State Dept. defends climate science as GOP lawmakers seek review of researcher

“But to the extent that there were any mistakes in the IPCC report, reports, assessments, or anywhere else, that’s regrettable. You don’t want there to be mistakes. But what should not happen is that any individual mistakes, typos, whatever they might be, be taken to undermine the very fundamental record that exists from scientists all over the world and from observed data from all over the world that this is a quite serious and growing problem. So I think that that’s really the kind of underlying important point,” Stern said in a briefing with reporters.

And then he went after the skeptics using blunt language.

“I think what you do see sometimes is that people who have an agenda that is directed toward undermining action on climate change grab whatever tidbit they can find and say, 'Look, there’s no climate change, it snowed last week in Washington, there’s no climate change.' That kind of stuff is nonsense,” he said.

“And the exploiting of this or that mistake that might have occurred in some part of long reports that pull together a lot of scientific data, again . . .  I think it needs to be seen for what it is, which is a deliberate attempt to undermine. The fundamentals haven’t changed,” he added.

Stern’s comments came on the same day that two senior GOP lawmakers – Reps. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.) and Darrell Issa (Calif.) – called on the National Science Foundation’s inspector general to investigate NSF aid to Pennsylvania State University Professor Michael Mann.

Mann is well known for creating the “hockey stick” chart that reconstructs temperatures over the past millennium and shows a sharp 20th century uptick.

Mann is among the researchers whose emails with other scientists were made public with the hacking of messages last year from the Climatic Research Unit in the U.K. Several GOP lawmakers and other climate skeptics say the messages revealed efforts to squelch information that undercuts evidence of human-induced climate change.

“We understand the NSF grants to Dr. Mann were made prior to the revelation of the CRU e-mails.  However, conversations with NSF staff on February 4 revealed that no steps have been taken to freeze or withdraw the stimulus funds authorized for Dr. Mann’s research. In light of the many questions and concerns raised by the CRU e-mails, highlighted in part by The Pennsylvania State University’s decision to further investigate Dr. Mann, we encourage you to immediately initiate an independent investigation into this matter,” the lawmakers wrote in a Feb. 16 letter to NSF.

Sensenbrenner is the ranking member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, while Issa holds that slot on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

A Penn State administrative panel this month cleared Mann of several allegations, finding no credible evidence of data suppression and falsification, concealment or destruction of emails and other information.

But the panel ordered further inquiry into one of the four allegations against Mann it reviewed: whether Mann engaged in “any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.” The panel ordered an inquiry into the question by faculty members.