The Environmental Protection Agency recently concluded that man-made greenhouse gas emissions — including carbon dioxide — are harmful pollutants and must be regulated. The lawsuit I filed challenging that finding does not address the disputed science surrounding global warming. Instead, it focuses on the indisputable fact that the EPA relied on information that has been discredited, manipulated, lost or destroyed, and sometimes evaded peer review. The lawsuit does not attempt to show that the globe is not warming. It does, however, show that the process used by the EPA in deciding to regulate greenhouse gases is riddled with errors that render its conclusion untrustworthy.
Before regulating man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA was required to conduct a scientific assessment. Rather than conduct its own assessment, the EPA relied on reports by third parties. The EPA’s conclusions rest primarily on information gathered by a creation of the United Nations called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC — an organization that has become mired in scandal because the reliability, objectivity and scientific validity of its work has come under fire.
For example, the IPCC reported that glaciers in the Himalayas were rapidly melting and would disappear by 2035. However, after the EPA reached its conclusion, the IPCC had to reverse itself and acknowledge that the Himalayan glaciers claim was false. The IPCC’s chairman was informed of the problem months before the erroneous report was published, but he did nothing to correct the report. Why? Perhaps because the research institute the chairman runs was seeking millions in grant funding to study those very same not so rapidly declining Himalayan glaciers.
The IPCC also incorrectly reported the Netherlands was highly susceptible to flooding from rising seas because 55 percent of its territory was below sea level. According to the Dutch government, that figure is far off the mark. And the IPCC reported that up to 40 percent of the Amazon rain forests would disappear because of climate change. That claim, too, had to be withdrawn after the IPCC realized the source of the Amazon claim was an environmental group’s report on logging — not climate change.
Additionally, the IPCC report on which the EPA relies cited a boot-cleaning manual, publications by activist groups like Greenpeace and even graduate-student theses that were not subjected to peer review — not the stuff of rigorous science.
To reach its conclusions about man-made global warming, the IPCC relied heavily on temperature data supplied by the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s East Anglia University. Like the IPCC, the CRU has been mired in scandal. Recently released e-mails from CRU reveal candid exchanges among the world’s top climatologists that betray an agenda-driven, coordinated effort to manipulate data, undermine the independent peer-review process, violate open records laws and thwart objective scientific debate.
CRU scientists frequently did not use actual temperatures recorded at weather stations around the world. Instead, they recalculated — some would say manipulated — those temperature data to support their desired conclusion that the Earth is warming.
The CRU scientists’ e-mails reveal efforts to exclude from the IPCC report research that did not support global warming. As CRU’s then-chief, professor Phil Jones, put it: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. … I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
Worse yet, it is impossible to independently test or verify CRU’s calculations because raw temperature data sets have been lost or destroyed.
Since the e-mail scandal broke, the British Information Commissioner’s Office has stated that the scientists violated the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act. The British Parliament is holding hearings. The British Meteorological Office has announced a multiyear review of its temperature data. And the Dutch government is investigating how the IPCC could have been so hapless that it incorrectly doubled the country’s sub-sea level territory. Bipartisan groups of lawmakers in Washington are equally troubled and have filed legislation that would strip the EPA of its ability to regulate carbon dioxide.
Do these errors mean the globe is not warming? No, but they demonstrate that the rigorous, objective scientific process has been abandoned in favor of political science. They also mandate that the EPA conduct a scientifically valid process before making a decision that could cost Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Because the EPA failed to do its own independent scientific review, I am asking a court to order the EPA to do it.
Abbott is the 50th attorney general of Texas.
Houston Chronicle, 13 March 2010