Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Did political machinations scuttle a university researcher's work?

The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a look at whether a researcher at Texas Tech University was a victim of conservative politics.
Texas Tech University has provided a single e-mail in response to a request by the American Tradition Institute, a conservative group that has identified a professor at the university as its latest target in a pressure campaign against researchers whose work supports the generally understood role of human activity in driving climate change. The e-mail, released on Tuesday, is a message sent on December 7, 2011, to the faculty member, Katharine Hayhoe, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas Tech, by Terry L. Maple, co-editor of a planned book by the Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich about the environment. Ms. Hayhoe has said she is upset that her planned chapter on climate change was removed from the book, without her knowledge, after Mr. Gingrich faced criticism that the chapter was further evidence of his weak commitment to politically conservative principles.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal notes that Dr. Hayhoe recently led a panel discussion on campus about various environmental issues.
Hayhoe and other panelists form Tech painted a picture of continued looming drought through 2012 for the South Plains and stressed the importance for the community to plan and conserve.
Hayhoe showed the audience charts predicting the record-breaking heat the Lubbock region saw in 2011 could be the new average in 40 years.
“This summer could be good preparation for what we could see,” she said.
She said the continuing La Nina weather cycle almost certainly is playing a part in the drought, but added the La Nina cycle is not a record cycle while the drought is the worst on record.
“It’s not just La Nina going on, it must be something else,” she said. “We don’t know about those other things yet.”
In a letter from city councilwoman Karen Gibson addressed to the audience, she warned forecasts of the region’s La Nina-produced drought could linger through 2012 and could force the city of Lubbock to upgrade its drought restriction level from Stage 1 to Stage 2 as soon as this winter.
Full disclosure -- I taught at Texas Tech for two years though I do not know Dr. Hayhoe.

No comments: