Is NASA hiding its climate data, too?
posted at 5:45 pm on December 3, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The University of East Anglia’s CRU had to admit this week to destroying the underlying raw data for its anthropogenic global-warming theories, rendering their conclusions untestable — and scientifically speaking, worthless as a result. AGW advocates say that this does not undermine their case for man-made climate change theory because other organizations have supporting data as well. One of those organizations, however, has proven as unresponsive as UEA-CRU to demands for the release of the data (via Yid with Lid):
The fight over global warming science is about to cross the Atlantic with a U.S. researcher poised to sue NASA, demanding release of the same kind of climate data that has landed a leading British center in hot water over charges it skewed its data.
Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how the agency has shaped its climate data and would explain why the agency has repeatedly had to correct its data going as far back as the 1930s.
“I assume that what is there is highly damaging,” Mr. Horner said. “These guys are quite clearly bound and determined not to reveal their internal discussions about this.”
The numbers matter. Under pressure in 2007, NASA recalculated its data and found that 1934, not 1998, was the hottest year in its records for the contiguous 48 states. NASA later changed that data again, and now 1998 and 2006 are tied for first, with 1934 slightly cooler.
The changes go to the heart of Horner’s request. He wants to see the internal discussions at NASA that surrounded the changed conclusions to determine what they identified as the initial errors in their data processing. NASA has thus far refused to release the communications, as well as the raw data that they used to create their conclusions and build their models.
It goes without saying that this runs counter to open and transparent scientific pursuit. Companies conducting R&D for proprietary products and services have the right to keep their data and communications privileged. However, NASA is a government agency that is ultimately accountable to the citizens of the US, and they are doing research on issues that impact public policy — in fact, greatly impact it. On both counts, NASA should not force scientists and the citizens that fund that research to sue them before making that information transparent.
On the other hand, if they are that determined to keep that information away from public review, then the public can certainly conclude that the agency has something to hide, and something to fear from accountability. With UEA-CRU conclusions already off the table, thanks to the destruction of their underlying data, the stonewalling from NASA strongly suggests that AGW doesn’t have any objective, testable science on which to stand. And while that remains the case, the US and the industrialized nations should focus their environmental efforts on restricting actual pollutants rather than worry about a gas that naturally occurs in the atmosphere — and keep from wrecking their economies with ill-advised taxation schemes.