Jim's Column

The Scientific Truth May be an Inconvenient Truth

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Washington, February 12, 2010 | Wendy Riemann ((202) 225-5101) | comments

The record-setting storm that blanketed Washington, D.C., Milwaukee and other cities with snow this week added yet another dimension to the debate over global warming.  As people felt cold and their toes went numb from shoveling snow, some struggled with thinking that the globe is getting warmer. 


Whether you call it global warming, climate change or just weather, a snowstorm that shut down the federal government for days, paralyzed our nation’s capital and resulted in the cancelling of a Senate hearing on global warming is not going to go unnoticed.  Nor should it.


For months, legitimate questions have been raised about global warming data not being verified and conflicting data being suppressed, better known to some as “Climategate.”  I joined with others last July in the call to investigate the transparency at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly in response to its “endangerment finding.”  EPA’s Endangerment Finding is one of the most costly regulatory findings in our country’s history.  By determining that greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger, the EPA granted itself the authority to regulate these emissions through the Clean Air Act.  This essentially gives the EPA unprecedented authority to regulate every aspect of American life. 


But how accurate is all of it?  Emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia show a pattern of secrecy and manipulation among leading climate scientists that calls into question some of the conclusions that serve as a foundation for a series of proposed EPA greenhouse gas regulations.


The EPA also used studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to support its “endangerment finding,” but several of the scientists involved in Climategate were significant contributors to the IPCC.


Several institutions, including the United Nations and the CRU, have already announced investigations into Climategate. The EPA should follow suit.  Under both the Data Quality Act and the EPA’s Peer Review Guidelines, the EPA is obligated to rely on information that is accurate, reliable and unbiased. I believe that before the EPA enacts any pending climate regulations, it has a legal obligation to evaluate whether the Climategate controversy undermines the integrity of the scientific studies that the agency used to justify the proposed rules.


We can only hope that this storm provides us with the resolve to put aside the politics and finally hold a hearing in which the real and tough questions that need to be asked about the science behind global warming claims are finally asked and answered. 


We need to examine all the facts, and not just listen to the rhetoric. 


It may be an inconvenient truth, but why not finally get to the scientific truth behind global warming?  It’s something to ponder as you scrape off your car, shovel your driveway and try not to slip on the ice.  



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