Less than 72 hours after a federal whistleblower exposed shocking misconduct at a key U.S. climate agency, the CEO of the nation’s top scientific group was already dismissing the matter as no biggie. On February 7, Rush Holt, head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), told a congressional committee that allegations made by a high-level climate scientist were simply an “internal dispute between two factions” and insisted that the matter was “not the making of a big scandal.” (This was moments after Holt lectured the committee that science is “a set of principles dedicated to discovery,” and that it requires “humility in the face of evidence.” Who knew?)
Three days earlier, on February 4, John Bates, a former official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — he was in charge of that agency’s climate-data archive — posted a lengthy account detailing how a 2015 report on global warming was mishandled. In the blog Climate Etc., Bates wrote a specific and carefully sourced 4,100-word exposé that accuses Tom Karl, his ex-colleague at NOAA, of influencing the results and release of a crucial paper that purports to refute the pause in global warming. Karl’s study was published in Science in June 2015, just a few months before world leaders would meet in Paris to agree on a costly climate change pact; the international media and climate activists cheered Karl’s report as the final word disproving the global-warming pause.