Commentary: Thought police aren't needed in climate change efforts

A formidable majority of atmospheric scientists believe that planet Earth is slowly heating up and that human industry bears much of the blame. That's good reason to worry about global warming and do something to stop it.

It's not good reason to suppress the views of scientists who challenge the majority view. Science could hardly survive without its contrarians and skeptics.

The Do Something camp was thrown on the defensive a few days ago after anonymous hackers released thousands of e-mails and other documents that – at first blush – put some researchers in a nasty light. Stolen from a British university, the messages point to deliberate efforts to shut up dissenting scientists, even cripple their careers.

In one exchange, the director of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit talks about keeping papers from two skeptics out of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the pre-eminent scientific forum on global warming.

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," wrote Phil Jones to Michael Mann of Penn State. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is."

Translation: Before we'll tolerate dissent that meets the ground rules for scientific publication, we'll change the ground rules.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.