In Friday NCAA men’s hoops, Arkansas beat Vanderbilt 82-81, advancing the Razorbacks to the SEC Semi Finals and sending the Commodores back to class for now. Now imagine, if following his team’s defeat, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings had had this to say in the post-came news conference:
“If you look at the score since half time, we actually beat Arkansas.” Despite the fact that Vanderbilt did, in fact, outscore Arkansas in the second half (42-39), Stallings would be the laughing stock of the league.
Yet that’s essentially what the White House did last month when Press Secretary Tony Snow said in a press conference,
I would point out that the carbon — that there is a carbon cap system in place in Europe. We are doing a better job of reducing emissions here. Source
The White House later cited emissions data comparing the U.S. and E.U. that would seem to support this assertion. But they were covering up two-thirds of the scorecard. The Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick explains how in “The Political and Selective Use of Data: Cherry-Picking Climate Data in the White House.”
A graph of total greenhouse gas emissions for the United States and Europe reveals how this political manipulation of data was done (see Figure 1). Between 2000 and 2001, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions temporarily declined because of the modest recession, and the dramatic drop in air traffic and travel following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Thus, the only way to support a statement that the U.S. is “doing a better job of reducing emissions” is by choosing a starting date of 2000.
Index of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the US and EU, 1990-2004. Index =100 for 1990. The artificial reference period selected by the White House is circled.