July 8, 2008

Cheney vs. the EPA: the Sound of One Wing Flapping

Hatched by Dafydd

Here's the scaremongering lede from the Associated Press -- funneled into hometown newspapers and dutifully recited on local news stations across the country:

Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains.

When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science.

But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed. [How would Cheney's involvement refute the claim that the snipped pages were scientifically inaccurate?]

"The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) ... any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change," Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

AP and other elite media imply that the wicked George W. Bush and the administration try to censor inconvenient scientific truth that undercuts the interests of their masters at Big Oil. But what's really going on here is a desperate struggle by the Left to enshrine the conventional wisdom of anthropogenic global climate change into federal law quickly, before the public can catch up to the current science -- which has thrown a rising ride of cold water on global warming hysteria.

The Left? What has the Left got to do with the Bush administration's own former "senior adviser on climate change" to the EPA? Just a minor matter that AP forgot to include in their piece: Jason K. Burnett did not simply resign from the EPA in June "because of disagreements over the agency's response to climate change," as AP reports.

He resigned to return to California and campaign for Barack H. Obama. And we had to get this information from, of all sources, the Los Angeles Times! (Hat tip to NRO blogger Kevin D. Williamson.)

Burnett is a lifelong Democrat and well-heeled (a member of the David Packard clan, of Hewlett-Packard fame and fortune); and as even AP admits, he has donated more than $125,000 to Democrats since Algore's presidential campaign in 2000. This appears to be another sad instance where Bush foolishly reached out to Democrats, thinking they wanted to come together, right now, and solve problems.

He forgot, yet again, that to the Left, "the personal is political;" every waking moment is an opportunity to politick for their pet causes. And there is no branch of science more political today than anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC), the supposition that human industrial activity causes the Earth's temperature to soar -- causing disasters we can only avert by cutting back on our energy use so markedly, civilization itself would be set back centuries.

But evidently, AP doesn't think that proponents of AGCC can be politically motivated (they have no trouble believing the same charge against critics of the orthodoxy). The fact that Burnett has become an Obama campaign worker seemed irrelevant to AP in evaluating the accuracy and veracity of his pronunciamentos on global climate change, including this one:

"Climate change endangers health and welfare," Burnett said. "The EPA is required to use existing law to reduce greenhouse gases. The sooner we begin addressing it in earnest, the better off we'll be."

This is the "senior advisor on climate change," which is -- or should be -- a position held by a scientist. But Burnett is not a scientist; he is an economist... and judging from his political positions, not even a free-market economist.

It's not unlikely that his deeply held belief that EPA is required to reduce greenhouse gases surely influences the advisory conclusions he sends to that agency... and when they're not implemented, that he conveys to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 89%) for her to cite at a press conference, where she accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of orchestrating a "cover-up." (Burnett stood beside her on the podium smirking as she did so.)

I will agree with Barbara "Box of Hammers" Boxer on one point: There is indeed a cover-up of vital data related to anthropogenic global climate change. Proponents of globaloney hysteria ("Hansenites," I think I'll call them, after Hysteric in Chief James Hansen at NASA) have systematically covered up all scientific evidence that casts doubt on their current catastrophe theory:

  • They have ignored evidence that the so-called "Hockey Stick graph" used in all early reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showing a sharp and unprecedented lurch upward in global temperature in the twentieth century, was completely bogus: It was, in fact, an artifact of faulty statistical modeling, as demonstrated fairly conclusively by Dr. Edward Wegman. (The IPCC stealthily dropped the Hockey Stick from subsequent publications without actually coming out and admitting it was a fraud.)
  • Hansenites have tried for more than a decade to cover up the existence of the Mediaeval Warming Period -- during which the Earth experienced warming that was faster and hotter than any experienced now... and all this happened long before there was any industrial activity anywhere on the planet.
  • They have studiously ignored or even attacked the scientific evidence showing a significant correlation between sun activity and climate change -- in particular, the solar magnetic field and its relation to cosmic rays and low-altitude cloud cover on the Earth. Much research remains to be done, and thousands of scientists are involved in that very task... but so far, the IPCC's only response has been to accuse them all of orchestrating a vast, right-wing conspiracy with the oil companies to smear Algore. (No, I'm not kidding. Honestly. Read as much as you can stand, without dying from terminal ennui, of this inaptly titled Newsweek story, "the Truth About Denial.")
  • They have tried to suppress all evidence of the beneficial effects of a higher CO2 environment on crops -- including plants that are stronger, larger, more naturally pest-resistant, grow faster, and are tastier; the effect of higher CO2 on world hunger would be remarkable.

  • Hansenites have consistently applied "static analysis" in order to produce reports showing utter disaster from what seem to be fairly minor predicted effects, such as a rise in sea level of a foot or two over the next hundred years: In order to show massive catastrophe, the IPCC assumes that human society will not respond in any way to the slight rise -- for example, by building sea-surge walls and levees in vulnerable areas, such as people in Europe and elsewhere have done literally for centuries.
  • And when all else fails, globaloney totalitarians portray research as "denial" and equate it with denying the Holocaust. The IPCC itself has smeared the reputations of "climate-change deniers," tried to interfere with their funding, and even advocated criminally prosecuting scientists whose research leads them to dissent from global-warming orthodoxy, and any politician who votes against the IPCC's orders. Climate absolutists suggest such charges as "intergenerational crimes" and "high crimes against humanity and nature." We've scheduled a post to be published here on Tuesday that will detail this new tactic for promoting "scientific consensus."

(I strongly recommend the book the Deniers, by Lawrence Solomon, for much discussion of several of these scientific disputes.)

Given this history of utterly one-sided "debate" of the science behind the Hansenites' pronouncements of looming global ruin if we don't rush to cripple Western economies, is it any wonder that the Bush administration wants to ensure that the "scientific" recommendations Jason Burnett gives to the EPA and the "scientific" testimony that various "experts" (such as James Hansen) offer to courts are actually accurate, complete, and include the views of respected scientists, working in relevant fields, who happen to dissent?

And is it really nefarious if the administration acts to suppress partisan politicking disguised as climate science? Until we know exactly what testimony Vice President Cheney sought to have excised from the official report, and whether there really is actual scientific concensus on those points -- or whether they constituted deliberate exaggeration by a highly political non-scientist committed to implementing the establishment view on AGCC, and allergic to contrary data -- we have no way to judge whether Cheney's actions were reasonable or constituted "censorship."

The entire field of climate change is already so thoroughly tainted by politics, mostly from the Left, that it has become toxic. Globaloney is like a bird that tries to fly with only one wing. Removing from official reports tendentious, unverifiable claims actually furthers the cause of real science; Dick Cheney should do more of it, and we should applaud and encourage him.

Algore notwithstanding, the science is not settled. There is no scientific "consensus." People are confused by the similar word in the political sphere, where a consensus might mean that only 20% of politicians or voters disagree. But in science, the term "consensus" means agreement by every major, respected scientist working in the relevant field. If even a couple of them dispute some scientific theory, the science is not "settled."

With AGCC, however, it's not "a couple" if dissenters; there are literally thousands of scientists working in areas that show some propensity to undermine the naive version of globaloney. More research is clearly needed before legislators or the courts can implement policy; scientific questions are not resolved by shouting down the opposition.

Cheney might have engaged in improper, unethical, or even criminal behavior... but the Democrats have not even presented a prima-facie case yet, let alone responded to rigorous cross-examination by the other side. Until they get a lot more specific about exactly what was cut out (or attempted to be removed) and why, they have a pocketful of empty.

And for those answers, Democrats can no longer merely talk among themselves; they're actually going to have to ask Dick Cheney those questions in the press and give him the opportunity to defend his actions. And they're going to have to allow free testimony by scientists who have a different take on what the available evidence shows.

Finally, we will need a neutral arbiter to resolve who is right. And no, Jason K. Burnett will not suffice.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 8, 2008, at the time of 6:36 PM

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Tracked on July 13, 2008 2:04 AM


The following hissed in response by: k2aggie07

I think you would enjoy a daily cruise past

I know I do.

The above hissed in response by: k2aggie07 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 8, 2008 6:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles


I prefer Climate Audit, Surface Stations, and Watts Up With That. I read World Climate Report, but I find Steven McIntyre's site as the most comprehensive site for those who want watchdogs auditing the proponents of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming's junk science.

--"It never ceases to amaze me that people, especially leftist politicians, think that you can wave a magic wand and repeal the laws of physics, chemistry, and economics."

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 8, 2008 11:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mark Alger

I must demur somewhat. I, for one, consider the science settled. Anthropogenic global warming, forced by increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere HAS BEEN FALSIFIED.

There is no need for further research on this question, no need for a moderator to arbitrate the debate. The warmistas -- the Hansenites -- are the ones in denial, and the clearer the facts become, the more one is forced to wonder at motives.

Not to say research into climate change should halt altogether. But it must be acknowledged that, at our current stage of development, we are incapable of having so great and sudden a change in so large and complex a system as planetary weather as the AGW conjecture proposes. Face it and... (wait for it)... move on.


The above hissed in response by: Mark Alger [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 6:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

In any reasonable scientific, political or economic debate it is up to the proponents of radical change to prove, conclusively, that the underlying facts require such a radical change. This "debate" has turned that sensible maxim on its head, demanding that we radically alter our lifestyles (for the worse) and kill millions of people in the third world on the basis of shaky evidence, at best.

There is, AFAIK, NO evidence that connects manmade CO2 with increasing atmospheric CO2, NO evidence that the current warming (if warming at all) is CAUSED by CO2, manmade or otherwise, and we have NO evidence that this warming will be catastrophic. So what science, exactly, is "settled"?

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 7:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

What is "consensus" but an alternate term for "belief"?

Belief has a place in science - it is called the conjecture. It is simple an educated, but unverified, guess at the truth. I think it is possible that the conjecture regarding anthropogenic global warming is correct, and that it is possible that adverse consequences could occur. The opposite conjecture may also be true.

Fortunately I can think of about 140 reasons (depending on the current price of oil) for reducing our carbon footprint to the maximum extent possible in the coming years.

Therefore the conjecture regarding anthropogenic global warming are largely irrelevant. Prices will reduce our footprint just fine. Government just needs to stand aside and and let the high prices do their magic.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 10:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/09/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 11:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: Karmi

The left never stops trying to throw 'W' or anyone connected to him into jail. Such hatred...

The above hissed in response by: Karmi [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 12:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dishman

Dissent is not all they try to suppress. They also suppress their own internal data, analysis, and conversations.

Climate Audit has a good collection of information on that. Via CA, here is a good view of some of how it works.

The above hissed in response by: Dishman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2008 1:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

I don't know who the "they" are, or whom they are "suppressing," but if it is the Bush admin they are doing a lousy job of it. When 2000 scientists /supposedly/ say that humankind is heating the earth catastrophically it is front page news 24/7. When 41,000 scientists say we're not, nary a twitter.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 10, 2008 9:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: John Anderson

Cheney may have noticed that the CDC's contribution was prepared by, and/or would be presented by, the Public/Press Relations part of the organization. Like the IPCC which releases a "political summary" that may have little or no correlation with the report[s] supposedly condensed therein to a "CO2 for Dummies" version, press releases from CDC do not always match well with the actual science claimed to be represented, and is even more often somewhat distorted by the press.

This is a common difficulty, which I find more often in medical pronouncements by politicians because I am somewhat more able to judge as, believe it or not, they are often even farther out of line with - as in direct contradiction of - the science.

The above hissed in response by: John Anderson [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 10, 2008 11:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dishman

Sorry, snochaser, I wasn't clear.
I was referring to Hansen and the IPCC.

The above hissed in response by: Dishman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 10, 2008 7:33 PM

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