Senate Republicans are asking why the Obama administration attempted to convince scientists to downplay data indicating that the earth has not warmed in 15 years.
The Associated Press obtained documents showing that the Obama administration, along with European nations, tried to convince scientists involved with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report to downplay, or even omit, data that showed a 15-year hiatus in global temperature rises.
“The failure of the IPCC climate models is obviously a great embarrassment for a significant number of researchers and politicians who have been demanding costly international and U.S. actions,” wrote Republican Senators David Vitter of Louisiana, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and James Inhofe of Oklahoma in a Thursday letter to Todd Stern, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for climate change.
“When governments can weigh in and request alterations to a scientific analysis, the message is clear that the IPCC produces a political document, not a scientific one,” the Senators wrote. “Such actions exacerbate the already declining reputation of the IPCC.”
According to the AP, the U.S. “urged the authors to include the ‘leading hypothesis’ that the reduction in warming is linked to more heat being transferred to the deep ocean” and downplay the lack of significant warming since 1998.
“Germany called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted, saying a time span of 10-15 years was misleading in the context of climate change, which is measured over decades and centuries,” the AP reports. “Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for any statistics. …Using 1999 or 2000 as a starting year would yield a more upward-pointing curve. Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for skeptics.”
Governments worry that a report showing a lack of warming will undercut negotiations for an international effort to tackle global warming. Such negotiations are set to take place in 2015 and IPCC’s report will be key to the negotiations.
“This 15-year period without measurable warming occurred at a time of record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions,” the Republicans wrote. “These facts are deeply disappointing to those who have been demanding immediate and costly international and U.S. actions on the basis of these previous IPCC predictions.”