Friday, 04 December 2015

NOAA Top Administrator Kathryn Sullivan Refuses to Fully Cooperate With House Science Committee

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On November 20 Kathryn Sullivan (shown), the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sent a response to Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In what has become a heated debate in the wake of a climate study published by NOAA in the journal Science, Sullivan stated, “I have not or will not allow anyone to manipulate the science or coerce the scientists who work for me.”

The study is at issue because it supposedly found that the well-known two-decade pause in global warming really didn't happen, using dubious methodology. To falsify the nearly two-decade pause, the study relied heavily on altering or “correcting” past sea temperature data collected by ships and ocean buoys, and it altered the buoy temperature data to more closely mirror water temperatures taken by ships, though the buoy data is considered more pristine because it is not affected by the heat from the ships' engines. Moreover, the study left out data collected by satellites, information widely regarded as the most accurate climate data available, thereby making it seem as if the NOAA was manipulating data to achieve a desired result.

After the study was published, Representative Smith laid out his concerns about the study's methodology and findings to Kathryn Sullivan in an e-mail dated July 14, 2015:

When corrections to scientific data are made, the quality of the analysis and decision making is brought into question. The conclusions brought forth in this new study have lasting impacts and provide the basis for further action through regulations. With such broad implications, it is imperative that the underlying data and the analysis are made publicly available to ensure that the conclusions found and the methods used are of the highest quality.

In the same letter, Smith requested Kathryn Sullivan provide three things:

• All data related to the study (methods, etc.);

• All documents and data referring or relating to corrections to sea temperature data from ships and buoys from January 1, 2014 to July 13, 2015;

• Information of any plans by NOAA to make the study data fully available to the public and if no such plan exists, a written statement describing why not.

Representative Smith’s requests are by no means overbearing. First, as an organization operating with public funds, NOAA's research and records should by right be available at the very least to the committee in charge of their oversight. Second, as Chairman Smith commented in his letter, the impact of the study very well could have “broad implications,” implications that could take the form of regulation.

Lamar Smith’s request is in alignment with good scientific research as well: Valid research can be replicated and survive rigorous scrutiny. In fact, research that does not undergo thorough scrutiny is generally considered to be invalid by scientists. As to the request to make study-related data and plans fully available to the public, the importance for such material to be openly documented is imperative. While NOAA considers the study to be adequately “peer-reviewed,” any hiding of data from the public should rightly be deemed suspicious — after all, we are not dealing with national secrets here. And if the data is not forthcoming, it should be wondered, “Which peers reviewed it, and were there political motivations?” As to the study being “peer-reviewed,” shoddy research and reporting of facts seems to be the norm with global-warming issues, so any research should be fully transparent and any review should include "climate realists." There are a multitude of respected scientists who are not in alignment with global-warming frenzy. In an article for The New American, William F. Jasper lists a number of them.

Political motivations and numerous global-warming scandals such as Climategate and Glaciergate mean the House Science Committee needs to see documents and data pertinent to the study.

In a recent development, Chairman Smith backed off slightly on one request. While he had initially wanted all internal NOAA correspondence regarding the study, in a letter on Tuesday, December 1, he narrowed his request by adding “with exception of scientists acting in their official capacity.”

Representative Smith’s requests have been painted by many in the media as unnecessary and overbearing. However, as the climate talks in Paris are taking place (November 30 to December 11, 2015), with an end goal of instituting international regulations and giving global governance both power and tax money, there could be no better time for open access to every bit study data, as well as all communications regarding the study.

A December 1, 2015 article by NPR entitled “10 Things to Know About the U.N. Climate Talks in Paris” indicates both the alarmist tenor of the Paris talks and the dramatic changes that are expected to come from the talks. The article begins with the question, “Why should I care?” It answers the question with the statement, “It's no exaggeration to say that what happens in Paris will affect the future of the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions keep going up, and scientists say that continuing with business as usual will produce rapid and devastating warming.” (Emphasis added.)

Further, the website set up for the Cop21 Paris climate talks says, “In 2015 COP21 known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2° C.”

As the COP21 Paris climate talks progress and the government-driven global-warming frenzy reaches record levels, it is not Representative Smith who should be in the hot-seat. In spite of intense demonization from many media outlets, Lamar Smith is performing his duties as a representative to the citizens of his state and the country admirably. He is standing up for those who would be affected by new and dramatic climate-change regulations. The person who should be under intense scrutiny is Kathryn Sullivan.

To this point Kathryn Sullivan has been partially cooperative. On October 19, 2015, she sent Dr. Thomas Karl himself to brief the committee. There are two areas at issue right now. Number one. Why did the study completely disregard the more accurate satellite data? Number two. Why is Kathryn Sullivan holding communications regarding the study so close to the vest?

If the study is as unbiased as NOAA would have Representative Lamar Smith and the public believe, why are the communications, possibly between NOAA and high-level lawmakers being kept from the eyes of Representative Smith and the public? Government oversight of NOAA comes from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Both she and Kathryn Sullivan need to feel heat from the public to produce the information requested.

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