Thursday, February 25, 2010

Climategate Meets the Law: Senator Inhofe to Ask for DOJ Investigation

He won't be heeded immediately but it is a shot across the bow for the Warmists. There could be a new administration in 3 years' time that WILL heed the call

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) today asked the Obama administration to investigate what he called “the greatest scientific scandal of our generation” — the actions of climate scientists revealed by the Climategate files, and the subsequent admissions by the editors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Senator Inhofe also called for former Vice President Al Gore to be called back to the Senate to testify. “In [Gore's] science fiction movie, every assertion has been rebutted,” Inhofe said. He believes Vice President Gore should defend himself and his movie before Congress.

Just prior to a hearing at 10:00 a.m. EST, Senator Inhofe released a minority staff report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which he is ranking member. Senator Inhofe is asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether there has been research misconduct or criminal actions by the scientists involved, including Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

This report, obtained exclusively by Pajamas Media before today’s hearing, alleges: "[The] Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works believe the scientists involved may have violated fundamental ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and, in some cases, federal laws. In addition to these findings, we believe the emails and accompanying documents seriously compromise the IPCC -backed “consensus” and its central conclusion that anthropogenic emissions are inexorably leading to environmental catastrophes".

As has been reported here at Pajamas Media over the last several months, the exposure of the Climategate files has led to a reexamination of the IPCC Assessment Reports, especially the fourth report (AR4), published in 2007. The IPCC AR4 report was named by Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson as one of the major sources of scientific support for the agency’s Endangerment Finding, the first step towards allowing the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Since the Climategate files were released, the IPCC has been forced to retract a number of specific conclusions — such as a prediction that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — and has been forced to confirm that the report was based in large part on reports from environmental activist groups instead of peer-reviewed scientific literature. Dr. Murari Lal, an editor of the IPCC AR4 report, admitted to the London Daily Mail that he had known the 2035 date was false, but was included in the report anyway “purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

Based on this minority staff report, Senator Inhofe will be calling for an investigation into potential research misconduct and possible criminal acts by the researchers involved. At the same time, Inhofe will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to reopen its consideration of an Endangerment Finding for carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Federal Clean Air Act, and will ask Congress to withdraw funding for further consideration of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

In requesting that the EPA reopen the Endangerment Finding, Inhofe joins with firms such as the Peabody Energy Company and several state attorneys general (such as Texas and Virginia) in objecting to the Obama administration’s attempt to extend regulatory control over carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Senator Inhofe believes this staff report “strengthens the case” for the Texas and Virginia attorneys general.

Senator Inhofe’s announcement today appears to be the first time a member of Congress has formally called for an investigation into research misconduct and potential criminal acts by the scientists involved. The staff report describes four major issues revealed by the Climategate files and the subsequent revelations:

1. The emails suggest some climate scientists were cooperating to obstruct the release of damaging information and counter-evidence.

2. They suggest scientists were manipulating the data to reach predetermined conclusions.

3. They show some climate scientists colluding to pressure journal editors not to publish work questioning the “consensus.”

4. They show that scientists involved in the report were assuming the role of climate activists attempting to influence public opinion while claiming scientific objectivity.

The report notes a number of potential legal issues raised by their Climategate investigation:

1. It suggests scientific misconduct that may violate the Shelby Amendment — requiring open access to the results of government-funded research — and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) policies on scientific misconduct (which were announced December 12, 2000).

2. It notes the potential for violations of the Federal False Statements and False Claims Acts, which may have both civil and criminal penalties.

3. The report also notes the possibility of there having been an obstruction of Congress in congressional proceeds, which may constitute an obstruction of justice.

If proven, these charges could subject the scientists involved to debarment from federally funded research, and even to criminal penalties.

By naming potential criminal offenses, Senator Inhofe raises the stakes for climate scientists and others involved. Dr. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit has already been forced to step aside because of the Climategate FOIA issues, and Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State is currently under investigation by the university for potential misconduct. Adding possible criminal charges to the mix increases the possibility that some of the people involved may choose to blow the whistle in order to protect themselves.

Senator Inhofe believes that Dr. Hansen and Dr. Mann should be “let go” from their posts “for the good of the institutions involved.”

The question, of course, is whether the Senate Democratic majority will allow this investigation to proceed, in the face of the Obama administration’s stated intention to regulate CO2 following the apparent death of cap and trade legislation. The Democratic majority has blocked previous attempts by Inhofe to investigate issues with climate science.


Senator Barbara Boxer and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Throw IPCC Under the Bus

Following the release of the Inhofe Report, Boxer claimed she was only quoting "American scientists," and Jackson reversed herself on the use of the IPCC as the "gold standard."

During the review of the Environmental Protection Agency budget in today’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, both Senator Barbara Boxer — the chair of the committee — and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson distanced themselves from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Boxer and Jackson’s statements, in addition to being a striking change in policy, are problematic because U.S. climate science is very closely tied to the IPCC reports (as Christopher Horner showed in his recent PJM series on the NASA FOIA emails.)

The statements by Boxer and Jackson followed Senator Inhofe’s release in his opening statement of a minority staff report documenting many flaws in the IPCC report and the other evidence revealed in the Climategate files. Both Boxer and Jackson appeared to be trying to distance the EPA from the IPCC report. Boxer said: "In my opening statement, I didn’t quote one international scientist or IPCC report. … We are quoting the American scientific community here."

When Inhofe directly asked Jackson if she still considered the IPCC report the “gold standard,” she answered: "The primary focus of the endangerment finding was on climate threat risks in this country."

Jackson also noted: "[The errors Inhofe had presented were] international events. The information on the glaciers and other events doesn’t weaken … the evidence we considered [to make the Endangerment Finding on CO2.]"

The EPA has specifically cited the IPCC AR4 report as the primary source from which it drew information to make the Endangerment Finding on CO2 as a pollutant. In the past, the worldwide nature of the climate changes, and of the data, had been cited as one of the reasons for using the IPCC report, but now it appeared that Jackson was trying to separate the Endangerment Finding from the IPCC.

However, when Inhofe asked Jackson if she was considering asking the EPA inspector general to investigate the IPCC science, she answered: "If anything changes … certainly I would call for a review of the finding, but I haven’t seen that."


Climate Change and Open Science

In the Internet age, transparency is the foundation of trust, says the article below from the WSJ. "End of certainty on global warming" was the title of this article in the print edition of the WSJ

'Unequivocal." That's quite a claim in this skeptical era, so it's been enlightening to watch the unraveling of the absolute certainty of global warming caused by man. Now even authors of the 2007 United Nations report that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" have backed off its key assumptions and dire warnings.

Science is having its Walter Cronkite moment. Back when news was delivered by just three television networks, Walter Cronkite could end his evening broadcast by declaring, "And that's the way it is." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report likewise purported to proclaim the final word, in 3,000 pages that now turn out to be less scientific truth than political cover for sweeping economic regulations.

Equivocation has replaced "unequivocal" even among some of the scientists whose "Climategate" emails discussed how to suppress dissenting views via peer review and avoid complying with freedom-of-information requests for data.

Phil Jones, the University of East Anglia scientist at the center of the emails, last week acknowledged to the BBC that there hasn't been statistically significant warming since 1995. He said there was more warming in the medieval period, before today's allegedly man-made effects. He also said "the vast majority of climate scientists" do not believe the debate over climate change is settled. Mr. Jones continues to believe in global warming but acknowledges there's no consensus.

Some journalistic digging into the 2007 U.N. climate change report revealed that its most quoted predictions were based on dubious sources. The IPCC now admits that its prediction that the Himalayan glaciers might disappear by 2035 was a mistake, based on an inaccurate citation to the World Wildlife Foundation. This advocacy group was also the basis for a claim the IPCC has backed away from—that up to 40% of the Amazon is endangered.

The IPCC report mistakenly doubled the percentage of the Netherlands currently below sea level. John Christy, a former lead author of the IPCC report, now says the "temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change." As the case collapsed, the top U.N. climate-change bureaucrat, Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation last week.

The climate topic is important in itself, but it is also a leading indicator of how our expectation of full access to information makes us deeply skeptical when we're instead given faulty or partial information. In just three years since the report was issued, we have gone from purported unanimity among scientists to a breakdown in any consensus. Opinion polls reflect this U-turn, with growing public skepticism.

Skeptics don't doubt science—they doubt unscientific claims cloaked in the authority of science. The scientific method is a foundation of our information age, with its approach of a clearly stated hypothesis tested through a transparent process with open data, subject to review.

The IPCC report was instead crafted by scientists hand-picked by governments when leading politicians were committed to global warming. Unsurprisingly, the report claimed enough certainty to justify massive new spending and regulations.

Some in the scientific community are now trying to restore integrity to climate science. "The truth, and this is frustrating for policymakers, is that scientists' ignorance of the climate system is enormous," Mr. Christy wrote in the current issue of Nature. "There is still much messy, contentious, snail-paced and now, hopefully, transparent, work to do."

Mr. Christy also makes the good point that groupthink—technically known as "informational cascades"—is a particular risk for scientists. He proposes a Wikipedia-like approach in which scientists could openly contribute and debate theories and data in real time.

The unraveling of the case for global warming has left laymen uncertain about what to believe and whom to trust. Experts usually know more than amateurs, but increasingly they get the benefit of the doubt only if they operate openly, without political or other biases.

We need scientists who apply scientific objectivity, or the closest approximation of it, and then present their information with enough transparency that people can weigh the evidence. Instead of a group of scientists anointed by the U.N. telling us what to think, the spirit of the age is that scientists need to provide open access to information on which others can make policy decisions.

The lesson of the chill of the global-warming consensus is this: Those who want to persuade others of the truth as they see it need to make their case as transparently as possible. Technology enables access to information and leads us to expect open debates, conducted honestly and in full view. This is inconvenient for those who want to claim unequivocal truth without having the evidence. But that's the way it is.


Belief in climate change dives in Britain

PUBLIC conviction in Britain about the threat of climate change has plummeted after months of questions over the science and growing disillusionment with government action, a leading poll has found. Reports yesterday said the proportion of adults who believed climate change was "definitely" a reality dropped by 13 per cent over the past year, from 44 per cent to 31 per cent, in the latest survey by Ipsos Mori.

Overall, about nine out of 10 people questioned still appeared to accept some degree of global warming, The Guardian reported. But the steep drop in those without doubts raised fears that it would be harder to persuade the public to support actions to curb the problem, particularly higher prices for energy and other goods, the paper said.

The true level of doubt was probably underestimated because the poll questioned only 16 to 64-year-olds, it said. People over 65 were more likely to be sceptical, the researchers said. Another finding by the poll that hinted at a growing lack of public confidence was a significant drop in those who said climate change was caused by human activities, the report said. One year ago, this number was one in three, but this year just one in five people believed global warming to be man-made, pollster Edward Langley told the paper.

"It's going to be a hard sell to make people make changes to their behaviours unless there's something else in it for them -- (such as) energy efficiency measures saving money on fuel bills," he said. "It's a hard sell to tell people not to fly off for weekends away if you're not wholly convinced by the links. Even people who are (convinced) still do it."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, told the paper that fluctuations in public opinion had prompted environment groups to rethink their approach to campaigning -- which had often focused on threats of climate disaster and making people feel guilty for their part in it. "All of us have (talked about these changes)," Mr Sauven said. "A lot of headlines have been grossly distorted, but that doesn't get away from the fact it's quite a complex issue, so we have got to talk about what is engaging and positive in terms of the response (that) can have many benefits to our society, for example energy security."

The shift in public opinion with respect to climate change comes after hackers leaked thousands of emails from a top British research facility showing that some of the world's most influential climatologists had been trying to disguise flaws in their work, blocking scrutiny and plotting together to enforce what amounted to a party line on climate change.

The poll comes after the UN's advisory group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was embarrassed by the revelation some alarming predictions about climate change contained in an influential report that it released in 2007 had little or no scientific basis. But The Guardian said evidence that these events were behind the increased public uncertainty in Britain was mixed.


World cools toward Warmists

They brought it on themselves with their fudged facts

The global-warming industry is getting several bailouts, none of which it wants. Last week, three major corporations - Conoco/Phillips, BP and Caterpillar - bailed out on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership lobbyist collaboration. Arizona bailed on the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap-and-trade plan. The Utah House presumably wants to bail on WCI, too, because it overwhelmingly passed a resolution requesting the Environmental Protection Agency to bail on its planned regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. Texas and Virginia also want the nation's top environmental regulator to cease and desist.

On Thursday, the Netherlands' Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, resigned. The guru of global-warming diplomacy, after a disastrous December summit in Copenhagen did not produce an international agreement on greenhouse gas reduction, favored bailing over failing. "I saw him at the airport after Copenhagen," said Jake Schmidt, a climate expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council, to Associated Press. "He was tired, worn out." The summit "clearly took a toll on him."

This followed an admission a few weeks ago by Phil Jones, former University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit director, that he had suicidal thoughts over his role in the Climategate scandal.

On behalf of climate realists everywhere, I beg: Spare us the beleaguered scientists story line. The collapse of the hollow cause they advocated, which spurred a sector bubble probably larger than the 1990s Internet craze and the last decade's real estate speculation combined, was inevitable. Billions of dollars - much of it belonging to taxpayers - were poured into climate-related research and heavily subsidized "green" ventures because of the hype.

Over the same period, global-warming skeptics (including respected scientists and policy scholars) warned repeatedly that there was no authoritative, unified view behind climate catastrophism. But rather than heeding their cautions, large news organizations (and the activist Society of Environmental Journalists) joined environmental harassment groups in marginalizing them. They equated the doubters with disbelievers of tobacco's harm, the moon landing and a spherical earth - you know, crackpots.

Had the media scrutinized the reports of the once-heralded U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rather than listening to the environoia movement, they would have discovered the fragile ceramics were on the alarmists' shelf. It has only taken a few curious bloggers and some journalists from the United Kingdom to finally scrutinize the IPCC's footnotes, which represented the purportedly rigorous scientific study that undergirded the report's conclusions.

What they found beneath the IPCC surface is an error-laden swamp of green groups' promotional materials and amateur compositions by college students instead of the "peer-reviewed" research alarmists had claimed. Climategate spurred subsequent daughter controversies that included "Glaciergate" (Himalayan ice not eroding as quickly as claimed), "Amazongate" (rain forests are suffering from logging, not climate, according to a World Wildlife Fund report) and "Africagate" (a Canadian environmentalist think tank said crop yields would be cut in half because of increasing temperatures). The barrage of revelations has prevented the Big Environment industrial-media complex from controlling the story line.

Climategate data-fudger Michael Mann, the scientist at Penn State University known for the "hockey stick" temperature chart, which rewrote history by eliminating the Medieval Warm Period, last week bemoaned this new discourse on global warming. In an interview with the Web site the Benshi, he whined about "an organized, well-funded effort to discredit" the "scientific community," which he said was driven by the fossil-fuel industry. He accused climate realists of conducting "smear campaigns run against scientists for the sole purpose of discrediting them, so as to discredit the science."

Michael should Mann up. Whatever smudges appear on the reputations of warmism-promoting scientists have been applied by themselves. After all, the skeptics aren't the ones who made up, fudged or twisted data or who employed dubious and biased sources as the foundation for their predictions of calamity. And the alarmists had (and still do) a massive funding advantage, amplified by their colleagues at the major news organizations, which helped keep the messaging winds at their backs. Grammies, Oscars and Nobels were part of their rewards.

But now we have another climate bailout. Though the U.S. media is not hunting down the IPCC fallacies the way their British counterparts are, at the same time, they do not defend global-warming proponents the way they once did. They once championed the cause with vigor, but now a lot of big-city journalists have gone mute about the whole thing.

A suggestion to regain the attention: The scientists should undertake a Mark McGwire/Tiger Woods-like apology campaign. Only then can they start on the road to recovery and restore their lost reputations.


You can't please a Greenie

Environmentalists believe that Taiwanese Buddhists are upsetting the eco-system with their good intentions

The small group gathered after dark at Taipei's Tamshui river with tanks of catfish could be easily mistaken for fishermen. But reciting Buddhist prayers, they haul one tank after the other to the river's edge and tip it over, releasing the meaty, shiny fish into the black water. "May good karma come back to us," they chant at the end of the ceremony, one of hundreds that take place every year in Taiwan.

Freeing captive animals is an age-old religious tradition and is intimately linked to Buddhism, Taiwan's predominant faith, reflecting its emphasis on protecting life in all its precious forms. But the ceremony, known as "mercy release", has raised concerns as conservationists warn the practice hurts the environment and, paradoxically, often involves cruelty to animals. Many followers believe they can get better karma through freeing animals, and that it can help them overcome illness or other suffering, said Lin Pen-hsuan, a sociologist, at Taiwan's National United University.

Birds, fish, turtles, frogs, crabs, crickets and even earthworms are among a variety of animals used in the ceremonies, which have become larger and more specialised in recent years, Lin said. However, with millions of animals being released into the wild each year largely without supervision, conservationists fear the practice will inevitably do little good and much damage. "Wild birds have been captured and sold to religious groups to be 'set free' and the result has been massive injury and death," said Chen Yu-min, the director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan. The society said that nearly 60 per cent of the bird shops it asked for a study in 2004 admitted to catching or breeding animals to cater to the vast "mercy release" market.

The island's fragile ecosystem is also endangered when huge numbers of animals are released into the wild at the same time, critics warn. "There is neither enough space nor sufficient food when hundreds of thousands of fish are released into a river or a reservoir for example. They could all end up dead and pollute the environment," Chen said. "'Mercy release' has become an organised commercial activity that puts both the animals and the environment at risk."

Such concerns prompted Taiwan's parliament to debate a bill in 2004 to ban the rituals but it fell through amid a backlash from some religious groups. So far there has been no new attempt to introduce a ban. "Mercy release is billed as a quick way to accumulate good karma and it offers a last chance, a bet on luck, for helpless people, particularly the terminally ill who find medicine useless," said sociologist Lin. "There is no loss if it doesn't work while believers think they have much to gain if it does, so they will continue to do it in the foreseeable future, even with a ban or a fine in place."

A main defender of "mercy release" is the China Preserve Life Association, which says that it unleashed more than 20 million animals in 2008 during 300 ceremonies - the vast majority being small acquatic creatures. "We Buddhists believe that all life is equal and it is our duty to protect all and not harm any. We only buy animals to save them from being killed," said Hai Tao, head of the association. "It's a good deed. Some groups choose to drop it because of the criticism but we will not turn our backs on the animals," he said.

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan said it angered many Buddhist groups when it started to campaign against "mercy release" in 2004, and many cut off their support. "We urge religious leaders to find alternatives to 'mercy release'. There are many ways to secure good karma such as picking up trash on the beach. That will actually ensure a cleaner environment and save lives," Chen said.



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1 comment:

John A said...

I wonder if Prof. Mann has noticed the Prof. Jones has finished demolishing the hockey sticks of 2001 and 2007? the difference in warming rates for the periods 1860-1880, 1910-40 and 1975-1998 [or 2009] is statistically insignificant. So nuch for the 1940-on massive uptick...