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Igniting debate: School scrubs photo of professors burning book

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San Jose State University's Dr. Alison Bridger holds a lit match beneath a book that claims global warming is "natural" as assistant professor Craig Clements looks on last month. The photograph has since been removed from the university's website. (SJSU.edu)

What could prompt two college professors to burn a book? Disagreement with the contents, of course.

Two San Jose State University professors took a picture as they held a match to a book that takes on the idea of global warming, and the photo landed on an official school website until some realized the idea of academics burning books is not exactly scholarly. The image depicted Alison Bridger, a professor and chairwoman of the university’s department of meteorology and climate science, holding a lit match beneath “The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania” as the 312-page paperback was held by assistant professor Craig Clements.

“This week we received a deluge of free books from the Heartland Institute,” the original caption read, according to an archived version of the webpage. “ … Shown above, Drs. Bridger and Clements test the flammability of the book.”

“The Department of Meteorology and Climate Science ... regrets what was clearly an ill-conceived attempt at satire."

- San Jose State University, Department of Meteorology and Climate Change

The picture and the accompanying caption, which was posted late last month, were later removed from the university’s servers after a popular climate change website, Watts Up With That?, noticed it and referenced Fahrenheit 451, the 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury in which books are outlawed and widely burned.

“When I first got the tip on this, I thought to myself ‘nobody can be this stupid to photograph themselves doing this’ but, here they are, right from the San Jose State University Meteorology Department web page,” blogger Anthony Watts wrote on Thursday.

Watts also included links to the university’s meteorology and climate change department, as well as phone numbers and an email address to contact school officials.

A day later, on Friday, department officials acknowledged the photograph and apologized to those who voiced their concerns.

“The Department of Meteorology and Climate Science has removed the material in question from its website, and regrets what was clearly an ill-conceived attempt at satire,” the website read. “Please be assured the university does not condone book burning for any reason.”

Messages left with Bridger and Clements early Wednesday were not immediately returned. A university spokeswoman later told FoxNews.com that the school would have no further comment on the matter.

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