Guest post. Peter Campion on climate reporting and policy

What are the prospects for the HONEST Act?

We Aussie climate sceptics can only watch in awe as the new US President begins systematically driving a stake a into the vampire heart of the climate-alarm industry. If we want to follow the nuances of US congressional processes and party politics, however, we know we’re not going to get good information from “our” ABC or our Marxstream media – so we head to the blogosphere for insight. Excellent US-based blogs, such as Anthony Watts fill the void created by leftist media bias.

Therefore it was a surprise to hear a National Public Radio program re-broadcast on ABC News Radio discussing the Trump Administrations’ new HONEST Act, or Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017. The climate alarmists interviewed by NPR were railing near-hysterically against this proposed new law, desperately twisting reality to find some illusory moral high ground from which to condemn it. The torment evident in their voices sent this sceptic straight to the internet to find out why they’re so frightened.

Congress.gov (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1430) informed me that well-known sceptical Republican congressman and Head of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith, is the sponsor and that the HONEST Act has passed the House of Representatives. So far, so good. As at March 30, 2017 it had been received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The summary reads as follows;

This bill amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is the best available science, specifically identified, and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results. A covered action includes a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance. Personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential must be redacted prior to public availability.

The Act itself is surprisingly short by Aussie standards and most of the action is in the second of its two sections.

SEC. 2. DATA TRANSPARENCY.

Section 6(b) of the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (42 U.S.C. 4363 note) is amended to read as follows:

“(b)(1) The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is—

“(A) the best available science;

“(B) specifically identified; and

“(C) publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results, except that any personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, shall be redacted prior to public availability.

“(2) The redacted information described in paragraph (1)(C) shall be disclosed to a person only after such person signs a written confidentiality agreement with the Administrator, subject to guidance to be developed by the Administrator.

“(3) Nothing in the subsection shall be construed as—

“(A) requiring the Administrator to disseminate scientific and technical information;

“(B) superseding any nondiscretionary statutory requirement; or

“(C) requiring the Administrator to repeal, reissue, or modify a regulation in effect on the date of enactment of the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017.

“(4) In this subsection—

“(A) the term ‘covered action’ means a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance; and

“(B) the term ‘scientific and technical information’ includes—

“(i) materials, data, and associated protocols necessary to understand, assess, and extend conclusions;

“(ii) computer codes and models involved in the creation and analysis of such information;

“(iii) recorded factual materials; and

“(iv) detailed descriptions of how to access and use such information.

“(5) The Administrator shall carry out this subsection in a manner that does not exceed $1,000,000 per fiscal year, to be derived from amounts otherwise authorized to be appropriated.”.

NPR’s article from July, 20, 2017 can be found here (http://www.npr.org/2017/07/20/537243392/gop-effort-to-make-environmental-science-transparent-worries-scientists) and is headlined, “GOP Effort To Make Environmental Science ‘Transparent’ Worries Scientists”. A worried Professor Thomas Burke, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, “To say that every study needs to have the data out there — this is code for ‘We are going challenge it — to raise issues of uncertainty and play the delay game’ that was so successfully played, unfortunately, with things like tobacco.”

Even from 5000 kilometres away I can smell the fear. Isn’t science all about challenging the ‘known’ and extending the boundaries of knowledge?

Sean Gallagher, a government relations officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science said, “Defining terms, or setting in stone, terms like ‘reproducible’ or ‘independent analysis’ may sound good when you read it and it may look simple, but they have serious unintended consequences that may manifest down the line.”

Gallagher doesn’t seem to want definitions set in stone, yet surely good communication and quality science are both based on clearly defined terms? How could agreeing on basic terminology be of hindrance to the ‘advancement of science’? What could the “unintended consequences” be if the alarmist climate science community had to show their homework?

If this guest post looks similar to one that appeared on WUWT this morning it’s because it is -it’s just been redrafted to be Catcentric. I’ve sought the views of WUWT commenters to better understand the prospects for the HONEST Act making it through the legislative process and having a useful impact in this very dodgy political/scientific field. It would be good to hear Cats’ perspectives, too.

We need an equivalent piece of legislation here, as far as it can be made to apply. Any thoughts on how it could be adapted to our structure would be most welcome. We can compile them and then forward them to Cory.

You know what else we need? We need for research paid for by taxpayers to be readily accessible by taxpayers. The ideal format would be to publish all taxpayer-funded papers on a blog (like WUWT) and allow comments from the public (like WUWT).

While on this general topic, we also need our original hand-written unadjusted historical temperature records back. Taxpayers have already paid for those and we want them back intact and unmolested.

Finally I am coming out; I have guest-posted here as Beliaik on the subject of searching the ABC for sceptical climate stories using FOI. I’ve also commented as Beliaik, but only rarely as I mainly come here to learn. Anonymous commenting was a residual habit from a public sector career, now redundant as I am retired.

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38 Responses to Guest post. Peter Campion on climate reporting and policy

  1. Bela Bartok

    In my dreams I see parliament acting to ensure science regains its mantle as honest, reliable, trustworthy.
    But I look at the swamp that sits in Canberra and realise that, as dishonest, unreliable and untrustworthy people themselves, such a bill would never pass the ‘read it to an empty Senate chamber’ stage.
    “It was no dream, I lay broad waking”.

  2. Most famously (in AGW circles) one Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University (keepers of global temperature data) made the following statement..

    We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

    These crooks know full well that they are torturing the data to get the favourable outcome they require to promote the scam that is CAGW.
    In real science, the aim IS to find something wrong with the proposed hypothesis. Otherwise it is not science, it is just propaganda.

  3. Kneel

    “..this is code for ‘We are going challenge it — to raise issues of uncertainty and play the delay game’…”

    Well, Sir, if your science is solid and your conclusions valid, I thought you would welcome the chance to wipe the floor on the “deniers” & “delayers”.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant – if you want to show how wrong someone is, the best solution is to actually show them, not sit in your ivory tower and spew invective at anyone who dares to question you. Your failure to allow “deniers” access to your data is one reason why more and more have difficulty trusting you.

    Free the data.
    Free the code.
    Free the debate.

  4. max

    “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” That is the problem. When the government is paying the bills, truth is not the first priority. More important are press releases that either scare the people or promote unwarranted hopes.

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/11/tom-bethell/government-science-anoxymoron/

    Hamilton’s work illustrates the state’s corrupting influence on science.

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2007/05/michael-s-rozeff/how-the-state-corrupts-science/

    Flush with success in creating an atom bomb, the U.S. federal government decided it should start funding nonmilitary scientific research. A government report titled “Science, the Endless Frontier” provides the justification for doing this. It makes the case that “science is the responsibility of government because new scientific knowledge vitally affects our health, our jobs, and our national security”
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2007/05/donald-w-miller-jr-md/the-trouble-with-government-grants/

  5. Muddy

    This needs to be sold in Australia as an opportunity for the public to be involved in their own future, thus anyone objecting has been prepositioned as an elitist who believes that Joe and Jane Public are morons who should be grateful for whatever crumbs they are granted. Make it political death to oppose it.

  6. struth

    Our U.N puppets in Canberra would run a mile from any Bill put forward like that.
    The U.S. isn’t the U.N. lap dog we are.

    Power stations destroyed and the economy ruined and then we find it was all for the tax parasite’s gravy train?
    All a lie?
    A Hoax.
    The polar bears are there………………..
    We’re freezing.
    The dams are full and the reef stubbornly lives on.

  7. Craig

    About bloody time the ‘scienciftic method’ was put front and centre to weed out the shit studies that have scammed the peer review system and the peer reviewers who have corrupted the system to let this ride along like an out-of-control vehicle with failed brakes on the down slope.

  8. Rabz

    ensure science regains its mantle as honest, reliable, trustworthy

    “science” has been so utterly discredited by this preposterous misanthropic marxist fraud that it will never recover.

    Nor does it deserve to, as far as I’m concerned.

  9. Richard

    Rabz, what you say might be true. Science might never recover fully the trust of the public. As a real life working scientist (biology, not climate science) I see this occurring and it horrifies me. Not because I might not have a job, but because I believe in the good that comes from most science. It’s remarkable how many of my colleagues openly subscribe to the alarmist line. And remarkable how many fellow scientists do not see the dangers in public advocacy. When it is done well, it can be life altering. When done badly, it destroys and corrupts the system from within. And even though me and my colleagues are the supposed to be reasonable voices, capable of debate and understanding, tribalism prevails.
    It is profoundly depressing……

  10. Bob of Brisbane

    What chance any investigation here? At the recent LNP Convention in Brisbane, the following motion was defeated by the assembled LNP delegates.
    This requests the Federal Government to urgently convene a Royal Commission to determine the role of anthropogenically produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in materially changing the world’s climate.
    They also voted down a motion to stop the Brisbane City Council buying “green certificates” which they do to claim that their energy use is “carbon neutral”. The current cost is $5 to $6 million a year.

  11. Tim Neilson

    “Science”, the intellectually rigorous mode of seeking after the truth about our physical universe, oughtn’t to be discredited by all this, in fact it cannot be “discredited” in a genuine sense.

    But “science” the institutionalised network that’s been thoroughly infested by spivs, troughers, timeservers, loons, virtue-signallers, eco-fascists and outright fraudsters, needs to be discredited.

    Until some of the shysters and totalitarians are flogged to death at the gratings in public squares around the developed world, real “science” will suffer deemed guilt by association.

  12. .

    No Tim, it is “Science!” – because of Science!, etc.

  13. Fulcrum

    Any fairminded individual realises that society is split on the issue of global warming.

    What makes me a sceptic is primarily the insane effort being made to suppress information.

    It should be easy to convince me with the winning arguements that convinced those who believe in the dire consequences but please dont insult me by saying 97% of global warming scientists believe it.

  14. Rabz

    it is “Science!”

    As practiced by “the Canberra Scientistic Peeples”.

    H/T Mr Rusty.

  15. RobK

    I think the US HONEST Act is a step in the right direction. Refreshing. The pressure needs to be applied, not only here but to the terms of reference of the IPCC. It has bias in it’s DNA and is the enabling force for so much harm being done to productive economies everywhere.

  16. H B Bear

    Why use legislation when the government controls so much of the funding? Make government funding conditional on full publication of all data sets including any massaging.

  17. .

    Plenty of science and business journals only accept open source data and papers with explanations of methods and results.

    This ought to knock any BS out of the park.

    If you want to be published to the Quarterly Journal of Applied Econometrics, you need your source data, the programme you used to run the stats or the programming language and code you used, cite the source in raw form and publish your empirical results on top of the paper itself. Handing over a copy of the data set you used/plugged into LIMDEP pretty much ensures no fraud and minimises mistakes.

  18. Rob MW

    Finally I am coming out; I have guest-posted here as Beliaik on the subject of searching the ABC for sceptical climate stories using FOI. I’ve also commented as Beliaik, but only rarely as I mainly come here to learn. Anonymous commenting was a residual habit from a public sector career, now redundant as I am retired.

    Welcome fellow Earthian……nuka……nuka and all that.

    I’ll sum up why the AGW crowd don’t want to use proper science credentials; Climate Science ™ is nothing more than subjectively manufactured computer models, run a couple of times to get the correct result, inputted and purpose built with undefined and totally unknown mathematical source code – happy hour is actually 5 hours ™ – and preceded, or unveiled, with a doomy yet hilarious press release that reveals no resemblance to either the grant money, computer model or publication, but does not command any public shame upon the creating Climate Scientists ™.

  19. Another old bloke

    The US has had legislation similar to the HONEST Act in place since 2001, early in George W. Bush’s presidency.

    The Data Quality Act was a brief addendum to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 and was effectively managed by the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Quality_Act

    In another life I tried to raise some interest in this type of legislation in Canberra, but, oddly, couldn’t find a politician who gave a damn.

  20. hzhousewife

    So a “green certificate” is like an “halal certificate”, n’est pas?

  21. Helen

    As a scientist, I think this is probably a good idea. I hope it also applied to climate sceptics when they write articles criticising the work of climate scientists. I want to see everybody’s work on the table . I’d also like to see the research and the debate move away from a single figure for global temperate increase estimates. Calculating this is fraught with problems of geographic sampling and technical issues, and is pretty meaningless. It’s similar, but much worse, than saying from the census data that the average Australian is female, 35 , lives at St Kilda and earns $55,720 pa. No individual fits the average.

    Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there. There’s plenty of hard evidence eg earlier flowering times. Ask a farmer.

  22. RobK

    Aob,
    I think the HONEST Act has some important differences to the Data Quality Act which would make it better if enacted without major changes. We live in hope. The use of dogma dressed as science is rife in our environmental laws, amongst others.

  23. Rococo Liberal

    Surely if the government is keen to give grants to scientists who want to prove that climate change is man-made, it should also be happy to give just as much to scientists who say that climate change is a natural phenomenom? It couldn’t be that our governments want climate change to be seen as man-made because that gives them the opportunity to piously interfere in all aspects of the economy? Our politicians surely wouldn’t be so power-mad as that would they?

  24. cohenite

    In 2010 the IAC audited the IPCC and found it fucked.

    Prior to that the alarmist scientists, every one of them, revealed they were liars in the CRU email scandal.

    Anyone who believes AGW after those 2 events is either making a quid out of it or delusional; or both.

    Good on Trump for neutering a major, tax payer funded exponent of this bullshit. Here in Australia, if the abc were defunded or even a requirement for equal time for sceptics which has been denied at the behest of arseholes like clive Hamilton, put in place, the insidious influence of alarmism in the csiro and the BoM would be diminished.

    Most of all sceptics need a financial backer. The disproportionate funding between alarmism and scepticism must be running at about 1 million to one. The fact alarmism has not convinced the majority with that advantage is testimony to its complete bullshit.

  25. struth

    Oh boy Helen.
    You’re game.

  26. Rob MW

    Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there. There’s plenty of hard evidence eg earlier flowering times. Ask a farmer.

    I am a farmer and my Pulses (Lupins & Chickpeas) flowered 6 weeks late last season. “……but on what’s really happening out there.” is that we are not experiencing the last little ice age that has been observed through the fact that for the first time in a while people all over the planet tasted some plump roaming food, side served with some soil born vegies. Natural variability is what is happening out there and there is nothing that any Climate Scientist(tm) can do about it, which includes having any clue of how this chaotic conundrum works. When the Climate Scientists ™ finally admit this then, and only then, can the real Scientists get to work on understanding the fundamentals.

  27. Myrddin Seren

    There’s plenty of hard evidence eg earlier flowering times.

    The horror

  28. cohenite

    Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there.

    The truth is out there. What sort of scientist are you.

  29. Myrddin Seren

    What sort of scientist are you.

    Adds question mark “?”

    and reply

    paleontologist

    Runs away.

  30. .

    Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there.

    Sweet jesus this is pure weapons grade stupidity.

    The models and are fucked and we know this because they don’t match the real world data.

  31. CameronC

    Helen at #244337,
    As I see it this only applies to scientific work done which is then intended to be used in policy and legislative development. As a scientist myself I don’t give flying f#$k what fake scientists put in some fake scientific publication, as most of them appear to be today, so long as they don’t start trying to pass legislation or regulations based on it that seriously impacts upon my life.

    What private scientists and private publications do about data transparency is entirely up to them. The fact that your try to divert attention away from the real issue with such an obvious straw man makes me think you are not really a scientist at all?

  32. Peter Campion

    It seems to be a confluence of the coinciding agendas of special interest groups.

    The alarmist scientists want money, fame and prestige.
    The mainstream media want scariest-ever stories.
    The cultural-Marxists want control of societal values.
    The socialist billionaires want control of the means of production.
    The industrial enviro-profiteers (esp. Chinese) want to surf peaking production waves.
    The ideologically-driven eco-loons want to “save Gaia” through de-industrialisation.
    The neo-Malthusians want to reduce human populations.
    The virtue-signallers want other useful idiots to be impressed by their slavish conformance to the meme.

    But the big one is Governments. They desperately want a morally-palatable, over-arching and unavoidable big-new-tax-on-everything but especially on the air you breathe. They need it to pay for all the “entitlements” they buy votes with.

  33. “Science”, the intellectually rigorous mode of seeking after the truth about our physical universe, oughtn’t to be discredited by all this, in fact it cannot be “discredited” in a genuine sense.

    But “science” the institutionalised network that’s been thoroughly infested by spivs, troughers, timeservers, loons, virtue-signallers, eco-fascists and outright fraudsters, needs to be discredited.

    Until some of the shysters and totalitarians are flogged to death at the gratings in public squares around the developed world, real “science” will suffer deemed guilt by association.

    Point 8 from Vox Day’s 16 points of the alt-right:

    The Alt Right is scientodific. It presumptively accepts the current conclusions of the scientific method (scientody), while understanding a) these conclusions are liable to future revision, b) that scientistry is susceptible to corruption, and c) that the so-called scientific consensus is not based on scientody, but democracy, and is therefore intrinsically unscientific.

  34. Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there. There’s plenty of hard evidence eg earlier flowering times. Ask a farmer.

    Bring on more warming I say. Summer has been great so far here in Holland – I’ve even gotten a tan. What do you want, for it to get colder? It’s one or the other, the climate isn’t static.

  35. Boambee John

    Right about now we could do with a couple of degrees of Global Warming here on the mid-North Coast of NSW.

    The lived experience contradicts the theories of manic computer modellers.

  36. Tim Neilson

    I hope it also applied to climate sceptics when they write articles criticising the work of climate scientists.

    It won’t apply either to “the work of climate scientists” or to sceptics’ articles criticising that work.

    It will apply to the EPA to prevent them imposing regulations on people, or taking official actions under such regulations, without proper disclosure of the data etc.

    So it will apply, even handedly, to alarmist or sceptical based regulations and official actions. Totally impartial and unbiassed. Nothing to worry about at all.

  37. Empire GTHO Phase III

    As a scientist, I think this is probably a good idea.

    Of course, climate warming will continue regardless, because it doesn’t depend on models, but on what’s really happening out there. There’s plenty of hard evidence eg earlier flowering times. Ask a farmer.

    Your secret’s safe Helen. We know you’re really a comedienne.

  38. PB

    Peter fights the good fight through the old Letters-to-the-editor pages in this Northern part of the world against some pretty rude odds at times.

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