Backlash ensues as Rep. Lamar Smith roots out corruption at NOAA

Rep Lamar SmithRep. Lamar SmithIn an era of waste, fraud and abuse, one House member has decided to fight the green ideology that has infested much of the federal government, including NOAA. According to today’s Washington Post, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex) is being pilloried by his Democratic counterpart Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.) for trying to prevent duplicity and restore scientific integrity in all agencies under his purview. This is turning what used to be a relatively bipartisan panel into a verbal fisticuffs among lawmakers and their staffs.

As leader of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Smith is doing something other politicians have tried before: overseeing potential fraud and waste. Smith has put everyone on notice that the committee’s obligation is to the American citizen, and not to the Obama administration’s legacy machine. Smith’s long-term vision for the panel isn’t sitting well with other Democrats, who’s business-as-usual approach is being directly challenged by Smith, even as our debt ticks toward $19 trillion.

Johnson has also sent Smith numerous letters accusing him of trying to discredit scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who released a paper (a.k.a. the Karl study) this year that tried to show there hasn’t been a global warming hiatus. Lamar responded to the Post in a written email saying Johnson’s accusations are without merit. He points out that he has a “long record” of bipartisanship in Congress and that Johnson “consistently argues that the Committee should seek fewer documents and ask fewer questions.”

Smith writes that “even in the face of possible or admitted wrongdoing, she places political allegiance to the Obama administration before the Committee’s obligation to hardworking taxpayers. This does damage to Congress as an institution and to the trust people have in our federal agencies.”

Smith points to three recent incidents as proof that Johnson simply wants to shirk her duties and not live up to her responsibilities. She failed to join the committee in investigating the 3-million-gallon toxic waste spill in Colorado caused largely by EPA contractors, an “illegal meth lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology,” and an executive from NOAA’s National Weather Service who wrote “his own lucrative post-retirement consulting contract.”

Since becoming chairman of the House Committee a little more than three years ago, Smith has shed light on what he calls waste and fraud. This may be a bitter pill for liberal Democrats like Johnson, who sit on the “sleepy Capital Hill backwater” committee, which traditionally “served the administration’s needs.” The battle between the two has gotten so nasty that Johnson has branded Smith’s current investigation into NOAA cooking its books as a “fishing expedition,” a “witch hunt” and an “ideological crusade.”

Despite whistleblower declarations made to the committee as well as other climate scientists examining the aforementioned data tampering by NOAA, Johnson still believes that allegations of NOAA’s adjustments to the historical climate record “the most outrageous statements ever made by a Chair of the Committee on Science.”

Except according to NOAA, it did revise the historical climate record that made it appear as though the planet has been warming faster since the 1950s and that there was never a standstill in global temperatures for the last 18-26 years. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledged two years ago that the rise in Earth’s mean surface temperatures had begun to slow since 1998, and since then nearly 70 excuses have been put forward to explain away the hiatus.

There’s only one problem: Even warmist Professor Tim Osborn of the University of East Anglia, who handles the UK temperature data set with the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “I would caution against dismissing the slowdown in surface warming on the basis of [the Karl study] … There are other data sets that still support a slowdown over some recent period of time, and there are intriguing geographical patterns such as cooling in large parts of the Pacific Ocean that were used to support explanations for the warming slowdown.”

And Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), also said, “It is a bit misleading to say there is no hiatus” in global warming. And according to the satellite temperature dataset, it shows no statistical warming for the past 18.9 years with some datasets showing the pause as long as 26 years. Piers Forster, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Leeds in England, said NOAA’s study was misleading and it hasn’t “‘magicked’ the hiatus away or somehow corrected the IPCC.”

In fact, scientists who have investigated the warming hiatus have said the Karl study’s “key shortcoming is that it does what mainstream climate scientists accuse climate skeptics of doing: cherry-picking start and end dates to arrive at a particular conclusion.” Climate scientist Dr. Judith Curry writes of the Karl study: “These results do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature. Color me ‘unconvinced.'”

Gerald Meehl, a climate researcher at NCAR in Boulder, Colorado, told Mashable in an email: “My conclusion is that even with the new data adjustments, there still was a nominal hiatus period that lasted until 2013 with a lower rate of global warming than the warming rate of the last 50 years of the 20th century, and a factor of two slower warming than the previous 20 years from the 1970s to 1990s.”

Which brings us full circle back to the House committee that oversees NOAA. Smith contends that when NOAA rushed this research to publication it did so over the objections of other in-house scientists. The Karl Study, at the center of the committee’s investigation, has brought widespread disdain from non-skeptical scientists and scientists skeptical of the link between humankind’s emissions of carbon dioxide and global warming. Any warming since temperature recordkeeping began over two centuries ago shows only a 0.5 degrees Celsius warming.

While Democrats accuse Smith of being contemptuous of the scientific method (the holy grail in carrying out all scientific inquiries), his supporters argue that he is doing what this committee has been loathe to do in the past: oversee spending at NOAA, NASA, NSF, and other non-defense research and development. Smith says that Johnson’s utter “lack of interest” in rooting out government waste and misconduct puts her “partisan political allegiance to the Obama administration.”

The glacial tone between Smith and Johnson has gotten so polarized that when the climate change conference in Paris began, the committee held a hearing titled “Pitfalls of Unilateral Negotiations at the Paris Climate Change Conference.” Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), also on the panel, told the Post that “because of the tenor that the chairman has taken, he’s challenged this idea that we’re going to depoliticize science.” Edwards also thinks that scientists are “disengaged from politics,” though their twitter feeds say differently. 

Those that do speak up and challenge any aspect of the underlying science are quickly “tossed out of the global warming tribe,” The Spectator writes. Climate scientist Michael Mann is one of the most fervent believers in anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW), and even scientists who subscribe to the basic tenets of AGW theory, but also believe natural variability strongly affects our climate, are quickly branded “heretics.” Mann calls anyone that questions man-made global warming theory ‘anti-science.’

Is it any wonder that the vicious rhetoric surrounding sound climate analysis has morphed into a climate Inquisition, and has now spilled over into the halls of Congress? The late Dr. Michael Crichton once wrote: “In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus… There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”