Congressional Testimony

January 29th, 2007

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

I am scheduled to testify at this hearing tomorrow on “political interference in the work of government climate change scientists.” Should be interesting. My testimony will be posted here tomorrow morning. If we come across a link to the streaming video, we’ll post in the comments. Stay tuned . . .

6 Responses to “Congressional Testimony”

  1. Jim Clarke Says:

    “…Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis have requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality related to allegations that officials edited scientific reports and took other actions to minimize the significance of climate change.”

    It sounds like we should be praising the accused. After all, isn’t that what all the AGW fear mongers have been clamoring for, actions that will minimize the significance of climate change? If some guy in the Bush Administration can do that with a Bic pen, we should let him!

    I guess we have to go through the motions of this hearing, but wouldn’t it be easier to just take the accused and throw him in the Potomac? If he sinks and drowns, he was innocent. If he floats, drag him out and hang him as the witch we already know him to be!

    I know Senator Waxman would like all of us to take this seriously, as if it really was about the integrity of science, but it isn’t. I am quite sure that if the flunky changed the words to be more alarming (in line with Senator Waxman’s views) then we would not be having these hearings. There is no other purpose here than to trump up accusations against the Administration for the purpose of regaining control of the White House and strengthen Democratic control of Congress.

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  3. TokyoTom Says:

    Jim, what’s your point? It seems that you concede that there have been “flunkys” involved in the editing of scientific reports related to climate change – do you imagine that the editing was undertaken for the purpose of ensuring the integrity of science?

    And when you suggest that Congress should not be involved in overseeing the administrative agencies, are you implying that these legislatively created bodies should be the exclusive bailiwick of the president? I’m sure if we have a Dem president that he may be very happy to agree with you – how will you feel when the shoe is on the other foot?

    It is very clear that governance in the US has suffered greatly in the past six years as a result of the lack of any significant Congressional oversight. I for one am happy to see an active interest in it; it can only improve our government, even if is purely partisan. The Republicans have entirely wasted a fabulous opportunity to improve administrative environmental risk management.

    P.S. Waxman is a long-time Congressman from California, not a Senator.

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  5. Jim Clarke Says:

    Toyko Tom,

    Congressman Waxman…Yes, of course. My emotions got the better of me.

    I believe it is pretty well established that some guy, I do not remember his name, made some changes to the summation of a report that he thought better reflected the Administrations point of view. He was fired! Case closed!

    For 8 years I listened to the Clinton Administration say things about the science that were not supported. I saw climate researchers read the hand writing on the wall and start to follow the ‘company line’ in order to stay funded. No conspiracy…its just the way the politics of science works!

    When the Republicans took the Congress, they went on a witch hunt, mostly going after things like Monica, that were just silly. Now the Dems have the power and they are going after some flunky who was fired for an act that was extremely inconsequential. The Republicans thought they could score points on values issues, and Waxman thinks he can score on environmental science issues.

    My point is that these hearings are not about science. They are entirely political in nature. From my perspective, both parties attempt to interpret the science based on their own views and agendas. If you did not see that in the Clinton Administration it is only because you shared their views. Frankly, I was utterly dismayed when President Clinton proclaimed in the 1990’s that the debate on Climate Change was over. (Here it is 2007 and the same proclaimations are being make about AR4, but the reality is that it is still very far from over!)

    If you are really concerned about the integrity of science, then figure out a way to remove government funding from science. As long as politicians hold the purse strings, science will be persuaded by political agendas. That is what this hearing is all about. You are deluding yourself if you really think there is anything about scientific integrity going on here. It is all about politics.

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  7. TokyoTom Says:

    Jim, as I noted the Republicans unfortunately chose to dole out favors to themselves anf friends rather to engage in any serious reform of regulatory administration of environmental risks.

    In general, perhaps we could turn down the politicization of science by removing government funding from science and by focussing instead on clear liability rules, but this unfortunately was not a Republican priority.

    As for climate change in particular, as the atmosphere is a global commons unfortunately it is impossible to envision any mitigation action that does NOT involve government. Since the climate involves a public good, Indur Goklany has elsewhere explained that there is a good case for government investment in climate change science. Further, while adaption will take place at the private level, even conservatives concede that government action will be needed if we hope to have a coordinated program to help poorer countries to adapt. Even so-called geophysical apporaches to mitigation would require government action, including research.

    In sum, it seems difficult to extract the government from climate science even theoretically, and we all know that from GHW Bush on, presidents and politicians have punted from taking meaningful climate change action by simply focussing on more research.

    I agree with you that the research agenda is far from over, but let’s acknowledge that further research is in part a cop-out. Clinton’s point, which was earlier made by Nordhaus and others and has more recently been acknowledged by Bush and Exxon, is that we know enough to start creating pricing incentives that will start nudging economic activity in the right direction, to start disseminating information that will aid with private adaptation, to start negotiating seriously with China, India and the EU on consistent, most effcient mitigation mechanisms and to start making a concerted effort to improve living standards in the developing world by strengthening governance and rule of law.

    The politics of avoidance is a politics of short-sighted selfishness. Are you happy that Bush has essentially left the entire regulatory and diplomatice agenda to the Dems and the next president?

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  9. hank Says:

    Live, streaming, online, now:

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  11. Jim Clarke Says:

    “Are you happy that Bush has essentially left the entire regulatory and diplomatice agenda to the Dems and the next president?”

    Yes and no! Yes I am happy that, so far, the US population has not been afflicted with the same economic burdens that produce no measurable benefit. No, I am not happy that Bush has left this counter-productive path open to the Dems and the next president.

    CO2 is not the primary driver of climate change, but even if it were, regulatory schemes to ’solve’ the problem have a very high probability of doing more harm than good. But all of this is beside the point.

    The point is that these hearings are not about the science, the commons or even the noble efforts to improve third world living conditions! The hearing is a political witch hunt; a media event to impugn the opposition, a flexing of politcal muscle. Both parties do it and will continue to do it as long as their supporters think it is great theater and important.