might start cooling, or at least level off? Today, do you think it is just luck that reality continues to march along consistent with what physics says should happen? I am just curious if, knowing what you know now, you would have gone down this same path. Of course, you are sort of committed now :), so probably not willing to revisit whatever base beliefs (political, I would guess, from your commentary) that set you down this path (i.e. being a dedicated climate science resister), but an interesting thought exercise.

    I’ve been around awhile myself. I remember when the big debate was whether warming was real, with the anti- camp dug in on urban heat islands. So many bogus claims discarded over the years, but there are always new ones being invented. “Pause” got a lot of mileage. Are you actively working on what’s next?

    Surely some of you tire of never quite being able to back up your claims, or being able to get reality to conform to the rebellion. Where are the pro-science rationalists among you?

  14. G. Price: You live under a rock, right? You still believe science is funded by uninterested parties and the truth is what is being sought. That died out shortly after you moved under the rock. Come out and check the real world.

    It is not “knowledge”, AGW as a threat to the planet is a pet theory with little or no evidence outside of models that don’t work. Besides, acceptance of a theory does not make it correct. Who voted? Why did they vote? Would they be fired if they voted wrong (think about that one—things have changed since you moved under that rock)? Inquiring minds demand to know.

    Read the science part of the IPCC paper, not the political part. The IPCC voted on how certain they were, too. Since when is science certainty done by vote? Check out changes made to make governments happy. Not very scientific, don’t you think. Show me where the models take into account all parts of climate and I’ll show you were new things are discovered on a regular basis, meaning we don’t know how climate works or what is causing any changes that may be occurring.

    Zero uncertainty is impossible. How about an actual prediction that came true versus the hundreds that have not. The standard for risk mitigation should be much, much higher than what climate science uses. Theirs is a chicken little approach.

    Strongest influence is water vapor, according to many global warming scientists. Not CO2.

    AR5 is a fantasy document when it comes to impacts. A psychic would probably be more accurate, although I will say the IPCC is doing a wonderful job of using very nebulous predictions that any fourth grader could make. Not really science.

    If models are improving over time, then we don’t know what we are doing right now. It’s that simple. We have only part of the information and no idea how much is right or how much is left out.

    Sorry you are not as widely read on coral as I am. Perhaps you can catch up and get back to me. Do you also believe polar bears are in trouble? Living under a rock is not good. You miss a lot of things.

    Same amount of evidence exists for temperature manipulation as for the RICO into oil companies—very little. But it’s the seriousness of the charge, remember. If anyone is messing with temperatures, we MUST find out and see if a lot of money is being made by advancing the myth. Some say climate change is a multitrillion dollar a year industry. We MUST find out if things are on the up and up. If anyone so much as questions, we must inverstigate.

    (Somehow I knew you’d get ATTP or a similar site into this discussion—what took you so long???)

    Briggs: Okay, the folks in Galileo’s day were more prompt in cutting off the competition and in the case of Scopes they were too. It was a smaller world back then. 🙂

  15. Price: Warming is real is NOT the same as humans are causing warming.

    Pro-science people are all over this blog. Too bad you’re not one of them. (As demonstrated by your lack of understanding of my comment above.)

    Interesting, though. It’s been a while since a true believer dropped in.

  16. fah

    Re: “ feeling pretty confident on the physics, per every national academy, physical science organization etc.”

    It is often claimed that every scientific society confirms the science of global warming. Let’s look at what policy statements by scientific societies and academies say or don’t say about the science of climate change. It may be helpful to clarify the role of scientific societies to understand that they do not adjudicate what is or is not “correct” within their disciplines. For a specific example, let’s look at the American Physical Society (APS). (I pick physics since you mention confidence on the physics and I am fairly familiar with APS policy statements. As in much of science, it is dangerous to glibly make general statements without examining the details and that takes time, so I apologize for the length of this post up front.)

    Many people are not aware of the principle purpose of scientific societies. I speak from direct experience as a long-time member of the APS, although I have been somewhat active in other more focused associations from time to time. Such societies are generally formed to promote the practice of the discipline which is their focus. A major part of that function is conducting meetings, communication, fostering student growth and participation, etc. The other major part of the function is to promote the funding of the discipline by advocating for larger budgets for research in the discipline. This is essentially a lobbying activity. Just as any business will refrain from making unnecessary political (policy) statements that may offend its customers, the APS leadership will not make any unnecessary statements that offend its primary sponsor, the U.S. government. I have participated in past society “lobbying” myself, i.e. coordinated visits of members of Congress to heighten awareness of members of the need for increasing or maintaining the support for research and student stipends. Such activities are typically timed to coincide with upcoming budget bills. The present administration has made it a stated policy that “there better not be any deniers here.” Consequently, a prudent leadership of a society lobbying to increase funding from that government would refrain as much as possible from including in its policy releases statements unnecessarily contrary to such a strongly held position. The purpose of scientific societies is NOT to arbitrate what is or is not scientifically established. They do NOT adjudicate what constitutes accepted “dogma” concerning the particular scientific discipline. That is done in the open literature by the scientists involved, on an item by item basis.

    The current policy statement of the APS on climate recently underwent a fairly contentious internal review, in which a number of members sought to change its purport to be more neutral and cautious with respect to the science of AGW.

    A seminar/workshop was held by the APS pursuant to its several year process re-evaluating the APS statement on climate change. The workshop was chaired by Steven Koonin, former DOE UnderSec for Science in the first Obama administration. He hails from MIT and Caltech, is a member of the National Academy and the distinguished JASON advisory group. Currently he is at NYU. The invited participants were Bill Collins, Judith Curry, Ben Santer, Isaac Held, Richard Lindzen, and John Christy, a mix of perspectives. All were asked and admirably adhered to a “just the science” approach. The full transcript is available here: [- -] (for some reason the comment software sees links as spam so I have tried to hide the link nature a bit with -] symbols)

    It is a long download and read, but well worth it. The chair, Koonin summarized the general outcome, with respect to the science, in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed titled Climate Science is Not Settled, found here: [-] and a brief reference to the article in Physics Today is here: [-]

    It makes for useful reading. References and background for the points Koonin makes in his WSJ piece can be found in the full transcript. Googling around the blogosphere will also get some opinions, but the best source is the transcript itself, in which the participants had the time to clarify the points discussed – “just the science.” In general, such sober scientific considerations get forgotten in most political discussions.

    Based on the APS review of the science Koonin chaired, the science is very uncertain. Koonin suggests that despite that uncertainty, prudence suggests taking what he and others call “no regrets” actions such as accelerating research into areas that are beneficial regardless of whether greenhouse gases have large or negligible effect on climate and do not have potential negative economic impacts. Other “no regret” actions proposed have included improving weather disaster response infrastructure in the third world as well as the U.S., improving tsunami monitoring networks in the south seas, investment in nuclear power, etc. Such actions are beneficial in and of themselves.

    What he does not propose is immediate implementation of actions beyond those with “no regrets,” i.e. those which “carry costs, risks, and questions of effectiveness.” These include limitations on fossil fuel use or extraction based solely on greenhouse gas emission. Rather than proposing these be implemented outright, as he does with the “no regrets” actions, he suggests they be considered slowly and deliberately, summarizing by saying

    “But climate strategies beyond such “no regrets” efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity. Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about “believing” or “denying” the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity’s deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort. Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.”

    Despite the outcome of its chartered review process, and contrary to its recommendations, the APS leadership chose to maintain the generally AGW supportive tenor of the previous policy statement. This was not a recommended outcome of the science review, but the simple judgement of the society leadership that to offend the current major sponsor of the physics community was unnecessary. Essentially maintaining a suitably pro AGW policy statement was “no regret” action taken by the APS. Mention of the uncertainty and the need for increased research was included in the statement as is usually the case in a society policy statement. The science is uncertain. A statement of support, suitably couched with uncertainty, is simply a convenient and harmless palliative with respect to its major sponsor, particularly a statement that urges increased research funding. The APS chose to split the middle, on one hand saying it looks like human influence on climate is increasing but on the other hand the magnitudes and future effects are uncertain and (no surprise) more research funding is needed. The statement is quite general with no specifics on the physics. They did not adjudicate anything specific about pauses, the accepted magnitudes for ECS or TCR, effects on frequencies of extreme events, the rate of sea level rise, etc. All of those elements are encapsulated in the “uncertainty.” The APS statement contains no position on such issues.

    To reiterate, the APS does not adjudicate what is or is not established “dogma” in physics. It will not issue a statement on whether “spooky action at a distance” or quantum entanglement are correct, the rectitude of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, or whether Mach’s principle or Wheeler’s It from Bit notions are correct axiomatic formulations from which physics should be derived. It will not adjudicate whether or not LIGO successfully detected gravitational waves recently and that colliding black holes are the correct explanation for that detection. One can look at the APS policy statements by year at [-]. One will not see statements adjudicating what is or is not correct in physics, but instead statements on issues that involve funding and budgetary decisions, diversity issues, support for students and the like. Perhaps the closest statement to an actual physics issue is from 2003 on perpetual motion machines and focused on attempts to fund work on such devices that were “unsubstantiated by experimentally tested established physical principles.” That was in response to a particularly misguided attempt to establish major funding for a perpetual motion scheme pushed by Tom Bearden, for which he was actually issued a US patent. Coincidentally, funding for that scheme would have been drawn from funds that would otherwise go to the membership of the APS. Generally, the statements are phrased so as to suggest increased funding for research or student support.

    So if one wants to know what is or is not “established” in science, society policy statements are not the place to look or point toward for support. The place to look is the evolving literature in detail. One cannot avoid the details by alluding to science society statements. The truth or falsification of a hypothesis is not the role of a scientific society. Even in the case of the perpetual motion machine, the APS did not state that the claims were false, but that they were unsubstantiated by experimental results. Note that this was neither for or against the hypothesis per se, but a statement of the necessity to test it for falsification.

    [There are some interesting historical cases in which scientific societies got wound up politically for or against some proposed theories, but those cases were largely based on nationalistic grounds and they are rare. One very interesting case occurred around WWI, in which the British Royal Society fought against acceptance of Einstein’s nascent theory of relativity on the grounds that it was “German” science and Newton’s was “British.” The nearness of war tensions contributed to the brouhaha. Arthur Eddington admirably tried to adhere to a strictly scientific approach and was much castigated by his fellows in the Royal Society. There was even pressure on him to “tweak” his eclipse observation results in favor of Newton. ]

  17. Paul W

    Perhaps CEI should use the current progressive disclosure approach and just send the AG about 10 archived emails a week for the next 50 years. Of course, only after someone from CEI reviews them to make sure they contain nothing personal or embarrassing.

  18. Ye Olde Statistician

    Reference to the Galileo trial is interesting for several reasons.

    1. Galileo was squarely against the settled science of the day. There were sound empirical reasons to suppose the Earth was stationary. No stellar parallax could be seen, though it was predicted by geomobility; there was no steady headwind out of the east; people did not stumble about as they did on moving platforms; and so on. We now have answers to these [e.g., inertia] but the scientists of that era did not. A stationary Earth was supported by two thousand years of scientific observation, and no contradictory observation would come until 1725 and Bradley’s discovery of stellar aberration. [The phases of Venus had blown Ptolemy out of the water, but were compatible with the Tychonic and Ursine geostationary models.]

    2. Geomobility was entirely based on mathematical models, not on physics, and the temperament of the day made a clear distinction between a model (‘hypothesis’) and actual fact. There was no objection to considering geomobility as an hypothesis; but Bellarmine told Galileo that he must not teach it as established fact until it was established as fact.

    3. The interrogatories never raised the question of the Earth v. the Sun. Contrary to the interests of Late Moderns, the primary issue at the time was one of discipline and loyalty: was whether he had published his book with the proper permissions — prior censorship was universal throughout Europe, not just in the Papal States — and whether the book had advocated Copernicanism as established fact. Galileo did have an imprimatur — he had two of them! But the book clearly advocated the hypothesis as fact.

    4. The discovery of a probably bogus injunction in the file prohibiting Galileo from holding to Copernicanism in any way made it seem as if he had concealed this from his friend, the Pope. Urban’s head exploded and he never afterward became reconciled. The irony is that this injunction was never presented to Galileo — it was not the actual document but a secretary’s minutes, it is not countersigned as required, etc. — and Galileo had a memo from Bellarmino regarding the same meeting that contradicts the injunction. The use of bogus (or perhaps misinterpreted) data to “hide the decline” is another interesting feature of the affair.

    5. The Summary was a dishonest summation of the interrogations. The interrogatories went smoothly and ended in a plea bargain designed to save everyone’s face. The plea bargain was brokered by Maculano [the “Attorney General”] and Cardinal Barberini [the Pope’s nephew]. But these “working papers” were ignored by whoever wrote the “Summary for Policy Makers” submitted to the Tribunal. Consequently, the Tribunal received a deceptive account of the proceedings.

    6. The international situation was fraught. Galileo’s Dialogues was published shortly before the Battle of Lützen revealed the Pope’s support for the “protestant” side in the Thirty Years War. In the Urban-centered coordinate system the book was looking like one more ploy in the vast Hapsburg conspiracy out to get him. The progress of science is often entangled with international politics and treaty agreements.

    There is a chronology of these events here:

  19. JH

    A tit-for-tat game. How fun!

  20. YOS: Can you imagine #2 ever being said today? Saying “It’s just a theory” gets one’s head bit off.
    (I like your explaining things in detail. I learn a great deal reading your comments and your blog.)

  21. Gary

    Sheri: Not selling excuses. Just telling you what I see when new freshmen and parents come to summer orientation. With the example of your niece and her parents you’re makin’ my point.

  22. conard

    YOS —

    Calling the mouthpiece for the Ptolemy/Aristotle camp ‘Simplicio’ did not do him any favors; this was a direct swipe at Cremonini and indirectly the Inquisition, i.e. Galileo was not in a friend making mood.

  23. If Exxon was getting research results, as far back as the early 80’s according to some, that supports the greenhouse theory, and then lied about it to consumers and investors, they may have committed fraud. That’s what this is about. Everything else you guys are fussing about? Nonsense.


  24. Gary: Yes, I’m making your point with my niece and her parent (singular, male). My point is it’s time to call out parents for their bad behaviour, if there is to be any peaceful resolution to the societal decay all around us. I’m certainly did not mean to say parents are not acting as you say. This is the first time I have had to say that I believe that many, if not most, parents do not actually love their children. They make so little effort to parent and bail as soon as things get tough, letting the kid run wild and raise themselves. It’s truly frightening—if people don’t care about the next generation, it will be very bad for the next few generations.

    JMJ: Read the paper. The research at that time was NOT definitive, and it isn’t now. READ the paper. Then make an intelllegent comment.

  25. In the who is paying for propaganda department:

    What Exxon said (for those who will not read if not provided with the words in front of them): “The greenhouse effect is real…has existed throughout man’s history…and in fact…without it, current life could not exist. Today’s concerns are about an enhancement of this effect due to human activities.” It contines with the science of the day. This is 1989, at near beginning of the study of AGW (known in the document as “PEG—Potential Enhanced Greenhouse”). The document addresses the science of the day.

    It is interesting to note that even then, Exxon realized WE DO NOT know all the factors in climate. When you read the paper, we actually know very little more now. We just have faster computers and more government money pushing the idea. Our simplistic explanation of climate remains virtually unchanged. It’s really quite fascinating to see how very little new knowledge has been added. Kind of kills the “we know so much more now so we know we’re right” argument, doesn’t it? It even notes that there was a prediction mid-1970’s that CO2 would double in the atmosphere by 2050, later pushed out to 2075-2100. Goalposts were already moving.

    Exxon later went on to put up wind plants (destroying the environment for real this time), solar plants, etc. So this is not Exxon denying today the problem exists (according to the govenment scientists), nor denial of the current alleged problem. Exxon is now playing the game as mandated by the government. It’s a way to enhance government revenue, just like cigarettes. IF the government gave a damn, they would have shut down tobacco. They didn’t. Says it all.

    Ask why the government did not include Duke Energy, Shell, etc in the suit. They all knew, but not all give millions to the Democratic Party. It’s still about money and politics. Only that. Not saving the planet, not science. MONEY.

  26. fah

    Sheri and JMJ:

    An example of the uncertainty in climate science at the time (of the alleged Exxon certainty) is a paper by James Hansen (the “godfather of global warming”) and others at NASA from 1981, in Science. It can be obtained at .

    In the introduction they state:

    “The major difficulty in accepting the theory [Anthropogenic Global Warming] has been the absence of observed warming coincident with the historic C02 increase. In fact, the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere decreased by about 0.5°C between 1940 and 1970, a time of rapid C02 buildup. In addition, recent claims that climate models over­ estimate the impact of radiative perturbations by an order of magnitude have raised the issue of whether the greenhouse effect is well understood.”

    They also show in Figure 3 how the global temperatures were cooling from the 1940s, according to NASA data. In fact they state in the description of that figure: “A remarkable conclusion from Fig. 3 is that the global temperature is almost as high today [1981] as it was in 1940.” Note the use of the word “almost.” That cooling has since disappeared as the temperature record from the middle of the last century has been “adjusted” downward.

  27. Geoff Price:

    Thank you for writing your article on Medium (‘Quick response to “Subpoenaed Into Silence on Global Warming”’) – it was informative, intelligent, and did an excellent job in putting the subpoena action in context.

    I admire the patience you display in your comments here. But as you probably already suspect, your use of reason, evidence, and logic will have about as much influence on your intended audience as me reciting Shakespeare to my dog.

  28. Joy

    “This is the first time I have had to say that I believe that many, if not most, parents do not actually love their children. They make so little effort to parent and bail as soon as things get tough, letting the kid run wild and raise themselves. ”
    What no disagreement?
    I suggest the social workers take all the children away from all the parents who don’t love their children and we’ll put you in charge Sheri.

  29. Lee Phillips: I feel the love.

    Joy: Okay. It has to be better than what we have now. Call me when you get the kids together.

  30. Joy

    Mr Price,
    What follows is unsolicited advice and is NOT intended as an insult.
    You can talk to me, I don’t know these people.

    “Physics is really pretty clear that more energy getting absorbed by the surface than radiating away explains observed patterns of warming, so feeling pretty confident on the physics, per every national academy, physical science organisation etc. I don’t promise to chase alternative physics, but if you have a favourite counter-theory – perhaps the elusive exception to the first law of thermodynamics? – I’m happy to hear it.” Was that last part humour?

    There’s your problem. That quote alone contains your mistake. Where’s your evidence outside of a theory? I’m not speaking about the greenhouse effect which is well accepted as a real effect as you know, nobody argues about that.

    Freeman Dyson does not agree with the polemical argument you subscribe to. Do you dismiss his opinion too? I mean we have to find some common ground here otherwise you’re just firing stones over the wall and when it comes to insults I can beat everyone.

    “observed patterns of warming,” Is it the pattern you don’t like? or the warming?

    It seems to me that you are a person who relies on the expert witness which is why I suggest his opinion.
    You can hear him speak in person about the topic in many online lectures but a recent one was last April 2015 on youtube.

    This AGW discussion has not moved on since I started reading about it eight years ago. I know when I was reading articles and listening to lectures, (night and day) the information was not new then either! It is remarkable that despite all the BS and dishonesty of privileged politicians and scientists there is still a majority of the public who do not believe that the earth is doomed or anything like it. Most people are very uninformed but they STILL don’t believe! They’re not given a choice, (and in a normal world where science is done by scientists and not politicians, nor should they.)

    Look at the data and decide for yourself. Its my suggestion. That way you won’t be hoodwinked or tricked or conned. You could just search for the evidence that is used to back the claims which you are promoting. Don’t rely on ‘organisations’, ‘societies’, think tanks or any other interested group but those gathering the first principle evidence.

    Only if you were being objective would you listen to your opponent’s arguments and argue point by point. Those scientists who disagree are not doing it for the good of their health. Doesn’t even that make you curious?

    All of the graphs from which discussion arises are available. Up to the month or the moment information about measured, observed temperature. It was easier to do this in the recent past but it is still possible and if you have any difficulty finding where the data is you could always ask a proponent to show you the data. That is the evidence. There are only a few outlets of global atmospheric temperature which both sides of the discussion refer to. Look for the best evidence you can find out of those few temperature outlets. To find evidence of greenhouse warming though you need to know the difference in which warming is our fault and which is something natural. I am not being sarcastic.

    I’d love to give you my explanation but It would be a waste of time as you might question my honesty, the most popular blogospheric pastime. Not that I’m saying you’d do that but just anticipating in advance and i’m being absolutely sincere.

  31. Ed Morris

    this had to be the most convoluted, impossible article to comprehend I have have the displeasure of attempting to read in YEARS.

  32. Ed: You need to broaden your reading. I can provide a list of articles that will be incomprehensible to you, if you like.

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