Barack Obama promised to return science to its “rightful place” in government, but at least on climate change, it seems that Obama has the Inquisition in mind as the government model. When a dissenting voice at the EPA warned that the global-warming theories on which Obama had predicated his policies were falling apart, the administration did not champion a scientific approach to the debate. Instead, it took the ages-old method of silencing the scientist, as Kimberly Strassel reports:
[O]ne of President Barack Obama’s first acts was a memo to agencies demanding new transparency in government, and science. The nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, joined in, exclaiming, “As administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and program, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.” In case anyone missed the point, Mr. Obama took another shot at his predecessors in April, vowing that “the days of science taking a backseat to ideology are over.”
Except, that is, when it comes to [Alan] Carlin, a senior analyst in the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics and a 35-year veteran of the agency. In March, the Obama EPA prepared to engage the global-warming debate in an astounding new way, by issuing an “endangerment” finding on carbon. It establishes that carbon is a pollutant, and thereby gives the EPA the authority to regulate it — even if Congress doesn’t act.
Around this time, Mr. Carlin and a colleague presented a 98-page analysis arguing the agency should take another look, as the science behind man-made global warming is inconclusive at best. The analysis noted that global temperatures were on a downward trend. It pointed out problems with climate models. It highlighted new research that contradicts apocalyptic scenarios. “We believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA,” the report read.
The response to Mr. Carlin was an email from his boss, Al McGartland, forbidding him from “any direct communication” with anyone outside of his office with regard to his analysis. When Mr. Carlin tried again to disseminate his analysis, Mr. McGartland decreed: “The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” …
Mr. McGartland blasted yet another email: “With the endangerment finding nearly final, you need to move on to other issues and subjects. I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change. No papers, no research etc, at least until we see what EPA is going to do with Climate.” Ideology? Nope, not here. Just us science folk. Honest.
Carlin’s comments didn’t “help the legal or policy case” for the Obama administration? Actually, Carlin’s scientific analysis undermined the entire reason for those legal and policy choices. The effort to silence Carlin didn’t come because the EPA and the White House could easily refute the analysis. They silenced Carlin because they couldn’t refute it.
Now that Carlin has blown the whistle, the Obama administration has embarked on another ages-old strategy: character assassination. They have dismissed Carlin as an economist, when he actually has a degree in physics — from CalTech. They have derided his work as “sham science,” even though it relied on peer-reviewed studies. They’ve done everything but actually use the scientific method to rebut Carlin, which demonstrates the commitment they have to the “rightful place” of science when it comes to policy in this administration.