Friday, December 16, 2016

It's a New Climate Out There

By way of Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 12.15.16" the usually sensible Megan McArdle has this: On Climate Change, Who Will Censure the Censors?
The Department of Energy has balked at a request from the Trump transition team to provide the names of all department employees or contractors who attended UN global climate talks in the last five years.
You can read the whole request here, as well as some commentary as to exactly why it scares the crap out of the climatistas at the DOE by the estimable Willis Eschenbach. Most of the requests actually look like questions a CEO might ask an existing company that he had just purchased with the expectation of changing the vision, and pruning out the dead wood.
"We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder told Reuters. "We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."

I don’t know how long they can keep the names from Trump’s team legally. I do know that they should not comply with this request unless some law requires it. This request reeks of witch-hunting people because they might have views on climate change that our president-elect, or someone on his staff, dislike. That is no way to run an organization, or a nation.
I rarely disagree with Megan, but in this case, of course I do. Trump will be taking over direction of the DOE. While Gov. Perry may be directly overseeing DOE (we'll see), it's Trumps who is driving the agenda. The administration's job is to administer the executive agencies, and DOE is one of them. If he wants details on how they operate, he's entitled to them. Making him wait until he's inaugurated before reluctantly agreeing to his power is not going to do anyone at the DOE any favors.

While I doubt any career civil servants will lose their positions, the upper management may well be decimated, or worse.
That said, watching the reaction to this from the left, I couldn’t help thinking of a famous public service advertisement from my youth, in which a father waves drug paraphernalia at his son and demands “Who taught you how to do this stuff?”
“You, all right?” screams the son. “I learned it by watching you!”

Eight months ago, state attorneys general were issuing subpoenas to the Competitive Enterprise Institute aimed at forcing the organization to cough up all communications about climate change, based on novel and changeable legal theories that boiled down to “We don’t like what you said about climate change.” How many of the people who were horrified by Trump’s actions were equally horrified by this chilling move by government authorities to abrogate the free speech rights of private actors? How many were worried about what the precedents thus set might do to the spirit of free and open inquiry?

Ah, I will be told, but ExxonMobil was the ultimate target of those subpoenas, and ExxonMobil is a corporation. And climate change is an existential threat that could destroy life as we know it in the 21st century. Are those attorneys general just supposed to let a corporation run around denying this catastrophic risk in order to line their own pockets?

Well, yes they are. Because it’s too dangerous not to.

The differences between those subpoenas and the Trump transition's witch hunt only blur their ultimate sameness. Each case will yield some unique fact that the proponents of government censorship can use to distinguish it from the attacks on our own side. That’s why we establish a very broad and neutral principle that you don’t go after anyone for what they believe, whether those ideas are right or wrong, whether they are held by a government employee or a corporation, and whether those who hold them are in power or out of it.
. . .
By all means, stand with the Department of Energy as it protects civil servants whose work displeases the incoming administration. And when the time once again comes when government tries to silence deniers of climate change, stand with those deniers as well. It's a matter of principle, not just politics.
The big difference between the two situations is that the role of the President is to oversee the DOE and other agencies. His questions are perfectly within bounds, if possibly a bit premature. The attack on the CEI, Exxon and others by the conspiracy between the state attorneys generals and various environmentalist NGOs is that the state attorneys generals et al were very clearly trying to punish the private NGO and the oil company (and others) for espousing the wrong opinions. This is the power of the state legally attacking the private world for opposing their agenda.

Althouse also tackles Megan's essay, and as often happens, much of the fun takes place in the comment section.

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