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Concerned Scientists to Congress: Stop Harassing Us

Image: Concerned Scientists to Congress: Stop Harassing Us
Rep. Lamar Smith (Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 01:10 PM

A top member of the Union of Concerned Scientists says the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is "using the sledgehammer of a congressional subpoena to bully" the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over its views on climate change.

Michael Halpern, manager of strategy and innovation for science group's Center for Science and Democracy, says Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who leads the House committee, is out to attack his organization because NOAA scientists contradicted claims that global warming has slowed.

"If you don't like a particular scientific study, attack the scientists who produced it. It's a tried and true method of manufacturing controversy around inconvenient scientific analysis," Halpern writes in The Guardian.

"We're stronger, healthier and more prosperous because we grant scientists independence to go where the data leads them."

Halpern said the NOAA conclusion, published in Science earlier this year, is based on "routine updates" NOAA made to its surface temperature dataset, which experts use to measure how fast the climate changes.

"Chairman Smith, who has consistently dismissed mainstream climate science, sought more information about the study. NOAA scientists provided three separate briefings to Science Committee staff in July and September, answering questions about the research …" Halpern writes.

"Yet on Oct. 13, Chairman Smith issued a broad subpoena to NOAA demanding all correspondence, notes, peer review comments, paper drafts, and more among scientists from the last seven years related to this work."

He says NOAA is standing its ground, "rightly refusing" to turn over the scientists' correspondence.

"Some argue that because federal government salaries are taxpayer-funded, the public should have access to scientists' private conversations. But reasonable people don't expect government attorneys to hand over the materials they exchange with their clients. They don't expect members of Congress to turn over their own notes and emails either," he said.

"No one can work in a climate where every email, meeting record or handwritten note could be publicly scrutinized and taken out of context. Scientists enter government service to serve the public interest. Their research provides vital information to businesses and farmers and elected officials to grow our economy and protect the health and safety of our communities."

"But to do this they need the ability to collaborate freely with colleagues and experts inside and outside government, without fear of a congressional subpoena for politically unpopular research results."

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A top member of the Union of Concerned Scientists says the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is "using the sledgehammer of a congressional subpoena to bully" the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over its views on climate change.
scientists, concerned, congress
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2015-10-19
Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 01:10 PM
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