Climate Change - Bring on the Science

Aug 12, 2008

Overlawyered has a good summary of a recent discussion of legal consequences for denying the climate-change consensus.  The discussion started with a post by Alex Lockwood who writes from the U.K., which Overlawyered reminds us "lacks our First Amendment."  Lockwood posed the question (hypothetically we think/hope):

"If the science is beyond reasonable doubt, and miscommunication and denial leads to damaging inaction, should it not be censored?"
...
What do you think? Perhaps a starting point is a draft point in the codes for governing how the media represent climate change, and a method for enforcing that code. And that code needs to extend out to cover new media, including blogs.

This seems an absurd thought, until you look at recent actions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On July 17, 2008 NOAA published its Synthesis Report notice of availability and request for public comment in the Federal Register. This report summarizes 21 Synthesis and Assessment Products (SAPs) of the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) as well as the recent IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.  The Chamber filed comments on August 1st asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to withdraw the report, for reasons we will get into in a moment, leading to this comment:

"The Chamber of Commerce is pursuing a last-century, head-in-the-sand strategy to suppress climate information," said Brendan Cummings, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Far from suppressing information, we would like to SEE the information and have a worthwhile discussion on it.  Before the world spends trillions of dollars to address climate change it is essential that we have the data so we know how best to address the issue.  As it stands that is not going to happen because:

  • Currently only 8 of the 21 studies referenced in the report have been released.
  • Some of the studies will not be available until October, yet the commenting period ends August 14th.
  • The public hearing is in Woods Hole, Massachusetts ("a salty, sea spray village that brings the Nobel Laureate and the local fisherman together in harmony.")
  • The public is being given only one-half hour (from 8 to 8:30 AM), on August 21st, to comment to comment on the 21 studies (again most of which have not been released)

If we are to develop an effective climate change policy it needs to be grounded on sound science, sound available science. Asking the public to comment on documents that are not even available is about as far from the scientific method as one can possibly get.  And for this we are accused of suppressing the data? After all Big Climate knows the truth and we are supposed to accept that without even the right to even read the documents. Or else...

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