Posts Tagged ‘Caterpillar’

Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy

February 16, 2010

More than a century ago, a legendary New York City newspaper man by name Joseph Pulitzer famously barked “Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!” at his newsroom staff.

He knew that a single incorrect report could undermine his newspaper’s credibility, and that getting the story right was more important than getting it first.

Unfortunately, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not adhere to Pulitzer’s golden rule when it published its landmark 2007  global warming report. At least two seemingly inadvertent and inconsequential, but sloppy, errors in the report have fueled climate-change skeptics and thrown up roadblocks for a historic effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

No, there’s no evidence that the Himalayan glacier will melt by 2035, the IPCC had to admit last month. Nor have scientists been able to determine that Africa’s crop yield will be cut in half by 2020 unless steps are taken to curb global warming, as the group reported in its 2007 report.

Some members of the Geneva-based group have acknowledged that procedures for reviewing and including data in IPCC reports must be tightened. But the damage had already been done.

Today, the state of Texas challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are a hazard to people, saying the agency’s December finding was based on flawed science.

“With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy,” Texas Attorney General Abbott said in a statement.

“Prominent climate scientists associated with the International Panel on Climate Change were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data…so EPA should not rely upon it to reach a decision that will hurt small businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the larger Texas economy,” he charged.

Texas, a major emitter of greenhouse gases, would probably have sued anyway. But IPCC’s errors gave the state a convenient argument at the right time.

Also today, three large energy companies – Conoco, BP and Caterpillar – pulled out of a coalition of corporations and environmental groups that is pushing Congress to pass a climate-change bill.

Among their complaints: The bill doesn’t do enough to promote natural gas as an alternative to carbon-based energy, and it will hurt the nation’s transportation sector.

Whatever goodwill there was for energy legislation this year seems to have eroded in a matter of a few weeks. Opposition against the bill is gaining steam, and we can thank some sloppy reporting for turning the clock back on climate change policy.

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