Climate-Science Shuffle

Climate-Science Shuffle

June 27, 2002

President Bush amazed supporters and detractors alike with his recent submission to the United Nations, "Climate Action Report 2002" (CAR), debuting a U.S. position that man is most certainly changing the climate. The report, which is a product of lingering career Gore-ites at EPA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), did undergo a four-month White House bowdlerizing effort. And, it is true that the president's prescription for dealing with this "serious issue" remains unchanged.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Assurances from White House aides that Bush's policies have not changed, however, are a shaky basis for defending CAR. The question of Bush's policy only addressed the matter of "what next?" Assurances of an unchanged policy did nothing to quell the media firestorm over this apparent about-face, its seeming inconsistencies, and the logical irreconcilability with Bush not altering his measured prescription. It merely led to an eye-glazing "Who's on First?" routine over "greenhouse gas" concentrations versus temperature increases.

This squabble for the most part skipped over the one significant and irrefutable change in policy. Specifically, the White House cited two documents as authoritative regarding its position on "climate change" science: the U.N.'s own IPCC report — which the administration itself refuted in a fairly thorough exposé in August, 2001 — and the "National Assessment on Climate Change" (NACC), a politicized and scientifically dubious report that the White House withdrew to avoid a lawsuit immediately following its rebuttal of IPCC.Specifically, the White House promised plaintiffs — including U.S. senator James Inhofe, Representatives Jo Ann Emerson and Joseph Knollenberg, Consumer Alert, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute — that the NACC was "not policy positions or official statements of the U.S. government." The agreement to drop the lawsuit exposing the NACC as unlawfully produced, political, and junk science, was in fact only made possible by — and concluded immediately upon — the August deconstruction of the IPCC as insurance that the White House meant what it promised.

So much for promises. Now that this piece of work has risen from the dead to support a U.S. position that our affordable-energy policies are killing the planet, let's examine in brief those many flaws detailed in the pleadings.

That lawsuit was brought in federal court in October 2000 against President Clinton and the political appointee heading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for unlawfully producing "global warming" junk science for political purposes.

The lawmakers, senior citizens, and consumer activists undertook this unique step because of numerous and repeated violations of several laws. Detailed, among other things, was a pattern of ignoring mandated areas for study, and offering purportedly "scientific conclusions" without even waiting for the science to be performed. Such behavior by the government, particularly for the base motives that became apparent, is intolerable. Or, at least, it was intolerable.

This disparate band of plaintiffs documented for the court the extent to which politics infected the scientific process, tainting an ostensibly unbiased, technical expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars. Buried in the report's text are admissions that it is incomplete in the areas it was to address, and that the authors had not waited for the proper science to be submitted to justify their conclusions. In other words, it is a compendium of scare stories that doesn't even attempt to justify itself.

The rushed release of voluminous scientific conclusions in a highly technical field without having received, let alone considered, the science upon which such conclusions are purportedly based is breathtaking. In lieu of real science, the conclusions are based on two computer models that, when tested, performed less accurately than a table of random numbers. For the Bush administration to resurrect this sorry report is appalling.

CEI has now invoked the "Federal Data Quality Act," and demanded that EPA immediately cease disseminating junk science. Domestic and international political constituencies may not have scientific standards, but Congress now does: The law requires data cited by the government to meet certain standards of objectivity and utility.

The report the Bush administration adopted, after having officially orphaned it to get out of a lawsuit, is plainly stamped with the Scarlet "J" of junk science. Adopting it is indeed an unfortunate change in policy.