National Association of Scholars: ‘much of the U.S.-sponsored research behind the “scientific consensus” on global warming may be less rigorous than its advocates would have the public believe’

Short-Circuiting Peer Review in Climate Science

Peter Wood, Rachelle DeJong. National Association of Scholars

How reliable are the scientific findings on which the Environmental Protection Agency bases its proposed regulations?   According to a new research report, many of the findings connected to the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions may be compromised by a short-circuiting of peer review.

That question and that answer may seem far afield from NAS’s usual concerns, but there is an important connection.  Or actually three important connections.  Much of the science involved is university-based research.  The problems surfaced by the new report reveal weakness in academic peer review.  And NAS is engaged in an in-depth examination of the campus sustainability movement.

But first things first.  NAS holds no position on anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  As an organization, we are neither supporters nor skeptics of the thesis.  Likewise we have no policy position on whether the EPA should regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Rather, we are a body devoted to maintaining academic standards and protecting academic freedom.  And it is in that light that we are troubled by the recent research from the Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development (ITSSD) that indicates that much of the U.S.-sponsored research behind the “scientific consensus” on global warming may be less rigorous than its advocates would have the public believe.

The Campus Sustainability Movement

Before we turn to ITSSD’s report, however, let’s consider the campus context, where enthusiasm for the AGW hypothesis runs high.  That enthusiasm fuels the campus sustainability movement, though the movement has other concerns as well.   What makes sustainability so popular on college campuses?

First popularity begets popularity.  The movement has all the advantages of being successful.  Second, the sustainability movement is the heir apparent of the much older environmental movement. As such it enjoys the good will of everyone concerned about clean air and water, fighting pollution, and keeping toxins out of our lives.  Third, the sustainability movement serves as a wheelhouse for many of the progressive causes that animate politically-minded college students. Third-wave feminism, managed economics, social justice, and issues of identity groups all find an ideological home within the concept of “sustainability.”

But those three elements—self-reinforcing popularity, the glow of old-style environmentalism, and the cachet of progressive politics—wouldn’t go very far without the motor of belief in looming world-wide catastrophe as a result of manmade global warming. Very few of the students who subscribe to this thesis command the knowledge of physics, atmospheric science, chemistry, oceanography, and computer modeling to have well-founded opinions on whether AGW is real.  Rather, they have to rely on the authoritative-sounding claims coming from scientists and government officials.

So it indeed matters a great deal how credible those claims are.

ITSSD Skepticism

On Tuesday the ITSSD (pronounced itz-d) released a white paper that questions the value of a number of influential scientific research projects. ITSSD waded through a dense thicket of federal acronyms and legal documents to determine how much money taxpayers have spent on federally-funded climate research and how rigorous and useful that research has been. ITSSD concluded that on numerous counts, government research agencies and their constituent university researchers compromised the peer review process that is the foundation of intellectual standards in scientific research and that is also required by U.S. law. According to the paper,

Detailed addenda accompanying ITSSD FOIA requests filed with EPA and DOC-NOAA during March – May 2014 strongly suggest that the peer review science processes EPA and DOC-NOAA had employed in vetting the USGCRP and other federal and IPCC agency assessments supporting the EPA’s Endangerment Findings did not comply with U.S. law. In other words, such peer review processes did not satisfy Information Quality Act and relevant OMB, EPA and DOC-NOAA implementing IQA guidelines standards applicable to highly influential scientific assessments (“HISAs”).

Readers unfazed by legal jargon and lengthy acronyms may read the full paper here. For all others, below is a brief summary of the findings.

The essence of ITSSD’s findings is that it appears that the EPA and some other federal agencies validate each other’s work, which is pretty much the same thing as validating their own work.  The circle appears unbroken.  Independent review of assertions of scientific fact is by no means guaranteed and might even be precluded.  But we don’t really know because the public is denied any clear account of who is validating what.   Apparent conflicts of interest are hidden away and the EPA stonewalls requests for disclosures.

That puts things in more straightforward language than ITSSD uses but is pretty clearly what ITSSD means.  By way of detail, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) comprises thirteen federal research agencies. It has received approximately $2.5 billion in federal funding each year for the last three years, which it then distributes to its constituent agencies. Of this money, NASA has been receiving approximately 56%, and the Department of Commerce (DOC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have each been receiving about 13%, in addition to other direct federal grants. The USGCRP also supports the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), which releases periodic climate assessments that set the tone for many national and international environmental policies.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (operated under the DOC) are two of several organizations that provide peer review for the USGCRP, IPCC, and other assessments that serve as the basis for the EPA’s Endangerment Findings.  According to the 2010 Climate Assessment Report that the U.S. submitted to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the USGCRP projects were “extensively reviewed by scientists, federal agency officials, stakeholders, and the general public.” But, as detailed in another ITSSD publication (and summarized by NAS), the peer review processes were compromised, flawed, not transparent, and potentially biased—despite the fact that federal laws and regulations require the EPA to back its findings with rigorous, peer-reviewed science.

Nevertheless, the federal government continues to fund these research projects, and Congress in the fiscal year 2015 Appropriations bill (H.R. 4660) approved funding increases for NSF ($233 million increase), NASA ($250 million increase), and NOAA ($10.5 million increase).

Given the poor scientific process used to develop research and analysis in support of the EPA’s environmental regulations, the ITSSD poses the question: “Why should Congress continue to fund the U.S. Global Change Research Program (“USGCRP”) and Federal Agency Climate Science-related Research?”

To this, we add a question of our own: In light of the compromised research backing sustainability and environmental regulations, should American colleges and universities continue to pay for expensive infrastructure upgrades, emissions-cutting projects, and sustainability offices?

Source: http://www.nas.org/articles/short_circuiting_peer_review_in_climate_science

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The white paper press release referenced in the article:

ITSSD Embarks on Public “Education Campaign” To Ensure Federal Agency Peer Review Science Processes Used to Vet Climate Assessments Supporting EPA’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings Met Information Quality Act Requirement

PDF ITSSD_pressrelease_52214

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33 thoughts on “National Association of Scholars: ‘much of the U.S.-sponsored research behind the “scientific consensus” on global warming may be less rigorous than its advocates would have the public believe’

  1. “Nevertheless, the federal government continues to fund these research projects, and Congress in the fiscal year 2015 Appropriations bill (H.R. 4660) approved funding increases for NSF ($233 million increase), NASA ($250 million increase), and NOAA ($10.5 million increase).”

    One can most times follow the money to find the ‘truth’, or in this case the fabrication. The real sin is that the House is the funding agent and controlled by Republicans who continue to shoot themselves in the foot, or possibly a more sensitive appendage, by supporting causes which will, in the end, destroy them, or at least, what they profess to be.

  2. Just some relevant FYI:

    EPA’s own Inspector General, in a procedural review issued in September,
    2011 [Procedural Review of EPA’s Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding Data Quality Processes, Report No. 11-P-0702, at 36 (Sept. 26, 2011) at: epa.gov/oig/reports/2011/20110926-11-P-07 02.pdf] faulted EPA for procedural deficiencies including the refusal to use the Scientific Advisory Board process.
    Brief of Amici Curiae Scientists in Support of the Petitions for Certiorari, Southeastern Legal v. EPA, Nos. 12-1268, 12-1269, 12-1272 at 22 (2013). Link: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/GW-Amicus-2013-05-23-Br-of-Amici-Curiae-Scientists-ISO-Petitions-fo….pdf
    (Note: this amicus curiae brief of Scientists Against EPA is not excellent, but for basic issues it is okay (i.e., not well-written and not powerfully argued in words nor in how the science was presented, BUT, it has law cites and other good info. in it and is a good source for anti-AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) arguments.)

    “In particular, the Inspector General criticized EPA for failing to follow all recommended steps for an external peer review by independent experts. See Inspector General’s Report, at 36.” Scientists’ Amicus Brief at 23.
    {emphases above mine}

  3. I think it was Dr Phil Jones who said in a Climategate email that they would succeed in excluding opposing views in the literature…’even if it meant re-defining the term Peer Review’?
    I wonder have Rusty Bed-springs and The Siberian Hussey read the Climategate emails recently to see the extent to which the game is rigged?
    Still it’s great to see them over here…watching Warmists in torment is the only form of sadism I practice!

  4. Eisenhower told us this would happen.

    Given that there is no physical evidence for a man-made global warming crisis, and that the whole theory is based on the unfounded and arbitrary assumption of constant relative humidity in the Earth’s atmosphere, there is no way that the science can support the claim that the EPA must act in order to prevent endangerment. Therefore, the science must be fabricated. There is simply no other explanation. This report is supporting evidence for what is already known to be true.

    The reason for the fabrication is that all the agencies involved benefit from it. There is not only a financial benefit, but a marked increase in perceived importance and prestige in these agencies. Individuals justify their behavior with the notion that everyone else is doing it and the ever-diminishing chance that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the theory could still be right.

    It hasn’t happened in many years, but there once was a time when supporters of the AGW crisis theory would engage a skeptic in conversation. Invariably, the crisis supporter would eventually fall back to the questions: “Well, what if theory is right? Isn’t it better that we do something?” These are not questions of science, but questions of fear; a fear that is not supported by the consideration of all the evidence. Decisions made when suffering from unfounded fear have a very high probability of doing far more harm than good. So the answer to the question: Isn’t it better that we do something?’, is absolutely not!

  5. “many of the findings connected to the EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions may be compromised by a short-circuiting of peer review”

    Is it national understatement day over there in the USA?

    Sorry folks, I just couldn’t help myself. You will get your turn if the Green-Labor eco apparatchiks get back in over here.

  6. If one checks the paper, it simply states the peer-reviewed is flawed and compromised but offers no references or info to back it up. Would be nice if they made such a strong statement they pointed out a clear reason why the peer-reviewed is flawed. Say, an example of a publication review only by another US agency.

  7. Here’s hoping ‘Rigor Mortis’ [snark] visits the dead bodies of the Hansen, Mann, Schmidt circus of “Climate Science” fools.

  8. AS someone here succinctly pointed out, a greenhouse requires walls.
    In order to support the theory at best it is a partial roof – with lots of gaps in in constant motion.

  9. One more brick in the wall that is ignored by the current administration, the media, the liberals, the current gov of WA state, patty “pork” murray, maria Cantspell and the local watermelons. This agenda has NO ears, can’t hear anything and is powered by fraud.

    Nothing will change, no good will come of any of this.

  10. SIGINT EX says:
    June 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Here’s hoping ‘Rigor Mortis’ [snark] visits the dead bodies of the Hansen, Mann, Schmidt circus of “Climate Science” fools.


    I didn’t know that wishing the dead of someone was accepted practice at WUWT! Oh, well. Doesn’t surprise me.

  11. So who exactly are the “National Association of Scholars”? I have never heard of them.

  12. …the ITSSD poses the question: “Why should Congress continue to fund the U.S. Global Change Research Program (“USGCRP”) and Federal Agency Climate Science-related Research?”

    To this, we add a question of our own: In light of the compromised research backing sustainability and environmental regulations, should American colleges and universities continue to pay for expensive infrastructure upgrades, emissions-cutting projects, and sustainability offices?

    To which the answer is ‘YES’.

    Because the person you are asking – the person who has to decide – is himself paid for through the ‘climate-change’ process. He owes his job to it. He isn’t going to collapse his job on your say-so, indeed, he isn’t going to collapse his job without a fight.

  13. “may be less rigorous than its advocates would have the public believe.”

    Ni sh!t Sherlock!

  14. ccglea says: (June 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm )
    “Peer review has become a joke.”

    It should be called peep review, or peanuts review nowadays.

  15. Raoul says:
    June 8, 2014 at 1:08 am
    I didn’t know that wishing the dead of someone was accepted practice at WUWT! Oh, well. Doesn’t surprise me.
    ———————————————

    It does me. Such sentiments, however amply provoked, are exceedingly rare and usually disowned by many other people – just as I am doing now. The same cannot be said for many alarmist sites.
    If you are at all concerned about REAL dead people – as opposed to OTT rhetorical flourishes aimed at people who have no qualms about personally attacking others – perhaps you can spare a thought for the excess winter deaths caused by rising fuel prices thanks to “green” subsidies.

  16. SIGINT EX says:
    June 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Here’s hoping ‘Rigor Mortis’ [snark] visits the dead bodies of the Hansen, Mann, Schmidt circus of “Climate Science” fools.
    ______________________
    That’s completely over the top. You might regain a bit of credence with thread participants if you apologize for you hate- filled remarks.

    —————————
    di da – di di di – di da

  17. SIGINT EX: are you informed about the science behind the debate (regardless of authorship or position)? Your drive by delinquent comment is devoid of such indications so unless you post something intelligent, I will assume not.

  18. TImo Soren says:
    June 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm
    If one checks the paper, it simply states the peer-reviewed is flawed and compromised but offers no references or info to back it up. Would be nice if they made such a strong statement they pointed out a clear reason why the peer-reviewed is flawed. Say, an example of a publication review only by another US agency.

    It’s been in the news lately: science journals changing their policies with respect to peer-review requirements because of shady practices. I don’t feel like looking it up, but you can. ;-)

  19. jimmi_the_dalek says:
    June 8, 2014 at 2:57 am
    So who exactly are the “National Association of Scholars”? I have never heard of them.

    FOUNDING
    NAS was founded in 1987 by Dr. Stephen Balch and others. For several years before that the founding members had been meeting under the name Campus Coalition for Democracy. Balch at the time was a professor of political science at John Jay College. NAS was created to confront the rising threat of politicization of colleges and universities and to summon faculty members back to the principles of liberal education and disciplined intellectual inquiry.

  20. ”ITSSD Embarks on Public “Education Campaign” To Ensure Federal Agency Peer Review Science Processes Used to Vet Climate Assessments Supporting EPA’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings Met Information Quality Act Requirement”

    Hmmm…is it too cynical to be seeing another whitewash in the making? They haven’t said EPA didn’t meet IQ Act requirement. Probably it’s been raised so often over the past decade by skeptics and given the Climategate emails that were very clear on the subject (despite the whitewashes by non independent individuals) someone has to say something.

  21. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has done the work that should have been done by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), except that NAS#2 is headed up by Ralph Cicerone, AGW advocate and Dr. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge reviewer for Jim Hansen’s tendentious, we’re now in a “milll’-yun” year heat-wave definitive-for-all-time paper, that employed the ever-useful proxy-splicing method.

  22. I think that the “elephant in the room” is what all of these ad campaign by politicians worldwide will yield for them. Somewhere there’s a plan to set-up an authority to collect these carbon taxes..All politicians love taxes and see themselves carving out a portion of these funds for their own pet projects. I’d like to know what the likely amount of revenue from these taxes would be. Just the tax on transportation fuel in the US yields around $30 billion a year. Tack on to that a carbon tax on every type of product that is carbon based, plastics, fertilizers, natural gas and you’re talking a wind fall for the collecting agency.. That is the real “follow the money” story here.
    Did you ever wonder why no one mentions this?

  23. This is why we need to get the government to stop funding most research. Government research eventually leads to corruption. All the great scientific findings of the early 20th century were all privately funded. We should probably go back to that model – with a slight exception of research into mechanical and physical devices the government might need for our military.

    • We need to get the government to stop funding a lot of things. We just turned our Healthcare system over to the government….and look at how uncorrupt and pristine their flagship-the VA-is today! Can’t wait until they are treating all of us with as much concern and quality healthcare as they are currently giving out soldiers. /snark

  24. This will go nowhere.

    The EPA’s own Inspector General issued a report showing that the agency failed to follow their own protocols and processes in making the Endangerment finding. Other than some slight coverage in the press, nothing happened.

  25. In the early 70s when the catalytic converter was introduced, it was promoted with the tag line, “all it emits is harmless co2.”

    I predicted at that time that within 20 years that rising co2 levels would lead to some sort of unfounded, hysterical global crisis which would require billions in taxes to alleviate. I was right about the crisis and just a bit off on the time frame.

    No matter what steps the morons in power take to prevent the disaster that wasn’t going to happen anyway, one thing is clear. In 15-20 years the new morons in power will be blaming today’s morons for whatever action they did take for exacerbating some new, as yet unknown global threat.

    When the government gets involved, the cure is always worse than the disease.
    When man tries to control nature, nature always wins.

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