Foreword: As you may recall, I was invited to speak at NCDC (National Climatic Data Center) back in April about the surfacestations project by Climate Reference Network chief scientist Dr. Gary Baker. It was a good visit, and I appreciated Dr. Baker’s good humor, candor and straightforward no-nonsense scientific approach to surface measurements.
While I was there, I met with Dr. Tom Karl, as well as Dr. Peterson. During that meeting with Dr. Karl I had no hint of the type of rhetoric used in this document which is now in preparation, but Peterson was clearly trying to convince me on his position, in fact he had asked to be added to my visit schedule specifically so that he could put on his presentation for me.
To say the least, I’m shocked that NCDC’s leadership has changed from being the nation’s record keeper of weather and climatic data, to being what appears to me now as an advocacy group. The draft document reads more like a news article in many places than it does a scientific document, and unlike a scientific document, it has a number of what I would call “emotionally based graphics” in it that have nothing to do with the science.
Dr. Roger Pielke does a good job of summarizing the issue, and his commentary is below. He also clearly points out a conflict of interest. From my perspective, this is bureaucracy at its very worst.
In the meantime public comments are invited, due by August 14th, and readers of this forums may want to avail themselves of that opportunity. Here is the link for public comments
A guest post by Dr. Roger Pielke:
The Draft report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States has been released. There is an announcement of the Public Review Draft of the Unified Synthesis Product Global Climate Change in the United States. Public comments are due by August 14 2008 [Climate Science readers are urged to submit comments].
This US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report is Co-Chaired by Thomas R. Karl, Jerry Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson with the Senior Editor and Synthesis Team Coordinator Susan J. Hassol. These are the same individuals who have led past CCSP reports (e.g. see and see), with Tom Karl and Tom Peterson deliberately excluding scientific perspectives that differ from their viewpoints (i.e. see). Susan Hassol was writer of the HBO Special “To Hot Not to Handle”. This HBO show clearly had a specific perspective on the climate change issue, and lacked a balanced perspective. The HBO Executive Producer was Ms. Laurie David.
A clear real conflict of interest is obvious.
As a result, this report continues the biased narrow perspective of the earlier CCSP reports, as has been reported on a number of times on Climate Science and in other communications (e.g. see and see). As just one example of the bias, the Karl et al report starts with the text
“The Future is in Our Hands
Human-induced climate change is affecting us now. Its impacts on our economy, security, and quality of life will increase in the decades to come. Beyond the next few decades, when warming is “locked in” to the climate system from human activities to date, the future lies largely in our hands. Will we begin reducing heat trapping emissions now, thereby reducing future climate disruption and its impacts? Will we alter our planning and development in ways that reduce our vulnerability to the changes that are already on the way? The choices are ours.”
This statement perpetuates the rejected perspective on the role of humans in the climate system that
the human influence [on the climate system] is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.
The perspective that is, however, supported by a wide body of scientific evidence (e.g. see) is that
natural variations are more important than recognized in the Karl et al CCSP synthesis report and that the human influence involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to the human input of CO2.
The remainder of the Karl et al CCSP report necessarily miscommunicates climate information since it is built on their incorrect focus on “reducing heat trapping emissions”, rather than also on the role of natural variations as observed in the past, and on the other first order climate forcings such as the role of aerosols in precipitation, nitrogen deposition and land use/land cover change (e.g. see).
For example, their claim that
“Historical climate and weather patterns are no longer an adequate guide to the future”
is not supported by the observational evidence (e.g. see where an example is presented of past data that we should use to plan for the future).
Thus the conclusion is that the US CCSP Program has failed in its mission. These reports have become stale and in-bred, since the same people are repeating their perspective on the climate issue.
The CCSP program, initiated within the Bush Administration, offered the opportunity to provide an independent assessment of the role of humans and natural variability in the climate system, as well as a comprehensive framework for reducing societal and environmental vulnerability to risk from climate variations and change through adaptation and mitigation. The CCSP process, however, has not succeeded in this goal.
As recommended in the Climate Science weblog [see] we need new scientists who are not encumbered by their prior advocacy positions on climate change to lead the preparation of balanced climate assessment reports.
The response of the media when this report is released in its final form will also be enlightening. Those reporters who parrot the synthesis without questioning its obvious bias and conflict of interest should be identified as sycophants. Those who adequately communicate the diversity of scientifically supported disagreements with the report should be lauded for the true journalist that they are.