GOPer Lamar Smith Accuses NOAA Of Ignoring Data In Climate Study

November 30, 2015 2:13 p.m.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) last week hurled another accusation at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an attempt to discredit a study on climate change the agency published in June.

Smith, the chairman of the House Science Committee, penned an op-ed for the Washington Times stating that the NOAA purposefully ignored satellite data and instead used data on the earth’s surface temperature in order to support the belief that climate change is real. He is targeting a climate study that used an updated data set on ocean and earth temperatures. That NOAA study contradicted earlier research showing that global warming has slowed.

The op-ed is the latest move in Smith’s months-long crusade against NOAA. The Republican congressman has issued a subpoena of NOAA scientists’ internal communications about the study and has threatened to subpoena the NOAA’s parent agency, the Commerce Department, if the NOAA does not turn over the documents. However, the NOAA has continuously refused to turn over the internal documents, citing the importance of the confidentiality of scientists’ discussion.

Smith has accused the NOAA of altering “the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration’s extreme climate change agenda.”

In the Thursday op-ed, Smith wrote that surface temperature, such as the data analyzed by the NOAA, is often “flawed.” He claimed that satellite data is “considered by many to be the most objective” data related to global warming and lamented that the NOAA used surface temperature data.

“Instead, NOAA focused its study on surface temperature monitoring that is often flawed because these sites measure thousands of independent temperature readings and utilize a hodgepodge of different methods that have changed over time,” Smith wrote. “NOAA appears to pick and choose only data that confirms their bias. NOAA then disseminates this incomplete data to the media who manufacture alarming headlines but ignore the uncertainty of the conclusions.”

However, the Washington Post on Monday threw cold water on Smith’s claims about the reliability of satellite data. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has also cited satellite data to argue that the global temperature has not risen in the past 17 years.

The satellite argument cited by Smith and Cruz “selectively uses one type of data over others and starts the analysis with a single warm temperature year — 1998 — rather looking at the aggregate temperatures of multiple years (or decades),” according to the Post.

Carl Mears, a scientist cited by Cruz, told the Post’s Chris Mooney that satellite data sets have more “structural uncertainty” than ocean and land temperatures when it comes to measuring climate change.

Smith has also accused the NOAA of rushing the study to publication despite concerns from some NOAA employees. Yet, Science, the journal that published the NOAA study, rejected Smith’s claim, noting that the study went through a lengthier and more rigorous review process than the average paper published by the journal.

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