Science back in its rightful place?
posted at 10:30 am on June 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama promised repeatedly to “restore science to its rightful place” as President during his campaign, repeating the Left’s accusation that George Bush ignored scientific conclusions in favor of his own policy preferences. How has that promise worked so far? Ask Dr. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, who saw his research misrepresented and manipulated to support conclusions on global warming completely at odds with his findings. The New York Times relegated this to their science blog:
[Why] is a report characterized by [White House] Science Advisor John Holdren as being the “most up-to-date, authoritative, and comprehensive” analysis relying on a secondary, non-peer source citing another non-peer reviewed source from 2000 to support a claim that a large amount of uncited and more recent peer-reviewed literature says the opposite about?
The issue is the recent White House claim, in support of their push for a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions, that global warming has already begun damaging the US. Pielke claims that Holdren uses unsubstantiated claims in place of actual peer-reviewed data that paints a much different picture than Obama does on climate change. Pielke notes the difference in two years of reporting:
1. Over the long-term, U.S. hurricane landfalls have been declining.
2. Nationwide there have been no long-term increases in drought.
3. Despite increases in some measures of precipitation . . . there have not been corresponding increases in peak streamflows (high flows above 90th percentile).
4. There have been no observed changes in the occurrence of tornadoes or thunderstorms
5. There have been no long-term increases in strong East Coast winter storms (ECWS), called Nor’easters.
6. There are no long-term trends in either heat waves or cold spells, though there are trends within shorter time periods in the overall record.
Pielke doesn’t necessarily refute global-warming concerns, but he notes that the administration is hardly taking a scientific approach to a scientific issue. Instead of focusing on peer-reviewed research, which has become increasingly inconclusive, the White House and Holdren have begun seizing on claims that are not scientifically derived, have not been tested, are out of date, and in many cases are simply false. That doesn’t give any credibility to the science of climate analysis, and instead gives critics the kind of ammunition that makes it look like phrenology.
Is that “restor[ing] science to its rightful place” in policymaking? Or is it the kind of political hackery that Obama promised to end?