The Washington Post reports that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed to create a new climate service and website that would provide the public with information and predictions about the impact of global warming. If this turns out to be yet one more source of apocalyptic government press releases and other such hype, it’s the last thing we need. Just look at the cover of NOAA’s already-existing National Climate Data Center report showing a photoshopped house under water to get a sense of how much are tax dollars are already being wasted on NOAA scares, not to mention those from NASA, EPA and other bureaucracies with a piece of the climate action.
What we really need is more scrutiny of such scary claims. Climategate – the release of emails showing exaggerated temperature increases and other misconduct among key contributors to the UN’s major global warming report, may well implicate some of NOAA’s work. But don’t expect to hear too much of that on the new website. Recent revelations show that claims of Himayalan glaciers melting and hurricane damage increasing due to global warming are also suspect, but again this is the kind of thing federal global warming researchers are busy trying to ignore. Rather than focus on bringing truth and transparency to the scientific debate on climate change, the government officials continually push that the science is settled and to save the planet we need resembling the actions of Audi’s “Green Police” commercial.
For those who haven’t seen the ad, (available here), green cops arrest average citizens for small environmental infractions. The ad even includes a super-sniffing anteater and Cheap Trick rerecording “Dream Police” into “Green Police” as the theme song. Some of the infractions are quite over the top but many are either punishable by fine today or are currently being proposed. Some cities, including Washington D.C., have implemented a plastic bag tax. The phase-out of incandescent light bulb will commence in 2012. There are some who want to ban bottled water because it creates too much waste and uses too much energy. San Francisco passed a law that says if residents or businesses do not recycle properly, they would be hit with fines and could have their garbage collection stopped. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said, “We don’t want to find people. We want to change their behavior.” And that’s the legitimate problem with overreaching environmental policies that limit personal freedoms.
Jonah Goldberg said of the green police ad: “The commercials arrive at precisely the moment when that inevitability is unraveling like an old pair of hemp socks. The global warming industry is imploding from scientific scandals, inconvenient weather, economic anxiety and surging popular skepticism.” Let’s hope NOAA’s new climate service isn’t another avenue to reignite the doomsday scenarios to protect the government’s iron grip on the scientific consensus.
Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman co-authored this blog.