Issue by Issue Revisions, Part I: Climate Change

I am still busy at work revising The Republican War on Science for the paperback edition. Now the plan is to have both a new author preface, and then also to have updates at the end of most of the body chapters. And to complete this project, I am seeking more feedback.

Today I'm working on updates related to climate change--political science events that happened in this area from roughly mid 2005 up through the present. There have been quite a lot of them, but I have most prominently identified the following:

Whistleblower Rick Piltz's exposure of political editing of scientific reports at the Climate Change Science Program

Whistleblower James Hansen's exposure of heavy-handed control of scientists' ability to speak to the public at NASA

The rise of Michael Crichton, culminating in his meeting with George W. Bush

Joe Barton's inappropriate little "inquiry" into the scientific validity of the hockey stick

Continual antics by Senator James Inhofe

Am I missing anything?

More like this

PZ's post on Crichton reminded me to point this out.  For those of you who don't know, Michael Crichton got kind of nasty, paying back a critic by making up a character in a book.  The made-up character had just enough similarity to let us know who he was getting back at.  Details are href="http…
For those of you who don't know of him already, Rick Piltz is one of the many science whistleblowers to run screaming from the Bush administration. I've written about him here. Formerly of the Climate Change Science Program, Piltz famously drew attention to the editing of government climate reports…
That crazy pseudoscientific hack, Michael Crichton, has screwed up big time. In a teeny-tiny tantrum against a critic, he made up a character in his latest book with a similar name and background who also happens to be a depraved rapist of infants. Now the obliquely defamed critic makes a measured…
Once upon a time, everyone trembled in fear at the thought of antagonizing the Church of $cientology. Everyone knew their response to any criticism would be heavy-handed and unconscionable, and that they'd harrass you persistently if you ended up on their enemies list. That's changing, though, and…

Yes Sir, you are practicing honesty in inference by using the best evidence to confirm the thesis that outright lying posta get its comeuppance. It's our only hope!

By gerald spezio (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

You have some recent cases of those on the right breaking ranks. I believe I've seen stories of some Republicans in congress waking up. Also you have some evangelicals breaking ranks. But is it a "trend"? Or just the quirks of individuals acting out on their own? Hmmm. (Ok, I'm a troublemaker. I'll stop now...)

By Jon Winsor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

The NOAA hurricane stuff. See the thread on RC for an amazing revelation from Chelliah. It's not clear to me that the NOAA "consensus" referred to last fall ever included many people beyond Chris Landsea and Max Mayfield. Apparently it did *not* include Bell and Chelliah. Also, the gag order at NOAA appears to remain at least partially in effect, per the Providence Journal article discussed on the thread.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

NAS panel on hockeystick; CCSP report on tropospheric T trends (and/or the Aug 11 Science papers)? Maybe not politicky enough?

Also, the new IPCC report leak earlier this month (maybe not directly political, but just in case...)

By Jon Winsor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

As a suggestion, see two articles in the NYT this past week, "21 Senators Press EPA on Emissions Rules" (AP, Mar 31) and "US Raises Standards on Mileage" (Matthew Wald, Mar 30). Each gives illustrations how weak the controlling of vehicle green house emissions can be, the AP showing that the EPA may not allow California's stricter standards to be copied by other states, the Wald piece showing only the marginal improvements, if any, to be gained by the new standards, and interestingly enough, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R, NY) criticized the Bush administration for a lack of political will to institute more meaningful standards (Boehlert is also the one who tussled with Barton and put him in his place).

By Harris Contos (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

I think I heard a similar story on NPR. Apparently the feds are trying to block the states from controlling automobile GH emissions. The whole thing turns on the feds claiming that states' CO2 regs are effectively setting mileage standards, while the states are defining CO2 as pollution, something the feds are challenging.

OK, a quick Google found an article on this. Here's the wording from the NHTSA ruling:

NHTSA has concluded that the State GHG standard, to the extent that it regulates tailpipe CO2 emissions, would frustrate the objectives of Congress in establishing the CAFE program and conflict with the efforts of NHTSA..."

Apparently the EPA was blindsided that the Department of Transportation was doing this. The commentator on NPR speculated that this may be some interdepartmental politics at work. (Hey, aren't Repubs supposed to be for states' rights?)

By Jon Winsor (not verified) on 31 Mar 2006 #permalink

Say something about the effects of Katrina on the body politic.

Even though the scientifically inclined are cautious about blaming global warming for Katrina or any particular storm, the public is starting to consider more powerful tropical cyclones as a wake-up call.

The hurricanes of 2005 brought an abrupt shift in the terms of the political debate. It's no longer about the reality of GW or the cause, but what do we need to do and when. Most people have lost patience with the Bush administration's wait-and-see attitude. They've seen enough to stop waiting.

With regards to HAnsen, I think it's definitely worth pointing out that even during his 60 Minutes interview that he was "shadowed" by a NASA PR hack to make sure he didn't say anything he wasn't supposed to.


Annoyed by the ambiguity, Hansen went public a year and a half ago, saying this about the Bush administration in a talk at the University of Iowa: "I find a willingness to listen only to those portions of scientific results that fit predetermined inflexible positions. This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster."

Since then, NASA has been keeping an eye on Hansen. NASA let Pelley sit down with him but only with a NASA representative taping the interview. Other interviews have been denied.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 02 Apr 2006 #permalink