Congress Must Ask Hard Questions At Climategate Hearing or Risk Further Erosion of Public Confidence in Climate Predictions -- Scandal May Have a Silver Lining, Western Business Leaders Say: Shifting Congress' Focus From Punitive Regulation to Technology Incentives
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 30, 2009) -- Congressional investigators must ask tough questions at Wednesday's hearing on Capitol Hill on climate science and the so-called "ClimateGate" scandal if public confidence in climate predictions is to be restored, a coalition Western business leaders warns.
But the Western Business Roundtable also says there may be a silver lining to Climategate: it may force Congress to shift its focus away from punitive climate taxes and regulation toward incentives-based plans to accelerate technology innovation.
"There is no question that the 'Climategate' scandal has seriously shaken the public's confidence in the integrity of the data that powers the computer climate prediction models that, in turn, provide the justification for thousands of government programs and regulations aimed at addressing climate change," said Jim Sims, President and CEO of the Roundtable. "Without a full and transparent accounting of any and all irregularities and data manipulation that may have occurred, public support for action to address climate issues is going to continue to decline."
But, as with any political scandal, there may be a silver lining, Sims said.
"Much of the debate on climate 'solutions' has focused on regulatory threats and taxes and punishment for the fact that we live in a carbon-based society and operate in a carbon-based economy," Sims said. "This scandal may finally wake up Congress, Governors, state legislators and all policymakers to the fact that the challenge of reducing emissions across the spectrum isn't a regulatory challenge. It's a technology challenge."
"Congress needs to start offering some serious carrots for technology development rather than brandishing a heavy stick of regulation and taxes," Sims said. "If American history shows anything, it is that incentives are a much more efficient path to technology innovation."
"After all," he added, "we didn't land a man on the moon in less than a decade by threatening to put engineers in jail if they failed that challenge."
The Western Business Roundtable is a coalition of companies that are working to pioneer a variety of technologies to increase U.S. productivity and job creation while putting the nation on a glidepath to reduced emissions of all kinds.
Sims said the leaders of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming should seek answers to "tough" questions in Wednesday's hearing and use the hearing as a platform to call for the following actions:
All raw temperature records and data that has been collected by the Climate Research Unit at the East Anglia center in the UK from the beginning of its work on climate should be immediate released so that scientists around the world can examine the data in detail and seek to replicate the interpretations made of that data. Data checking and replication is a fundamental tenet of the scientific method, Sims said.
A full accounting should be provided of any and all data destruction and/or manipulation that was done by scientists at the center.
A full accounting should be made of any and all attempts to corrupt the peer review process connected with the review of data regarding climate science.
An independent audit should be conducted of all sources of funding that supported the work at the East Anglia CRU and of the individual scientists that work in conjunction with the center. According to the CRU, its work is funded through "external contracts and grant from academic funding councils, government departments, intergovernmental agencies, charitable foundations, non-governmental organisations, commerce and industry."
"Only when all information is made publicly available and full discovery is completed in these critical areas will the public's confidence begin to be restored in the work that has been done by climate scientists and by the IPCC," Sims warned. "In the absence of such disclosure, the cloud that has descended over climate science and IPCC computer models will only get worse."
# # #