EPA-Gate?

May 24, 2014 |  Rachelle Peterson

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EPA-Gate?

May 24, 2014 | 

Rachelle Peterson

Why do colleges and universities audit their students’ dining hall waste, install solar panels, and ban disposable water bottles? Because they want to stem greenhouse gas emissions.  That goal is promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), both of which attribute global warming to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

That attribution is, of course, a theoretical construct backed by a supposed “consensus” of climate scientists.  The “consensus,” however, is itself a fragile construct that is maintained in large part by broad definitions in some areas and narrow ones in others.  Anyone who observes that the earth has warmed in the last one hundred years is counted “in” for the purposes of declaring a consensus.  But numerous scientists are then counted out for dissenting on the likely scale and causes of the problem. 

Those who take it as their job to maintain the fiction of scientific consensus on global warming have been caught more than once stooping to shady scientific practices, including interfering with peer review. But it appears there is another bit of climate legerdemain that has not come to light—until now.

Yesterday the Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) announced research that indicates that the EPA has rigged its scientific review process to guarantee results that favor strict regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA is required by several federal laws to assess the influence of various environmental protection regulations on the basis of scientific research that has been peer-reviewed and validated by expert scientists. In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gases were especially harmful to the environment. That conclusion was based on 28 climate science assessments, all of which ostensibly had been peer-reviewed.

But the ITSSD has determined that the integrity of many of these 28 climate science assessments has been compromised. Some appear to have been “reviewed” by scientists from the same organizations that wrote the assessments in the first place.

Nine of the assessments had been developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and 8 had come from the IPCC. Many of the NOAA scientists worked on the IPCC reports, however. And when the EPA sent the NOAA assessments for peer review, on six occasions the assessments were reviewed by NOAA-funded (but university-affiliated) scientists. Several times the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences invited the same group of reviewers without explanation—perhaps because the group could be trusted to deliver the desired response. The ITSSD’s research suggests, then, that the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are based on studies whose peer review process was compromised due to conflicts of interest, subject biases, lack of peer review panel balance, and lack of transparency.

Also suspicious is the NOAA’s silence on the criticisms that some peer reviewers raised with respect to NOAA’s research findings. Some reviewers criticized the documents for making conclusions unsupported by the data, or for failing to consider the innate uncertainties of projected climate changes. Few NOAA documents reveal any response to these criticisms.

ITSSD is conducting further research to determine the full extent of the EPA’s compromised science. The Daily Caller has the full story.

This is not the first time that climate science has operated on the sly.  Recently in Europe, one of the most prestigious environmental journals, Environmental Research Letters, rejected for publication a study by five contributing scientists that dared to suggest the global temperature might be less sensitive to carbon than the IPCC predicted. A reviewer of the article, explaining his reasons for voting against the paper, privately denounced the research as “harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics media side.” Among the authors of the paper was the University of Reading’s Lennart Bengtsson, a well-respected Swedish meteorologist who joined and then immediately resigned from a think tank skeptical of global warming, after he received relentless criticism, accusatory notes, and persecution from his scientist colleagues who were angry at his defection to the anti-global warming side.

The London Times called the journal’s politicized rejection of Bengtsson’s research a new “Climategate,” after the scandal involving Penn State professor Michael Mann. Mann in his angst to prop up the scientific evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming had in the 1990s created the “hockey stick” graph that purported to show exponential increases in global temperatures about to emerge. In 2009 it was revealed that Mann had exaggerated his findings and manipulated his computer model to produce predictions of upticks in temperature. Mann is now embroiled in a lawsuit with his critics Mark Steyn, National Review, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute—though in this age of politically correct science, he is the not the defendant but the accuser, charging them with libel.

Colleges and universities, though, remain ideologically wed to global warming-inspired policies, curriculum, and campus life. They should reconsider these priorities. 

Connor Gibson

| June 02, 2014 - 5:34 PM


Hi Rachelle,

When did you get your degree in natural sciences? I don’t see any such expertise listed in your NAS bio, so I’m wondering where your unattributed claims come from if you aren’t a scientist publishing your own research.

If you had a degree in science, I assume you’d be aware that every National Academy of Science in the world, NASA, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society, the US Military and other US government branches like EPA, NOAA and DOE all understand what scientists have been telling us for decades before you started typing this politicized piece—humans burning fossil fuels are the driving cause of unnatural global climate change we are now witnessing.

I’m not sure who convinced you otherwise, but I doubt they were a scientist. Of all the scientists who conduct research on global warming, only 3% reject the consensus view that humans are the primary cause, and very, very few of these minority dissenters have ever managed to get peer-reviewed material published, since their claims aren’t rooted in fact.
http://desmogblog.com/2012/11/15/why-climate-deniers-have-no-credibility-science-one-pie-chart

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024

I’ll leave it up to you to post a correction or retract this article, not that I think you will take such responsibility given the disregard you have shown for the seriousness of global climate change, which is already costing over a trillion in global GDP each year and contributing to the death of people across the globe from extreme weather and the other symptoms of our changed climate.

Thanks,
Connor Gibson
Greenpeace Investigations.

Connor Gibson

| June 02, 2014 - 5:36 PM


Ah—it was ironic of me not to cite my last claim—here you go:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/26/climate-change-damaging-global-economy

Michael Toscano

| June 03, 2014 - 9:23 AM


Connor,

You have made a category mistake. Rachelle’s argument is not a scientific one, but rather points out that peer review appears to be compromised. Your comment is not apposite.

Michael

Connor Gibson

| June 03, 2014 - 10:00 AM


Your readers can decide if it’s apposite for someone to deny the scientific validity and the seriousness that climate change poses to both economies and people in the US and around the world.

They can also look at your organization’s funding for themselves and decide if the Bradley Foundation, billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Donors Trust (the “Dark Money ATM” of corporate front groups) and these other old money and industrial family fortunes are trustworthy when it comes to something like climate change, which usually implies a regulatory burden on their personal fortunes.

Connor Gibson

| June 03, 2014 - 10:13 AM


Some of that funding information is here. Your organization doesn’t publicly disclose its funding, most likely because that undermines your ability to earn people’s trust.

http://conservativetransparency.org/recipient/national-association-of-scholars/

Michael Toscano

| June 03, 2014 - 10:24 AM


Connor,

I think everyone can see for themselves that you are bent on changing the subject.

Michael

Connor Gibson

| June 03, 2014 - 10:44 AM


The foundation of this critique is, as Ms. DeJong puts it, the “fiction of scientific consensus on global warming,” which as I’ve mentioned is a disprovably false assertion and is a very common theme among groups funded by folks like Richard Mellon Scaife, Joseph Coors, Michael Greba at the Bradley Foundation, and other financiers of climate change denial.

So I’m not changing the subject—it’s the premise of the entire article that is a fault, and you aren’t addressing that. I don’t think I’m the one changing the subject.

Please point to any page regarding your funding, if one exists, since your FAQ page discloses nothing of substance. Or feel free to comment on the influence of your funders on factually incorrect content like this.

Thanks.

Rachelle DeJong

| June 03, 2014 - 11:01 AM


Dear Connor,

You are correct: I do not have a degree in the natural sciences. But we all should be concerned if the “scientific consensus” behind a dogmatically-held belief in anthropogenic global warming has been compromised. The facts that the peer review process is at least suspicious at organizations as prominent as the EPA, National Academy of Science, and IPCC, and that a prominent meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson has been bullied for his skepticism of global warming cast doubt on the uniformity of that “consensus.”

Rachelle

Connor Gibson

| June 03, 2014 - 11:40 AM


Thanks for responding, Rachelle. You didn’t address the other institutions that recognize or study climate change.

What say you to NASA? To the US Military? To the National Academy of Sciences? To the American Geophysical Union, the AAAS, NOAA, American Meteorological Society?

Alexandria

| June 08, 2014 - 11:22 PM


Connor, the conflict with the EPA’s findings were echoed in the “Proposed NCEE Comments on Draft Technical Support Document For Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act”
http://cei.org/sites/default/files/DOC062509-004.pdf

NCEE is part of the EPA and raised its concerns abut the sloppy conclusions in the 2009 EPA Endangerment Analysis in the doc cited. These concerns are plainly stated (with backup), but were ignored. This is what the Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) wants reexamined. The document is well worth reading. It contradicts your claims that there is a wide consensus, and similarly that the science is settled.

And as for your argument that Rachel DeJong doesn’t have the academic bonafides to comment on published scientific papers because she isn’t a scientist, I hope you apply the same logic to the editors at Scientific American whose degrees are from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia. There isn’t a scientist among them, and they’re probably educating you.

In fact, here’s Scientific American’s list:

Mariette DiChristina
Editor in Chief
LinkedIN says only that she was educated at Boston University
She teaches science reporting at NYU

Fred Guterl
Executive Editor
BS Electrical Engineering, University of Rochester,

Josh Fischman
Senior Editor
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School of Business

Mark Fischetti
Senior Editor
State University of New York at Albany, Centenary College, no major listed
Previously managing editor at Family Business Magazine and IEEE Spectrum Magazine

Seth Fletcher
Senior Editor
No idea.
LinkedIn says he does “writing and editing.” He wrote a book before joining Scientific American called “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy”

Christine Gorman
Senior Editor
Nieman Fellow in Global Health Reporting, Harvard University

David Biello
Associate Editor
MS Journalism, Columbia University

Curtis Brainard
Blogs Editor
MS Journalism, Columbia University

Larry Greenemeier
Associate Editor
“Business journalist” since 1983

Anna Kuchment
Senior Editor
MS Journalism, Columbia University

Robin Lloyd
News Editor
University of California at Santa Barbara, Ph.D., M.A., Sociology

Dina Fine Maron
Associate Editor
Editor at Scientific American

Michael Moyer
Senior Editor
Special Projects Editor at Scientific American, Writing and Editing

As Scientific American, the above are known “Our Experts.” They can give talks on every scientific subject imaginable as ‘experts’.
===================================

At least CAGW sceptic Nigel Calder, the founding editor of New Scientist and BBC science editor for decades, had a physics degree from either Oxford, or Cambridge (I forget).