Sunday, June 28, 2009

Politicized Science

. . . The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking. . . .

President Barack Obama, Memorandum, Subject: Scientific Integrity, 9 March 2009


Obama strikes the highest of moral poses, yet scratch the surface and you will find no morality underneath. As has regularly been the case with Obama and the far left, the statists at the UN included, the gulf between words and deeds is a yawning chasm. In terms of politicized science, we have been treated over the past two months to:

- Obama's EPA making repeated claims that the science of global warming is "settled" and that regulation of CO2 is the only way to stave off disaster, yet suppressing its own internal study critical of the underlying science and that calls these conclusions into doubt. (H/T What Bubba Knows)

Update: This from CNET News:

The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages.

Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty "decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."

The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message (PDF) to a staff researcher on March 17: "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward...and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision

The e-mail correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be an independent review process inside a federal agency--and echoes criticisms of the EPA under the Bush administration, which was accused of suppressing a pro-climate change document

Alan Carlin, the primary author of the 98-page EPA report, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his boss, McGartland, was being pressured himself. "It was his view that he either lost his job or he got me working on something else," Carlin said. "That was obviously coming from higher levels." . . .

(H/T Memorandum)

- Last week, Team Obama released a 196 page report, "Global Climate Change Impacts In The United States" that contains so many inaccuracies and false claims that, as one climate scientist has stated, it would "make Pravda blush." And indeed, one of the major scientists whose data is relied upon in the report, Roger Pielke Jr., has taken the authors to task for wholly misrepresenting his work.

- Several weeks ago, during the House Energy Committee's truncated hearings on cap and trade, Democrats trotted out Al Gore, yet shielded him from testifying alongside Lord Christopher Monckton. Gore, who has long explicitly advocated suppressing dissenting voices on global warming, regularly ducks debates on the topic. There is probably no greater measure of how politicized the science of global warming actually is than the fact that its foremost proponent is unwilling to engage in public debate on the topic.

- The UN International Panel On Climate Change, an organization notorious for its suppression of dissenting voices and for presenting twisted and sometimes outright false data, is preparing for the next round of talks in Copenhagen. A subcommittee on polar bears is meeting now to prepare their report for the conference - but absent is one of the leading polar bear experts, Dr. Mitchell Taylor. He was disinvited because he does not believe carbon dioxide is a cause of global warming. Further, his own findings are that "global warming" is not harming the polar bears, with their numbers at optimum or growing - a truly inconvenient truth that we will not hear at the Copenhagen Conference. (H/T Crusader Rabbit)

When it comes to politicization of science, Obama and the left are bathing in it. They are pushing it to promote the vast expansion of government into, as Speaker Pelosi said, "every aspect of our lives."

The problems of politicized science are obvious. One is that, if acted upon, it will result in the massive misallocation of resources. A person need look no further in that regard than the House vote on Friday to enact a massive carbon tax. The plan will have negligible impact on global temperatures yet will have a huge negative impact on our lives. If enacted, it will drive substantial resources away from productive areas of the economy while, as Doug Ross notes, providing the engine for massive social engineering. Another example has been the disastrous push into bio-fuels. That push has critically lessened world agricultural production and, last year, drove food prices rocketing upwards to a level from which they have not returned.

The second effect of politicized science is more subtle, but equally as destructive. It is that scientific theories and observations that do not fit the politicized paradigm get ignored.

One example of that concerns the growing problem of droughts. According to the global warming crowed, carbon dioxide is the culprit. This from Peter Schwerdtfeger, emeritus professor of meteorology at Flinders University, writing in the Australian:

. . . Two decades ago, I pored over the spectral properties of the infra-red radiation of [carbon dioxide], which is essential to plant life, and found that it was almost completely overshadowed by the radiative properties of water vapour, which is vital to all forms of life on earth.

Repeatedly in science we are reminded that happenings in nature can rarely be ascribed to a single phenomenon. For example, sea levels on our coasts are dependent on winds and astronomical forces as well as atmospheric pressure and, on a different time scale, the temperature profile of the ocean. Now, with complete abandon, a vociferous body of claimants is insisting that CO2 alone is the root of climatic evil. . . .

. . . I do not believe for one moment that undisciplined burning of fossil fuels is harmless, but the most awful consequence of the burning of carboniferous fuels is not the release of CO2 but the large-scale injection of minute particulate pollutants into the atmosphere.

Detailed studies led by internationally acclaimed cloud physicist Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have revealed that the minute water vapour droplets that form around some carbon particles are so small as to be almost incapable of being subsequently coalesced into larger precipitable drops. In short, the particulates prevent rainfall.

Rosenfeld's research group has shown that humans are changing the climate in a much more direct way than through the release of CO2. Rather, pollution is seriously inhibiting rain over mountains in semi-arid regions, a phenomenon with dire consequences for water resources in the Middle East and many other parts of the world, including China and Australia.

Rosenfeld is no snake-oil salesman. As an American Meteorological Society medallist, he has an internationally endorsed research record in cloud physics that no living Australian can claim to emulate. . . .

If Rosenfeld's scientific interpretations are correct, then southern Australia would greatly benefit from the application of his discoveries. At the very least, Rosenfeld's conclusions should be accorded appropriate evaluation and testing by an unprejudiced panel of peers.

Yet his work so far has been ignored in Australia because it does not fit in with the dominant paradigm that holds CO2 responsible for reduced rainfall in semi-arid regions. . . .

(H/T EU Referendum)

Yet a second example of this same evil could well prove the most disastrous of all. Those who fully embrace global warming are ignoring the signs of a cooling earth and actual cold-weather related drops in agricultural production. See here and here.

I had to laugh in March when Obama excoriated Bush for supposedly "politicizing science," particularly on the stem cell issue - an issue, as Charles Krauthammer pointed out, on which Bush had taken an ethical stand that had nothing to do with politicization. Nothing Bush did begins to compare with how Obama, the UN and the green left have politicized the science of global warming. Indeed, one would have to go back to the Catholic Church of medieval times to find anything comparable. They get away with it because a corrupt media utterly ignores their mammoth hypocrisy. Thus, as Dr. North at EU Referendum notes, the debate is rigged:

This is a broader point that deserves more attention, touching on an effect we see in defence and elsewhere. The media – as a collective – has its own narratives and as long as an utterance fits with those narratives, it is given an airing. That which goes against the grain is buried.

Currently, the media narrative on climate change is that global warming is real and represents a major threat to the planet and humankind. Similarly, all the woes in the military stem from "under-resourcing" and all problems in Afghanistan will be solved by more "boots on the ground". Thus is the debate rigged, through which means our decline into obscurity, poverty and impotence is managed.

Welcome, Doug Ross readers.


KG said...

A great post! There's at least a couple of hours reading there, though.

Paul_In_Houston said...

This ain't the first time I posted this comment (I've probably done it here as well), but here goes again...

My biggest problem with global warming is the absolute certitude of some of its' proponents (Example: Al Gore stating that "The science has been settled!").

Let’s try for some perspective, time-wise.

For those comfortable with the metric (S.I.) system, imagine a line about 4.6 kilometers long (a bit under 3 miles). That would represent the 4.6 billion year age of the Earth at 1,000,000 years/meter; 1 mm (about the thickness of a paper clip) would represent a THOUSAND years.

That line would span the downtown area of quite a few large cities, with some to spare. Here in Houston, the downtown streets are 16 to the mile, making their spacing about 100 meters. Thus, that line would be about 46 blocks.

The reign of the dinosaurs ended around 65 million years ago (65 meters, about 2/3 of a city block down that line from today).

The first of our ancestors verging on intelligence may have emerged from 2 to 4 million years ago (2 to 4 meters, say 6.5 to 13 feet; your living room could be around 4 meters in one of its' dimensions).

What we call "modern" man may go back 40,000 years or so (40 mm, TWO finger-widths on that line).

Written history goes back 6000 years (six millimeters, 1/4 inch on that line).

Fahrenheit's thermometer is around 300 years old ( 0.3 mm, you’re approaching the thickness of a business card now, or the diameter of a grain of salt).

The portion of that time-line during which precise temperature measurements were recorded would be literally microscopic.

And from that portion, we dare to make really long range climate predictions, and mandate actions based on them?!.

I live about three miles west of some of Houston's major downtown buildings, so I can easily visualize that line.

Looking at that time-line of Earth's history (the universe's may be four times that), and the flyspeck of our own existence upon it, the notion of asserting that ANY science has been "settled" strikes me as arrogance beyond comprehension (as in "only a politician could possibly believe that").


GW said...

Thanks for the comments all . . . and yes, Paul, you posted that one here before - I thought it so good I turned it into a separate post about two weeks ago.

Paul Gordon said...

You sure did; I had forgotten, but regained my memory upon clicking the "Publish" button.

The problem with the internet is that it makes Andy Warhol's prediction of "fame" very accurate, as one's contribution very quickly goes down the memory hole.

"Seek not immortality on the Internet"
~Paul_In_Houston :-)