Model Behavior: EPA Promotes False Climate Scares

Horner Op-Ed in Tech Central Station:

The Environmental Protection Agency is telling the Northeastern United States to be very afraid. “Climate change” will prompt flooding of its shores, it will chase away its current mix of flora and fauna, and it will generally make life, well, different. The agency has spearheaded a continuation of “regional” climate scares, this week's addressing the Northeast and summarized on the EPA's website. The EPA even pumped the scare for an hysterical story in the Washington Post, all despite a rare scientific certainty: it is impossible to honestly make their claims. It is odd for a Bush Administration agency to spring this political stunt on unsuspecting taxpayers while the Department of Commerce prepares to release its report identifying the strengths and weaknesses of climate science. Odder still, given that scientific models designed to predict future climate and related impacts can't possibly predict anything on such a localized basis. Not even close. True, a decade ago Congress asked relevant agencies to offer assessments of the impacts of possible climate change. But it didn't say make things up. No statute authorizes reports that can’t be defended given the state of available scientific knowledge, as is the present case. Even the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is explicit in asserting that the computer models used for climate projection are only “credible…down to sub-continental scales” (IPCC Third Assessment Report, “The Scientific Basis” [TAR], p. 473). These models “are not useful for assessing” [even] “regional aspects of climate change” (TAR, p. 476). In other words, there exists absolutely no scientific or logical basis to make climate projections for cities, or even geographic regions. For a government office to assert otherwise, given available modeling capabilities, constitutes bureaucratic malfeasance. This current politicization flies directly in the face of President Bush's proclamation in a Rose Garden speech on June 11 re-establishing science as determinative in the area of climate modeling and prediction — and he recently put money where his mouth is by dedicating millions to improving U.S. climate models. Though it is still early – and some mistakes have been made – this administration has generally proved more respectful of the scientific method and appropriate expenditure of taxpayer dollars than its recent predecessors. And it has taken considerable political heat for standing up for sound science. But given how vested entire bureaucracies are in ensuring that the story of “climate change” becomes more reflected in government policy – through energy-suppression schemes – it likely will not be the last such report. This is not altogether surprising since the professional stature of those toiling in the field of climate science would greatly improve were the public sufficiently frightened. But if this scam proceeds without repercussions, it will indicate that certain people “at the top” of the administration are not sympathetic to challenging tricks designed to trap the President into regrettable policies. It serves as a test of this administration's dedication to certain environmental and regulatory principles, the differences on which were so great between George W. Bush and Al Gore that assuredly provided the margin victory in key states Ohio and West Virginia in the 2000 election. This mischief also raises issues of federal “data quality” requirements and congressional oversight of public expenditures. “Data quality” requirements dictate that certain scientific basics be satisfied or a product cannot serve any official purpose. It was designed with such stunts in mind. Let us hope this administration takes affordable energy and fiscal responsibility seriously enough to intervene, and clean house where necessary.

Copyright 2001 Tech Central Station