Lockyer’s assault on free inquiry 

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a pact with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to share anti-global warming technologies and push various incentives to go green, few raised an eyebrow. Some of us did wonder about the constitutionality of individual states hooking up with foreign nations, a concern possibly allayed by the governor’s assurance this was "no treaty."

But if our concern for the people’s sovereignty is misplaced, and we haven’t conceded the argument, maybe we should show genuine alarm about the more fanatical elements in Sacramento. Specifically, we have in mind Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who’s on record as insisting that "Global warming is one [of] the biggest threats facing the planet and we cannot delay action."

Never mind that the biggest threats demand prudence. The genuinely alarmist AG said that last year, when he joined with 12 state attorneys general to petition the federal Environmental Protection Agency to enforce stringent emissions standards. This year, with all the zeal of a green Torquemada, Lockyer wants all the coercive power of the state to land squarely on the shoulders of several individuals he deems scientific dissidents.

Lockyer’s inquisition has been little reported in the state’s or the nation’s media (our own search found a report of it in Canada’s National Post), but champions of free thinking, indeed of free speech, ought to be bringing his activity into the sunlight. There is nothing liberal, in the classic sense, about his antics.

The Golden State’s top prosecutor lost his liberality when General Motors, DaimlerChrysler Corp. and the Association of Automobile Manufacturers filed a lawsuit against the state’s own tough greenhouse emissions regulations. He demanded to know what "dissidents" were swaying these errant capitalists against the global warming "consensus."

With the help of writer Ross Gelbspan, who’s written a book about climate change, Lockyer was able to identify the suspects. Among them: the Hoover Institution’s S. Fred Singer, the University of Virginia’s Patrick Michaels and MIT’s Richard Lindzen. All can produce impeccable credentials in climatology,and all have worked credibly to take Lockyeresque hysteria out of the global warming debate.

Indeed, Lindzen has written exposés about how grants to climate-change researchers tend to be awarded teleologically — that is, with pro-warming conclusions pre-written. Now, there’s an issue that should be investigated.

Lockyer will have none of that. Rather, he has filed a request in federal court to force the automakers to reveal all documents and communications between them and the aforementioned "climate skeptics," who have, he contends, spread "disinformation" about an issue that must no longer be debated.

Put bluntly, this is an assault, not only on free speech, but on free inquiry. Perhaps a liberal-minded friend should whisper to the AG that science doesn’t work that way. When you must resort to coercion, your "consensus" falls apart.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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