Politics & Policy

Did the Obama White House Collude with a Politically Motivated Scientist?

President Obama with John Holdren at the White House in 2014. (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)
A former scientist at the NOAA has exposed a shoddy report on global warming. Judicial Watch is suing to learn more.

Following allegations of impropriety over the handling of a controversial climate change report, a government watchdog group now wants to know whether there was any collaboration between the report’s lead author and a key Obama adviser. On March 27, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit seeking “all records of communications between a pair of federal scientists who heavily influenced the Obama administration’s climate change policy and its backing of the Paris Agreement.”

The FOIA specifically requests correspondence between Tom Karl, the former head of the climate-data program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and John Holdren, the director of Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren is from that species of Baby Boomer global catastrophists who make changing predictions each decade about how we will all die. He also happens to be the science guy who had the president’s ear for eight years.

Holdren’s buddy, Tom Karl, authored a report in 2015 attempting to disprove the hiatus in global warming that had been widely acknowledged by many scientific groups, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The warming pause threatened to undermine the justification for a costly climate-change pact that was being negotiated at the time: How could world leaders commit trillions in tax dollars to stop global warming if it wasn’t actually happening?

Karl’s report came to the rescue just months before the Paris Climate Conference. In announcing his findings, Karl said the “new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.” How convenient. His analysis was eagerly accepted by the international science community, but others were leery about its timing; the House Science Committee has been leading an inquiry into the report for nearly two years.

But a retired top official at NOAA has now confirmed suspicions about the veracity of Karl’s research and about whether politics — not science — were at play. In February, John Bates, the former head of NOAA’s climate-data archive, wrote a lengthy exposé detailing misconduct at NOAA related to the report. The allegations included using inappropriately “corrected” datasets, violating agency protocol on data review, and failing to archive the data. In the most damning allegation, Bates said: “In every aspect of the preparation and release of the datasets . . . we find Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale pushing for, and often insisting on, decisions that maximize warming and minimize documentation.” (You can read more about Bates’s allegations here and a subsequent smear campaign by the scientific establishment here.)

“It was more of a political document than a scientific document,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told me. “People need to know how the [climate] alarmists have taken over agencies like NOAA and NASA. This is about trying to get the truth out.” Judicial Watch also filed a separate lawsuit against NOAA in 2015 attempting to get the datasets used in Karl’s paper.

There’s plenty of reason to suspect collaboration between Karl and Holdren. Both are professionally invested in anthropogenic global warming and have advanced their careers promoting a catastrophic view of humanity’s fate due to our carbon-fueled rape of Mother Nature. In 2010, Holdren appointed Karl to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, which oversees how 13 federal agencies “advance climate science and improve the understanding of how global change is impacting society, both today and into the future.” In a review for Karl’s 2009 book, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Holdren says he hopes the book will “make people think about specific legislative proposals, and the need to move ahead, after many years of dithering and delay.” (In his book, Karl states: “Observations show the warming of the planet is unequivocal. . . . Warming over this century is projected to be considerably greater than the last century.”)

Both Karl and Holdren understood the stakes of the Paris climate conference, a last-ditch effort to force world leaders to impose drastic measures that would allegedly ease climate change. In an interview with National Geographic while attending the event, Holdren said the climate pact was needed because “it is urgent that the nations of the world act now, both to reduce their emissions and to increase their preparedness and resilience against ongoing climate change.” He believes that the world should be completely decarbonized by the end of the century, a wholly ridiculous, untenable, and pointless idea. But then again, this is the same guy who thought we would all be dead by the start of the 21st century because of one ecocatastrophe or another. When we managed to survive, he said carbon-induced famine would kill 1 billion people by 2020. (I guess it would no fun to calculate how many billions of people are fed every day thanks to carbon.)

It might take months or even years, according to Fitton, to find out whether Karl and Holdren colluded to push a dubious but favorable climate report before the Paris confab: “It depends on how fast the administration can turn it around. The default position of the bureaucracy is always secrecy.” Regardless, Fitton said, the climate-change movement is suffering from serious problems. “They’ve lost their credibility. The public is starting to see this as a scam. That’s why the language of the climate alarmists has been intensified.” I’ll bet career suicide was never in the mix of catastrophic ends for the climate movement.

— Julie Kelly is a writer in Orland Park, Ill.

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