Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Futurism author Lou Del Bello, demanding the data used in climate studies is evil because it leaves climate scientists open to having their work challenged.
Scott Pruitt’s Latest EPA Gambit Is As Clever As It Is Evil
Lou Del Bello
The more information, the better, right? Except when it’s not. Like when it’s just a tactic weaponized to obscure the truth. And now environmental science is about to be on the losing side of that strategy from the American Government.
Case in point: The Environmental Protection Agency may release the raw data behind every study it carries out. It’s hard to imagine this as anything but a good thing! But, believe it: Former EPA employees and scientists say the effort’s a ruse, and what appears to be a push toward openness is just another way to stifle science.
- Betsy Southerland, a former EPA official, explained to E&E how releasing raw data leaves scientists open to attacks from industry lobbies who may try to distort information in their own favor.
- Moreover, requiring the agency to only base new laws on studies with public, reproducible data would prevent a lot of important research from informing policy making.
- That word, “reproducible,” is key. Think of the investigation of the health damages suffered by the Hiroshima survivors, or the environmental impact studies following the BP PLC Gulf of Mexico oil spill: These are events whose baseline conditions can’t be replicated, but are important to science and policy-making alike.
Besides, they say, a process of check and balances is already at the heart of any solid scientific study — it’s called peer review. We want independent experts to assess the value of a particular study, because they have the specific skills required to do so.
Similar arguments appear through the Climategate email chain.
For example, Climategate email 1075403821.txt (Phil Jones writing to Michael Mann):
In an odd way this is cheering news ! One other thing about the CC paper – just found another email – is that McKittrick says it is standard practice in Econometrics journals to give all the data and codes !! According to legal advice IPR overrides this.
Ben Santer complaining about releasing data in email 1231257056.txt
… 2. Mr. Smith asserts that “there is no valid intellectual property justification for withholding this data”. I believe this argument is incorrect. The synthetic MSU temperatures used in our IJoC paper – and the other examples of derived datasets mentioned above – are integral components of both PCMDI’s ongoing research, and of proposals we have submitted to funding agencies (DOE, NOAA, and NASA). Can any competitor simply request such datasets via the U.S. FOIA, before we have completed full scientific analysis of these datasets? …
(Climategate emails available from Wikileaks).
I’m less than sympathetic to attempts to justify withholding data. Trillions of dollars ride on the integrity and validity of climate studies. Everyone is affected by climate decisions made on our behalf by politicians, whose decisions are influenced by scientific advice. Telling people they should take the expert’s word for it simply isn’t good enough.