The inquiry began afresh last month when Rep. Lamar Smith, wrote to NOAA expressing disappointment “with the slow pace and limited scope of the agency’s production [of such records],” which had yielded only 301 pages. Mr. Smith directed officials to broaden their search for relevant documents. He said the committee had received a letter signed by 325 scientists, engineers, economists and other scholars questioning whether the agency had properly peer-reviewed the “quality, objectivity, utility and integrity” of the data used in the Karl study.
Data consist of facts, and facts can be cherry-picked to yield a desired effect. In the NOAA study, researchers found that ocean temperatures measured by ships were warmer than those recorded by buoys anchored in place, and scientists “developed a method to correct the difference between ship and buoy measurements.” Ship’s engines, however, can heat nearby water and produce false readings. By including those values, critics contend, the agency may have effectively erased evidence of the global warming pause.
President Obama’s efforts to “re-engineer” the American energy industry is based on the argument that combustion of fossil fuels endangers the planet, and a rapid transition to renewable power sources is essential. The argument was the basis for the Paris climate change agreement, endorsed by nearly 200 nations. If documents were to emerge suggesting temperature data was doctored to reach an expedient conclusion in the NOAA study, and if White House officials were part of such a scheme, that would be proof that science had been recruited to serve politics. Trust in government would be further eroded.
This would not be the first instance of Obama-era back-channel scheming. Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a report last summer accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of colluding with the Natural Resources Defense Council and other “green” organizations to develop the president’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which will saddle Americans with billions of dollars in higher energy bills for decades to come. EPA officials quietly schemed with environmentalists to write regulations reinforcing their shared climate change agenda. The agency has denied the accusations.
Science must be free from pressure to validate political goals. If findings and measurements are altered to serve a political agenda, the findings are flawed. It’s called fraud, and should be punished.