Smoky Joe Barton Apologized to BP. Will he Apologize to Climate Scientists as well?

May 19, 2011

Rep. “Smoky Joe” Barton, (R- Exxon) gave us a remarkably vivid demonstration of the relationship between the tea party Republican congress and Big Oil, when he abjectly apologized to British Petroleum after the oil giant was ordered to make reparations for last year’s disastrous Gulf Spill.

Will there be a public apology to the climate scientists that oil toady and hero of climate denial Barton attempted to smear with a now discredited “study” of global temperature?

In 2005, Rep. Barton, was conducting a running persecution of climate scientists Michael Mann and his associates, which the Washington Post  called, “a witchhunt”

“THIS IS HIGHLY usual,” declared a spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee when asked this week whether the request by committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) for information from three climate scientists was out of the ordinary. He and his boss are alone in that view. Many scientists and some of Mr. Barton’s Republican colleagues say they were stunned by the manner in which the committee, whose chairman rejects the existence of climate change, demanded personal and private information last month from researchers whose work supports a contrary conclusion. The scientists, co-authors of an influential 1999 study showing a dramatic increase in global warming over the past millennium, were told to hand over not only raw data but personal financial information, information on grants received and distributed, and computer codes.

Alan I. Leshner, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that although scientists “are used to answering really hard questions,” in his 22 years as a government scientist he never heard of a similar inquiry, which he suspects could “have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to work in areas that are politically relevant.”

Normally, the Post noted, when congress wants a scientific evaluation of a critical issue, it turns to the National Academy of Science, which was founded by Abraham Lincoln for exactly that purpose.  Knowing that the National Academy was unlikely to give him the result he wanted, Barton made another plan –


The Wegman report was the product of research commissioned by two U.S. Representatives, Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield, who asked a panel of statisticians led by Prof. Edward Wegman of George Mason University, to assess the validity of the evidence for man-made global warming, which had been called a “hoax” by Republican Senator Jim Inhofe. The report concluded that the evidence for human-caused climate change was flawed, and led many to question the validity of global warming.

The study that Wegman et al produced has been widely touted by climate deniers as proof that some kind of manipulation of data was involved in producing the widely reproduced “hockey stick” temperature graph, which shows sharp global temperature rise in the last 200 years.

USAToday picks up the story:

Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming.

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The “Wegman Report” suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

The journal publisher’s legal team “has decided to retract the study,” said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. A November review by three plagiarism experts of the 2006 congressional report for USA TODAY also concluded that portions contained text from Wikipedia and textbooks.
The study will be “wiped from the scientific record”, according to Dan Vergano, USAToday’s investigative reporter, who went on in an analysis to ask, – But how good was the study? 

We asked network analysis expert Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon to take a look at whether the CSDA study, a “bibliometric” critique of publishing links between climate scientists, was any good in the first place. “I see this paper as more of an opinion piece,” Carley says, by email.

Carley is a well-established expert in network analysis. She even taught the one-week course that one of Wegman’s students took before 2006, making the student the “most knowledgeable” person about such analyses on Wegman’s team, according to a note that Wegman sent to CSDA in March.

The Wegman study was one of the fundamental documents that climate deniers used in attempting to gin up credibility for the spectacular nothing-burger they called Climate Gate.  6 official investigations of that fraud turned up zip on supposed climate science shenanigans – now one of the last remaining fig leafs of scientific legitimacy for denialists has crumbled to dust.

So what can we expect from Barton?

My take? It’s foolish to expect even the most meager display of decency from climate deniers.
Barton’s boot licking is reserved for those who hold his leash.

UPDATE: A knowledgeable insider tells me “there’s another round coming”. Some of the offenses committed in creating this report may be actionable. Stay tuned.

10 Responses to “Smoky Joe Barton Apologized to BP. Will he Apologize to Climate Scientists as well?”

  1. adelady Says:

    Another round coming?

    Seeing as the retracted paper is only on the social network analysis, there’s a lot more to come on the so-called analysis of the climate data.

  2. otter17 Says:

    What “slush fund” is Smokey Joe talking about in the video clip? Did the White House actually “shake down” BP without any legal standing? I thought that the $20 billion reparations were legit.

    This sounds a bit strange to me, since one would think that the media would have been all over a story where the White House does something illegal, even in the wake of this huge disaster.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      there is no “slush fund” – it’s barton’s way of trying to smear the public’s right to reparations.

      • otter17 Says:

        I see.

        I did a bit more research on the Oil Pollution Act and some of the discussions in Congress at the time. Calling the events that transpired a “shake down” is an interesting perspective to say the least.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          It’s not a perspective. It’s an attempt to create a Foxnews/talk radio meme that did not get off the ground, because people were so angry with BP, they didn’t buy it.
          “Al Gore invented the internet”, “Saddam Attacked us”,
          “climategate”, “Obama is a Kenyan” are all relatively successful right-wing memes. Barton was hoping he’d get support from the echo chamber for “Obama is using this tradedy to create a slush fund”, which did not gain traction.

          • otter17 Says:

            I suppose I should choose my words more carefully. Indeed, knowingly perpetuating a falsehood should not be considered a perspective as it can be considered slanderous.

  3. […] this isn’t new.  The know-nothing (and or bought-and-paid-for-by-Big-Oil) wing of the party has spent years trading in bad science to prevent this realization from becoming […]

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