Category Archives: Advocacy Masking As Science

Yet Another Example Of IPCC Advocacy

I was alerted to an e-mail exchange in the newly released communications reported in the posts on WUWT

NOAA releases tranche of FOIA documents – 2 years later

First look: ‘Hit on the head with a hockey stick’ – some selected emails from the recent NOAA FOIA release 2 years later

that can be viewed at

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ipcc_sausage_factory.pdf

[the colleague who alerted me wants to remain annoymous]

The e-mail of interest in the current post is with respect to FAQ 1.2 in which Susan Hasol made edits.  Susan was heavily involved also in the CCSP 1.1 report; see

Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences. Thomas R. Karl, Susan J. Hassol, Christopher D. Miller, and William L. Murray, editors, 2006. A Report by the Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, Washington, DC.

which I resigned due to its clear deliberate biased presentation, as I reported on in

Pielke  Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“.  88 pp including appendices.

See also her clear political agenda-driven perspective in my posts; e.g. see

Comments On The Physics Today Article “Communicating The Science Of Climate Change” By Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol

Comments On The Draft CCSP Report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

New CCSP Report Appears “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate” – Unfortunately, Another Biased Assessment

First CCSP Report Published With Further Evidence That It Is Biased

In the last post above, I reported that, with respect to the CCSP 1.1 report, Susan’s contribution is an

“…..example of the advocacy character of the Report, [in which] one of the Editors, Ms. Susan Hassol, was also the writer of the recent HBO Special “To Hot Not to Handle”. This show clearly has a specific perspective on the climate change issue, and lacks a balanced perspective.  The Executive Producer was Ms. Laurie David.

The synopsis of the show from the HBO web site states,

“Over the past century, consumption of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) has risen to staggering levels, especially in the United States, where five percent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 percent of the world’scarbon dioxide emissions. TOO HOT NOT TO HANDLE offers a wealth of chilling evidence that the greenhouse effect is intensifying and the Earth is warming faster than at any other time in human history.

Among the startling facts revealed are:

Deadly heat waves in the U.S. have increased threefold since 1950 and today kill more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and blizzards combined.

The average temperature in Alaska has already risen five degrees, causing 99 percent of its glaciers to be melting, retreating and shrinking.

Rising sea levels are eroding our shoreline and may eventually displace large numbers of Americans.

The intensity of catastrophic storms, such as 2005′s devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita, , has increased dramatically in the last half-century, as hurricanes draw their strength from warm ocean water.

Deadly viruses like West Nile, aided by higher air temperatures, are spreading to new parts of the globe, including the entire continental U.S.

‘My personal hope is that every viewer will be inspired to become part of the solution to reducing our carbon emissions,” says executive producer Laurie David. “As the film shows, everything we need to address this pressing problem already exists, and the time to act is now.’

That one of the Editors of the CCSP Report also wrote the HBO special should be of concern regarding the objectivity of that Report. Ms. Hassol’s role as an advocate is clearly exemplified by her Nature correspondence in 1998 entitled “Clear need to act on global warming”.

Her role as advocate is, of course, appropriate, in other venues outside of the CCSP process. Her position at the Aspen Global Change Institute provides her with a platform to promote her views.

However, to serve as an Editor on the CCSP Report that was just published, with a documented active role in what text was to be included on the issue of ‘Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”, further compromised the Report.  Since the goal was to provide policymakers with an objective understanding  of this issue in climate science, her involvement with the CCSP Report is yet another example to show that the Report was intended to promote a particular, narrow perspective on the issue of recent surface and tropospheric temperature trends.

Now, with the August 2012 release of more e-mails we see more of Susan’s in-depth involvement with climate assessments at the highest level.

As just one example, in the SOD version of FAQ 1.2 it is written [highlight added]

Scientists have determined that human activities can be agents of climatic change. Human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate change results from factors such as changes in the atmospheric concentration of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, or to changes in small particles (aerosols) in the atmosphere, or to changes in land use, for example. As climate changes, whether because of natural or anthropogenic factors, the weather is affected. If the average temperature several decades from now has increased relative to its present value, then some weather phenomena in specific regions may become more frequent and others less frequent than at present. Understanding not only the changes in mean weather conditions but also the changes in extreme weather events has recently become a major focus of climate change research.

In the version listed as “Revised by Susan Hassol in conjunction with Richard Sumerville”, it is changed to

“While many factors continue to influence climate, scientists have determied that human activites have become the dominant force, and are responsible for most of the observed warming over the past 50 years. Human-caused climate change has resulted primarily from changes in the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but also from changes in small particles (aerosols) as well as from changes in land use, for example. As climate changes, the proabilities of certain types of weather events are affected. For example, as Earth’s average temperature has increased, some weather phenomena have become more frequent and intense (e.g. heat waves and heavy downpours), while others have become less frequent and intense (e.g. extreme cold events).

The scientific findings in the FAQ have been made much more certain, and less consistent with the scientific literature,  in the version that Susan and Richard Somerville edited.

Now, I find Susan a pleasant person, unlike some in that community. However, her position as an advocate in what should be balanced climate assessments has resulted in a significant contribution to the politicalization of this science issue. This involvement has occurred despite her lack of peer reviewed contribution to climate science research; her listing at google scholar  shows her involvement to be primarily on assessements such that she is not in a position to contribute new insight based on her individual research.

When I was on the CCSP 1.1 committee, we were told she was to provide technical editorial assisstance (i.e. to wordsmith the text to make it more readable but NOT to change the scientific content). This definition of her position has clearly morphed into a much larger role.

Richard Somerville’s role in affecting the text that she revised is not defined, but Richard is already widely recognized as having a biased perspective as I documented in the post

Comments On The Physics Today Article “Communicating The Science Of Climate Change” By Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol

with respect to the article

Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol, 2011: Communicating the science of climate change. Physics Today.  October 2011.  ISSN: 0031-9228

where I concluded

This article is a tutorial on advocacy of a perspective on policy that really should not be in a journal such as Physics Today. It is an example of a set of individuals using an article (not an op-ed) in a professional science journal to promote their particular views on policy.

The example from the FAQ that I present in this post, is yet another example of a set of individuals using, in this case, a climate science assesment, to promote their particular views on science and policy

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Comment On The 2012 Draft AMS Statement On “Climate Change”

The American Meteorological Society is in the process of finalizing an updated statement on Climate Change. The ability to read the statement is limited to AMS members:

Draft Statement Open for Member Comment: Climate Change

The stated goal of the Statement is

The following is an AMS Information Statement intended to provide a trustworthy, objective, and scientifically up-to-date explanation of scientific issues of concern to the public at large.

The process of providing input on the draft, the lack of identifying who drafted the statement, and an ability to see what comments others have provided and the drafters’ response clearly show the very top-down control of this professional society. It is unfortunate, as the AMS could be a neutral open forum for debate among the members as to what to include in the Statement. However, as currently constituted, it is just a presentation by a small group of individuals, whose only hurdle are members of the AMS Council, who themselves are selected by a small committee. The AMS members only get to vote for the selected slate of candidates.

This is hardly a process to advance the public’s knowledge about the diversity of perspectives on climate change by the AMS membership.

The last paragraph of the Statement shows the intent of the Statement’s authors

Technological, economic, and policy choices in the near future will determine the extent of future impacts of climate change. Policy decisions are seldom made in a context of absolute certainty. The policy debate should include consideration of the best ways to both adapt to and mitigate climate change. Mitigation will reduce the amount of future climate change and the risk of impacts that are potentially large and dangerous. At the same time, some continued climate change is inevitable, and policy responses should include adaptation to climate change. Prudence dictates extreme care in managing our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.

The following is what I submitted as a Comment. I will have more to say on this Statement after it is officially accepted by the AMS.

The process of providing input on the draft, the lack of identifying who drafted the statement, and an ability to see what comments others have provided and the drafters’ response clearly show the very top-down control of our professional society. It is unfortunate, as the AMS could be a neutral open forum for debate among the members as to what to include in the Statement. However, as currently constituted, the Statements are just presentations of a viewpoint by a small group of individuals, whose only hurdle are members of the AMS Council, who themselves are selected by a small committee. As AMS members we only get to vote for the selected slate of candidates.

This is hardly a process to advance the public’s knowledge about the diversity of perspectives on climate change by the AMS membership.

With specific respect to the draft statement, there are a number of inaccuracies.

One of the most blatant is the statement that

 “it is widely accepted that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide”.

It is actually quite straightforward to refute this claim as we summarized in the article

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

“In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first-order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008], the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot) [Flanner et al. 2007] and reactive nitrogen [Galloway et al., 2004]), and the role of changes in land use/land cover [e.g., Takata et al., 2009]. Among their effects is their role in altering atmospheric and ocean circulation features away from what they would be in the natural climate system [NRC, 2005]. As with CO2, the lengths of time that they affect the climate are estimated to be on multidecadal time scales and longer.”

and

“The evidence predominantly suggests that humans are significantly altering the global environment, and thus climate, in a variety of diverse ways beyond the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2″.

The failure to recognize that there is a disagreement among members of our professional society on this issue (of the dominance of the radiative forcing of CO2) should be reported in the Statement.

There are also issues with the summary of observations. As one example, the absence of warming in the upper oceans and lower troposphere for the last 10 years is not mentioned. Nor is the absence of increases in atmospheric water vapor over the same time period.

The claims as to what models are capable of in terms of projections, is also misleading. The Statement should report that no regional skill of predicting changes in climate statistics on multi-decadal time scales has been shown. We report on this in

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press.

and

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum, 93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008.

Either refute our findings or report on them.

This Statement needs much more vetting if it is going to be read as

 “….a trustworthy, objective, and scientifically up-to-date explanation of scientific issues of concern to the public at large.”

As currently written, it perpetuates the myth that there is a broad peer-reviewed literature agreement with all of the claims of findings that are in the report. This is not the case. If the Statement is accepted as written, it will not only be easy to refute significant parts of it, but it will present the American Meteorological Society as an advocacy group rather than an objective professional organization.

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Comments On “Defending Climate Science” In The January 31 2012 Issue Of EOS

The Jan 31 2012 issue of EOS has the following short news article by Randy Showstack titled

Defending climate science

The short news article reads [highlight added]

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), which has long been in the lead in defending the teaching of evolution in public schools, has expanded its core mission to include defending climate science, the organization announced in January.

“We consider climate change a critical issue in our own mission to protect the integrity of science education,” said NSCE executive director Eugenie Scott. “Climate affects everyone, and the decisions we make today will affect generations to come. We need to teach kids now about the realities of global warming and climate change so that they’re prepared to make informed, intelligent decisions in the future.”

The new education initiative includes providing information about climate change and tools and support “to ensure that climate change is properly and effectively taught in public schools,” according to NCSE. For more information, visit http://ncse.com/.

The use of the term “defend” is an odd use when applied to science. The scientific method requires that hypotheses be tested to see if they can be refuted. The use of the term “defend”, however, is more approapriate for a value-based system (e.g. defending one’s rights under law) than what a science education organization should be doing. This is yet another example of adocacy masking as science.

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The Huge Waste Of Research Money In Providing Multi-Decadal Climate Projections For The New IPCC Report

Judy Curry has a very important weblog post titled

The wrong(?) conversation

Part of her text reads [highlight added]

The mitigation focus is on global climate and the century time scale, whereas the adaptation focus is regional and on timescales from the seasonal to decadal.

The mitigation focus and the century time scale has sapped the community of much resources in terms of manpower and computer time.  I have talked with people in leading positions at several modeling groups, and the effort that is put into the simulations for the IPCC saps 50-70% of the total manpower time and resources of the modeling center.

What if we had devoted all of those resources to making better probabilistic predictions on timescales of 2 weeks to 3-4 months?  Farmers would be able to make better choices about what crops to plant.  Water resource managers could make better choices.  Energy generation and demand could be made more efficient.   Etc.  Most of the developing world doesn’t have weather forecasts beyond two days, and often these forecasts do not anticipate extreme weather events (think Pakistan floods, Severe Cyclone Nargis).   Anticipating extreme weather events by a week or two, or even a few days,  could make an enormous difference in the developing world.

Judy is right when she writes “the simulations for the IPCC saps 50-70% of the total manpower time and resources of the modeling center”. In my view, the use of these resources to generate multi-decadal regional and global climate projections  is scientifically unsound and a waste of money and peoples’ time.

Their goal is to provide a set of multi-decadal global climate model projections for use by the impact communities and to seek to refine the previous IPCC predictions of the magnitude of global warming in response to the addition of CO2, and other human climate forcings. 

The obvious first question to be asked is what will these new model runs provide anything that we do not already know?

Second, what evidence, using hindcast model runs, exists to show that these model projections have any skill at the spatial and temporal level needed by the impacts community?

The answer to the first question, is that we already know added CO2 is a first order climate forcing. Thus why the huge expenditure of money and people to continue to address the same question for which we already know the answer?

For the second question, I am supportive of assessing how far in the future that skillful climate predictions are possible; i.e. predictabiltiy – see;

The Difference Between Prediction and Predictability – Recommendations For Research Funding Related to These Distinctly Different Concepts

but this is a distinctly different application from providing unvalidated multi-decadal climate predictions.

I discuss this failed approach in my posts

The Failure Of Dynamic Downscaling As Adding Value to Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Prediction

A Waste Of Money By NSF and NCAR? Are They Studying The Predictability Of Climate On Decadal Time Scales, Or Are They Just Providing Unverified Predictions To The Impacts Community?

I endorse Judy’s recommendation that

What if we had devoted all of those resources to making better probabilistic predictions on timescales of 2 weeks to 3-4 months?….Anticipating extreme weather events by a week or two, or even a few days,  could make an enormous difference in the developing world.

I also propose the adoption of the bottom-up, resource-based perspective in order to develop a much better understanding of the risks that are faced with respect water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function. This is the approach we present in our article

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press. 

This is a more robust method than the narrowly focused top-down IPCC approach, for which 50-70% of the total manpower time and resources of modeling centers, is being spent.

My recommendation is that, in the USA and elsewhere, independent assessments (and congressional investigations) be completed as to the value of these large expenditures. In my view, this money being wasted.

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US Goverment Funding Agencies As Gatekeepers

This morning I read  Judy Curry’s excellent post

Advocacy science and decision making

Her post fits with my experience with the National Science Foundation in recent years as I have documented on my weblog (e.g. see).

An insightful set of text out of Judy’s post illustrates the mindset of the NSF (and other funding agencies; e.g. NOAA DOE) with respect to the climate issue. This text reads [highlight added]

 Recent information, however, shows that government agencies may cause more problems in this area, a worrisome development considering that legislation currently before the U.S. Senate would allow federal agencies to punish organizations whose researchers publish results that conflict with what the agency feels is appropriate.

That bill allows the withholding of funding to an institution where a researcher publishes findings not “within the bounds of and entirely consistent with the evidence,” a vague authorization that creates a tremendous tool that can be used to ensure self-censorship and conformity with bureaucratic preferences. As the research group Academy Health notes, “Such language to restrict scientific freedom is unprecedented and likely unconstitutional.”

My experience is that  program managers at the NSF and elsewhere are already implementing this gatekeeping.  This morning I sent the following e-mail to the NSF [the NSF personel are listed]

Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2011 07:33:22 -0600 (MDT) From: Roger A Pielke Sr

 To: Fein, Jay S., Margaret A.  Cavanaugh, M.C. Morgan, T. Killeen  

Subject: RE: NSF

Hi All

 You may find Judy’s post today of interest. It is certainly relevant in terms of my negative experience over the last few years with the NSF (and NRC).

http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/13/advocacy-science-and-decision-making/#more-5268

An example is, with respect to health policy [NOTE Added: The legislation is broader than I wrote in my e-mail. The legislation actually would apparently apply to all federal agenices]

“a worrisome development considering that legislation currently before the U.S. Senate would allow federal agencies to punish organizations whose researchers publish results that conflict with what the agency feels is appropriate.”

Regards

Roger

I expect they will ignore my e-mail, but if not I will post their response.

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Advocacy By The National Research Council

I  read in the September 27 2011 issue of EOS the article

Museum exhibit on climate change draws from National Research Council reports R. Showstack

The article starts with the text [highlight added]

With all of science to choose from for topics, the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has mounted its second exhibit about climate change since the museum’s founding, in 2004, emphasizing the importance it places on the subject. The new exhibit, “Earth Lab: Degrees of Change,” which officially opened in the museum’s compact quarters in downtown Washington, D. C., on 15 September, presents some in-depth interactive displays about climate change, including a centerpiece “decision table,” a mitigation simulation game that challenges visitors to lower carbon dioxide emissions while also balancing costs and other factors.

The exhibit is based in part on the America’s Climate Choices Reports from the National Research Council, which, along with NAS, is part of the National Academies. Those reports indicate that climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. Further, the reports include a series of recommended steps to respond to those risks (see R. Showstack, Climate change report calls for iterative risk management framework, Eos Trans. AGU, 92(21), 178–179, doi:10.1029/ 2011EO210002, 2011).

Peter Schultz, a principal with ICF International who assisted with the final review of the exhibit, told Eos that the National Academies wanted to find a way to communicate the messages that are in those reports. Pointing to some quotations from the reports that appear in the exhibit area, he said, “One of the most important quotes is that there is an urgent need for action. That was the first time the National Academies came out with those strong words to say that.”

Peter Schultz, formerly the  Director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program Office (USGCRP) now works for ICF International. The ICF International   climate focus is listed on their website as

Our climate specialists assist federal, regional, and international agencies with the development of climate change policy, including:

  • Modeling potential climate change impacts
  • Providing technical assistance for program implementation
  • Offering guidance on cap and trade programs, voluntary programs, and sector-based mechanisms

We help private-sector clients grasp the bottom-line aspects of reducing GHG emissions and complying with climate change regulations. Our comprehensive knowledge of the climate change policy landscape supports efforts to minimize costs and liabilities, maximize value, and make high-stakes investment decisions by:  

  • Modeling regulatory and policy scenarios for GHG and conventional pollutants
  • Providing guidance with existing and potential climate change regulations, laws, and standards
  • Analyzing climate change impacts on infrastructure, ecosystems, and communities
  • Tracking environmental performance, including energy use, costs, GHG, waste, and water
  • Evaluating options for participation in the GHG allowance and offset markets
  • Offering support in integrating economics, compliance, and other issues into climate change strategy
  • Aiding implementation of government compliance programs and voluntary initiatives

Information on the cost of this exhibit is given in the article as

The exhibit, which fills about 1500 square feet of the 5000-square-foot museum and cost $2 million to mount, will be on display for about 3–5 years, according to Erika Shugart, deputy director of the Koshland Museum. Shugart, who oversees the development of new exhibits, said about 25,000 people visit the museum annually but that exhibits reach a broader audience through a licensing program that allows for duplication of some of the information elsewhere.

The end of the article lists these sources for additional information

For more information, see http:// americasclimatechoices .org and http:// www.koshland -dc .org

The America’s Climate Choices website has this statement on the above url [the second url from the EOS article does not work]

The National Research Council released the final report in the America’s Climate Choices series on May 12, 2011. The public was invited to participate in a special event later that day — A Conversation on America’s Climate Choices, followed by a question-and-answer period and a reception.

Climate Central’s Heidi Cullen hosted the conversation with several members of the report’s authoring committee, including the Chair of the committee, Al Carnesale, University of California Los Angeles, and the Vice Chair, Bill Chameides, Duke University.

It is clear that the National Research Council has elected to be an advocate on a particular perspective with respect to climate, and the human role, rather than serving as a facilitator which permits the assessment of the diversity of scientifically supported viewpoints on this issue.

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My Experiences With A Lack Of Proper Diligence And Bias In The NSF Review Process For Climate Proposals

Recently, I requested information from NSF under the Freedom of Information Act regarding how my recent proposals on the effect of landscape processes on climate were handled. The reason for this request is given below.  My experiences, however, may be of more general interest particularly in light of Judy Curry’s post of May 25, 2011

Freedom of Information

and the ABC news investigative report

Shrimp on a Treadmill Among Research Items Skewered in New Report – Sen. Tom Coburn criticizes National Science Foundation’ use of tax dollars.

 I also have recommendations for the NSF to improve the process. As a preface, my research program has benefited by decades of NSF support. It is only in the last few years, unfortunately, as the climate issue has become so politicized that serious issues have developed in the objectivity of NSF with respect to funding climate studies. Those who manage funding of climate research at the NSF, unfortunately, seem to have become politicized just as much as most other areas of climate science.

This is a long post, so I have summarized the major experiences and findings here:

  • NSF does not retain a record of e-mail communications
  • NSF is cavalier in terms of the length of time proposals are under review.
  • NSF has decided to emphasize climate modeling and of funding multi-decadal climate predictions, at the expense of research which can be tested against real-world observations.
  • NSF penalizes scientists who criticize their performance.

My recommendations include:

  • Guarantee that the review process be completed within 6 months [my most recent land use and climate proposal was not even sent out for review until 10 months after its receipt!)
  • Retain all e-mail communications indefinitely (NSF staff can routinely delete e-mails, such that there is no record to check their accountability)
  • Require external independent assessments, by a subset of scientists who are outside of the NSF, of the reviews and manager decisions, including names of referees. This review should be on all accepted and rejected proposals ( as documented in the NSF letter at the end of this post, since they were so late sending out for review, they simply relied on referees of an earlier (rejected) proposal; this is laziness at best).

My concerns regarding the review process are similar to those reported in

McKitrick, Ross R. (2011) “Bias in the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary and Personal Account” in Climate Coup, Patrick J. Michaels ed., Cato Inst. Washington DC

and Toby Carlson as reported in the posts

Guest Post “Crisis in Academic Funding” By Toby N. Carlson

Perceptive Article On The Sad State Of Research Funding By Toby N. Carlson

where, with respect to funding agencies (of which NSF is a major one), Toby wrote

“They are bureaucracies that promote top-down science to suit political and administrative ends.”

In my post

Comments On Numerical Modeling As The New Climate Science Paradigm

Dick Lindzen is quoted

“In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage.”

I have posted on the inadequacies in the NSF review process of climate proposals in

NSF Decision On Our Request For Reconsideration Of A Rejected NSF Proposal On The Role Of Land Use Change In The Climate System

Is The NSF Funding Process Working Correctly?

As I wrote in the second post above (on June 11 2011)

“I …. have a proposal still under consideration that was submitted on May 13 2009 (an NSF-accomplishment based proposal) but only sent out for review in late March 2010! “

That particular proposal, in the NSF pipeline for over 10 months before even being sent out for review was ultimately rejected.

Since that time, I was informed in a confidential communication that NSF conducted an internal review of whether I was being treated “fairly”. Their conclusion, in this star chamber type of review, was that I was treated fairly [no surprise there]. However, I was also informed via a second very credible confidential source that I would never again be funded by the NSF due to my weblog. I have no way to know if this action would actually occur [since I do have one non-climate project funded by the NSF], the message that was transferred to me is very chilling. It is that unless you follow the NSF management position on climate, you will not be funded in this area (or in the future, perhaps not at all).

Upon being told this confidential information,  I requested copies of e-mails and other information relevant to the internal review through the Freedom of Information Act. I have reproduced several of these e-mails below.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2011 11:31:17 -0700 (MST)

Jensen, Leslie Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-17-11.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Professional

Dear Ms. Jensen

We have completed the documentation of my FOI request, but have not heard back from you. Please confirm its receipt and what the next step is. I would like to move forward to NSF revealing what was involved with the internal review.

Sincerely

Roger A. Pielke, Sr.,

On Mon, 21 Feb 2011, Jensen, Leslie A. wrote:

Dear Sir: we have received your Privacy Act identity form and we have 20  working days to respond to your request.

Sincerely,

Leslie A. Jensen
FOIA/Privacy Act Officer
FOIA Public Liaison
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation

Followed by

On Tue, 22 Feb 2011, Jensen, Leslie A. wrote:

Dr. Pielke:

Please provide me with the grant number associated with the records that
you wish to receive?  Thank you.

Leslie Jensen

I replied

Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2011 06:12:51 -0700 (MST)
Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-17-11.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Professional
Dear Ms. Jensen

We have no grant numbers as the projects were not funded.

The issue is that I have been critical of their handling of the review process on several of my proposals in the last few years, and also on the focus of NSF funding on climate. According to a confidential source, in response the critiques I completed on my weblog, they performed an internal review to assess whether I was treated fairly or not. From my source, they concluded I was treated “fairly”.  I have also recently been informed from a confidential source that they object to my weblog comments and this is why I have not been funded.

My FOI request is for information including e-mails, and any other communications, on this internal review. My e-mails to Jay Fein and Tim Killen on this matter have been unanswered.

My weblog posts on the NSF review process (both on my proposals and their process) include

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/is-the-nsf-funding-process-working-correctly/

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/nsf-decision-on-our-request-for-reconsideration-of-a-rejected-nsf-proposal/

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/the-national-science-foundation-funds-multi-decadal-climate-predictions-without-an-ability-to-verify-their-skill/

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/diminishing-returns-from-multi-decadal-global-climate-model-simulations/

I would be glad to share with you my e-mails to Jay Fein and Tim Killen if you feel this would be needed.

Sincerely

Roger A. Pielke, Sr.,

Ms. Jensen replied

On Tue, 22 Feb 2011, Jensen, Leslie A. wrote:

Dr. Pielke:

If your proposals received review – they were given a number – even if they were declined – that is the NSF process.  I need those numbers to do a proper search for records.

Thank You.

I replied

Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-17-11.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Professional
Dear Ms. Jensen
Here are the rejected proposals

EAR 943628 “Collaborative Research: Sensitivity of weather and climate in the Eastern United States to historical land-cover changes since European settlement

AGS 940582 “The Role of Landscape Change in Central and Southern Florida on Weather and Climate”

AGS 840826 “Sensitivity of Weather and Climate in the Eastern United States to Historical Land-Cover Changes Since European Settlement.

Please let me know if you need anything further.
Sincerely

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Roger A. Pielke Sr.

I then received a packet of e-mails from Leslie Jensen who is the FOIA Privacy Act Officer in the Office of the General Counsel of the National Science Foundation.   She sent me mostly copies of e-mails that I had sent and that were sent to me! Except for several e-mails where Tim Killen, who recused himself due to his association with the University of Colorado, there was only one with significant information that was not already in my e-mails. That e-mail is reproduced below, and I will comment on it after the image.

However, I followed up with Ms. Jensen requesting further information

Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 06:22:19 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-1-11

Dear Ms. Jensen

I have rec’d the packet after being forwarded from the University. It is almost all a set of e-mails that I had sent and their replies to me plus reviews which I had also seen. Only a few others were provided.

There are e-mails to NSF that I had sent that were not included, however. That by itself is a concern, since it implies a rather cursory approach to following the FOIA request was made.

She replied

Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 08:35:43 -0400
From: “Jensen, Leslie A.” <xxxxxx>
Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-1-11

Dear Sir:

If you can provide me with additional direction I would be happy to do another search.  If there were emails from you in the privacy act protected grant file I would not necessarily re-send to you – for efficiency purposes only – no hidden agenda on my part.  If you wish – I will have the entire grant file printed and sent to you.

I followed up with the e-mail below

Dear Ms. Jensen

Thank you for your quick reply.

I am also interested in e-mails within NSF from Thomas Torgersen, Walter Robinson and Jay Fein regarding interactions with me over the past 5 years. For example, there was a meeting with Ben Herman, Tom Chase, and I with Jay Fein, Walter Robinson and others several years ago at the NSF which must have had internal e-mail communications regarding our visit arranged through Jay Fein.

Ben Herman, Tom Chase and I met at the NSF because we felt (and still feel) our proposals have been handled inappropriately.

My weblog post

Is The NSF Funding Process Working Correctly?
http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/is-the-nsf-funding-process-working-correctly/

documents a subset of my concerns regarding the NSF process including interactions with Thomas Torgersen.

My concern was heightened in the last few months as I have been informed of issues through two sources [who want to remain confidential}.

One source informed me that I was internally reviewed to determine if I was being handled fairly (they concluded I was). Another source stated that I would no longer be funded at the NSF because of my weblog (presumably my criticisms of the NSF review process).

I cannot confirm the accuracy of these claims (and I was told through second persons each time). Nonetheless, if there is an opportunity through the FOIA process to determine if this information is correct or not, I would like to find out, as the sources are credible individuals.

Thank you for your time is looking into this issue.

She replied

On Fri, 15 Apr 2011, Jensen, Leslie A. wrote:
Dear Sir:

A proper search has been accomplished for all named individuals.  Email is  not a permanent record and meetings from several years ago would be deleted.  The Foundation’s email retention policy is repeated below:

———————————-

Exchange Server: Most users have their mail delivered to their Exchange  Server mailbox. If you haven’t done anything special, that is where your  mail is delivered and stored. In Outlook your mailbox is the folder that  includes your name in the folder name (top folder in your Folder List). The  Exchange Servers are backed up to tape nightly, and the tapes are retained  for 14 days, then destroyed. Exchange Server has a feature that allows you  to recover deleted messages (even after the trash is emptied). That feature  is set to retain deleted messages for 5 days. When these features are combined, it means that 19 days after you delete a message and empty the  trash, nobody can recover it.

———————————

With regard to your concern over improper handling of proposals NSF has a  reconsideration policy:  http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf11001/gpg_4.jsp#IVD. In  addition, I am providing the link to NSF’s Office of the Inspector General
(OIG): http://www.nsf.gov/oig/hotline.jsp.  The FOIA is only a records process.  Your claims of improper procedures/policies would be handled  outside of my office

My responding e-mail to her reads

Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 15:30:23 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: RE: NSF FOIA Request 2-1-11

Dear Ms. Jensen

This is quite surprising and disappointing. The deletion of such information appears to conflict with the intent of the FOIA, as I had understood it.

I have requested reconsideration of a proposal, as reported in the weblog post I sent you. The absence of e-mail documentation of how my appeal was handled was notably absent in the information that you sent to me in my FOIA request.

It appears that the FOIA as applied by NSF is essentially worthless.

The letter below, which was the one item that provided new information that the program manager has “drawn pretty heavily on reviewers of the two previous proposals” [which were rejected by the NSF] certainly suggests a lack of diligence and objectivity in completing the review process.

Thus, my experience with the climate related section of the NSF is that they have decided to control not only the quality of the science (which is an appropriate activity, of course), but also to limit what perspectives scientists have on climate (which is inappropriate).

My recommendations to help remedy the lack of diligence and  biases at the NSF in climate science and include:

  • Guarantee that the review process be completed within 6 months.
  • Retain all e-mail communications indefinitely
  • Require external independent assessments of the review process including names of referees by a subset of scientists who are outside of the NSF. This review should be on all accepted and rejected proposals.

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