The climate change debate is unquestionably one of the hottest-button issues when the economy is roaring of our time. Seemingly every study released to the general public has its champions and detractors, the latter of whom often point to the politicized nature of the debate leading to biased academic conclusions.

It would appear those detractors have a point. Western Wire recently interviewed University of Colorado political science professor Roger Pielke, Jr. for his read on the potential for politicized outcomes to climate-related “studies,” and his perspective is interesting:

“The importance of the climate issue doesn’t mean that we get to discard or ignore conventional standards of scientific integrity,” Pielke said.

“I think that the climate community has become so politicized that there’s this expectation that there’s good guys and bad guys, and if you’re asking questions about climate science you must be a bad guy, or you may be giving ammunition to the skeptics. So I think there is this natural tendency in that issue to push back against any and all criticism, full throttle,” he said.

Pielke went on to point out specific “research” conducted by ostensibly objective academics that failed to so much as footnote the potential for conflicts of interest:

Pielke pointed to Prof. Katharine Hayhoe, one of the lead authors of the just-released Fourth National Climate Assessment, who published an opinion piece in the Washington Post outlining the five myths about climate change she hears most frequently.  In her first point, Hayhoe took issue with comments that climate scientists are “driven by the money they receive” by former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on CNN’s State of the Union.

Hayhoe said she would work in a different industry if money were a primary concern but stated that she does for-profit “climate-focused consulting” while she is not teaching. She is the Founder and CEO of ATMOS Research & Consulting, whose listed clients include the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Federal Highway Administration.

What a coincidence that Professor Hayhoe’s purportedly academic conclusions dovetail perfectly with the explicitly stated goals of her consulting clients. Barf.

The lesson in here is quite simple: before accepting supposedly academic research as “truth” or “authoritative” in the climate debate, follow the money. You might be surprised with what you find. Or maybe not, sadly.