ELLIOT: The N.C. connection to Climategate II

Grant W. Goodge—NOAA Photo Library
Wave clouds over Mt. Pisgah looking southwest from the Federal Building

It seems Climategate II is upon us, and a brave scientist from North Carolina is playing the role of whistleblower this time. The story is cataloged in a lengthy article in The Daily Mail, a London-based paper that has been one of the few media outlets willing to investigate the climate cabal.Climategate I broke in 2009, when a trove of leaked emails showed that climate scientists, including several key researchers at England’s University of East Anglia, had manipulated and hidden data to make climate change data and predictions appear more pressing before the U.N. climate summit.Substantial similarities exist this time. According to the Daily Mail, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris agreement on climate change,” a U.N. conference held in 2015.The Mail’s piece is mostly sourced to John Bates, a now-retired NOAA climate scientist who was based in Asheville at the headquarters of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information office. Bates told the newspaper that NOAA ignored its own standards for scientific papers accused NOAA superiors of “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation.”Apparently, the researchers’ rush to publish was tied to the same effort as the original Climategate scandal — hiding the “pause” in the global warming trend over the past 20 years. This pause was unexpected, even by many scientists who are skeptical that humans have had a significant influence on climate change. And it caused a huge problem from a public relations standpoint. Not only did the pause lessen (or postpone) the catastrophes predicted by most climate models all through the 1990s, but it cast legitimate doubt on scientists’ understanding of our complex global climate.The discussions of magnifying some data and ignoring others in the original Climategate scandal are child’s play compared to these recent revelations. Instead of just talking about the weather, NOAA decided to do something about it. That something was the “Karl paper,” which was published in June 2015 and was quickly hyped by the world press as the “Pausebuster” paper.Not content merely to claim that the pause never happened, lead researcher Thomas Karl declared that global temperatures increased at a faster rate from 2000-2014 than in previous periods. Pause solved!Bates, however, says that the two data sets used in the paper were flawed — neither approved nor verified according to NOAA’s own standards. “You never change good data to agree with bad,” Bates told the Mail, “but that’s what they did — so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.”Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, said Tuesday that Bates was courageous for blowing the whistle on NOAA’s attempt to reach “a politically predetermined conclusion. … In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the committee that the Karl study was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference. Since then, the committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegations, but was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials.”NOAA officials said this week that it will “review” Bates’s objections. But what is really needed is an independent review. NOAA was a chief recipient of the $11.6 billion the U.S. taxpayers spent in 2014 to study climate change. Can they really be expected to investigate themselves? The outlook is cloudy on that one. Drew Elliot is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.