Judge Orders NASA to Release Climate Change-Related Documents

Sunday, November 10, 2013
Fred L. Smith Jr., founder of Competitive Enterprise Institute

A climate change denial group once funded by oil giant ExxonMobil (2012 revenues: $453.123 billion) won a legal victory last week over NASA when a federal judge ordered the space agency to turn over more documents related to its 2007 revisions of global temperature data. Release of the information will have no effect on the climate change data that scientists are using to determine the extent of global warming that is occurring.

 

The controversy started in August 2007, when statistician Stephen McIntyre found an error in NASA’s temperature data sets that he said caused temperatures in the U.S. from the year 2000 onward to be overstated. After posting “his findings on his website ClimateAudit.org,” according to Judge Barbara Rothstein’s decision, McIntyre “emailed them to NASA climate scientists” at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), which quickly “revised values in its temperature data set…[and] did not issue a press release announcing or explaining the corrections.”

 

Sensing a potential scandal, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) submitted three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to NASA, two in August 2007 and one in January 2008. After NASA released 2,500 pages of data in response, CEI filed a FOIA lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia in 2010.

 

Among the materials NASA withheld were two electronic directories referred to as the “Steve” and “alternate cleaning” directories, media inquiries about the data corrections, and two email accounts of Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a NASA scientist who teaches at Columbia University and contributes to a blog called RealClimate.org. Although CEI wanted all that and more, Judge Rothstein ordered NASA to release only the “Steve” directory and one of Dr. Schmidt’s email accounts, finding that the other materials either held no responsive documents or fell within a valid FOIA exemption.

 

Declining to go further, Rothstein rejected CEI’s contention that that NASA had acted in bad faith. “CEI”s request for discovery is not justified here because CEI has not provided any evidence that the agency acted in bad faith and the outstanding issues of fact do not suggest bad faith on the part of NASA,” Judge Rothstein ruled.

 

Founded in 1984, CEI has long received the bulk of its funding from fossil fuel interests hostile to climate change science, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers, General Motors, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Plastics Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council and Arch Coal. Other big donors include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Pfizer.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Info on Climate Change Data May Come to Light (by Ryan Abbott, Courthouse News Service)

Competitive Enterprise Institute v. NASA (Memorandum Order) (pdf)

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Comments

Benny Alminde 5 months ago
Gen 8:22 "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease."
Jeremy Poynton 5 months ago
Duh. Big oil in the form of Shell, Qatar and another player funded the creation of the now infamous (Climategate) Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK. And the Koch Brothers are funding the BEST study. This twaddle about "big-oil" funding is a lie - the climate change industry receives FAR more than us abused and witch hunted sceptics. Grow up.
R.Jackson 8 months ago
One of my favorite discussions is regarding centuries ago it happened. Only it didn't in the same manner. There weren't 7+B biped carbon life forms, their industries or transportation contributing then. There were no countries, borders or property lines to consider. If we can not find anyplace on earth w/o man-made pollution then how do you propose we don't contribute and effect our atmosphere? If it would be ~10 degrees warmer (as I have read) w/o man-made pollution and yet the transition is even slightly more than recorded previously what do you attribute that to given the low solar performance we're experiencing? Magic?
freetheco2 10 months ago
@someone I said, cold never makes warm warmer. That is a fact. You don't make a kettle boil faster by dropping ice cubes in it. You replied "cold CAN get warmer", which is also a fact, but not one related to what I'm talking about. To believe the fictional radiative greenhouse effect, you have to believe that a cooler sky makes a warmer surface even warmer. Such a belief is cretinous. Likewise for Venus. GHE not required & is non-existent. http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html
MBP 10 months ago
Dave Os Wrote: 12 hours ago MBP wrote: "I never understand why such a fight is put up over FOIA requests" You did notice that in response to the FOIA request, NASA responded with 2,500 pages of documents? The problem is that it's NEVER enough. No matter how many documents you give them, they ALWAYS want more. Because the point isn't to learn anything, it's not to pay any attention to what the science is-- they were never interested in the science in the first place. The point is to harrass the scientists. ------------------- Then why not give the information asked for at the first request? It would save so much time and money and no one would be able to claim that anyone is hiding something. Like I said, it just raises doubt as to why scientists would need a FOIA request to get data that should be in the public domain anyway?
someone 10 months ago
Gregory Adams: That you have used fossil fuel for the majority of your travels, has no relationship WHATSOEVER to whether some group are climate deniers or not. It doesn't matter how comfortable or convenient fossils fuels may make things, it's a separate issue to whether they cause climate change or not. It's like denying that chocolate cake has lots of calories and that eating too much may be a bad thing, just because you like the taste.
someone 10 months ago
Freetheco2: What on earth are you talking about? "Cold never makes warm warmer"? Is this some muddled idea of thermodynamics? Cold CAN get warmer if there's an external heat source (hint: look up in daytime). Or do you mean that CO2 is always colder in some sense? Why? Because it comes out of fire extinguisher that way? Dry ice? Have look at Venus some time. Plenty of CO2, all of it quite hot. Feel your own breath - warm CO2. You seem to be using a non-sequitir pulled out of thin air (so to speak), to peddle a false argument.
Jon Jermey 10 months ago
Can someone please explain what the revenues of Exxon have to do with the success in court of a lobby group that it ONCE funded -- and presumably doesn't even fund now? It doesn't appear to be house style, so it's presumably just a gratuitous and spiteful kick at a successful action by climate sceptics. Anyway, for the record NASA's annual budget is around 18 billion dollars, and the amount wasted on unnecessary actions to 'prevent climate change' has been variously estimated at between 400 and 700 billion dollars per year globally. I think Exxon were getting a bargain.
freetheco2 10 months ago
It never ceases to amaze me that so many people spout off so vociferously in favour of blind faith versus observable data in the real world. Not one of the "97% consensus of 'scientists'", whilst addressing the null hypothesis, can link to incontrovertible, repeatable, verifiable evidence that radiative gases, present in trace amounts in the cold atmosphere, can cause the entire surface of the already warmer earth to warm by another 33K. You'd think if they had such evidence, as opposed to 'consensus' on a failed hypothesis, they'd be showing it at every opportunity. They can't. Because cold never makes warm warmer. Ever. If you disagree, for only $10000, I'll arrange to keep your roof space topped up with CO2, or the radiative gas of your choice. Just think, with all that free heat from above, you could stay toasty warm with the central heating boiler switched off. In Bizarro World. We are surrounded by cretinous ignorance of real science and the scientific method. Just read some of the faith-based drivel on this thread if you need any more proof.
Dave Os 10 months ago
MBP wrote: "I never understand why such a fight is put up over FOIA requests" You did notice that in response to the FOIA request, NASA responded with 2,500 pages of documents? The problem is that it's NEVER enough. No matter how many documents you give them, they ALWAYS want more. Because the point isn't to learn anything, it's not to pay any attention to what the science is-- they were never interested in the science in the first place. The point is to harrass the scientists.

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