New Analysis Refutes Barton-Ordered Attack on Climate Science

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), named a Big Oil All-Star by NWF

Want to know why it’s so scary that Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) could re-claim chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee? A new report reveals how destructive his last tenure was for Americans’ understanding of climate science.

Back in 2005, then-Chair Barton requested a investigation, led by George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman, on some past climate science reports. Wegman’s work was then repeatedly cited in Congressional hearings as evidence of problems with climate science.

A 2006 National Research Council (NRC) report largely vindicated the work of climate scientists like Michael Mann. And now a new USA Today investigation has revealed Wegman’s attacks were riddled with plagiarism & inaccuracies:

An influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say.

Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases. […]

“It kind of undermines the credibility of your work criticizing others’ integrity when you don’t conform to the basic rules of scholarship,” Virginia Tech plagiarism expert Skip Garner says.

Here’s reaction from Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist with the National Wildlife Federation:

I helped staff the 2006 NRC report, chaired by Gerald North, and attended the hearing at which Wegman presented his findings.

In my opinion, it was clear from the get-go that the Wegman report was shoddy scholarship. I only find it surprising that it’s taken this long for anyone to take a crack at carefully discrediting it. I suppose it was because no one in the climate science community took the report seriously.

As far as I know, the report never underwent any formal or informal peer review. I remember finding that point ironic at the time because the first recommendation of the Wegman report is that climate science “should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review”.

The Wegman report authors had little if any knowledge of climate science.  In fact, Wegman was unable to answer basic questions about the greenhouse effect during the hearing.

The report ignored large swaths of the literature on the topic of paleoclimate reconstructions and gave undue attention to the work of a couple skeptics, whose valid criticisms of the statistical methods used by Mann had already been addressed.  In fact, most of the 2006 Wegman report focused on a 1998 paper by Michael Mann & others, ignoring the fact that Mann’s work had progressed since then and that other independent research teams had validated the findings.

If you’re not familiar with Rep. Barton, here are some of his most notable moments:

Now Rep. Barton is looking to bend term limits rules in an attempt to regain the Energy & Commerce chairmanship. If he does, you can be sure we’ll see even more fraudulent attacks on climate science like the Wegman report.