U.S. watchdog group sues NOAA over warming pause research secrecy

Posted: December 23, 2015 by oldbrew in Accountability, climate, data, Legal

NOAA graphic

NOAA graphic

The GWPF reports: The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it is suing the Obama administration to obtain the same internal communications of federal scientists sought by a House committee in a dispute over global warming research.

The group said in a news release that it filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington on Dec. 2 against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking the agency’s “methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models.”

The suit stems from an investigation by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, into a blockbuster June study by NOAA scientists that refuted the notion of a global warming “pause.” The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, undercut a talking point for skeptics of the conclusion that the planet’s warming is man-made.

Smith has subpoenaed NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan for the internal communications of the scientists who did the study, as well as emails among other staff members. Last week Sullivan gave the committee about 100 emails written by non-scientists on her staff, but not of the scientists, which Smith has taken off the table for now.

Judicial Watch said it submitted its Freedom of Information Act request for the records in late October. After NOAA did not respond, the group sued.

Among the data it is seeking are atmospheric satellite temperature readings. Smith has said that these readings are more reliable and show smaller rates of warming than the ocean and land data used in the study.

Climate scientists, including those at NOAA, have said that it’s the satellite data that is unreliable.

Judicial Watch took credit for prodding NOAA to release the emails to the committee last week.

Source: Judicial Watch Sues U.S. Government For Records In Warming Pause Dispute | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed an executive order that made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information. Making information about government operations more readily available and useful is also core to the promise of a more efficient and transparent government.

Over the past few years, the Administration has launched a number of Open Data Initiatives aimed at scaling up open data efforts across the Health, Energy, Climate, Education, Finance, Public Safety, and Global Development sectors.

  1. oldbrew says:

    The notion of ‘Open Data Initiatives’ is looking a bit sick in this case.

  2. oldbrew says:

    From the Whitehouse link above:
    ‘For too long, the American people have experienced a culture of secrecy in Washington, where information is locked up, taxpayer dollars disappear without a trace, and lobbyists wield undue influence.’

    What changed since that statement? Maybe the court case will tell us 😉

  3. Paul Vaughan says:

    The GWPF framing is problematically outdated.
    It fails to recognize a major shift.

    For superior framing (that acknowledges the major shift), see the comment posted here:


    NOAA has been warned repeatedly for a full year that v4 severely corrupted natural patterns in v3b2. That it comes to suing speaks volumes.

    They could have chosen to cooperate with good people like me to deeply appreciate and understand beautiful spatiotemporal patterns of natural variations, but instead now they’ve dug themselves into an entrenched war with nasty political agents.

    Their choice of path speaks volumes. They either don’t know they’re wrong or they don’t care — a problem either way.

    Up until now I was opposed to the e-mail dirt hunt because that detracts from focus on the beautiful patterns of natural variations in v3b2, but NOAA has been so rudely, intransigently, reprehensibly, & egregiously uncooperative — in downright bold, permanent denial that it unacceptably erred in defacing v3b2 natural beauty — that I now agree that political means are (unfortunately) strictly necessary.

    I’ll keep doing my part exploring natural beauty. I’ll leave the nasty politics to people who specialize in that sort of thing.

  4. Paul Vaughan says:

    HARD evidence that will stand up in court:

    They have NO integrity if they cannot simply look at that and immediately admit error. It’s black & white simple, with not a trace of grey for snaky weaseling. Their persisting intransigence is infuriating & inexpressibly creepy.

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    Please recognize:

    Because the vandalism is black-&-white with no shades of grey, this is a perfect opportunity to test the US justice system for noble cause corruption.

    The court can’t argue that this is beyond their expertise because it’s only subtraction of one column of numbers from another. They cannot evade.

    I suggest: Corner the justice system with this simple black-&-white test of integrity. Something positive will come out of this either way — either justice or a better map of the distribution of injustice …another of nature’s patterns we can explore.

  6. oldbrew says:

    PV: if it gets to court, they will be judging NOAA’s behaviour rather than its actual science.

  7. colliemum says:

    Well, NOAA better hand over those files Judicial Watch is asking for now, or the next weeks and months will become v-e-r-y uncomfortable for them. Judicial Watch is a heavy-weight organisation, here’s a summary of whom they’ve successfully taken on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_Watch

  8. oldbrew says:

    Looks like the NOAA assisted the New York Times to publish garbage about so-called ocean acidification, knowing that it was garbage.

    What other dirty tricks might they be wanting to hide?

  9. oldbrew says:

    Thanks Jim. More evidence of blinkered NOAA thinking and assertions there.

  10. Bloke down the pub says:

    Climate scientists, including those at NOAA, have said that it’s the satellite data that is unreliable.
    Well of course they do, it keeps on disagreeing with the theory, and we know what Einstein said you’ve got to do when that happens.

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    oldbrew (December 23, 2015 at 7:37 pm) wrote:
    “PV: if it gets to court, they will be judging NOAA’s behaviour rather than its actual science.”

    Nowhere is their bad behavior more crystallized than in the mere subtraction of 1 column of numbers from another.

    A court judge who can’t subtract one column of numbers from another is NOT fit for duty.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that more people aren’t calling NOAA out on this.

  12. oldbrew says:

    PV says: ‘A court judge who can’t subtract one column of numbers from another is NOT fit for duty.’

    I’ll let you tell him/her.

  13. Paul Vaughan says:

    I suspect most if not all judges will be able to handle the task, but you may be correct that they’ll struggle with interpretation despite the simple arithmetic. Either way, extremely valuable information would be gained by pushing the graph onto center stage in court because deception will be 100% crystal clear and recorded in detail on the public record. It would be a perfect test of how far the corruption goes, because if it goes that far, clear awareness of that is a game-changer. My strong instinct is that the courts will mishandle this case. I am very curious to see if there turns out to be any chance of justice prevailing. It’s such a good opportunity to run a black-&-white test. Passing up such a good opportunity would be foolish. I’m almost watering at the mouth to have the opportunity to observe how they would mishandle it. I do also think there’s a remote chance that real good would come from the exercise. That’s what I hope for. It may be that the errors have to get pushed under a serious spotlight to get people to be sober, serious, & mature. On the other hand, face-saving instinct could cause all kinds of bad behavior. Overall: what a mess. If they deeply understand their error, it’s so embarrassing that they simply may not be able to face it honestly. That’s what I’m most curious to see. I’m curious to see if they really are so embarrassed that they would attempt to conceal the truth in court. And I’m also curious to see how & if the court would struggle to detect that even though it should be so easy. All around this is shaping up into a fascinating situation and we’re sure to learn something really interesting. The human dimension of this is what’s most interesting. I have a feeling that people will do some crazy things when they get cornered on this. There could be emotional meltdowns from people who don’t actually understand what’s wrong with v4.

  14. Mjw says:

    Satellite data inaccurate, best sack everyone concerned at NASA then wait for the counter argument. Three thousand five hundred Argo floats that measure to within 0.002 C are supposedly inaccurate and need to be “adjusted” in line with ships engine cooling intakes, who designs these multi billion dollar system failures and why do they still have jobs. Or is it possible the GW theory is wrong.

  15. steverichards1984 says:

    @Paul Vaughan, I hope you are correct and the whole lot gets exposed.

    However, ‘its just 2 columns of figures…..

    I could foresee defense counsel querying the provenance of each column, the concept of subtraction in this specific case, of a string of ‘expert’ witnesses earnestly stating that subtraction in htis case is not valid etc etc etc.

    I do hope that sense comes back into science and the law soon.

  16. Paul Vaughan says:

    Steve, the subtraction was by NOAA’s design, so that’s not a route off the hook.

  17. Paul Vaughan says:

    Btw I’m now going more deeply into another egregious aspect of the v3b2-to-v4 systematic vandalism over on Suggestions-16:


    The court will never understand that. It demands layers upon layers of specialized cross-disciplinary background knowledge (that most climate scientists don’t have).

    However, any casual observer will notice the horizontal discontinuity at 60°S in v4:

    For comparison, v3b2:

    It’s clear that NOAA either skipped or ignored (probably the former) diagnostics. (Looks like a case of haste makes waste.) They should have known that systematically smearing ENSO pattern as they did about the maximally-leveraging WWII hinge-point would distort ERSST EOF & PC 1, 2, 3, & 4 by systematically reallocating variance.

    It’s a serious accident (“accident”?). The assumptions they made were unjustifiable spatial extrapolations. I suspect they never even stopped to realize the amount of leverage that type of adjustment has on spatial pattern. In the language of statistics it’s an “unfair” adjustment (as in unfair averaging with undue weighting).

    With the clumsy reallocation they substantially distorted all of the major EOFs & PCs, knocking the variance structure so far out of line you’d hope a novice amateur would notice. They systematically smeared regional patterns into other regions in a manner that seriously obstructs exploration of natural pattern.

    The court is never going to understand that sort of thing. (There aren’t even many people who can understand.)

    So in court I suggest sticking to the subtraction of one column of numbers from another, which can be easily and decisively proven in grey-free black-&-white. It’s the Pareto Principle. Rather than being scrambled all over everything (divided and conquered), stay tactically focused on the easy sure thing that with very little effort has big impact.

    Just put the graph up on a slide and ask for sobriety:
    • Why is there this single central point at WWII that hinges your whole “bias” adjustment to match the IPO??
    • Are you guys sure your awareness of multivariate geometry is sufficient?
    (The answer to the latter is a definite no.)

    It’s pretty creepy that they haven’t backed down yet. They’re caught deep in a bad bluff. This is ugly.

  18. Paul Vaughan says:

    That single hinge-point corrupts every one of the major ERSST EOF/PCs.

    Visual catalog of the natural patterns being systematically defaced:


    1: secular


    2: enso


    3: centennial


    4: multidecadal — (proven independent of centennial)