I am Under “Investigation”

As some of you will already know, I am one of 7 US academics being investigated by US Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) who is the ranking member of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Rep. Grijalva has sent a letter to the president of my university requesting a range of information, including my correspondence, the letter is here in PDF.

Before continuing, let me make one point abundantly clear: I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.

For instance, the Congressman and his staff, along with compliant journalists, are busy characterizing me in public as a “climate skeptic” opposed to action on climate change. This of course is a lie. I have written a book calling for a carbon tax, I have publicly supported President Obama’s proposed EPA carbon regulations, and I have just published another book strongly defending the scientific assessment of the IPCC with respect to disasters and climate change. All of this is public record, so the smears against me must be an intentional effort to delegitimize my academic research.

What am I accused of that prompts being investigated? Here is my crime:

Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

The letter goes on to note that John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, “has highlighted what he believes were serious misstatements by Prof. Pielke.” (For background on this see here and here.) My 2013 testimony to the Senate is here and House is here in pdf (Q&A following hearing here and here). The testimony was the basis for my recent book on Disasters & Climate Change.

Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none. He simply disagrees with the substance of my testimony – which is based on peer-reviewed research funded by the US taxpayer, and which also happens to be the consensus of the IPCC (despite Holdren’s incorrect views).

Adam Sarvana, communications director for Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic delegation, reinforced the politically-motivated nature of the investigation in an interview:

“The way we chose the list of recipients is who has published widely, who has testified in Congress before, who seems to have the most impact on policy in the scientific community”

Let’s see – widely published, engaged with Congress, policy impact — these are supposed to be virtues of the modern academic researcher, right? (Here in PDF is my view on the importance of testifying before Congress when asked. I still think it is important.)

I am pleased that some colleagues with whom I have had professional disagreements with in the past have condemned the investigation via Twitter, among them Eric Steig (of Real Climate), Bob Ward (LSE) and Simon Donner (UBC). This shows some real class. In contrast, Michael E. Mann, who I defended when a Virginia politician came after him, used the “investigation” as a chance to lob childish insults my way via Twitter. Some things you can always count on in the climate arena!

So far, I have been contacted by only 2 reporters at relatively small media outlets. I’d say that the lack of interest in a politician coming after academics is surprising, but to be honest, pretty much nothing surprises me in the climate debate anymore. Even so, there is simply no excuse for any reporter to repeat incorrect claims made about me, given how easy I am to find and just ask.

The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues. I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject. I am a full professor with tenure, so no one need worry about me — I’ll be just fine as there are plenty of interesting, research-able policy issues to occupy my time. But I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”

When “witch hunts” are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics. The result is a big loss for both science and politics.

231 thoughts on “I am Under “Investigation”

  1. I’m really sad you’ve been bullied away from researching into the facts of climate change impacts. The downside of this is that we’ll be left with environmentalists sound bites as “evidence”. I thought the US had learned from McCarthyism, clearly it hasn’t.

    Best wishes and good luck for the future your input into the climate policy debate will be missed.



  2. Roger,
    I’m sorry to hear of this — not, as you say, because you are vulnerable, but for what this says about the state of climate politics and climate science. The progress of science, and, indeed, human progress depends upon the contestation of ideas. If we lose that, we really are seeing a return to pre-Enlightenment times.

    While you (and I) enjoy tenure, I can appreciate the pressure brought to bear on you. I have endured something similar on a couple of occasions in the past — ironically, once from a bunch of engineers wanting to build a dam who wanted me to be quiet and once from the organics industry, which approached my Vice-Chancellor. Our job is to speak truth to power – but also to contemplate the possibility that we might be wrong. Without that, scholarship (and science) is dead.

    Stay strong!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This has nothing to do with Obama. As I have said repeatedly, beating up on scientists from positions of power — something more commonly experienced at the hand of Republicans, not Democrats, though the latter are not immune — is a non-partisan issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This has everything to do with Obama and the Democrats. Or do you believe that Obama’s decision to veto the Keystone Pipeline really resulted from his wanting to have all the facts before deciding? That five years of investigation is insufficient? That we somehow need a sixth and, who will be surprised, a seventh and an eighth year? Do you actually believe these patent, baldfaced, and unashamed lies? Do you enjoy being lied to? If you support Obama, I can only conclude that you do.

        That the President and his allies are so dishonest about what their own EPA and State Department have already told them, not to mention so ignorant of the state of research into climate change, is exactly what a moron like Rep. Grijalva needs to press ahead. It is all the oxygen that unhinged environmentalists, who have been refuted six ways from Sunday as to Keystone, require. A climate of persistent lying and flagrant distortion in aid of establishing an orthodoxy must inevitably make it impossible for even honest people to think straight.

        The sort of an toxic intellectual environment starts at the top of the food chain.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Eric, unfortunately you are wrong (as usual), the suppression of dissent is far more common on the left of politics than the right. It is the nominal right which defends free speech, and the left that insists on conformism. Ask your “friend” Michael Mann about releasing his emails and the deletion of incriminating evidence…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It is an issue made much worse by the left’s nearly total control of thought, debate, research and instruction on college campuses across America. Indeed, tenure is many times denied to those who challenge leftist dogma. When respect for ideas and debate is not honored among academics and scientists (so called ‘experts’), it is not likely to be honored elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. it shouldn’t matter one jot if you were inline with some kind of consensus or not (leaving aside for the moment the utter irrelevance of consensus in science) – science is about exploring things – the results are what they are and if there’s some kind of smear campaign, its a sure sign you’ve hit on some other interest lurking beneath the surface, most likely some kind of religious dogma or a threatened financial or political interest. A pox on their houses.


  4. Thank God! the AGW – theory is so well rooted in sound science and logic that any layman’s attempts to question it will be met with a wall of silence. Any questions from real scientist makes the theory shiver and those brave enough to point out the flaws will be firmly ruined, thank God! for such amazing science!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I see Lysenkoism is alive and proliferating. I have been reading David Joravsky’s The Lysenko Affair. The damage it did to Russian agriculture and the Russian people took decades to undo. The current neurosis about fossil fuels will likely do the same for the World’s poorest people.
    I greatly miss your blogging contributions on climate (and soccer!). I know it is easy for those not in the cross-hairs to say, but please continue to speak out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hard to sympathise. On the one hand you show scepticism for the notion that CO2 is linked to any increased costs of disasters, but then you support a Co2 tax, and are basically saying “I can’t understand why they’re now turning on me! ME! I’m one of THEM!” I’m happy you’ve bowed out and left the debate to the real sceptics.


  7. The analogue to McCarthy’s “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” seems to be “Are you now testifying, or have you ever testified, at the request of the Republican Party?”

    And the saddest thing is, I fully expect the same exercise (in reverse) from Republicans. It’s all about “winning”, and intimidation is a weapon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So warmists, no longer controlling the Senate with votes, now are intimidating potential witnesses from stating facts contrary to Global Warming Alarm. That would be witness tampering in a criminal proceeding, but apparently fair game in politics. We can only hope that the other side is as diligent in discovering the extent of environmental activist money funding alarmist proponents.

    Still, anyone deciding to testify in the upcoming Senate hearing better be ready for the hard questions (echoes of the past):

    “Are you confused between weather and climate change?”

    “Do you accept the writings of the UN IPCC as the scientific truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

    “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of any organization that believes CO2 is only a harmless trace gas and is essential to plant life?”

    “Why is your carbon footprint so large?”

    How long have you been taking money from fossil fuel companies?

    “Do you advocate the overthrow of the United States Climate by force or violence?”


  9. If the science were good, there would be no need to launch witch-hints of those who doubt AGW dogma.

    Unfortunately, lock-step consensus “science” has also destroyed our ability to safely develop and use nuclear energy because of unwillingness to debate and resolve differences of opinion about

    1. An inversion in nuclear structure at ~150 amu and
    2. Neutron repulsion being an important source of nuclear energy in heavier atoms, stars, galaxies, etc.

    Click to access Solar_Energy_For_Review.pdf

    I.e., lock-step consensus “science” has also destroyed our ability to safely develop nuclear energy to meet future energy needs.

    I would appreciate comments or suggestions on ways to resolve this dilemma.


  10. The timing makes it look like it’s part of the publicity drive for Oreskes new film (to be released next week) The Merchants of Doubt is a conspiracy theory film which alleges that every challenge of Alarmist Climate prediction is funded by a secret conspiracy of Big Oil (who seem to be super deviously masking that by openly funding with $billions universities and research that comes up with alarmist claims)


  11. This is disgusting! I would consult your legal professionals and determine if you are or are not required to respond. If not, then do not. Treat this like any contact with law enforcement. Any lawyer will tell you to shut up. Talking to them will never work to your favor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Roger – thank you for your past service in the cause of truth and science. While I have often disagreed with some of your AGW views, I have always appreciated your honesty and courage in not taking the easy road of blind climate acceptance. Your voice will be a sorely missed in the ongoing clash between politics and science.

    You ask fairly what message does the abusive government investigation sends to young scientist? I ask what message do your actions send to them? If someone with your name, academic record of achievement, tenure and truth on your side cuts and runs, what are they to think and more importantly do? That may be more damning to science than anything a trumped-up investigation can do.

    Everyone reading this has been blessed as few in history have. To be prosperous, educated, healthy, and free is incredibly rare in human history. It is a gift of those who came before us and unfettered scientific inquiry has played a critical role in creating our amazing lives. The question is will it continue if political demagogues silence dissenting voices like yours?

    The scientific challenges that man must address in the near future are unique in our history – Artificial intelligence, DNA based medicine and cloning, feeding the poor billions, many other. There has never been a time when free inquiry not directed by political fear will be more valuable. Defending free inquiry is by far the most critical issue of our time. If we get that wrong, we don’t have a hope of answering the next wave of truly unprecedented questions that must be answered.

    You have a rare opportunity to stand and fight for what you believe, or to run away. Few are better fitted for the fighting and are girded for the slings and arrows. The choice is yours. Future generations of young scientist are watching.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

    If not you, who?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Roger,
      Is there anything the rest of us can do to help you stand up for science? Contribute to a legal defense fund? Talk to our congressional representatives? Contact your university (I’m a Colorado resident)?


  13. This is disgusting. I think that you and other sceptics coming under such plainly false attacks from people like this representative could file charges against them for abuse of office.


  14. Reblogged this on climatecontrarian and commented:
    Roger Pielke’s view on the nakedly political attempt to intimidate him and others. Feb 24th 2015 – a bad day for science and for academic freedom. But if Grijalva isn’t stupid, he must be extremely arrogant and self-assured. The kickback against this Salem-esque move against respected scientists is going to be huge.


  15. You are doing the right thing by publicizing the investigation. As you did nothing wrong this will only make the chair of the committee look biased. I am sorry you are reducing your climate change research.

    Keep us posted on further developments please.


  16. This is a big mistake by Grijalva and his committee, which I think will backfire badly. It shows very poor judgement on their part that they thought it was a good idea.
    Here is a partial list of those who have come out in support of Roger and/or against the witch-hunt:

    Climate Scientists:
    Eric Steig, Simon Donner, Gavin Schmidt, RIchard Betts, Simon Lewis.
    Social scientists:
    James Wilsdon, Robert Brulle
    Bob Ward

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul, I agree that it Is good that Eric and others have spoken up. However, they have equally dirty hands when it comes to their treatment of skeptics and critics. The previously almost daily mistreatment of Roger Pielke, Snr and later Judith Curry by the bully boys at RealClimate would be my Exhibit A. Likewise the gross misrepresentations of the work of McIntyre and McKitrick. They evidence the same mind-set, just operationalized in a different context and with different instruments of torture and means of silencing critics.


  17. The more I see articles like this, the more inclined I am to doubt global warming or “climate change” as it is now called (obvious misdirection).
    These government attacks reek of a desperate attempt to suppress the truth. The fact that the instigator is a Democrat leads me to double down on that belief.


  18. Very disappointing that you do not condemn the current witch hunt being conducted against Dr. Soon. The one that appears to be supported by a certain Bob Ward.


  19. If funding sources are an issue, potentially tainting the results of the research, what then should we think of the government-funded researchers?


  20. I have met Grijalva. He represents the southwest corner of Arizona, where there are signs warning drivers of the dangers from people crossing the border into the US and where hospitals are full of Mexican women in labor, having crossed into the US for that purpose alone. Many people in Arizona say he is “a blubbering idiot”. He has been known to be a little too friendly with his hands on women around him.

    Both with this “investigation” and the attacks against Professor Soon, what we are seeing is a change in tactic. Previously, the tactics by alarmists was to lie, repeat the lie often, and shout down those who might have a criticism. Much like Galileo’s telescope enabled the truth in his day, ordinary people are starting to see with their own eyes that the dogma they have been told, cannot be true as it is told. The church cannot mount a credible defense against the work that exposes the truth, but it can persecute the people that did it.

    Pielke did not do anything illegal, no, what he did was to sin. He committed heresy. Grijalva would have made a good stereotype inquisitor.


  21. Scratch a Democrat and you’ll find a jack-booted thug underneath. They value “diversity of thought”, as long as that thought comports with their own ideas.


  22. “When “witch hunts” are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics.”

    Guess that would make it really difficult to be “An Honest Broker”!

    All the best Roger.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Because for people in government this has nothing to do with the climate, the environment or science. This is about power, control and wealth. They are paying for research to advance that agenda and they will go after anyone who gets in the way.


  24. I know this is easy for me to say, but I join Walt Ughes above in my sorrow that you will no longer be providing your unique knowledge of the effects of weather disasters to counteract the claims of the catastrophists. If not you, then who? I know of no one else with your unique experience and knowledge of these matters as it affects the reinsurance industry, the taxpayer, and really everyone. The power of your testimony and your writings is such that the alarmists must come after you, and i fear they are even now celebrating their victory based on your column above.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    This scandalous attack on Roger Pielke Jr should be headline news in every media outlet around the world. A blatant attack on scientific enquiry and free speech. Shameful.
    Je suis skeptic!


  26. Why do you support a carbon tax? CO2 is a benefit and the more it increases the greater are crop yields. I cannot possibly believe you are stupid enough to consider that CO2 is a pollutant, which would be the only rational excuse for taxing it.


  27. Roger — I’ve read most of your books on climate change (although I haven’t quite finished The Honest Broker) and it seems to me that your writings suggest that this investigation is an attempt to silence or discredit skeptics who are seen as the last obstacle to substantial progress. Is that a fair assessment?

    In trying to understand this mess, I’ve also done some reading on radicalized politics and I think that may apply here. I think it’s helpful to consider concepts like “group polarization” where people with more moderate positions like yourself are forced to take more extreme positions–in that light , the investigation from Rep. Grijalva is simply a manifestation of that force. Given the apocalyptic beliefs on all sides of this debate, it doesn’t surprise me at all that we’ve reached this point. Anyway, I’m not a political science guy so any words of wisdom or reading recommendations would be much appreciated. 🙂


    1. George Orwell: “1984”.

      Aldous Huxley: “Brave New World.”

      Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” and “The Castle.”

      These are the key texts on climate science.


  28. It is disgusting that you would continue the Communist Propaganda that smeared a great American like McCarthy while the “same” people try to damage your own career.

    You might want to read M. Stanton Evans book Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies

    You might find you have more in common with him..


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