Now GOP senators have their own Hansen: Alan Carlin of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Be it noted, Carlin is not a scientist. He's an MIT-trained economist, albeit with a degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology, who has worked as an analyst at the EPA since 1974. In March, he co-wrote a 98-page paper that began, "We have become increasingly concerned that EPA and many other agencies and countries have paid too little attention to the science of global warming." He fears politics are steering what should be scientific research.
The analysis noted that global temperatures have declined over the last 11 years while carbon emissions have increased. It cited a 2009 paper that found "solar variability" may have had more to do with any warming over the last few decades than rising greenhouse gas levels. Carlin also wondered why the EPA bought into global-warming doom scenarios, when, despite increased greenhouse gas levels, U.S. crop yields are up, air quality is improved and Americans are living longer.
Did the EPA welcome a dissenting voice? Au contraire. According to e-mails released last month by Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank, Carlin's supervisor told him not to "have any direct communication" with anyone in-house or elsewhere on the issue. And: "I don't want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change."
Only later, Carlin told me, did the EPA grant him permission to post the paper on his personal website and talk to the media.
Kazman argues that the EPA's failure to post Carlin's paper officially violates court rulings that require agencies to disclose discarded evidence when making rules. And: "The bigger irony is that this administration has been touting its commitment to scientific integrity and agency transparency."
Now, you can argue that the Obama administration simply wanted to present a clear message on a policy on which it already had settled. But why is it muzzling science when Bush did it, but not worthy of a New York Times story when Obama does it?
Don't say that Obama has science on his side. As the Carlin paper noted, "We do not believe that science is writing a description of the world or the opinions of world authorities on a particular subject ... The question in our view is not what someone believes, but how what he or she believes corresponds with real world data."
The global-warming community's reaction to real-world data -- and the lack of warming in this century -- has been to remain true believers. Except now they call it "climate change."
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