The word "censorship" is used all-too-often in this country. I take a much more narrow definition of censorship. In my mind, only the government can be guilty of true censorship, which I define as using the coercive power of government to prevent certain forms of speech. By even this narrow definition, the recent threats against Exxon by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe come awfully close to censorship:
We reprint the full text of the letter here,
so readers can see for themselves. But its essential point is that the
two Senators believe global warming is a fact, and therefore all debate
about the issue must stop and ExxonMobil should "end its dangerous
support of the [global warming] 'deniers.' " Not only that, the company
"should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public
its funding history." And in extra penance for being "one of the
world's largest carbon emitters," Exxon should spend that money on
"global remediation efforts."
Senators aren't dumb enough to risk an ethics inquiry by threatening
specific consequences if Mr. Tillerson declines this offer he can't
refuse. But in case the CEO doesn't understand his company's jeopardy,
they add that "ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured
controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too
reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years." (Our emphasis.) The Senators also graciously copied the Exxon board on their missive.
is amazing stuff. On the one hand, the Senators say that everyone
agrees on the facts and consequences of climate change. But at the same
time they are so afraid of debate that they want Exxon to stop
financing a doughty band of dissenters who can barely get their name in
the paper. We respect the folks at the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, but we didn't know until reading the Rockefeller-Snowe
letter that they ran U.S. climate policy and led the mainstream media
around by the nose, too.
While I tend to believe that the warming camp is correct that manmade CO2 is creating or will create some global warming, there are a lot of very very good reasons to be skeptical of the magnitude of their warming estimates and their hysterical calls for massive government intervention in the world economy. I call this the skeptical middle ground on climate. (Update: more reasons to be skeptical of current "consensus" models here). A skeptics guide to An Inconvenient Truth is here.