Monday, March 03, 2014

Putting an end to the EPA’s ‘secret science’

American taxpayers foot the bill for the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly regulations, and they have a right to see the underlying science. EPA bureaucrats routinely hide this public information, insolently foreshadowing President Obama’s recently outed code of ethics, “I can do anything I want.”

As Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) bluntly forced the issue, “Virtually every regulation proposed by the Obama Administration has been justified by nontransparent data and unverifiable claims.”

“Nontransparent data and unverifiable claims?” Translated from scientese, it’s like this: If you’re a good scientist, you make an exact, detailed description of how you did your study or research so anybody else can follow your description and get the same result.

If you won’t tell anybody how you did it, your work is not “transparent.”  If you do tell and nobody else can get the same result you got, your science is junk, or not “reproducible” – not verifiable.

Face it, EPA science is junk and they’re hiding that fact.

Smith is in a position to do something about Obama’s scofflaws: he’s chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, where his panel on February 11 held a hearing on “Ensuring Open Science at EPA.”

It was the launching pad for the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014, a bill to bar the EPA from proposing regulations based upon science that is not transparent or not reproducible.

That sent shockwaves through Big Green, which has a vested interest in hiding outdated, biased, falsified, sweetheart-reviewed, and even non-existent “science” that has destroyed the lives of thousands in the death-grip of agenda-driven EPA rules.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) gaveled the hearing to order. “For far too long,” he said, “the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions.”

The average American would probably ask why the EPA is such a problem. The first witness told why: John D. Graham, a dean at Indiana University and former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has years of experience telling good science from junk.

Graham surprisingly said that EPA science standards are “quite high” because lives depend upon proper rules to protect us from the harmful effects of pollution while avoiding data errors that can unjustly destroy whole sectors of America’s economy.

The EPA isn’t living up to its standards. Why not?

The EPA’s downfall is its poorly developed science culture, said Graham. “In my experience working with the EPA, I have found that the political, legal, and engineering cultures are fairly strong but the cultures of science and economics are highly variable … First-rate scientists who are interested in public service employment might be more inclined to launch a career at the National Academy of Sciences” or elsewhere.

Most damning, Graham cited a decade of National Science Foundation reports documenting the bad quality, transparency, and reproducibility of EPA’s scientific determinations.

Dr. Louis “Tony” Cox, chief sciences officer at Nexthealth Technologies, needs access to sound data for his work on health risk assessment, but he’s more than alarmed at the state of EPA science. Cox sees “catastrophic failure in the reproducibility and trustworthiness of scientific results.”

Even science editors complain that many published research articles are false and even peer-reviewed results are not reproducible.

EPA demands sensational reports, true or not, and isn’t checking scientists’ work.  In short, we need junk sniffers.

Raymond J. Keating, chief economist of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, who testified for the Center for Regulatory Solutions, provided one of the hearing’s big shockers: “The annual cost of federal regulations registered $1.75 trillion in 2008.”

A highly credentialed witness, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Professor Ellen Silbergeld, picked the Secret Science Reform bill apart. She hit two points: lack of protection for patient information privacy in EPA health studies, and a requirement for everyone but industry to reveal their data.

In rebuttal of both points, Graham noted that the National Academy of Sciences is now focusing not on whether patient data is to be shared, but how to do it while protecting privacy; and the Secret Science Reform bill requires all EPA science, regardless of source or funding, to have open data, including industry.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) asked of the witness panel, “Do any of you disagree with the principle that in [the] case of taxpayer-funded research or studies, the public should have access to the underlying data?” Silbergeld responded, “As stated in my testimony, for reasons given, I disagree with that – respectfully.”

EPA is basing major regulatory decisions on junk and inviting a rebellion by doing it.  Taxpayers must become America’s army of junk sniffers and ruthlessly axe the EPA’s heart rot – respectfully, of course.


The Original Sin of Global Warming

It might seem strange to say it, but I am a global warming skeptic because of Carl Sagan.

This might seem strange because Sagan was an early promoter of the theory that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are going to fry the globe. But it’s not so strange when you consider the larger message that made Sagan famous.

As with many people my age, Sagan’s 1980 series “Cosmos,” which aired on public television when I was eleven years old, was my introduction to science, and it changed my life. “Cosmos” shared the latest developments in the sciences of evolution, astronomy, and astrophysics, but its real heart was Sagan’s overview of the history of science and the distinctive ethos behind the scientific method.

Sagan returned again and again to one central theme: that the first rule of science is to follow the evidence wherever it leads, regardless of one’s wishes or preconceptions. He spoke eloquently about the Ancient Greek Pythagoreans and their attempt to suppress the facts about “irrational numbers” that didn’t fit their theory. And he spoke admiringly about the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler, who started out pursuing a theory in which the planets move in circular orbits reflecting the ratios of the perfect Pythagorean solids—and ended up being driven by the evidence to reject this theory and discover completely new laws of planetary motion.

I didn’t end up becoming a scientist, but I absorbed Sagan’s basic lesson and have tried my best to adhere to it in my own field: follow the evidence wherever it leads.

But this can be a difficult rule to follow. It is easy to spot the unexamined assumptions of others, but harder to root out your own prejudices. A few years ago, while watching “Cosmos” again for the first time in 25 years, I was reminded that Sagan did not always practice what he preached, and his error sheds light on the global warming theory’s original sin against science. It is a sin that has only gotten worse and which explains the scandalous state of today’s debate over global warming.

In the third episode of “Cosmos,” Sagan presents our nearest planetary neighbors, Venus and Mars, as cautionary tales of what happens when a potentially Earth-like planet goes wrong and become inhospitable to life. In his telling, Venus is a warning about how a runaway greenhouse effect can turn a planet’s surface into an acidic furnace, while Mars is a cautionary tale about how an inadequate greenhouse affect can leave a planet cold, dry, and barren. He proceeds to apply these lessons to Earth, predicting two possible doomsday scenarios: one in which deforestation causes the Earth to cool, and one in which fossil fuels cause it to warm. (You can hear some of the audio here, but without Sagan’s original visuals.)

    Human activities brighten our landscape and our atmosphere. Might this ultimately make an ice age here? At the same time we are releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide, increasing the greenhouse effect…. It may not take much to destabilize the Earth’s climate, to convert this heaven, our only home in the Cosmos, into a kind of hell.

This is a bit of a cultural time capsule, preserving the precise moment at which scientific alarmists were switching from warning about a new ice age, in the 1970s, to warning about runaway warming.

Much of the planetary science behind these claims, by the way, turned out to be speculative and premature. In the 1990s, detailed satellite maps of Venus revealed the remains of enormous volcanoes and vast rivers of lava, implying that the planet had been entirely resurfaced by a volcanic apocalypse as recently as 100 million years ago—which strikes me as a much more reasonable explanation for why Venus has a surface temperature of 900 degrees and an atmosphere full of sulfuric acid. As for Mars, its much smaller size and lack of a planetary magnetic field, which allows its atmosphere to be stripped off by the solar wind, are adequate explanations for its cold, thin air and the absence of surface water. So Venusian SUVs and overenthusiastic Martian loggers are probably off the hook.

To his credit, Sagan admits that the science on this subject is still in its early stages—but then he makes a disastrous error.

    And yet we ravage the Earth at an accelerated pace, as if it belonged to this one generation, as if it were ours to do with as we please…. Our generation must choose. Which do we value more: short-term profits or the long-term habitability of our planetary home?…

    The study of the global climate, the sun’s influence, the comparison of the Earth with other worlds, these are subjects in their earliest stages of development. They are funded poorly and grudgingly, and meanwhile we continue to load the Earth’s atmosphere with materials about whose long-term influence we are almost entirely ignorant.

Can you see the error? Sagan enters this topic with a clear animus against the profit motive and a pre-established belief that industrial civilization is “ravaging the earth.” These are the obvious cultural biases of a late-20th-century modern liberal. So he considers two alternative theories—that we are destroying the planet by cooling it down, or we are destroying the planet by heating it up—and calls for more government funding to figure out which is correct. But his bias prevents him from seriously considering the obvious third option: that our effect on the Earth’s climate is negligible, any heating or cooling is within the normal range of natural variation, and the benefits of industrial civilization far outweigh any negative effects. But if we don’t treat this as an option, much less as an equally likely option, no government funding is likely to be devoted to pursuing that theory.

This is the original sin of the global warming theory: that it was founded in a presumption of guilt against industrial civilization. All of the billions of dollars in government research funding and the entire cultural establishment that has been built up around global warming were founded on the presumption that we already knew the conclusion—we’re “ravaging the planet”—and we’re only interested in evidence that supports that conclusion.

That brings us to where we are today. The establishment’s approach to the scientific debate over global warming is to declare that no such debate exists—and to ruthlessly stamp it out if anyone tries to start one.

That’s how we get the Los Angeles Times loftily declaring that it won’t even publish letters to the editor that question global warming. That’s how we get Michael Mann’s lawsuit attempting to make it a legally punishable offense to “question his intellect and reasoning.”

That’s how we get the appalling petition to spike Charles Krauthammer’s Washington Post‘s column for expressing mere agnosticism about global warming.

It’s how we get the New York Times casually suggesting that global warming “deniers” should be stabbed.

And then there is this doozy, from my own backyard: at the University of Virginia, Thomas Forman II declares in the student newspaper that global warming skeptics shouldn’t even be allowed to speak on campus, because “we should keep our debates out of our science classes.”

This, at the university founded by Thomas Jefferson, who said, “here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” He also said, “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

Forman is the president of the UVA Environmental Sciences Organization, which “provides a link between the Environmental Sciences Department and the students of the University,” “mainly geared toward undergraduate majors and minors in the department.” So the guy who believes in keeping debate out of our science classes has appointed himself as a guide for every undergraduate who wants to enter the field of climate science.

This puts a whole new light on the claim that a “consensus” of climate scientists backs global warming. It’s easy to manufacture such a consensus when you decree ahead of time that no contrary opinion may be heard. When I saw the recent claim that 97% of climate scientists endorse the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming, it struck me that this is the same margin by which dictators typically claim they have won re-election—and for the same reason. These are both systems in which voting for the “wrong” result is not tolerated.


Keystone Foes Form Circular Firing Squad After Running Out of Arguments

In the New York Times today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona who serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fires a warning shot above the White House’s bow. “If the president approves the Keystone XL pipeline,” Grijalva threatens grimly, “it would be a bad end to what could still be a very strong environmental legacy.”

And that — “Environment Good, Keystone Bad” — is about the sum total of his argument. Rather bizarrely, much of the op-ed is spent relitigating the Bush years. He remembers vividly when “George W. Bush was president and big business wrote environmental policy.” He recalls with horror “Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.” And he harks back to the days when Barack Obama’s election seemed to promise a “change from Mr. Bush’s way of doing business with business.” There’s a lot of harking, actually. Insofar as the op-ed has a clear point at all, it seems to be that under Bush our environmental policy was disastrous, that it is a little better now, but that Obama might ruin all that if he has the temerity to approve a pipeline. Grijalva makes this point eight times in eleven paragraphs.

In the remaining three, he fails to marshal a single solid argument against Keystone XL. We are informed about “lobbying and bad science” but given no good examples of either; we are told that “Keystone is a bad deal for the American taxpayer on the merits” but never allowed any indication as to why; and we are given notice that the Obama “administration’s approach to the pipeline is a throwback to the time when endangered species were defenseless in the face of corporate moneymaking.” But we are never treated to anything that so much as approaches an explanation as to why. One suspects that the author would have enjoyed Occupy Wall Street.

The closest that Grijalva comes to outlining what he means by the project’s being a “visible and sometimes painful reminder of the way things were done under Mr. Bush” is to claim that,

the contractor chosen by the State Department to assess the pipeline’s environmental impacts violated federal conflict-of-interest rules to get the job, and nothing has been done about it. That company, Environmental Resources Management, did work for TransCanada, Keystone’s parent company, in the recent past and told the State Department the exact opposite on disclosure forms that anyone in the world can now read for herself.

Sadly for Grijalva, though, this is flatly untrue — as his own New York Times confirmed yesterday. In a piece titled “No Conflict of Interest Found in Favorable Review of Keystone Pipeline,” Coral Davenport bluntly recorded that “the inspector general’s report concludes that the State Department’s process in selecting ERM followed, and was at times more rigorous, than was prescribed by agency guidance.” Further, Davenport noted, the report

"concludes that ERM fully disclosed its prior work history — including its work with TransCanada — and completed all previous work with TransCanada before undertaking the Keystone review.”

Pretending as usual that he was on the cusp of a decision, President Obama intimated last year that he would approve Keystone only if he was convinced it wouldn’t “significantly exacerbate” carbon emissions. He should now be satisfied. The State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement confirms that the pipeline would not make a difference to the overall amount of carbon being emitted:

Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.

In other words, to deny the pipeline is not to prevent its allegedly dangerous consequences. Given that the federal government is now routinely issuing statements such as this one, it isn’t especially surprising that the dissidents are shying away from discussing anything of substance. The environmental movement can continue to flail against Keystone XL if it so wishes, but eventually it will come to recognize that that ship has sailed — and literally. As Grist’s Lisa Hymas noticed in 2012, “Keystone pipeline protesters are having an unintended impact.” That impact? To push exporters to use other modes of transport while their project is stalled. “Thanks in part to anti-pipeline activism,” Hymas noted, “oil in North America is increasingly being shipped by train.”

And by boats and trucks and barges, too — all of which are not only more dangerous and less cost-effective than pipelines but serve to move precisely the same goods to precisely the same places as Keystone would have. Which is to say that for the anti-Keystone argument to have any merit, it would need to be established that the oil it is intended to carry would never have been extracted, moved, refined, or consumed. And, as repeated analyses have demonstrated, this case can simply not be made. Building Keystone is almost certainly not going to yield faster oil-sands production; not building Keystone is not going to stop the long march toward North American energy independence. What exactly are Grijalva and his allies achieving here?

The answer, as so often, is that they are shoring up the base — impressing what is now a relatively minor issue into a much larger battle and hoping that the faithful will believe that campaign gestures and political victories are synonymous. Alas, the harsh truth is that, of late, Keystone has become more of a political football than a pressing question of economics or environmentalism — more important to consultants than to industrialists. It is telling that Mr. Grijalva elected to spend the vast majority of his brief moment in the sun taking backwards shots at an administration that has been out of power for over five years. Instructive, too, that having laid out his rather vapid reasons for opposing the approval, he concluded that “more important” in this instance is that “environmentalists have decided that enough is enough.” Where art thou, Michael Kinsley?


Obama Wants to Waste a Billion on "Climate Change"


Barack Obama will be remembered for many things during his two terms in office, but high on the list, right after lying to everyone about everything, will be his determination to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on every Green scheme from solar and wind energy to electric cars, and now on "climate change."

He is calling for a billion-dollar climate change fund in his forthcoming budget, due out next month. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the fund "would be spent on researching the projected effects of climate change and helping Americans prepare for them, including with new technology and infrastructure, according to the White House.

We don't need any research and we don't need any new technology. The National Weather Service has hugely expensive computers that enable it to predict what the weather will be anywhere in the U.S. with some measure of accuracy for up to three or four days. After that, it gets fuzzy. What will the weather be next week? Well, maybe a bit warmer or a bit colder.

As for the effects of weather events, we have centuries of knowledge regarding this. We know what happens after a blizzard or a hurricane, a drought or a flood.

When a huge storm like Sandy hit the East Coast, we had FEMA that was supposed to come in and help the victims. The federal government also came up with a couple of million for the States most affected, but it is still a problem that local first responders and utilities have to address most directly.

Obama was out in California to show his concern for the drought-stricken farmers and the administration is speeding delivery of $100 million of aid to livestock farmers, $15 million for areas hit hardest, and $60 million for California food banks to help the poor. Rep. Kevin McCarthy(R-CA) pointed out that the drought has been "exacerbated by federal and state regulations" including an environmental rule that placed "the well-being of fish...ahead of the well-being" of communities.

Like Rep. McCarthy, those on the scene point out that the drought is in part the result of the failure to restore the water flow from California's water-heavy north to farmers in the central and south. House Bill 3964 does that, but only if the Senate will stop holding it up. Rep. McCarthy is joined by Rep. Devin Nunes explaining that California's system of aqueducts and storage tanks was designed long ago to take advantage of rain and mountain runoff from wet years and store it for use in dry years.

As pointed out, "Environmental special interests managed to dismantle the system by diverting water meant for farms to pet projects, such as saving delta smelt, a baitfish. That move forced the flushing of three million acre-feet of water originally slated for the Central Valley into the ocean over the past five years."

Obama made no mention of that, but it is an example of how, in the name of climate change billions are wasted or lost, such as when the outcry over Spotted Owls caused a vast portion of the Northwest's timber industry was decimated by the false claim that they were "endangered."

All this traces back to the founding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program. The IPCC was given a formal blessing by the UN General Assembly through Resolution 43/53.

And what has the IPCC done? It has championed the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for warming the Earth and that all the industries and other human activities that create CO2 emissions had to reduce them in order to save the Earth. In 2007 the IPCC and Al Gore would share a Nobel Peace Prize. As an organization and as an individual these two have proved to be the among the greatest liars on planet Earth.

Dr. Craig D. Idso, PhD, is the founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. He is an advisor to The Heartland Institute and, with Dr. Robert M. Carter and Dr. S. Fred Singer, authored the 2011 study, "Climate Change Reconsidered", for the entertainingly named NIPCC-Not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Published by The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank that has led the effort to expose the IPCC since 2009, sponsoring eight international conferences, the report was updated in 2013 and a new update is due in March.

Writing in The Hill on January 30, Dr. Idso said "the President's concerns for the planet are based upon flawed and speculative science; and his policy prescription is a recipe for failure" noting that "literally thousands of scientific studies have produced findings that run counter to his view of future climate."

"As just one example, and a damning one at that, all of the computer models upon which his vision is based failed to predict the current plateau (the cooling cycle) in global temperature that has continued for the past 16 years. That the Earth has not warmed significantly during this period, despite an 8 percent increase in atmospheric CO2, is a major indictment of the model's credibility in predicting future climate, as well as the President's assertion that debate on this topic is ‘settled'."

"The taxation or regulation of CO2 emissions is an unnecessary and detrimental policy option that should be shunned," said Dr. Idso. Unfortunately for Americans, that is precisely the policy being driven by Obama's Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of the Interior and other elements of the government.

So the trip to California with its promise of more million spent when, in fact, the Green policies of that State have caused the loss of the Central lands that produce a major portion of the nation's food stocks, reveals how utterly corrupt Obama's climate-related policies have been since he took office in 2009.

Billions of taxpayer dollars have been squandered by the crony capitalism that is the driving force behind the IPCC's and U.S. demands for the reduction of CO2 emissions.

There is climate change and it has been going on for 4.5 billion years on planet Earth. It has everything to do with the Sun, the oceans, volcanic activity and other natural factors. It has nothing to do with the planet's human population.

What is profoundly disturbing is the deliberate political agenda behind the President's lies and Secretary of State John Kerry's irrational belief that climate change is the world's "most fearsome" weapon of mass destruction


Australia:  Brain-dead meteorologist thinks that because his city is hot it must be hot everywhere

In parts of the USA there is record cold. See below.  So which place do we go by?  It takes a Warmist to claim that local warming tells you about global warming.  Warmists mostly now don't do that nonsense because they have found to their pain that skeptics can turn the tables on them just about every winter.  So this guy is obviously just not bright

THE weather bureau says Perth’s record-smashing summer was “madness” and it has used temperature and rainfall data to lash out at climate change sceptics.

And the state’s top meteorologists are warning West Australians they face decades of rising temperatures – with hotter, drier and more extreme summers.

The 2011-12 summer was Perth’s hottest on record and this summer was the second hottest on record, tied with both the 2009-10 summer and the 2010-11 summer with an average maximum of 32C.

This summer was also the driest in five years for Perth, with just 2mm of rain, and the driest on record for Mandurah.

Perth had only three days where rain fell and not one drop fell last month – the first dry February since 2000.

It might have been the start of autumn but there was no respite yesterday, with temperatures nudging 37C in Perth.

The weather bureau is normally conservative, but Bureau of Meteorology climate expert Neil Bennett said the data was staring climate change sceptics “in the face”.

“It’s climate change. It’s warming. It’s staring you in the face,” he said.  “This is crazy. This is madness, what’s going on now.

“The climate doesn’t change like this. This is really remarkable. The last four summers have all either been the hottest or second hottest on rec­ord.  “It’s not just Perth – in Bunbury eight of the hottest summers have occurred since the turn of the century.

“What we are saying is when you look and see the trend is going up, it seems foolish to try to ignore that trend.  “This is really, really unusual. It’s a sign that the temps across Australia are warming. There is no getting away from it.”

Mr Bennett said the climate models for “30, 40 and 50 years ahead” were also all “pointing upwards”.


Great Lakes Approaching 100% Ice Cover – For The First Time On Record

So if we reason from the local to the global, as Warmists have often done, we are at the beginning of a new ice age

Lake Ontario is the only major holdout, and the forecast there is for extreme cold during the next two weeks.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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