Long Defunct US Climate Agency Scientist Bids for a Comeback

Seal of the long defunct Office of Technology Assessment

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Climate scientists are coming out of the woodwork to seize their share of the anticipated Democrat Congress climate funding binge.

In 1993 my agency warned of climate change. In 1995 it was abolished

William Westermeyer
Thu 27 Dec 2018 22.31 AEDT

The US Office of Technology Assessment should be revived – in 2019 the world will need its expertise more than ever

The OTA was a non-partisan agency governed by a technology assessment board which consisted of of equal numbers of senators and representatives and equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Its assessments strove for objectivity and comprehensiveness, and were considered state-of-the-art documents by many. The OTA provided Congress, at its request, with the information and options it needed for the issues with which it was grappling, but it was careful never to tell Congress what it should do. The methodology that OTA used was widely admired and imitated in the parliamentary units that many European countries established following OTA’s lead.

In the early 1990s there was still Congressional interest in taking action on climate change, which most of the scientific community already understood would become a major problem if not addressed. Thus, in October 1993, the OTA published a two-volume, 700-page report, Preparing for an Uncertain Climate, at the request of three Congressional committees. I was a principal author. The report identified more than 100 options to help coastal areas, water resource systems, agriculture, wetlands, forests, and federally protected natural areas adapt to climate change. Not only that, but the OTA had also proposed – in its comprehensive 1991 assessment, Changing by Degrees – steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that would help the US avoid climate change.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/27/1993-agency-climate-change-abolished-office-technology-assessment

The OTA seems to have been involved in a lot of research other than climate change. The Wikipedia description of the Office of Technology Assessment makes me think of The Shop, author Stephen King’s fictional U.S. Department of Scientific Intelligence, whose amoral zeal to fulfil their mission objectives features in some of Stephen King’s horror stories.

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December 29, 2018 2:20 am

Who longs for El Niño?

Kurt in Switzerland
December 29, 2018 2:31 am

“Its assessments strove for objectivity and comprehensiveness…”

Nothing which comes out of the political circus of the U.S. Congress strives for objectivity, despite all the wishful thinking. Least of all anything remotely connected to the difficult to bracket topic of ‘Climate Change’.

Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
December 29, 2018 3:11 am

Where free money is involved there can be no objectivity.

Feeding frenzy coming at the public trough.

R Shearer
Reply to  Mark
December 29, 2018 6:59 am

Was there a time when there wasn’t a feeding frenzy at the trough?

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
December 29, 2018 6:47 am

The OTA was created to give unbiased assessments of a technological nature. Note: “assessments” in that they were providing various options at different costs so the law makers could choose paths they were willing to support.

As everyone by now is aware, there are no longer options, there is just one, presented by a faction that benefits from it “in the name of Les Autres”.

The OTA would have presented options for adaptation as well as ” prevention” which as we know by now, entails destroying the economy and ending material progress, especially for the poor.

The limitation of excessive wealth must be addressed in order to correct gross disparity, presently getting worse. Whether or not this is related to CO2 emissions should not be a distraction. The OTA offers a way to make choices that leave funds available to influence social policies and outcomes.

In the world, there are 42 individuals who collectively own as much as 90% of the rest of humanity. Such a situation was created by poor social and economic and technology choices.

The original thinking about the OTA was scripted in the anti-poverty movement. At about the same time the National Center for Appropriate Technology was established in Butte, Montana. That was a similar venture, in intent, looking at how to improve the delivery of services or effectiveness through the application of publicly available technologies.

Russ R.
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
December 29, 2018 9:14 pm

Wealthy people make themselves wealthy by making employees, investors, and customers wealthy. That is a far cry from the past where Aristocrats or Royal Families made themselves rich, by living off the labor of serfs.
The middle class is drawn upward through the increase of wealth in the GDP, not by the government taking wealth from those that have “too much” and giving it to those that have “too little”. That disincentives the rich to continue expanding business opportunities, because the risk is not worth the return if the government takes most of the return.
Exploitation of business opportunities creates wealth, for everyone involved. Some more than others.
There are NO superior social and economic and technology choices. There is only the Free Market and Failed systems of command and control.

Leo Smith
December 29, 2018 3:44 am

In 1993 my agency warned of Unicorn Infestations.

In 1995 it was abolished

What took them so long?

December 29, 2018 4:01 am

The complaint about the Office of Technology Assessment was that it duplicated work being done elsewhere. One example would be The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

December 29, 2018 4:04 am

“On October 13, 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The convention was one of the key accomplishments of the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Its declared goal is ‘‘stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, ’ and it calls for parties to return “individually or jointly to their 1990 levels of these anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol” (46).

Most of the 166 countries that signed the convention have pledged to do so by 2000 (on April 21, 1993, President Clinton made a commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by that year).

The convention also requires all participating countries to prepare action plans detailing their strategy to mitigate climate change.”

Oh yeah, that worked so well the first time…

Now, 26 years after Clinton made his commitment, the world has still failed to install reliable networks of weather stations while spending billions pretending they’re measuring climate.

Apparently, OTA led the world into anti-science while subverting science and destroying the scientific method.

Reply to  ATheoK
December 29, 2018 3:35 pm

If the data was reliable, there would be fewer opportunities to “adjust” the data.

December 29, 2018 4:35 am

Break the climate consensus while we still can.
End the corrupt and deeply flawed COP process.
Defund the the climate consensus industry.
It has been a massive drain on the people of the world.
Revivification if the OTA is a wasteful and hurtful step in the wrong direction.

December 29, 2018 4:51 am

so hes blown his super/retirement funds?
and sees a nice op for a redraw on govvy slushfunds?

Tom Abbott
December 29, 2018 5:30 am

From the article: “In the early 1990s there was still Congressional interest in taking action on climate change, which most of the scientific community already understood would become a major problem if not addressed.”

Well, I guess those scientists missed the mark because “climate change” has NOT become a major problem.

OTOH, promoting the lie that climate change/CAGW is real *has* become a major problem for humanity.

old construction worker
December 29, 2018 5:31 am

Put more teeth in the Data Quality Act.

Reply to  old construction worker
December 29, 2018 9:43 am

That is something that should be revived. It seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Here’s an interesting article: Unchecked Data: A Tool for Political Corruption?

Bruce Cobb
December 29, 2018 5:38 am

“We warned you 25 years ago, but you not only didn’t listen, you shut us down. Now, with the full brunt and horror of weather – I mean climate change staring us in the face, perhaps you’ll listen”.
Sorry, bub, but we don’t need another gubmint agency spending money doing pseudoscience. Besides, that gravy train has not only left the station, it has left the tracks, and is running on fumes.

J Mac
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 29, 2018 7:12 am

The many-headed Hydra of government sponsored Climate Change fraud is difficult to kill. A line from ‘Hotel California’ comes to mind:
“They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast!”

Gary Pearse
December 29, 2018 5:59 am

Why repubs didn’t get out the vote and secure a mid term house majority is startling to me. They knew the Steyer types had been splashing cash by the carload in desperation to rearrange the presidential election results through partially successful bye-elections. They couldnt afford to sit back with guys like Steyer, Soros severely wounded and desperately clinging to survival of the crony cap progressives milking machine that feeds these schlecht misanthropists.

Neil Jordan
Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 29, 2018 6:26 am

Answers (there are many) to your question are found in the Omniscient Internet. I did a search under “why did republicans lose the house in 2018” using DuckDuckGo. The following was listed on top:

Reply to  Neil Jordan
December 29, 2018 7:25 am

It puzzles me why Putin took a back seat 🙂

Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 29, 2018 1:26 pm

Like the climate, the swing in the house is cyclical. I doubt a “get and and vote for us” effort would have been successful. Obama lost the house and the senate and it wasn’t for lack of trying or funding.

Adam Gallon
December 29, 2018 6:00 am

Anybody compared the predictions (I assume they made some) in that 1990’s report, to measured outcomes?

December 29, 2018 6:00 am

There is no democratic congress. Just a democratic house. The Dems won’t be passing anything.

Reply to  DanielS
December 29, 2018 8:15 am

Perhaps just gas? (See what I did there?) 😀

Reply to  DanielS
December 29, 2018 10:11 am

“The Dems won’t be passing anything.”

No, but you can be assured of 2 years of accelerated obstruction in the House of any legislation that would, in any way, advance the agenda of DJT (and many of us who voted for his policies).

December 29, 2018 6:14 am

This is a long read but it does have some very useful insights once you get past the author’s self promotion:


Patrick Hrushowy
Reply to  Yooper
December 29, 2018 8:14 am

Even this fellow fails to understand the subject he writes about. Its staggering!

Reply to  Yooper
December 29, 2018 10:01 am

In the linked article, the author has a fundamental weakness in his entire argument: the “…earth system crisis…” he so frequently cites is entirely mythical. And secondly, while the study referenced in the referenced article may be accurate in finding a declining EROI throughout Europe, the decline is entirely self-imposed. By Gang Green. So once again, confirmation bias creates mountains out of depressions and it’s all Human’s fault.

Neil Jordan
December 29, 2018 6:17 am

“The OTA was a non-partisan agency governed by a technology assessment board which consisted of of equal numbers of senators and representatives and equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Its assessments strove for objectivity and comprehensiveness, and were considered state-of-the-art documents by many.”
This is the very definition of partisan, political. If it were truly scientific, it could be staffed 100% one party or the other or none of the above, or 100% librarians who could scour the scientific literature, “peer-reviewed” or not.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Neil Jordan
December 29, 2018 6:34 am

Exactly. If it requires a “consensus”, it is not science.

December 29, 2018 7:18 am

“Suicide and Climate Change” (A fruitful-or fruitless Google search)
Apparently we need a OTA evaluation of how confusion and distress on the part of the technologically challenged population is causing an increase in the suicide rate.
As I talk to younger persons, I find many cases where they have no hope for the future. They are mostly technological duds, not having been brought up to actually WORK on their first cars, make a whisker radio, or actually learn to cook, or sew, and find pounding on a keyboard of little satisfaction. Technology skills are either dying out, or driven in antisocial directions. (My grandkids go to a dinner party and text each other across the table, unable to see the faces in front othe them for the glowing screens!!!)
And then, Climate Change. They have been brain washed by technologically challenged leftest teachers or people like Al Gore, so that they see no hope for the future . I am sensing a lot of frustration with conflicting fake, false and inacurate information. Surely another attempt on the part of Government will put their minds at rest! /sarc

December 29, 2018 7:50 am

Bipartisanship in the US House typically happens when everyone is getting something for their district. Science unfortunately for all to long has been used and abused as the rational for good old fashioned greed.

This is really not rocket science. Politicians selectively fund science. Some scientists lean in hard to produce the desired results. Politicians use the science to pass appropriations for just about everything they already wanted. In the US Republicans play this game as well as Democrats. Mr Windpower in the Senate is a Republican from Iowa.

If you are Senator Sheldon Whitehouse representing the fiscally challenged state of Rhode Island how do you fund infrastructure projects? You get taxpayers nationwide to pay for climate change mitigation. All of the rest of it is smoke.

Reply to  troe
December 29, 2018 8:25 am

If you dig into the trade magazines, regardless of party or political leanings just about everyone agrees that our aging and disfunctional infrastructure is dire need of repair and needs to be funded. I would be more impressed with any of the chuckle heads in government to collectively work together and solve those problems. If your representatives and/or senators have not really attempted to think this issue out, it is time that they must be removed from their positions, post haste. They obviously do not have the ability to do their jobs.

Walter Sobchak
December 29, 2018 7:52 am

Just what we need. Another government agency. I had such high hopes that the shutdown would show people how unimportant the government really is.

December 29, 2018 8:04 am
Gary Ashe
December 29, 2018 9:12 am

Parasites being parasites, reviving a dead host.

Joel O'Bryan
December 29, 2018 9:34 am

Abolished in 1995 when the adults regained control of the House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gringrich.
Overreach is the hallmark characteristics of US Democrats when they are given power.

The People apparently never learn that the Democrat’s best purpose is a role as a minority party, barking and squealing from the back bench.

December 29, 2018 9:37 am

Don’t any of these idiots grasp the fact that the House can’t appropriate any money for climate change slush funds without 60 votes in the Senate and President Trump’s signature?

Reply to  David Middleton
December 29, 2018 10:21 am

The Dems have long understood the most effective way to be the “Opposition Party”is for them to be the “Obstruction” Party, regardless of the benefit to the public of any issue, or even if a term or two ago they were in SUPPORT of the same legislation ( e.g. the Wall.)

They can THEN use the emotional appeal of “See, DJT has not fulfilled any of his election promises!”
(He has of course, e.g the economy, trade issues, but you can’t let facts stand in the way in a good political fight!)

Thomas Englert
Reply to  George Daddis
December 30, 2018 8:37 pm

“George, the Dems are doing exactly what the Repubs did during Obama’s administration. ”


The Republicans explicitly ruled out impeachment of Obama for his crimes.

December 29, 2018 1:34 pm

One word… funding. Given the choice between asking for money to propel social welfare programs and climate change programs that ignore the poor what do you think the Progressives will do? Besides I think by now the Left has learned the Climate Change platform is a no go in America because most people just don’t care and those activists that do are in the small minority.

December 29, 2018 1:38 pm

The OTA provided Congress with technical info they needed. One reason that some people want the OTA’s revival is the profound technological ignorance in Congress, stuff like Senator Hatch not knowing how Facebook made money (“Senator, we sell ads”), or a Congressman not knowing that an iPhone’s capabilities depend on what apps are on it. Don’t be afraid of knowledge. In our age of cyber insecurity, the people who make our laws need to be more knowledgeable about tech.

December 29, 2018 4:18 pm

It’s always about “rent seeking”

Crispin in Waterloo
December 30, 2018 6:47 am

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and a mutual friend offered the following, which surprisingly, was made possible by the OTA:

“My favorite “quack” cure all doctor is Dr Andrew Weil and his book Spontaneous Healing which reviews a range of different alternative, nutritional and life style therapies. He makes a stab at reviewing the scientific evidence supporting alternatives therapies. We could just as well have been discussing the scientific evidence pro and contra the range of different prostrate cancer therapies from mega Vit C treatment aka L Pauling versus Chinese herbal medicines versus the switch to a radical alkalinity inducing diet (Gearson ? therapy) which my mother was convinced worked like a charm on a range of degenerative diseases.

“For evidence pro and contra you might visit the late great Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) data base of Technology Assessment (TA) studies (maintained by Princeton Un) and read up on a now probably dated investigation of alternative cancer treatments circa the 1990’s. The study of alternative cancer treatments was mandated by a board of directors of the Congressional OTA – jointly appointed by the leadership of the Senate and House. This study was demanded by families of cancer sufferers over the objections of the AMA and big Pharma. They requested the federal government do its best to objectively review the scientific evidence pro and contra a range of alternative cancer treatments – in those long ago days.

My point here is – perhaps – the thinking and methods previously used by the OTA to approach controversial alternative cancer therapies might now be useful in helping the US and the community of nations focus the vast but limited powers of the world science system more objectively on the impacts and interactions of different possible drivers of “negative” climate change.”

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
December 30, 2018 10:59 pm

There is some federal entity, I think I recall it as the “Medical Board” but I’m not too sure. According to what was disclosed, this entity is responsibility for reviewing and evaluating medical information on a wide variety of health/medical related topics with the job of making recommendations on what position federal government agencies should take on treatments, life style issues, etc. and which generally end up being the consensus medical position in the U.S. How they operate may very well be indicative of constraints on other federal entities.

I watched something called a “debate” which included no debating at all but revealed something important about the way establishment medicine works via the topic they “debated’. Which is to say, the particular topic is not the point, it is the procedure and the mentality revealed. This may be on YouTube but I’m not sure.

One side was several people who serve on this entity. The other side was an equal number of medical researchers in vitamin D therapies. For those not familiar with the current literature, there are a large number of conditions that could be termed degenerative diseases that may be partly or largely related to vitamin D deficiency. There are vit D receptors on virtually every cell in the body. Treatment regimes are generally in the order of 20,000, 40,000, 60,000 or more units per day (and often include other considerations, that is they are often not just isolated vit D treatments).

The medical board people had by far the larger part of the speaking time which covered the studies they had used but about which they were rather vague. They spoke of their official recommendations which are mostly met by 400 to 600 units per day. The other side replied (more or less) but, but, but …. there are hundreds, probably thousands of medical journal articles from the last decade reporting favorable results with far larger amounts.

The reply was yes, we know about those studies but we can only utilize FDA protocol double blind studies in making our recommendations.

But, but, but … it is very difficult, and extremely expensive, to get FDA approval for treatments outside the generally recognized parameters. Almost all such studies have used 400 units per day, with a few at 800 units per day. None have tested real therapeutic dosages. There have been many favorable large clinical studies utilizing much greater amounts.

WE can only do what we can do.

December 31, 2018 11:18 am

It’s hard to imagine this mess ever getting fixed.

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