Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government Earth United States Politics Science

EPA Quashed Report Skeptical of Global Warming 1057

Posted by timothy
from the just-some-random-nutjob dept.
theodp writes "CNET reports that less than two weeks before the EPA formally submitted its pro-carbon dioxide 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.' In an e-mail message (pdf) to a staff researcher on March 17, the EPA official wrote: '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 employee was also ordered not to 'have any direct communication' with anyone outside his small group at EPA on the topic of climate change, and was informed his report would not be shared with the agency group working on the topic. In a statement, the EPA took aim at the credentials of the report's author, Alan Carlin (BS Physics-Caltech, PhD Econ-MIT), describing him as 'not a scientist.' BTW, the official who chastised Carlin also found himself caught up in a 2005 brouhaha over mercury emissions after top EPA officials ordered the findings of a Harvard University study stripped from public records."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EPA Quashed Report Skeptical of Global Warming

Comments Filter:
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#28498951)

    So, under the old boss, he leaned one way, and under the new boss he leans another.

    Color me shocked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by motek (179836)

      They are not necessarily corrupt. The just adjust easily. Perhaps this is why they are called 'servants'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      Under the old boss, the EPA was accused of quashing reports on climate change made by climatologists. Now, they're accused of quashing reports on climate change made by economists. There's a fundamental difference there.
      • by Moridineas (213502) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:24PM (#28499167) Journal

        Wow, the guy has worked for the EPA for almost 40 years but because he has an MIT PhD in economics, that makes it ok?

        It wasn't ok when it was the other side, and it's not ok now. End of story.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:23AM (#28501905)

          Bush vs Obama on the subject of 'squashing dissent':

          Bush:
          1. Omitted DATA for 1000 years and mandated the insertion of qualifying words such as âoepotentiallyâ and âoemayâ that the result would have been to insert âoeuncertainty... where there is essentially none."
          2. Demanded that data from a discredited study funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute be included in climate change reports.
          3. Demanded that The elimination of the summary statementâ" noncontroversial within the science community that studies climate changeâ"that âoeclimate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.â

          On the other hand:

          Obama:
          1. Despite the fact that Alan Carlin was no part of any group tasked with studying climate control, Obama allowed his unsolicited and unwarranted report to be analyzed and subjected to PEER REVIEW, and was subsequently REJECTED by his PEERS.

          Yeah, that's the same exact thing.

          The thing that should stand out to anyone is that Carlin claims in this "report": "There may be in the future. But global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th century. They're not going up, and if anything they're going down."

          This is complete and utter HORSESHIT.
          http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

          I REALLY expect more from the /. crowd.

      • by sycodon (149926) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @09:53PM (#28500283)

        It seems Obama isn't the only one quashing dissenting opinions.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5664069/Polar-bear-expert-barred-by-global-warmists.html

        Summary. Leading export on Polar Bears excluded from Polar Bear conference because he is a "skeptic" (shudder)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ls671 (1122017) *

      He his just a servant. I would expect things to change with regards to the issue as years go by. Public servants have to adapt to direction changes in management.

      Please let me had that I have always had concerns with regards to the way this whole thing is handled.

      Of course I admit than man may cause global warming but I find that we sometimes seem to diverge from scientific reasoning when it comes to this matter. It should come back to a more scientific approach as years go by, the concept is pretty new re

  • I wonder.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:55PM (#28498967)
    I wonder how many of these reports on other things (crime, drugs, copyright, etc) have been censored too in order to only give the government's point of view?
    • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:15PM (#28499085)

      Stop giving them power to take your money and make your choices for you. Then you don't care.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        If I tried to take that power away by any means, I think we know what the result would be. Individuals cannot make such a change, masses must and masses will not likely do that until things are extremely bad.

        • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:27PM (#28499185)

          The point still stands though. There's a lot of people who just don't understand the value of limited government. This is a huge piece of the value: What if they're all stupid and evil in the government? If they don't have any power, it really doesn't matter.

          Once you give them power, you better be certain they're all infallible. If you can't be certain of that, then don't give them power.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Stop giving who power? The government? Yes, I am all for that. However we have a screwed up idea of a free society with a totally screwed up idea of representation that worked just fine when states made most of the laws but now we have a huge federal government with a tiny state government and the few rights states have get taken away by the federal government by extortion (make your drinking age 21 or we won't give you any money). Really, who do I vote for? I can vote libertarian which shares nearly 99% of
  • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:03PM (#28499005)

    They told me if I voted for McCain that science would be subservient to policy goals. And they were right!

    Thx Instapundit.

  • Old adage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beatbox32 (325106) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:05PM (#28499011) Homepage
    Science may not be biased, but scientists certainly are.
  • by realcoolguy425 (587426) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:05PM (#28499015)
    I made a post very critical of carbon emissions not long ago, think it ended up scoring (1, Troll). I was even trying to cite the numbers from other sources. Now is it worth severe economic consequences to lower the temperature (and this is just a maybe, and likely using the best model for the pro-carbon-emission-controllers out there) by ONE-TWENTIETH of ONE degree? (over the course of decades) I know I certainly believed most of this green crap when I was in school (not all of it is COMPLETELY crap). However the carbon dioxide aspect of it is the biggest fairy tale we seem to want to believe. Clouds and sunspots have more effect on climate than carbon dioxide ever will. Feel free to mod me down, but at least explain where I'm wrong before doing so. Once again please note I'm only talking about carbon dioxide, and I'm not saying things like smog, or other emissions that cause acid rain are not problems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bencoder (1197139)
      Yep, slashdot contains just as many of the humans-are-evil crew as the rest of society. I believed it all up until the beginning of this year when I decided to actually look at the data. The evidence just does not exist.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        yep, you only need to google global warming and read all the terrible explainations touting the old "co2 works like a glass green house" line to know we are really REALLY fucked.

        a little science sprinkled over a lot of save the world machoism is all there is to global warming.

        • by tsm_sf (545316) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:45PM (#28499807) Journal
          Especially since there are so many other ways we're destroying ourselves. Ocean acidification, for one example, is a huge problem also related to co2 emissions.

          And there's really no question whether it's happening or what's causing it. And it means serious Malthusian shit for a lot of people.

          This is the problem with the way we handle public discourse on environmental issues. We'll focus on one aspect to the exclusion of the dozen other ways we're fucking ourselves.
      • by WinterSolstice (223271) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:26PM (#28499183)

        I'm fairly neutral on global climate *. I think both sides are entirely too biased, and reason is not prevailing.

        Sure, pollution in the environment is bad. No shit.
        Putting tons of hybrid cars on the ground (with the included extra huge batteries and short life spans such batteries dictate) is not the answer. Cows that burp less (WTF?) is not the answer.

        I think the anti-environment group is being too extreme - nobody wants to live in 19th century London, ok? Everything covered in soot, the water toxic, etc. This is bad.
        On the other hand, the pro-environment groups are just as bad. Sorry guys, but if you expend more coal-driven energy on being green than you would otherwise, you're just hurting yourself.

        Rationality on the eco topics is as rare as on the sexuality topics.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gerglion (1264634)

          Putting tons of hybrid cars on the ground (with the included extra huge batteries and short life spans such batteries dictate) is not the answer. Cows that burp less (WTF?) is not the answer.

          True. The real solution is to have less cars on the road in general and to raise fewer cows.

          Reduce,Reuse,Recycle... In that order. Global warming or not, reduction of everything that polutes and/or excessively consumes resources should be the goal.

    • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:21PM (#28499137)

      What irks me about the climate-change-CO2-fear-mongers is that we are forgetting about very real pollutants that are causing problems today. Just look at the current levels of mercury in the oceans. It has gotten to the point where it's not safe to eat many types of fish because the mercury content is so high. Sure, the global warming may be real and we might so happen to stop the planet from heating up, but then what? At that point other pollutants will have killed off all of our food sources.

      • by MikeURL (890801) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:24PM (#28499659) Journal
        At some point the debate moved away from a rational discussion of limiting clearly hazardous pollutants. We stopped talking about mercury, PM2.5, smog, PCBs, etc and we started to focus very obsessively on CO2.

        I join you in being irked at this development. There was a time when virtually everyone thought the EPA was doing a rather impressive job. In fact, the whole government was doing a nice job overall at reducing pollutants that were/are actively harming people.

        The paranoid side of me thinks that the EPA was doing TOO good a job. I sometimes think AGW was introduced to fracture what should be a very solid coalition of people who agree "pollution is bad m'kay". Instead we now have jihadists taking "sides" on whether AGW is real and exactly what to do to prevent it (or ignore it depending on your side). Rather than, as you pointed out, dealing with mercury levels in our oceans that are so high fish have to come with a warning.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Now is it worth severe economic consequences to lower the temperature...

      Well, let's see. A higher average temperature means longer, warmer summers over more of the world, leading to longer growing seasons, bigger harvests and a larger food supply. A lower temperature leads to shorter growing seasons, smaller harvests, less food and, in extreme cases, crop failures. Granted, the one-twentieth of one degree that you refer to is probably not enough to make a difference, but I think the basic principle is

  • Yeah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sitnalta (1051230) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:06PM (#28499025)

    There will ALWAYS be skepticism on a scientific theory as controversial as this. At some point we have to take action. And maybe this paper was given the bum's rush, but I think it was less "conspiracy to silence critics of the almighty environmentalists" and more "oh, God, let's just get on with this already."

    The EPA is a federal organization that, at the end of the day, must side on the consensus of the scientific community. Not be paralyzed by every single dissenting opinion.

    • Re:Yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:16PM (#28499095)

      must side on the consensus of the scientific community

      If you keep silencing dissenting scientific opinions, is it a true consensus?

    • Re:Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by smoker2 (750216) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:22PM (#28499145) Homepage Journal

      The EPA is a federal organization that, at the end of the day, must side on the consensus of the scientific community. Not be paralyzed by every single dissenting opinion

      How can you judge whether there is a consensus, if the community has had things withheld from its judgment ? Yep, we have 100% agreement from those who don't know ALL the facts.

  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grep_rocks (1182831) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:07PM (#28499031)
    I hate to be a troll - but I agree with the EPA, a PhD in economics is not the same as being a climate scientist - unless he has decided to dig into the climate computer models - which I doubt - I am not sure what the substance of his report would be - economic impact?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Peter La Casse (3992)

      I am not sure what the substance of his report would be - economic impact?

      The article said it listed recent research papers whose findings contradicted the draft EPA report he was reviewing. So in other words, it collected and summarized information.

  • by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:08PM (#28499039)

    If you read through the entire article, you can find some interesting information on what it was he wanted us to do. Instead of regulating CO2 emissions, he states that it is more economical to reduce the amount of radiation from the sun that reaches the earth. I don't really understand his position. In effect, he's saying, "I don't believe in global warming. However, even if I did, there's no reason to regulate CO2 emissions." He seems bent against regulation of CO2 at any cost.

    Secondly, he also states that global temperatures have fallen for the last 11 years. I really would like to see his work. This article (http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/83), reported in the September 26 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows global temperatures rising for the last 30 years.

    This man strikes me as being very much against any type of environmental regulation, and I'm not surprised that the EPA is trying to silence him.

    • by drmerope (771119) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:41PM (#28499791)

      Secondly, he also states that global temperatures have fallen for the last 11 years. I really would like to see his work. This article (http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/83), reported in the September 26 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows global temperatures rising for the last 30 years.

      Hmm... is it possible for temperatures to decline in the last 11 years but rise in the past 30. Uh. Yes. The trend since 1998 is decidedly down. What does that mean? Well that's a more complex question, but your broad brush covers it up.

      I suggest reading the following to get a taste of the counter-argument to the EPA's finding:

      These all address concerns about the lack of underlying science--not the political/economics issues.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @11:48PM (#28501081)

        Mentioning Christy Spencer McIntyre and Pielke as if they had a clue demonstrates just how stupid you are. Christy and Spencer have stated repeatedly in the scientific literature that they their analysis of radiosonde data agrees CLOSELY WITH THOSE OF OTHER SCIENTISTS AND WITH THE IPCC report. In a Vermont law suite filed by auto dealers to prevent further tightening of emission standards the Judge noted that Christy UNDER OATH ADMITS that Jim Hansen is correct. Christy is one of the authors of NOAA's Climate Change Science Program report that clearly states that global warming is real and man-made. Yet, he is more than happy to take money from the ExxonMobil funded Heartland institute and say global warming doesn't exist

        McIntyre cann't even use someone elses data and programs correctly. He tried to replicate Mann's hockey stick, but made so many mistakes that the National Research Council had to publish it's own analysis that demonstrated McIntyres errors and reaffirmed Mann's work. ten other independent groups have been able to duplicate Mann's work and show that Mann was too conservative in his findings. McIntyre's been pissed ever since

        These fools don't address any underlying science they merely spread FUD for money

  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:14PM (#28499075) Journal

    They said he's not a climate scientist, but he has an undergrad physics degree and a PhD in economics and he's seems to have spent most of his career writing position papers for economics think tanks! Heck, that should be enough to qualify him as a client scientist...oh wait. What I mean is, with those credentials he should be able to practice dentistry and set policy on...no, that's not it.

    He's a...race car driver? No, that's not it either.

    Let me think.

    I know! He's an economist.

    So now all I have to do is prove that climate science is a subset of economics and the "how dare they say he isn't a climate scientist" outrage will be justified.

    --MarkusQ

    P.S. From what I can gather, the "suppressed opinion" was just that--an opinion. It isn't like the guy had gone out and done any original research.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:19PM (#28499125)

      They said he's not a climate scientist, but he has an undergrad physics degree and a PhD in economics and he's seems to have spent most of his career writing position papers for economics think tanks! Heck, that should be enough to qualify him as a client scientist...oh wait. What I mean is, with those credentials he should be able to practice dentistry and set policy on...no, that's not it.

      He's a...race car driver? No, that's not it either.

      Let me think.

      I know! He's an economist.

      So now all I have to do is prove that climate science is a subset of economics and the "how dare they say he isn't a climate scientist" outrage will be justified.

      --MarkusQ

      P.S. From what I can gather, the "suppressed opinion" was just that--an opinion. It isn't like the guy had gone out and done any original research.

      Exactly. Please check his publication record,not even one single scientific paper on climate change on a career spanning over 38 years as... an economist.What a surprise!

  • I dunno... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:34PM (#28499239) Homepage

    This man has been working for the EPA since 1971. [googlepages.com] Hell, he helped BUILD the place.

    So what if he's "just an economist"? According to my degree, I'm "just a fish farmer", yet I'm working for a company and doing stuff that keeps the telcom grid alive. Nine years of military communications experience will do that for you. Makes me wonder what 38 years of experience working for climate scientists would do for an economist?

    It's not exactly like he's going to just pull this stuff out of his backside after 38 years of service. Nobody that manages to survive THAT long, through seven presidents-five or whom were hostile to the EPA-is going to just buck the trend without a pretty darn good reason.

    I'd say it's worth paying attention to the man. Even if he's on the verge of retirement, 38 years of experience is nothing to sneeze at.

    • Re:I dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:16PM (#28499605)

      He has been working for the EPA as an economist. Not a climatologist.

      His prior publications are in law and economics journals. Not science journals.

      He is no doubt very qualified to asses the economic impact of EPA actions.

      Not so much the veracity of various competing scientific theories of climate change.

  • Irony and Science (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doofus (43075) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:49PM (#28499363)
    Disclaimer: I am software person who happens to work with a group of people who deal with, among other issues, climate change. I am somewhat informed on the subject. One of my colleagues was a member of the IPCC. His Nobel certificate is hanging on his wall, even though all he did was contribute a couple of equations.

    Unbelievably, despite the fact that I am working on a deliverable for this coming week, I took the time to a) RTFM on CNET, and b) download the PDF of the author's report.

    I read through the table of contents, and thought it was worth scanning through portions of the document.

    Ironic Item One

    In the executive summary, the author chides the EPA as an organization for relying on decades of work by the IPCC, and thousands of person-hours involved in climate science that were brought to bear on the IPCC reports over the last several years. The author points out that the IPCC reports did not include the most recent findings regarding, among several phenomena, solar sunspot cycles, cosmic rays, and the melting of Greenland's ice sheet. The author supports his contention that sunspot cycles and cosmic rays affect Earth's climate by citing one or two, non-peer-reviewed postings to web sites.

    Interestingly the most recent peer-reviewed findings regarding all of these items indicate that a) sunspot cycles have nothing to do with global mean temperatures; b) cosmic rays have nothing to do with global mean temperatures; c) Greenland's ice sheet continues to melt at a fairly good clip.

    Ironic, and damaging, Item Two

    Scanning through the report, the reader comes to page 64 of the report, 79 of the PDF, and finds this heading:

    Contrast between Continuing Improvements in US Health and Welfare and their Alleged Endangerment Described in the draft TSD

    The author then goes on to point out how the following aspects of life in the US have improved over the last century or so, despite rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations:

    • Crop yields, including Corn and Wheat
    • Average Annual Heat-Related Mortality
    • Ozone Air Quality

    Then, the kicker comes on page 66; I quote:

    Perhaps, most significant of all, the average lifespan of Americans has increased (Figure 2-5) [ Graph of Mean lifespan in US, 1890-2010, omitted ].
    In fact, there is no better way to obtain a good picture of how human health and welfare may trend in the future under increases in greenhouse gas emissions than to assess how we have fared in the past during a period of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

    While the author does cite a number of actual scientific reports, the text quoted here and the failure to consider the entire constellation of improvements wrought by technology over the last century render his entire report ridiculous.

  • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:01PM (#28499473)

    This just serves to remind us, 'liberal' and 'conservative' alike, that political maneuvering and groupthink look pretty much exactly the same and have the same consequences, regardless on which side of the ideological fence it occurs.

    Groupthink is groupthink, and it's ALWAYS bad.

    That's why, as a liberal, I preferred Dennis Kucinich and am wary of Obama; Obama is far too good at mixing up the Kool-Aid and fomenting groupthink. Kucinich is a plain talker, and it apparently makes him unpopular for saying things that rattle people's delusions and make them uncomfortable. Obama NEVER does that. He's a playa.

  • File Host (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solanum (80810) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @09:17PM (#28500045)

    Whilst it's not directly relevant to the decision in quashing the report it's interesting to look at who is pushing this. The file is hosted at by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an right-wing think tank who "seeks to overturn government regulations that the CEI regards as inappropriate, such as regulations pertaining to drug safety, rent control, and automobile fuel efficiency" See info at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Competitive_Enterprise_Institute [sourcewatch.org]

    They get significant corporation funding, including from the likes of Texaco.

    However, I suspect that the reality of this is that the EPA commissioned a report under the previous government and chose someone who would give them the line the White house wanted, then with the change of President they cancelled it. It's politics. Don't let that stop any conspiracy theories though.

    Most of these reports are poor, whether they support your point of view or not. They are intended to take a large body of primary material understandable only by experts and make it easy for politicians to get ideas from. Usually this results in an unacceptable simplification of that primary material.

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie

Working...