Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli has filed a petition on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia to request the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the regulation of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. The petition says that the hacked emails (“climategate”) of the scientists coordinating the International Panel on Climate Change (IPC) raise such doubts as to the integrity of the IPCC conclusions that the EPA should reconsider regulation. In general, the petition questions the validity of anthropogenic climate change, that is, global warming caused by man made emissions.
On July 29, 2010, the EPA denied the AG’s petition, citing the overwhelming evidence of man made global warming from the IPCC reports, the National Academy of Sciences, and the fact that all inquiries into climategate found no evidence of scientific misconduct or intentional data manipulation on the part of the climate researchers associated with the e-mails. Now the matter will go the Federal Court of Appeals, DC.
Surely, the implications of man made global warming are daunting. First, one has to accept the idea that puny man is in control of the earth’s climate. Second, one has to accept that to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we have to change our source of energy from fossil fuels to alternatives, even though there might be substantial supplies of fossil fuels remaining. And all of this has to happen worldwide in a short period of time. Although the job of persuasion has made a lot of progress in recent years, the economic downturn of 2008 has made the task more difficult. Recently, a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used scientific methods to examine the apparent scientific consensus on climate change:
“Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98%of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”
The difficulty of the climate change issue does not grant permission to government officials to exploit it politically. We need leadership in government to meet the historic challenge of climate change. Instead, the AG is taking advantage of the partisan divide on the issue, exploiting the fears and ignorance of people, and playing to short term economic interests. We can only assume that the AG is motivated by his personal skepticism, or by his own political interests. Neither is a legitimate legal basis for exercising his official duties.
If a practicing lawyer filed this petition, he would be subject to sanctions. Federal Rule 11 says:
“By presenting to the court a pleading . . . an attorney . . . certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances . . . the factual contentions have evidentiary support or . . . will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”
As the EPA stated in its denial:
“The petitioners’ arguments amount to a request that EPA ignore the deep body of science that has been built up over several decades and the direction it points in, and to do so based not on a careful and comprehensive analysis of the science, but instead on what amount to assertions and leaps in logic, unsupported by a rigorous examination of the science itself.”
This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.