Revelations by the Mail on Sunday about how world leaders were misled over global warming by the main source of climate data have triggered a probe by the US Congress.
Republican Lamar Smith, who chairs the influential House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, announced the inquiry last week in a letter to Benjamin Friedman, acting chief of the organisation at the heart of the MoS disclosures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
He renewed demands, first made in 2015, for all internal NOAA documents and communications between staff behind a controversial scientific paper, which made a huge impact on the Paris Agreement on climate change of that year, signed by figures including David Cameron and Barack Obama.
The paper – dubbed the ‘Pausebuster’ – claimed that contrary to what scientists had been saying for several years, there was no ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in the rate of global warming in the early 21st Century, and that in fact it had been taking place even faster than before.
The ‘pause’ had been seized on by climate sceptics, because throughout the period, carbon dioxide emissions continued to rise.
This month, this newspaper revealed evidence from a whistleblower, Dr John Bates, who until the end of 2016 was one of two NOAA ‘principal scientists’ working on climate change, showing that the paper based its claims on an ‘unverified’ and experimental dataset measuring land temperatures, and on a then newly issued sea-temperature dataset that is now to be withdrawn and replaced because it exaggerates both the scale and speed of warming.
The ‘Pausebuster’ paper’s claims were trumpeted around the world when it was published by the journal Science in June 2015, six months before the UN Paris climate-change conference. Its assertions were highlighted in scientific briefings to officials who hammered out the Agreement – which commits the developed world to sweeping greenhouse-gas emissions cuts and pledges an additional £80 billion every year in ‘climate-related’ aid to poor nations.
In his letter to NOAA, Congressman Smith expresses frustration that previous demands for documents about the Pausebuster were not met, although his committee took the unusual step of issuing a legal subpoena. NOAA’s decision to withhold the documents was, he wrote, ‘without any justification in law’.
As for the revelations by this newspaper, Mr Smith said they ‘raise additional questions as to whether the science at NOAA is objective and free from political interference’. NOAA has said it intends to bring in ‘independent outside parties’ to investigate the Pausebuster and the flawed datasets.
Last week Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK Met Office, admitted that notwithstanding the Pausebuster, it was clear ‘the slowdown hasn’t gone away’.
The ‘pause’ is clearly visible in the Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT 4’ climate dataset, calculated independently of NOAA.