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Affluent Investor | April 26, 2017

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Environmental Debate Will Be More Science-Based

Environmental discussions within Washington may become more science-based as the political influence of the Obama White House and the Democrat left vanishes. For the past eight years, federal agencies were directed by the White House to provide data influenced more by ideology than science.  Funding within those agencies, NASA and the EPA in particular, was a lever used to ensure that research assets were geared towards producing pre-ordained results. In some cases, external political organizations with no official status were given undue influence over agency agendas.

For over eight years, an interconnected group of those who have profited from environmental extremism and those politicians who have profited from their support have exerted political pressure over federal agencies, and the politicians who provide their funding  An E&E news report notes that, according to Tom Pyle of the American Energy Alliance,

“…the Democratic Party and the Democratic establishment has a very, very cozy and comfortable relationship with the more strident in the environmental community and that the Democrats are funded heavily by folks who are involved in that group. They have an unusual, I would argue, level of access to folks in power.”

Prominent Democrats, such as former Vice President Al Gore, have made significant fortunes from their efforts. The British newspaper Telegraph  notes that

“Since he quit mainstream politics, Mr Gore’s personal fortune has risen from £1.2 million to an estimated £60 million. He has made significant investments in environmentally friendly projects like carbon trading markets, solar power, biofuels, electric vehicles, sustainable fish farming and waterless lavatories. He has also invested in non-climate change related investments, including putting money into Google and Apple.”

The political impact of groups advocating more environmental activism is significant, due to their financial muscle. Climate Change Dispatch notes that  Counting only private money, environmental groups massively outspend their opponents. Opposition to global warming activism only raises $46 million annually across 91 conservative think tanks, according to analysis by ForbesThat’s almost six times less than Greenpeace’s 2011 budget of $260 million, and Greenpeace is only one of many environmental groups. The undeniable truth is that global warming activists raise and spend far more money than their opponents.

The influence of leading environmental extremists has caused questions to be raised about their role within federal agencies. The Washington Free Beacon  reported in 2016 that

“The business arm of billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer’s political advocacy network worked behind the scenes with senior administration officials to undermine a study by a federally commissioned group that criticized environmental regulations, internal emails show. Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a Steyer-funded trade association, briefed senior administration officials on ways to preemptively debunk an anticipated study questioning EPA regulations’ impacts on the U.S. power grid.”

In 2015, National Review’s John Fund  noted:

“Far from being embarrassed by the green-energy scandals that piled up during its first term, the Obama administration is doubling down on its green agenda. It has dismissed Solyndra, the politically connected solar-panel maker that wasted $535 million of taxpayer money and got President Obama to promote its wares, as an aberration. But the Washington Post reported in 2012 that Solyndra was hardly an anomaly, given that under Obama “$3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama-administration staffers and advisers.”

President Obama frequently insisted that the man-made climate change debate was over, and that the scientific community was united in its beliefs. He intentionally ignored the vast extent of contrary viewpoints. The significance of that disagreement by numerous scientists is represented by the fact that 31,072 American scientists, including 9,029 with PH.D’s, signed a petition opposing the views of those who claim human factors have altered the climate.

The inappropriate actions of environmental extremists was best represented by the “Climategate” scandal of 2009, in which emails, data files and data processing programs were leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, revealing scientific fraud and data manipulation by scientists concerning the Global Warming Theory.

It was followed two years later by “Climategate 2.” As noted by Forbes:

“Three themes are emerging from the newly released emails: (1) prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions; (2) these scientists view global warming as a political “cause” rather than a balanced scientific inquiry and (3) many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data. Regarding scientific transparency, a defining characteristic of science is the open sharing of scientific data, theories and procedures so that independent parties, and especially skeptics of a particular theory or hypothesis, can replicate and validate asserted experiments or observations. Emails between Climategate scientists, however, show a concerted effort to hide rather than disseminate underlying evidence and procedures.”

The Heartland organization reports that

“The most important fact about climate science, often overlooked, is that scientists disagree about the environmental impacts of the combustion of fossil fuels on the global climate. There is no survey or study showing “consensus” on the most important scientific issues, despite frequent claims by advocates to the contrary. Scientists disagree about the causes and consequences of climate for several reasons.

Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields. Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines. Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt. Finally, climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.

Probably the only “consensus” among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.”

An example of how NASA manipulated data is described by the Daily Wire:

“The Washington Times reported  in 2009: “Under pressure in 2007, NASA recalculated its data and found that 1934, not 1998, was the hottest year in its records for the contiguous 48 states. NASA later changed that data again, and now 1998 and 2006 are tied for first, with 1934 slightly cooler.”Since this occurred at around the same time as the Climategate scandal, Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit to get NASA to release their relevant data sets on this issue and was able to expose emails from NASA that revealed a disturbing fact: the agency admitted “that its own climate findings were inferior to those maintained by both the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit,” reported Fox News in 2010 – meaning NASA climate change data sets were less accurate than the organization embattled with manipulating data sets.” The Washington Times  further reported in 2015 that “Paul Homewood, a skeptical researcher, found that in Paraguay, temperature readings for the 20th century at all nine weather stations supervised by NASA had been “adjusted” to transform a cooling trend into a warming trend. His analysis of readings in the Arctic found that rapid warming between 1920 and 1950 — before human activity could have increased the production of greenhouse gases — were adjusted downward so that the 1980s and ‘90s temperatures would stand out as warmer.”

The Trump Administration has signaled a course reversal. The selection of Robert Walker to lead the NASA transition team is an example. He  has previously complained of data manipulation by the space agency.

It is, however, the nomination of Scott Pruitt to run the EPA that will bring the greatest resistance. Business Insider  reports that

“Pruitt joined several other state attorneys general in suing the agency over the Clean Power Plan, a policy drafted under the Obama administration…[he is] A self-described ‘leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,’ Pruitt has brought lawsuits against the Obama-led EPA several times.”

 

Originally published on New York Analysis of Policy and Government.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government (website usagovpolicy.com). He is the co-host of the syndicated radio program, Vernuccio/Novak Report, and is also a contributor to Fox News. His columns appear in many newspapers. After graduating Hofstra Law School, he was a legislative editor for a major publishing company, then served in both Republican and Democrat Administrations. Following the 9/11 attack, he was appointed to run the hard-hit Manhattan branch of the New York State Workers Compensation Board.

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