Climategate may be just the tip of the global-warming iceberg according to the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, which says the next weather-science scandal may erupt right here in the United States.
For nearly three years CEI, a free-market, public-interest organization, has pursued a series of Freedom of Information Act Requests intended to force NASA's climate-science division to hand over e-mails it says could reflect the same sort of pro-warming bias seen in the recent e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University.
One reason NASA's unresponsiveness is drawing attention: For years, the CRU stonewalled a request filed through the British information-act process, before information was "hacked" and posted on the Internet in November.
"They have resisted and haven't wanted to turn anything over," CEI Energy and Global Warming Policy Director Myron Ebell says of NASA. ". . . So this looks like climategate all over again to us."
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CEI senior fellow Chris Horner, author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, has led the fight for the information.
Horner is requesting internal e-mails and other information from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
That institute, directed by controversial global-warming advocate James Hansen, has played an influential role in stoking concern that massive climate changes endanger the planet.
Horner tells Newsmax that he fully expects the GISS data will echo the U.K.-based CRU e-mails.
"The information is, [based on] all indications from what we can tell from available data and past manipulations and modifications of their claims, likely to be damning on a scale similar to the CRU 'climategate' documents, computer code, and annotations," Horner states.
Before Horner and CEI can prove that cooking the climate books is a transatlantic phenomenon, they have to get their hands on the e-mails. And that apparently won't be easy.
It seems NASA put a man on the moon but apparently has been unable to respond to the CEI FOIA request in a timely fashion.
"We're collecting the information and will respond with all the responsive relevant information to all of [CEI's] requests," Goddard public affairs director Mark Hess told The Washington Times earlier this month. "It's just a process you have to go through where you have to collect data that's responsive."
According to Ebell, CEI filed three separate FOIA requests in 2007 with NASA and GISS. CEI is looking into whether a NASA-Goddard employee at GISS has been directing activities at a global-warming advocacy Web site during work hours. Horner says that would be "inappropriate behavior" amounting to "political activism."
CEI also wants to review internal GISS e-mails that would illuminate how the agency has reacted to revelations from Stephen McIntyre, the mathematician and creator of the climateaudit.org blog. McIntyre notified GISS that some of its calculations on warming were in error, and exaggerated its impact.
GISS subsequently corrected the error, but continues to release findings that support aggressive intervention to stave off climate change. That response hasn't allayed the suspicions of global-warming skeptics.
Ebell says CEI hopes to learn "how they responded to Steve McIntire's initial requests and communications to them, whether there was an attempt to . . . dissemble. We'd like to know what went on internally when this was pointed out to them."
In November, frustrated by the long delay, Horner filed three notices of intent to file suit against NASA and GISS.
Horner says an explanation for the delay has never been offered.
"They've never responded to the requests, or to any of my courtesy reminders that, say, the president issuing an executive order announcing the most transparent administration in history is a good opportunity to bring themselves into compliance with the law," Horner writes to Newsmax in an e-mail. "Just silence."
On late Thursday, Goddard's Hess responded to a Newsmax inquiry with the following e-mail statement: "In response to your questions, we are working on Mr. Horner’s three FOIA requests. We should have been more responsive, and regret that it has taken as long as it has, but we will release the information collected in response to the FOIA requests as soon as possible."
Ebell tells Newsmax he has his own theory about what's behind the foot-dragging. He suspects GISS is trying to avoid a major embarrassment.
"I think that unfortunately some of these scientists have become political promoters foremost. They're putting science in the service of their political agenda," he says. "They're in a hurry. The global-warming alarmist machine, or industry, has been going now since the late 1980s."
"They have spent billions and billions of dollars promoting it to the public, and they don't have much to show for it, and I think they feel time indeed is running out because reality is catching up with them," Ebell says. "We haven't had any global warming over the last decade. The costs of reducing emissions are becoming evident — and they are enormous."
"So I think they are becoming desperate to get something enacted that will then set a floor, beneath which it will be difficult to undo as the alarmist propaganda effort unravels and is seen not to have much reality behind it."
CEI's FOIA requests and the increased attention they are drawing reflect growing concern over proposals to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, at a time when many companies are struggling in a difficult economy and unemployment is still at 10 percent.
According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, skepticism over global warming is becoming well entrenched in the fabric of American society. Rasmussen says 59 percent of voters now consider it "at least somewhat likely" that some scientists have falsified data in order to support their own global-warming opinions. Thirty-five percent consider it "very likely."
That compares to just 26 percent who say it's not very likely that some data has been distorted.
Despite those findings, the Obama administration continues to insist there is a scientific consensus that dangerous, human-caused global warming is occurring.
"There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine, and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades," President Obama said in his Thursday speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
In his speech, Obama contended that global warming represents a threat to national and international security.
"For this reason," the president said, "it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action — it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance."
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