NASA ac­cused of hid­ing cli­mate data

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The fight over cli­mate sci­ence is about to cross the At­lantic with a U.S. re­searcher poised to sue NASA, de­mand­ing the release of the same kind of in­for­ma­tion that landed a lead­ing Bri­tish cen­ter in hot wa­ter over charges that it skewed its data.

Christo­pher C. Horner, a se­nior fel­low at the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute, said NASA has re­fused for two years to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act that would show how the agency has shaped its cli­mate data and ex­plain why the agency has re­peat­edly had to cor­rect its data dat­ing as far back as the 1930s.

“I as­sume that what is there is highly dam­ag­ing,” Mr. Horner said. “Th­ese guys are quite clearly bound and de­ter­mined not to re­veal their in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions about this.”

The num­bers mat­ter. Un­der pres­sure in 2007, NASA re­cal­cu­lated its data and found that 1934, not 1998, was the hottest year in its records for the con­tigu­ous 48 states. NASA later changed its data again, and now 1998 and 2006 are tied for the hottest years, with 1934 listed as slightly cooler.

Mr. Horner, a noted skep­tic of global warm­ing and au­thor of “The Po­lit­i­cally In­cor­rect Guide to Global Warm­ing and En­vi­ron­men­tal­ism,” wants a look at the data and the dis­cus­sions that went into those changes. He said he’s given the agency un­til the end of the year to com­ply or else he’ll sue to com­pel the in­for­ma­tion’s release.

Mark Hess, pub­lic af­fairs di- rec­tor for the God­dard Space Flight Cen­ter, which runs the God­dard In­sti­tute for Space Stud­ies (GISS) lab­o­ra­tory, said of­fi­cials are work­ing on Mr. Horner’s re­quest, though he couldn’t say why they have taken so long.

“We’re col­lect­ing the in­for­ma­tion and will re­spond with all the re­spon­sive rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to all of his re­quests,” Mr. Hess said. “It’s just a process you have to go through where you have to col­lect data that’s re­spon­sive.”

Mr. Horner’s fight mir­rors one that has sprung up in Bri­tain since the release of thou­sands of e-mails from the Uni­ver­sity of East Anglia’s Cli­matic Re­search Unit, which ap­pear to show re­searchers shav­ing their data to con­form to their ex­pec­ta­tions. They also note ef­forts to try to drive global warm­ing skep­tics out of the con­ver­sa­tion.

The cen­ter’s chief has stepped down pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the e-mails.

The cen­ter has had to ac­knowl­edge in re­sponse to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest un­der Bri­tish law that it tossed out much of the raw data that it used to draw up the tem­per­a­ture mod­els that have un­der­pinned much of the sci­ence be­hind the global warm­ing the­ory.

Mr. Horner sus­pects the same sort of data shav­ing has hap­pened at GISS, a lead­ing cli­mate change re­search cen­ter. Mr. Hess said he was un­fa­mil­iar with the Bri­tish con­tro­versy and couldn’t say whether NASA was sus­cep­ti­ble to the same chal­lenges to its data.

The White House has dis­missed the Bri­tish e-mails as ir­rel­e­vant.

“Sev­eral thou­sand sci­en­tists have come to the con­clu­sion that cli­mate change is hap­pen­ing. I don’t think that’s any­thing that is, quite frankly, among most peo­ple, in dis­pute any­more,” press sec­re­tary Robert Gibbs told re­porters last week.

But Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol

Hill say the rev­e­la­tions de­serve a con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Repub­li­can leaders also sent a let­ter to En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Lisa P. Jack­son on Dec. 2 telling her that she should with­draw a se­ries of EPA rules un­til the cli­mate change sci­ence can be bet­ter sub­stan­ti­ated.

For now, cli­mate sci­en­tists are ral­ly­ing around the Bri­tish re­searchers.

Michael Mann, a sci­en­tist at Penn State Uni­ver­sity who is un­der fire for his in­volve­ment in the Bri­tish e-mail ex­changes, said the e-mails’ release was timed to in­ter­fere with this week’s U.N. cli­mate sum­mit in Copen­hagen. Pres­i­dent Obama is plan­ning to at­tend.

“They’ve taken sci­en­tists’ words and phrases and quoted them out of con­text, com­pletely mis­rep­re­sent­ing what they

NASA and CRU data are con­sid­ered the back­bone of much of the sci­ence that sug­gests the Earth is warm­ing as a re­sult of man-made green­house gas emis­sions. NASA ar­gues that its data sug­gest this decade has been the warmest on record.

Mr. Horner said he’s seek­ing the data it­self, but he also wants to see the chain of emails from sci­en­tists dis­cussing the changes.

The Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quires agen­cies to re­spond to re­quests within 20 days. Mr. Horner says he’s never re­ceived an of­fi­cial ac­knowl­edg­ment of his three sep­a­rate FOIA re­quests, but has re­ceived e-mails show­ing that the agency is aware of them.

He said he has pro­vided NASA with a no­tice of in­tent to sue un­der FOIA but that he also hopes mem­bers of Congress get in­volved and de­mand the release of in­for­ma­tion.

NASA and CRU data are con­sid­ered the back­bone of much of the sci­ence that sug­gests the Earth is warm­ing as a re­sult of man-made green­house gas emis­sions. NASA ar­gues that its data sug­gest this decade has been the warmest on record.

On the other hand, data from the Uni­ver­sity of Alaba­maHuntsville sug­gest tem­per­a­tures have been rel­a­tively flat for most of this decade.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

He’s sat­is­fied: “Cli­mate change is hap­pen­ing. I don’t think that’s any­thing that is, quite frankly, in dis­pute any­more,” White House press sec­re­tar y Robert Gibbs says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.