NASA Evasion of Quality Control Procedures

It is a red-letter rule in business that transactions between a company and its insiders or employees must be disclosed. Some of the most egregious breaches by Enron were its attempts to avoid disclosure of writeoffs by selling worthless assets to the infamous limited partnerships organized by company insiders for equally worthless paper issued by the partnerships. Company insiders cannot evade securities laws by pretending to be be acting in a “personal capacity”.

The U.S. federal government has a detailed set of regulations requiring scientific information to be peer reviewed before it is disseminated by the federal government. NASA, which says that it has “employs the world’s largest concentration of climate scientists”, has carried out an interesting manouevre that has the effect of evading the federal Data Quality Act, OMB Guidelines and NASA’s own stated policies. Once again, the system involves an employee purporting to be acting in a “personal capacity”. Here’s how it works.

Peer Review Policy
U.S. federal policy on data quality is set out in a variety of steps. The Data Quality Act itself is very short and states:

The guidelines under subsection (a) shall –
(1) apply to the sharing by Federal agencies of, and access to, information disseminated by Federal agencies; and
(2) require that each Federal agency to which the guidelines apply –
(A) issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency, by not later than 1 year after the date of issuance of the guidelines under subsection (a);
(B) establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines issued under subsection (a); and

The OMB has issued several guidelines under the act. The first statement is here . A subsequent OMB Bulletin clearly required peer review of important scientific information before dissemination by the federal government as follows:

This Bulletin establishes that important scientific information shall be peer reviewed by qualified specialists before it is disseminated by the federal government.

There’s an interesting exemption in this bulletin (and we shall see below how this comes into play):

This definition includes information that an agency disseminates from a web page, but does not include the provision of hyperlinks on a web page to information that others disseminate.

NASA Policies
NASA has several manuals and policies setting out its own procedures for ensuring compliance with such policies. NASA guidelines specify far-reaching obligations on data quality for information disseminated by NASA. It notes the wide use of NASA information:

NASA’s information from its missions and programs is used by: government and national and international policymakers to enable sound and better public policy; NASA’s scientists and others cooperating with NASA to pursue their important work; the media in describing to the public the importance and advances of research; the educational community to educate a new generation of citizens in science, math, and engineering; and members of the public to enable them to be knowledgeable and inspired about NASA’s goals and accomplishments.

It states that the policies apply to NASA Centers as well as to headquarters:

These guidelines are applicable to NASA Headquarters and Centers, …

It states that NASA will ensure the quality of its disseminated information:

NASA will ensure and maximize the quality, including the utility, objectivity, and integrity, of its disseminated information, except where specifically exempted. Categories of information that are exempt from these guidelines are detailed in Section C.3….

Information products disseminated by NASA will be based on reliable, accurate data that has been validated.

NASA policy NPR 2200.2B Chapter 3 states that the policy applies to all “information” prepared by NASA employees and then sets out an approval process:

3.1.1 This chapter presents the standards and responsibilities that apply when NASA employees prepare papers for or participate in scientific and technical symposia and when they prepare and submit information, e.g., monographs or journal articles, for external (non-NASA) publication. ….

3.2.2 Approvals. Dissemination of information in symposium presentations or in external publications is approved in accordance with procedures included in Chapter 4 [which describes an elaborate review process]

The manual contains a header stating: COMPLIANCE IS MANDATORY and does not contain any mechanism whereby a NASA employee can sometimes be a “private citizen” and sometimes be a “NASA employee”, anymore than a company insider can purport to be a “private citizen” in his relationships with a company.

earthobservatory.nasa.gov
Now let’s examine a key NASA webpage on climate change http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/GlobalWarmingQandA/ . The first question on the webpage is:

What does NASA have to do with global warming?

They answer:

NASA employs the world’s largest concentration of climate scientists…. In addition to collecting information about the Earth, NASA also builds global and regional climate models to understand the causes and effects of climate change, including global warming. NASA shares its climate data and information with the public and policy leaders freely and in a timely manner.

The webpage then asks further questions, in which there are multiple references to a website (realclimate) published by a NASA climate modeler (Gavin Schmidt). This website states that it is published by Schmidt and his associates “in a personal capacity during their spare time”. Thus, although it obviously relates to Schmidt’s professional duties, NASA has apparently not required Schmidt to comply with NASA data quality procedures in respect to his contributions at realclimate.

NASA goes on to ask:

If Earth has warmed and cooled throughout history, what makes scientists think that humans are causing global warming now?

Its answer includes only two references, one of which is realclimate’s threads, which start off with several diatribes against our work.

RealClimate Articles and Discussions on Paleoclimate

The second link on the page linked by NASA is entitled:

False Claims by McIntyre and McKitrick regarding the Mann et al. (1998) reconstruction

followed in short order by another link entitled:

On Yet Another False Claim by McIntyre and McKitrick

Ironically, these claims were not found to be false when reviewed by either the NAS Panel or Wegman Panel. Shortly thereafter, NASA asks:

Haven’t satellites actually observed cooling temperatures in the lower atmosphere?

A realclimate thread by Gavin Schmidt is one of only four references:

Schmidt, G. (2005). Et Tu LT? Real Climate. Accessed June 6, 2007

Then they ask:

What if global warming isn’t as severe as predicted?

Again, a realclimate thread, this time by Pierrehumbert is one of only three references:

Pierrehumbert, R. (2005). Natural Variability and Climate Sensitivity. Real Climate. Accessed June 14, 2007.

Finally they ask:

Where can I learn more about global warming?

Once again, realclimate is one of only 7 references – another being the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Conclusion

NASA has carried out an interesting manouevre that has the effect of evading the federal Data Quality Act, OMB Guidelines and NASA’s own stated policies.

NASA says that it “employs the world’s largest concentration of climate scientists”. It has plenty of opportunity to use product from those scientists that has been produced in accordance with NASA quality procedures and subject to the Data Quality Act. Instead of doing so, NASA’s webpage on global warming relies on non-peer reviewed material, including material produced by one of its own employees as a “private citizen” at a “personal” website where his contributions have not been subject to mandatory NASA quality control procedures.


UPDATE:
rocks observes below that “Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies” (as well as Michael Mann) are thanked as assisting with the NASA webpage, thereby adding another layer of conflict to the entire matter.


224 Comments

  1. Rob
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

    Wow!

  2. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    sigh.

    but wait, isn’t this the same organization that Hansen claimed was censoring his work?

  3. Peter
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    If AGW were a company, this is really all I would need to refuse to invest in it, or sell my stock if I held any. For NASA to be in effect leaving its independent role to endorse a partisan site linked to Gore is quite wrong, and undermines its credibility.

    But it joins a long list of other wrongnesses including refusals to reveal source data, failure to make the ground stations meet specifications… I cannot follow the details of many of the arguments on technical topics, lacking both time and expertise. But the same thing is true of companies I invest in, where I cannot work through the details of their 10Ks. But there is a strong and rising smell of fish about all this, and one gets a nose for such things after a while.

    You should perhaps at some point revisit your view that you’d accept the IPCC/RC conventional wisdom, were you in a policy making position. Don’t think you would or should. What you’d really do is put it all on hold, get the data archived, get the surface stations modified to specification, get the proxies updated, get a group of independent experts together to report on the issue, enforce agency independence. There are just too many things that don’t add up in the conduct of the proponents. I never knew one where there were so many holes, that in the end turned out to be OK.

    Its actually called the precautionary principle. If there is any chance of something being badly askew, do an audit, make sure. Don’t jump, don’t buy in. Capital lost is real hard to recover. The NASA/RC connexion is deeply disturbing and quite improper. It cannot be all OK and be being run like this. This is not the way clean growth companies with real though underestimated opportunities and nice clean financials feel and conduct themselves.

  4. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    Looks like a shell game.

  5. Pat Keating
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    I suspect that it is dear old Gavin who prepares the text for the web page, and gave himself several nice .gov links for his site. Great for Search Engine Optimization.

  6. Reid
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    Alert the legal blogosphere!

  7. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    NASA and RealClimate. How do they call this; incestuous science?

  8. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    Thanks SteveM for putting this all together in one spot. I have got to rethink this letter I want to write …lol! and holy moly!

  9. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    One of the big problems here is that government agencies and the representatives of these agencies are prohibited from a) endorsing political parties/candidates and b) lobbying the government. In the old days, politicians would activate federal agencies on their behalf to get out the vote or pressure on their behalf. Imagine the problems if the FBI publicly and loudly supported a candidate. This is the same reason that such employees can’t accept money from “consulting” or political parties. When I worked at a government lab (not even as a federal employee, as a subcontractor) I could earn extra money say owning rental properties but not doing anything related to my work. I could only accept a coffee mug when I gave a lecture at a university and they offered me an honorarium. Any acceptance of money related to my work was considered accepting lobbying money. That NASA publicly links to RC which has unknown sources of support and takes very specific positions on a very political issue is very very outside the bounds of federal policy. It is stunning actually.

  10. Nicholas
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    I have to agree with Peter… as egregious as this is, after all the examples of data withholding and just plain old non-cooperation Mr. McIntyre has documented from the scientific community (including NASA), it’s hard to be shocked. Still, I suppose it’s worth documenting each case like this. I don’t think NASA – a putatively scientific organization – should be playing politics, but who am I kidding. That’s practically all they do these days.

  11. yorick
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    When I was a young and inexperienced programmer, NASA was held up as the “gold standard” of quality control and programming excellence. They were putatively CMM level 5, which means that ever scrap of code goes through mulitiple layers of review by other professionals, and all objections raised during those reviews are answered and there are means in place to prove that this is so and that audits are carried out on a regular basis to ensure that all of these quality assurance processes are carried out.

    What a joke.

    I believe that Hansen’s code, in terms of CMM maturity level, would be classified as at the “pond scum” stage.

  12. J.C.H.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    Here’s stunning:

    Another employee asked about comments Griffin made at a recent celebratory event, in which the administrator thanked former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for his long-standing support of NASA. “He’s still with us and we need to keep him there,” Griffin said at the event — a comment some interpreted as an inappropriate reelection endorsement.

    Griffin explained yesterday that he meant “we need to keep him as a friend” and apologized for his “inartful choice of words.”

  13. yorick
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    In theory, it’s possible that Gavin’s web page at NASA should be reviewed under CMMI, and this should have been documented, and their should be records of it that might be available under FOI. Just sayin…

  14. David Charlton
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    I wonder if what is effectivly lobbying for government policies by NASA employees would fall under the limitations of the Hatch Act? It is impermissible for a “less-restricted government employee” (defined by the Act) to solicit support from those parties whch may come before the employee’s agency.

  15. Sylvain
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    Did anyone noticed that alot of Gavin’s spare time seems to be when he is working or should work for NASA.

    That would make NASA one of the first contributor of Realclimate for paying their scientist while they are working on realclimate website.

  16. Glacierman
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    This is really important and goes straight to the heart of scientific credibility. I think this is in violation of NASA’s stated policies and there should be an audit/oversight of how the relationship has evolved. If a blog run by an employee is used as a reference from a government web site, that lessens credibility of the government agency. Seems NASA should be concerned that information is being disseminated outside of their quality policies for a number of reasons.

    If a blog hosted by an emplyee during their “spare time” is being actively monitored and updated from a government office/computer (don’t know if that is the case, but it seems that it would be hard for things to wait until after returning home from work each day), that is a really big problem and makes me wonder what our tax dollars are funding there. An audit could sort this out.

  17. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    On the page SteveM gave for questions answered about global warming you can read who contributed to the fact sheet at the bottom. Mann and Schmidt are listed as helpers. It also gives a link for a contact form set up: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/contact/
    “Please feel free to send us your comments and questions. We get a lot of mail and will try and answer as soon as possible.”

    Craig: “That NASA publicly links to RC (realclimate.org) which has unknown sources of support and takes very specific positions on a very political issue is very very outside the bounds of federal policy” This is well said. May I use it? :)

  18. yorick
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    Here is a funny one, a link to lessons learned in software development at NASA. Seems like they have learned almost nothing.

  19. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    We need Feynman back to give NASA another barbed wire enema.

  20. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    Well,

    have a look at this. think about gavin on RC

    http://nasapeople.nasa.gov/references/NDG03_TableofPenalties.pdf

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Examples include:

    5. Discourteous conduct to the public.
    6. Disrespectful conduct; … making slanderous, defamatory, disparaging or knowingly false statements to or about others.
    23. Conducting unauthorized personal business or other affairs while on duty status;
    40. Failure to follow established policies regarding the personal use of Government office equipment including information technology

  22. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Re 21. yup those are the ones I selected.

  23. Arthur Smith
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Let me get this straight.

    NASA has an “Earth Observatory” program that encompasses observations of earth from human and satellite platforms in space. This is a cross-center effort that is part of NASA’s “Science Mission Directorate”, intended to provide information and data free to the public. The program is managed by David Herring, with a science editorial board of 12 mostly external respected scientists, including James Hansen, and authorship contributions from about a dozen people at various NASA centers including Johnson (Texas) and Goddard (Maryland).

    On May 11, 2007, Holli Riebeek posted a Global Warming fact sheet, a simplified public introduction to the data, derived from a previous 2002 edition of the fact sheet by John Weier. This fact sheet links to dozens of other “earthobservatory” sites providing more in-depth coverage of the details; it also links out to the National Weather Service and places like the “World Radiation Center” in Switzerland. At the end of this is a long list of references, including citations to scientific papers, some more informal sources, the IPCC, the US Climate Change Science Program, and the EPA climate change website. And right at the bottom of that references page, among links to the CCSP and EPA again, is also a link to “realclimate”. Makes sense to me – realclimate has some of the best explanatory information out there on the issues and responses to many popular questions raised by things like Al Gore’s movie and Michael Crichton’s book, etc. so why not give it a link?

    This “Global Warming” page is linked in many places from the Earth Observatory’s library (Reference) links.

    There are additional global warming-related pages on the site – under the “Data and Images” link is a vast collection of raw data on radiation, clouds, land and sea temperatures, ozone, aerosols, etc. This data is surely what the “data quality” standards referenced above are intended to cover. Under “News” is an item noting NASA scientists among the Nobel prize recipients for the IPCC’s work, among other related pages. This news item links only to the Goddard page, but other news items link out to USGS, IPY, the Department of Energy, etc. “Missions” lists various climate-relevant satellite observation systems. “Experiments” includes a completely different “global warming” page, that encourages some sort of interactive discussion of the science.

    And finally there’s “Features”, which on 2 of it’s six main pages (Atmosphere, and Land), among dozens of links on each page, has a link to “Global Warming Questions and Answers”, which is the page Steve is whining about here.

    So, first of all, this is a pretty obscure page on the site.

    Second, if you actually visit the QandA page in question, you’ll see concise and informative answers attributed to the following scientists:

    * Robert Cahalan, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    * G. James Collatz, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    * Anthony Del Genio, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
    * Andrew Dessler, Texas A&M University
    * Forrest Hall, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    * Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University
    * Paul Newman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    * William Patzert, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    * Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
    * Brian Soden, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
    * Tom Wigley, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

    and Earth Observatory Writers David Herring, Rebecca Lindsey, Holli Riebeek, Michon Scott, and Robert Simmon.

    Appended to each of the answers is a list of references or “further reading” material, or source material for data. I count 50 total references or links; some of these are to non-NASA material such as the IPCC summary, the AIP climate history page, Physics Today, Science and other research journals, etc. And I count exactly 4 of the 50 that are links to “realclimate”.

    When Steve above complains, on the question “what makes scientists think that humans are causing global warming now?” that “Its answer includes only two references”, he is being very misleading. The answer is in fact 5 paragraphs long, includes one telling figure, and each paragraph makes an important and succinct point on the question. The two links after the article are *not* listed as references, but as “further reading”, an important distinction on this page.

    On the question “haven’t scientists actually observed cooling in the lower atmosphere” Steve complains “a realclimate thread [...] is one of only four references”. But once again Steve doesn’t mention that this is after four informative paragraphs and another telling figure, and there are two additional (external) links he doesn’t mention to the source of the actual data displayed. The linked realclimate article by Gavin Schmidt on the satellite surface temperature data is in fact a very informative discussion of the details; Steve doesn’t happen to mention here either that *all 4 references* (plus the two data links) are to external (non-NASA) sites: NASA people don’t seem to have worked on this question in their official capacities at all. Would you rather it go unanswered than link out to external sites?

    Why Steve would complain about Ray Pierrehumbert’s article being linked I can’t imagine either. Would you rather have them link to a page here at climateaudit.org? What page would you recommend? Using your google search function for “climate sensitivity” returns this page as the top response. You think they should have linked to that? Really?

    Steve never claims in his article here that NASA is violating policies, just “evading” them. Given the actual context, rather than what you would guess just from reading Steve’s article, I don’t see *any* attempt at evasion here at all. Really, if you want outsiders to come and respect your work here at “climateaudit”, you need to quit this sort of whiny nonsense. The “yes man” echoing responses in the comments don’t exactly help.

  24. GTTofAK
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Well this is all fine and dandy but what does anyone plan to do about it? Yes Gavin may very well be violating NASA policy but do any of you honestly think NASA will do anything about it? Remember what happened when they tried to get Hansen to follow the rules. Gavin knows damn well that he is untouchable because if anyone at NASA tries anything he will go screaming to the press.

  25. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    RE 23. Art, the point is rather simple and one most of us learned long ago.

    you dont use your day job power to promote in any way whatsoever your personal endeavors.

  26. Mpaul
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    Steve M, only you have standing to make a complaint. Gavin is attempting to damage your reputation and is most likely violating the law. Clearly there is not an arms length relationship between Gavin, in his capacity as a blogger, and the people who make content decisions for the NASA web site (which most likely includes Gavin). We can all get upset about it, but we have no standing. I’d like to see you file a complaint. Once a complaint is filed, we can all throw in our support through our local Congress people.

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    #23, 25. Of course, nobody’s likely to “do” anything. But you never know. They made Hansen produce his source code.

    Tou refer to the links to posts by Gavin and P-Humbert. But take a look at the posts by Gavin’s RC associates (Mann) linked in the Paleoclimate reference; are you seriously contending that these meet NASA quality standards? If so, NASA has a serious problem.

    Gavin is not writing about sports or the arts at realclimate; he’s writing about topics intimately related to his professional duties. He’s a NASA employee and NASA has regulations about employee activity. Let’s get rid of the fiction that Gavin is doing realclimate in a “personal capacity”.

  28. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    The references list also gives another blog site for the question
    ” Is today’s warming man-made?” It is the third one down.
    link
    ” Science and politics of global climate change”

    That’s not ok in my eyes either. And I read through the comments..(all thermo questions lol shhhh) And I am not sure if Dressler is a NASA employee and Eli Rabbet is in the comments, LOL sheesh. How do we know what or who’s comments and concerns are left out or allowed in? Is “the public” really informed this way?

  29. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    23, there’s a question of standing. The fib is that realclimate is a science website. The fact is that it’s an advocacy website. I don’t want to take the thread off-topic with all of the pings and so on, but it’s not what it claims to be, and NASA has no business promoting it.

  30. GTTofAK
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    Of course Gavin doesn’t do it in a personal capacity but NASA will not do anything about it. And you are pretty much the only one who can file a reasonable complaint about it because you are the one who’s reputation being attacked on the government dime. The rest of us are simply observers with no cause to do anything.

  31. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    I’d wondered what happened to the first version of this thread. Obviously Steve thought better of being quite as personal against Gavin as he was in that version.

    As to #23, why NOT have a link to CA if you’re going to have multiple links to RC? A simple statement like, “For a viewpoint skeptical of human-caused global warming see [link to CA]” would be honest and would at least make the people in charge face the issues directly when they started getting blow-back from AGW partisans.

  32. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    Let’s try some analogies. Imagine that a senior FBI spokesman runs a blog advocating complete confiscation of all guns from private citizens, with scathing criticism of the NRA and satirical comments on Carleton Heston, and the FBI links to it on their offical web site. Or perhaps a senior scientist at the CDC who runs a blog that advocates for closing all chiropractic offices and and the CDC links to it as a “factual” medical science site. Would these be ok?

  33. Richard Sharpe
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    When you ride the tiger you very often get bitten.

  34. Susann
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    It is a red-letter rule in business that transactions between a company and its insiders or employees must be disclosed. Some of the most egregious breaches by Enron were its attempts to avoid disclosure of writeoffs by selling worthless assets to the infamous limited partnerships organized by company insiders for equally worthless paper issued by the partnerships. Company insiders cannot evade securities laws by pretending to be acting in a “personal capacity”.

    Let me summarize your argument so that I know I have it right: NASA has policies and guidelines that set out the rules for data quality (peer review) and dissemination of data to the public and other researchers. In other words, all data produced by NASA and its scientists should be peer reviewed before it is made public, and that it should be made available to the public, to other scientists etc. once it has been subject to peer review. This applies to information produced by NASA, by its scientists and on NASA’s website — but not to external links on a NASA website. Links to, say, RealClimate.

    I read NASA policies regarding the behavior of its employees when reading up on the whole Hansen matter. AFAIK, NASA employees are able to make statements about science and express their opinions about science matters, including global warming, as long as they make it clear that they are not speaking for NASA or as a NASA employee. They must make clear that they are speaking on their own behalf. I don’t see that RealClimate violates that requirement. RealClimate is portrayed as a private blog run by a group of climate scientists who want to express their personal views on global warming to the public.

    I quote:

    The contributors to this site do so in a personal capacity during their spare time and their posts do not represent the views of the organizations for which they work, nor the agencies which fund them. The contributors are solely responsible for the content of the site and receive no remuneration for their contributions.

    So, the requirement that data be peer reviewed and made public does not apply to Gavin Schmidt or any of the other posters at RealClimate. Gavin Schmidt, a NASA employee, is allowed to run a website on his own time. As a private citizen, he is not covered by NASA policies because the website he runs is a third-party website not directly under NASA’s purview.

    However, NASA is putting a stamp of approval on RC by linking to it in response to Q&As, yet RC is not peer-reviewed or subject to data dissemination requirements that NASA itself is subject. I agree that, given the fact that RC is not subject to data quality control or disclosure that is required by NASA policy and guidelines, it is inadvisable for NASA to link to RC. I understand you are upset, given the attacks at RC on your website and your work. There are false statements on the website regarding your work. People will be directed to RC where the conclusions of the scientists are not peer reviewed or subject to NASA guidelines.

    Comparing NASA’s linking to the RealClimate webpage to the Enron scandal is bit of a reach, IMO. NASA linking to RC is intemperate, but not on the same level as the ENRON scandal.

    Finally, I sense that your loyal fans are cheering you on in some quest to attack Gavin and RC, perhaps get him in trouble with NASA. If you want to follow through and launch a lawsuit against RC or Gavin, my advice, for what it’s worth, is to do it outside of CA. Keep CA outside of the personal and political.

    Steve: There are a lot of people here who’ve never been through litigation that are quick to urge lawsuits. I’ve had some experience with litigation and would be very reluctant to engage in litigation. At this point, I’m merely observing the inconsistency between NASA policies and practices.

    I was not saying that the things are on the same “level” – I’m trying to illustrate the foolishness of people claiming to be acting in a “personal capacity”.

  35. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    RealClimate is portrayed as a private blog run by a group of climate scientists who want to express their personal views on global warming to the public.

    Not quite. Go there and click “about”. It’s rather long so I won’t copy it here, but basically they declare themselves to be the authority on the science. They do disclaim by saying that the contributors aren’t paid (at least by RC), but they don’t state or imply in any way that there is a legitimate other side of the issue and that these are their own personal opinions.

  36. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    Susann, “I sense that your loyal fans are cheering you on in some quest to attack Gavin and RC, perhaps get him in trouble with NASA.”

    With respect, no, you see the public, voters if you will, who policy makers should listen to once in awhile BTW!, making comments out loud about what we think about NASA referencing the “The Team”, and how these employees of NASA called “the Team” speak to the public including myself, and others here, and how they violate their own posting policy- and how they censor and bash even the smallest newspaper article if it does not express their views scientifically or politically, and because of what we know on record about “The Team” in Congress and what SteveM has recorded here.

    Do you think they tell the whole truth? I do not. Why did a Congressional Hearing have to take place? Or was that just a big joke? You know, like they made it seem to be on their website? (go read about it)

  37. J.C.H.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    NASA Public Affairs Policy

    Q. What do you mean by public information?

    A. The policy defines public information as information in any form provided to news
    and information media, especially information that has the potential to generate
    significant media, or public interest or inquiry. Examples include press releases, media
    advisories, news features, and web postings. Not included under this definition are
    scientific and technical reports, web postings designed for technical or scientific
    interchange, and technical information presented at professional meetings or in
    professional journals.

    Q. What does it mean that a NASA employee cannot express his/her personal views
    while using government resources?

    A. NASA employees can express their personal views as long as they state that it is their
    own view and not the view of the agency. The policy states that “government funds shall
    not be used for media interviews or other communication activities that go beyond the
    scope of Agency responsibilities and/or an employee’s official area of expertise or
    responsibility.” In other words, if an employee wishes to participate in activities, the
    principal purpose of which is to discuss matters with the public or media that are not part
    of the employee’s official duties, government resources shall not be used toward that
    activity.

  38. UK John
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    #23

    Decided to try NASA for myself as a “fresher lurker”, and tried to find reference link to RC, but gave up in boredom and in any case i got distracted, they have some lovely pictures, better than anyone else’s!

    A few things bothered me, NASA proudly report record Artic sea ice melt this summer was due to unprecedented clear skies (24 hour sunshine) , that bit seems common sense, but NASA don’t seem bothered why the record clear skies, just bothered by the melting ice? Doesn’t seem to fit with the extra water vapour, positive feedback theory, surely there should be more clouds around?

    Also I am still trying to understand the CO2 infra red absorbtion physics, and the explanations given by NASA don’t help at all, just the same old boring arrows going up and down, but what is actually going on, as I cannot find a reference to it anywhere, even tried AIP website but that was not exactly helpful, just refered to theoretical physics that when they experimented it didn’t work

  39. John A
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Would it be appropriate for you to write to the NASA Administrator and ask him to clarify the apparent conflict of interest for Gavin to evade his responsibilities as a NASA employee by writing a blog related to his work which evades NASA’s own guidelines on data quality and availability. Also, is it appropriate for an “arms length” blog to be hosted by an environmental pressure group?

  40. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

    Susann, #34:

    I read NASA policies regarding the behavior of its employees when reading up on the whole Hansen matter. AFAIK, NASA employees are able to make statements about science and express their opinions about science matters, including global warming, as long as they make it clear that they are not speaking for NASA or as a NASA employee.

    And when earlier this year James Hansen berated Michael Griffin, the head of NASA, for saying that he didn’t think global warming would be a serious problem in the future, when Hansen used the terms “ignorance and arrogance” to describe Mr. Griffin’s state of mind, do you think Hansen was acting appropriately? Wasn’t he implying that he is NASA’s spokesman on matters of global warming? That there is only one acceptable view for NASA?

    If the “consensus” science of AGW starts to unravel, prepare yourself for not just “snark” but for some real viciousness from the likes of Hansen and his ilk.

  41. Mpaul
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Susann, I am not suggesting a law suit. I’m suggesting a complaint in the form of a letter to NASA and GAO. Simple. Let’s not be so skeptical as to think that no one who will do anything about it. There are people in both agencies whose job it is to investigate allegations of misconduct by employees.

  42. Patrick M.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    So I guess NASA’s climate science amounts to a web blog, (that wasn’t even in the running for Best Science Blog), a bunch of unreadable Fortran, and some temperature stations in parking lots?

  43. tetris
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    Re: 34
    Susann
    SteveM’s original comment about a red letter rule stands

    Re: 44
    DaveR

    Couldn’t agree more with PaddyL in #43. As far as your question re Schmidt is concerned, my asnwer would be both.
    And Hansen’s diatribe against Griffin, had it occurred in the private sector, would have been cause for dismissal with cause.

  44. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    Susann this is really very simple.

    Nasa is a federally funded agency.

    You go find another federally funded agency that promotes it’s own employees private websites.

    And after you find that agency and that personal website, you go see if that personal website
    publishes falsehoods about people.

    I bet you can crawl all the gov websites and not find a single one ( except nasa) that links to
    an employees private web site. go ahead… taps foot… crickets chirp…

    Gavin should sell fricken Tshirts on that site. That would be doubly cool. He could claim its
    “private behavior” promote the site using the public dollar ( nasa’s site) and the Susanns of
    the world wouldnt care.

  45. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    How does Gavin decide which hat he’s wearing and when? How do NASA decide which hat he’s wearing and when? The fact that the blog he is writing for is directly related to his work at NASA makes it unacceptable. Are there any statements made by Gavin on RC which directly conflict with statements made on behalf of NASA?

  46. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    51,

    Hansen (eg endorsing Presidential candidates, etc) and Gavin and the rest, are all in breach of many and varied laws designed to keep Government employees straight.

    But it takes an extra special type of chutzpah to write a junkscience-o-gram to the Queen of England.

  47. Phil.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    Re #49

    And Hansen’s diatribe against Griffin, had it occurred in the private sector, would have been cause for dismissal with cause.

    Hardly a diatribe! If making a public utterance against the stated policy of your organisation and contradicting the recent statement of your boss on the subject is reason for dismissal with cause why wasn’t Griffin fired? Even the White House issued an apologia for him and said he was joking and that ‘the questions had been too hard’!

  48. Arthur Smith
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    MarkR said in #51:

    [snip]

  49. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    On recieving James Hansen’s letter the queen was believed to have remarked:

    “Muppet”.

  50. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    The queen’s personal secretary then responded with, “no ma’m that was Jim Hanson” to which the queen replied, “I know”.

  51. GTTofAK
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    After some thought what the hell is Mann doing editing a government webpage. Where does Gavin a government employee get off allowing a private citizen to use a government funded website to attack his critics and promote his own research?

  52. Smokey
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    How does Gavin decide which hat he’s wearing and when? How do NASA decide which hat he’s wearing and when?

    Well, now. Those are very pertinent questions, no?

    NASA needs to make clear exactly where they draw the line. Enquiring taxpayers want to know.

  53. bender
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    Jim Henson

  54. Susann
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Hansen (eg endorsing Presidential candidates, etc) and Gavin and the rest, are all in breach of many and varied laws designed to keep Government employees straight. The laws already exist to stop that, all it needs is for someone to enforce them. The organisations should self police. Put them on notice about the many and varied breaches.

    Sometimes I am amazed at how willing people – even libertarians – are to muzzle government employees but who rail against any restrictions on their own rights to free speech. Restricting a governmnet employee’s right to be politically active, etc. is a limit on free speech. While that goes against my natural grain, for the most part, I grudgingly accet polices that restrict the political activities of employees. Such policies and regulations are necessary to ensure the work of government can progress. The government did, after all, get elected by the people. But do not think for a moment that it is for any other reason than to prevent the employees from undermining the authority of the government in power and hindering its policies. Government employees are there to implement government policy. They have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the merits of the policy as it is being developed, but they have to defer when the policy makers decide how to proceed. If an employee speaks out in public against the government that employs them, they undermine the government and its policies. The policies and regulation covering government employees’ political activities are a whip to keep government employees in line and not working at least publicly against the government’s interests. There seems to be a specific exemption for scientists, for their research is rightfully the public’s research. In other words, since scientists like Hansen are partly funded by taxpayers dollars, the work they do is partly owned by the people, the public. Hence, the public has a right to know what the scientists find while doing their work. This is, it seems to me, why NASA relented and issued a clarification of its policy on the rights of employees to speak about their work to the press and public, at least as far as I understand the issue.

    There is a fine line a public employee walks between implementing the government’s policy and staying true to your professional ethics. One might, for example, work on a policy that you feel is wrong, based on bad research, dangerous or even worse, fraudulent, yet you want to keep your job, and might feel compelled to shut up and go along. If you feel you cannot compromise your integrity by going along, you must either report the wrongdoing and suffer the consequences or resign. Ideally, one should be able to report the wrongdoing and keep one’s job, but in reality, that rarely happens because the well is poisoned so to speak. In the end, people shut up or quit and no one is the wiser.

    In my thinking, a scientist must also walk this fine line. They want to remain objective when doing science and try to minimize bias and error. The scientist is a true skeptic, demanding proof. However, a scientist is also a human being and may be alarmed about the results of their research and what it means for the public, etc. Speaking out, becoming political, is understandable if the results of one’s research are alarming. I have read quite a few blogs written by climate scientists and I do not doubt the sincerity of their fears about the future. Some may be more venal in their actions than others, but I do not distrust most of them when they say they are worried for the future. Given scientists’ inherent skepticism, when they are worried, I feel it is rational for laypeople to worry. I acknowledge they may be wrong, and that we need to examnine their claims closely, but it is worse if they are right and we fiddle.

  55. tetris
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    Re:51
    Phil
    You don’t get it, do you?

    1] Griffin is NASA’s boss and speaks for NASA, not delusional Dr Hansen. If you were somehow suggesting that Bush is Griffin’s boss, you really don’t know how far off base you are.
    Only in the public sector does one see a circus like this one. In the private sector, when the CEO says one thing on the company’s behalf and a VP not only contradicts but insults him in public, rest assured that said VP’s next job will be flipping burgers.

    2] SteveM’s “red letter rule” comment stands. If said VP were running a side line advocacy blog which somehow implies a connection to the company, he’d be toast. If the CEO allowed the VP to run a sideline advocacy blog to which the provides direct reference links, the CEO would be toast.

  56. tetris
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    Re: 58
    Susann
    You don’t get it either, do you?
    When you accept to work as a civil servant, you give up part of your rights to free speach. This is all the more true the higher up the flag pole you live. The civil service works for the government, and implements the policies laid out by the body politic. The principle of separation of powers precludes a civil servant from overtly participating/endorsing political positions.

    That fact that this fundamental principle has become open to questioning only serves to underscore the degree to which government [scientific] institutions have become politicized and ideologically compromised. Civil servants are supposed to serve, not formulate policy. Period. Anything else is cause for red flags and alarm bells.
    And for complete clarity, I am a libertarian.

  57. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

    Susan,

    No law suit required. We live in a Republic. I’d make this information known to my rep. or Senator. Esp. if they are on the republican side of the aisle.

    The Congress is looking for places to cut the budget. What better place to start.

  58. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    tetris, I’m sure I’m more libertarian than you, and certainly more familiar with rights, because when you say:

    >> When you accept to work as a civil servant, you give up part of your rights to free speach.

    You are completely wrong. Government workers don’t give up any part of the bill of rights.

    Worse, your distortion appears to be motivated by a desire to shut Hansen up, rather than deal with what he says. I’m sure I disagree with him more than you, but I’ll gladly defend his right to speak.

  59. Susann
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    Susann
    You don’t get it either, do you?
    When you accept to work as a civil servant, you give up part of your rights to free speach. This is all the more true the higher up the flag pole you live. The civil service works for the government, and implements the policies laid out by the body politic. The principle of separation of powers precludes a civil servant from overtly participating/endorsing political positions.

    I believe that is precisely what I wrote. Perhaps you might read my post a bit more carefully. I said it went against my grain because I don’t in general support censorship, but that I understood the need for it in order for government to work. I believe I made every point you made, so I do “get” it. I expect at least some pushback from libertarians on any limits to personal freedoms, but somehow civil servants are the ill-favored bastard child even to those who are most adamant about personal liberties.

  60. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    Gunner, my husband was a senior scientist and regulator for the Calif. EPA. (He left because he hated working there) He absolutely was not allowed to discuss anything with a “civilian” especially via the internet or email.

  61. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    My Rep. (Manzullo) has been notified.

  62. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Not going there…..nope……uh-uh…not going OT….

  63. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    welikerocks, nevertheless, he did not give up any civil rights by working there. The fact that organizations expect confidentiality to be maintained does not change that. It’s very illogical to say “my husband couldn’t say anything, therefore no one can”. Hansen’s web site is between him and his boss, period. There is nothing immoral, illegal or even improper about it. He has not been fired. nuff said.

  64. Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    A civil servant is just that, a servant of government policy. He must not pass political commentary in a public arena. That keeps civil servants nuetral which is what they must be to serve whatever government that is in power. A minister in charge of a portfolio would employ a communications manager to deal with the press etc and would never allow one of his public servants to make political comment. On the other hand ministers of state are generally forbidden to criticize public servants in the public domain. This alos protects the civil servant.

  65. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    who is talking about stopping gavin from making his “personal” comments.

    The issue is nasa endorsing his “private” activity with public funds.

    I could care less what he does on his personal time, personal computer, personal phone line.

    nasa has a web page. I pay for that. On that web page he references and thereby endorses his private blog

    Gavin can do what he wants on his personal time. But when he appears as an employee on a nasa web page
    he should NOT reference his personal blog.

    Is that hard to understand?

  66. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:09 PM | Permalink

    paul, you seem to be referring to some foreign set of rules. That’s not how it works in the US.

  67. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

    >> nasa has a web page. I pay for that.

    Being a taxpayer doesn’t give you the right to demand anything. All you can do is vote. Find a candidate for the “no govt endorsement of personal web sites” party.

  68. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar, what you say…all maybe true on some level but because of sensitivity issues , (like discrimination, sexual harassment etc) MOST organizations or companies wouldn’t take the chance of allowing their employee to link to a website private or otherwise the run, l with debates and arguments on the topics directly related to what he does for that company or organization, coupled with the power to edit, block, and censor and to say, “I am THE expert on this” don’t listen or read anything else, read this this and this because what you think/know/feel is wrong/dumb/naive/etc etc.

    If I think on this, and read again how that thread on the French scientist panned out over there, I am truly stunned. And I wrote and email to NASA earlier today expressing my feelings about it, based on stevemosher’s points @69 too.

  69. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

    Funny legal theory there…

  70. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar: “There is nothing immoral, illegal or even improper about it. He has not been fired. nuff said.” Yes he would have been. Its in the policy at the EPA. He didn’t hate working there because of that policy..he left because it was working for a government agency, slow, messed up, boring, paperwork paperwork.., and he wanted to do real science in the field more.

  71. Phil.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    Re #59

    Phil
    You don’t get it, do you?

    1] Griffin is NASA’s boss and speaks for NASA, not delusional Dr Hansen. If you were somehow suggesting that Bush is Griffin’s boss, you really don’t know how far off base you are.

    I certainly do get it, according to the White House he wasn’t speaking for NASA.

    White House Science Advisor Jack Marburger said:

    “It’s pretty obvious that the NASA administrator was speaking about his own personal views and by no means representing or attempting to represent the administration’s views or broader policy,” Marburger said. “He’s got a very wry sense of humor and is very outspoken.”

    And of course Griffin was nominated by President George W. Bush, John H. Marburger, Science Adviser to the President and OSTP Director, administered his swearing of the oath of office. He serves at the pleasure of the president.

  72. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    welikerocks, companies do have blogs that relate to the business, eg Microsoft. They do it because they help the bsn. Same in this case. You are naive to think that AGW is not in the govt interest. It’s also in Nasa’s interest. With no one in the mood to fund a trip to the andromeda galaxy, they need to do something that will endear them to about half of congress.

    Your e-mail to nasa is like writing to the Wolves and complaining that the Sheep need more protection. “Yea, we’ll get right on that”.

    bottom line: this whole discussion is petty, because you’re just trying to shut him up, rather than deal with issues.

  73. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    welikerocks, the point is that Hansen has not been fired.

  74. Smokey
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Government workers don’t give up any part of the bill of rights.

    Sure they do. Happens all the time. For instance, a soldier [another gov't worker] gives up the right to publicly promote aid & comfort to the enemy — something NY Times journalists, for instance, routinely do.

    My concern, as a citizen/taxpayer, is that the work product that I have paid for is now a secret. We’re talking about the weather here, folks, not about how to make anthrax. That being the case, I do not see how it is ethical to hide the methodology, data, etc., from those who pay the freight.

    snip

  75. Phil.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Re #76

    You are naive to think that AGW is not in the govt interest. It’s also in Nasa’s interest. With no one in the mood to fund a trip to the andromeda galaxy, they need to do something that will endear them to about half of congress.

    Odd then that the NASA administrator and the White House had the NASA Mission statement changed to remove the phrase “To understand and protect our home planet”.

  76. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    welikerocks. Kudos for writing to Nasa.

    Now to the question everyone missed. Why doesnt nasa run a realclimate like web site?

    Proxy’s aint just for temperature, they are also for wars.

  77. Larry
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    84, Lucia trusted her blog to karma, and you saw where that got her…

  78. procrustes
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    Re Gunnar

    “Being a taxpayer doesn’t give you the right to demand anything.”

    I don’t think Gunnar really gets it. Governments typically have rules about these things that are aimed at protecting the tax payer.

    I am very familiar with the Australian Government and UK Government rules on these issues (having worked at a senior level in central agencies in both Governments) that clearly disallow use of public funds for private purposes and also promote impartiality. While, I am not familiar with all the intricacies of the US system I am sure there are plenty of similar rules – bureaucracies always have plenty of rules.

    On the main issue raised here – the misuse of public funds – the general rule is a civil servant should not use public funds for private benefit (e.g. frequent flyer points gained during official travel are not for personal benefit.

    See also the US Office of Government ethics, here:

    http://www.usoge.gov/pages/about_oge/ethics_program.html

    The thrust is:

    • employees shall not use public office for private gain, and
    • employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.

    There may be better links – those more familiar with the US system might know them.

    On the side issue raised above on endorsing candidates, there is the Hatch Act – see here for a list of the rules and how they apply: Pdf: “Political Activity and the Federal Employee”
    http://www.oklahoma.feb.gov/Forms/HatchActFederalEmployees.pdf

    These rules boil down to employees being able to express their views publicly or privately about a candidate or about political issues but not engaging in active campaigning for partisan candidates.

  79. Andrey Levin
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    Would be interesting to see US Federal Reserve link to a private web site run by Bernake (with technical and legal support from Soros and prize money from Heinz) arguing that GWB economical policy spiraling the country into recession, and writing letters to monarch of foreign country asking to push US to adapt some international treaty.

  80. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    Susann, you say in #34:

    AFAIK NASA employees are able to make statements about science and express their opinions about science matters, including global warming, as long as they make it clear that they are not speaking for NASA or as a NASA employee.

    As noted in my post, NPR 2200.2B states:

    3.1.1 This chapter presents the standards and responsibilities that apply when NASA employees prepare papers for or participate in scientific and technical symposia and when they prepare and submit information, e.g., monographs or journal articles, for external (non-NASA) publication.

    Do you agree that publication by Schmidt at realclimate constitutes “external (non-NASA) publication” by a NASA employee? If so, 3.1.1 applies. It’s nothing to do with free speech – it’s compliance with an agency code. Should the code be rescinded for climate scientists? If that’s what they think, they should change the code.

  81. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    Folks, please try to avoid discussion of individuals and limit your comments to policy.

  82. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Please – no more about Hansen here. I’m getting a different issue: my point is not whether Hansen is behaving appropriately or not, but the system by which NASA’s website uses product from its own employees supposedly produced in a “personal capacity”.

  83. J.C.H.
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    My take on the NASA policy is that there are two policies: one for scientific publication, and one for public information.

    Web postings appear to fall under public information.

  84. Arthur Smith
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

    Wow, for a site supposedly devoted to “auditing”, the commentary here is ludicrously divorced from reality!

    By the way, I’ve suffered through many an audit (for various non-profit organizations); the principle finding in my experience is that whatever the procedures in place, human beings make mistakes, and an audit is a good idea to keep folks accountable. But evidence of an occasional policy violation is far different from systematic fraud; those auditors who have trouble distinguishing between the two end up checking every jot and tittle to little effect other than a lot of wasted time. That seems to be the principle outcome of what’s being done on this site – that and what seems a very high degree of confusion among some frequenters here about the firm conclusions of the science, independent of minor human mistakes. That many of the posters here seem to even doubt that recent warming is proven surely dismays Steve McIntyre – I hope?

    Steve: NOthing more was suggested here other than a “policy violation”. No one alleged “systematic fraud” – please don’t raise red herrings like this. Having observed a policy violation, is it your view that the policy violations should be perpetuated?

    I’ve never suggested that it is not presently warmer than the 19th century and few posters here hold that point of view. If you wish to cite or engage something that I actually said, you’re welcome to do so, but please don’t put words into my mouth that I haven’t said.

  85. eric mcfarland
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

    Rewind — how are you dealing with the fact that all of the data, etc., is out and the “hockey stick” has
    now been replicated and its conclusions continue to stand? Also, your critique of the same has now been reduced to immaterial, at best. What will you do? Continue to spew nonsense like this … perhaps? You are grossly misleading people — and you know it.

  86. Susann
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    As noted in my post, NPR 2200.2B states:

    3.1.1 This chapter presents the standards and responsibilities that apply when NASA employees prepare papers for or participate in scientific and technical symposia and when they prepare and submit information, e.g., monographs or journal articles, for external (non-NASA) publication.
    Do you agree that publication by Schmidt at realclimate constitutes “external (non-NASA) publication” by a NASA employee? If so, 3.1.1 applies. It’s nothing to do with free speech – it’s compliance with an agency code. Should the code be rescinded for climate scientists? If that’s what they think, they should change the code.

    In all honesty, and after reading over that section, I think it was intended to apply to external publications in the formal sense, such as professional journals. I don’t think it was intended to apply to websites or blogs, which would be likely seen as personal and private rather than professional. This may only be the result of policy not keeping up with technology. I don’t think that many organizations are up to speed with the whole world of internet technology and the implications for personnel policy. The question of whether it should apply? I’d have to think a bit more about that before answering yes or no. My gut instinct is to say no, for as a government employee, I resist any attempts to restrict what civil servants can do in their free time, but I admit that this whole issue is quite tricky.

    I really do not think this can be directly compared to a private corporation’s policies regarding the conduct of its employees. I really do think the role and responsibilities and expectations of a government scientist are quite different from a corporate employee or executive.

  87. Susann
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    In addition, now that I think about it, let me repeat what I wrote above:

    However, NASA is putting a stamp of approval on RC by linking to it in response to Q&As, yet RC is not peer-reviewed or subject to data dissemination requirements that NASA itself is subject. I agree that, given the fact that RC is not subject to data quality control or disclosure that is required by NASA policy and guidelines, it is inadvisable for NASA to link to RC. I understand you are upset, given the attacks at RC on your website and your work. There are false statements on the website regarding your work. People will be directed to RC where the conclusions of the scientists are not peer reviewed or subject to NASA guidelines

    I think it is inadvisable for NASA to link to RC as a source of information for visitors to NASA’s website. If there is to be a separation of personal and professional lives of NASA scientists, the personal should be kept separate. RC should not serve as a resource for NASA, unless, of course, RC is prepared to comply with the data quality and dissemination requirements of NASA.

  88. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:40 PM | Permalink

    In all honesty, and after reading over that section, I think it was intended to apply to external publications in the formal sense, such as professional journals. I don’t think it was intended to apply to websites or blogs, which would be likely seen as personal and private rather than professional.

    Susann, that’s where the citation of realclimate articles by NASA becomes relevant: if the realclimate articles are formal enough for citation at NASA, then they are external publications. realclimate is hardly “personal and private”; it is public and more widely read than professional climate journals. The policy does not exclude websites and other NASA policies make it clear that websites are viewed as a form of information dissemination.

  89. Dennis Wingo
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:45 PM | Permalink

    Steve: NOthing more was suggested here other than a “policy violation”. No one alleged “systematic fraud” – please don’t raise red herrings like this. Having observed a policy violation, is it your view that the policy violations should be perpetuated?

    Steve: I co-author papers for publication at the AIAA and other professional venues. Every NASA employee that is a co-author is required to get approval not only for the content but also for an ITAR reading to guarantee that the paper is within the guidlines. It is interesting that as far as I know there are no similar guidlines for websites done by NASA employees outside of work. I guess that this goes to the definition of publication. However, there are supposedly standards for linking from external websites to NASA websites. I will post a question to a friend who does a lot of NASA’s web policy.

    Also, did not find the paper at UAH today, the library was closed.

  90. Jim
    Posted Dec 28, 2007 at 11:48 PM | Permalink

    This is the first line of G Schmidts Bio at “realclimate”

    “Gavin Schmidt is a climate modeller at the NASA Goddard Institute
    for Space Studies in New York”

    He also has a link to his home page at NASA in his bio.
    The inclusion of this sentence in his bio makes it very
    hard for Dr Schmidt to claim that he is speaking in a
    private capacity should any hard questions be put to him.
    Susann in #87 take note.

    A random thought,

    I would start getting screenshots or other archival
    evidence of slabs of Real-Climate where government
    employees denigrate their colleagues and violate the
    rules that bind their public utterances. This does not
    affect people that work at Universities.

    I do not visit real-climate, but if some of the selected
    quotes here are any guide, the RC bloggers there have
    probably used the blog to make derogatory insults about any
    number of people. These people might be very interested
    in the point raised in this thread and taking the matter
    further.

    Second, there are many organizations in the USA that
    are very interested in the issues that affect the
    interface between the public and private behaviour of
    civil servants. I think they might be interested, and
    they have the capacity and knowledge to apply the
    pressure where it have the most impact.

    With respect to the data quality act, I think “good
    intentions” will not help. The defence, “well, I thought
    I was right at the time”, is not tenable. You are in
    violation and its goodnight. This is only a surmise,
    and someone else make be able to give a more expert
    opinion. In certain circunmstances, believing you
    are correct is a defence, is it a defence against
    the data quality act?

  91. Dennis Wingo
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    Dr. Schmidt is a NASA contractor and is bound by rules that govern contractors, which are pretty close to the same as for NASA employees, if any data that they are disseminating was paid for by a NASA contract/grant. Here is a link to those guidlines for publication of data.

    http://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/displayDir.cfm?Internal_ID=N_PR_2200_002B_&page_name=Chapter5

    There are several chapters worth of stuff here. You should be able to file a FOIA related to the contracts that his organization operates under to get the incorporated FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) requirements.

  92. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    #91. I don’t think that he is a “contractor”; I thought that he was an employee.

  93. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

    BTW if one browses back through the posting times of Gavin’s posts (and those of other realclimate authors), many of his posts (though not all) have been made between 9 am and 5 pm – odd timing for posts supposedly prepared during Gavin’s “spare time”.

  94. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:00 AM | Permalink

    Google “Arthur Smith climate”, and get this. One then understands the anguished and accusatory hand wringing over an audit of Gavin Schmidt’s convolution of self with NASA.

  95. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:02 AM | Permalink

    Re: #93

    This is getting better and better!

    Dr Schmidt identifies himself as a climate modeller at NASA GISS
    at RC.

    Dr Schmidt makes many contributions to RC during normal business
    hours.

    Yet it is all private activity.

  96. DR
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:28 AM | Permalink

    If I recall, one reason Dr. Roy Spencer left NASA is because he was bound by it’s internal policies to keep his personal opinions apart from his job. That is what honorable individuals do.

  97. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:09 AM | Permalink

    Re: Sussan #89 and #54

    “I resist any attempts to restrict what civil servants can do in their free
    time, but I admit that this whole issue is quite tricky.”

    Yep, the whole issue of the public/private interface is quite tricky.
    I work at a university, (I am a physicist) and there is one restriction
    on my outside activities. I am allowed to drive cabs, work in a
    video store, flog muffins in the street, but I am not allowed to
    take other employment as a physicist without clearing with it with
    my employer. The minute my outside activity is physics, the line
    between public and private is blurred.

    So when it comes to civil servants acting publicly, one issue is
    whether the topic is one that would directly relate to their
    duties as a civil servant. As a rule, public activity in this
    area is proscribed and in my opinion it should be proscribed.
    If government funded civil service climate scientists wish to
    lobby of behalf of gun control, abolish the death penalty,
    plant more trees, etc, no-one has a problem unless they do it
    during working hours. But the minute the activity becomes
    climate science, then there are many potentials problems.

    Here is an example,
    (1) Paper is reviewed at RC.
    (2) Paper gets really slagged.
    (3) Author of paper applies for NSF grant.
    (4) Reviewer remembers RC slagging, gives proposal low marks.
    No grant.
    (5) Now here is an important point, the slagging
    at RC is done by someone who is a NASA staff scientist
    so its gets taken quite seriously. But the RC commentary
    by the commentators is completely unmoderated and it
    might be a case of shooting from the hip (e.g. the paper
    might not have necessarily deserved the slagging).

    Because of the position that civil servant scientists hold,
    and the prestige and privilege that goes with those positions,
    there is an incumbent responsibility to be careful with their
    public pronouncements. When the civil service scientist
    identifies him(her)self as such, any statements are generally
    given greater credibility. Ergo the vetting and the rules that
    bind their public activities outsde their civil service duties.

    There is also the matter of keeping the civil servants as
    servants of the public and not masters of the public.
    But I will leave that matter to those who can articulate
    this issues better than I can.

  98. Wm. L. Hyde
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:40 AM | Permalink

    Eric McFarland….Sheesh! Are you ever behind! Better get caught up on your readin’. You’ve got a long way to go.
    Cheers….theoldhogger

  99. Andrew H
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    From NASA’s Q @ A section

    Q What can we do about global warming?
    It is not NASA’s mission to develop strategies or public policies for , but rather, to provide the scientific information that decision makers need to understand global warming and to assess the impact of strategies to mitigate it. Science tells us that to control global warming, we must reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Controlling emissions is a large, complex, and potentially expensive problem that no single strategy will solve. On the other hand, the costs of uncontrolled global warming will probably also be significant. Putting existing scientific and technological strategies into place and developing new ones can stimulate the economy, and will also generate significant near-term benefits in public health through air pollution reduction.

    [snip - policy]

  100. UK John
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:20 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Can you, or is there, a “delete” function for our own comments, as on reflection I often think “Twat” when reading my own efforts. Or is this site just like life, you have to live with your failings!

    Steve: try asking for a delete in a subsequent comment.

  101. Max
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    Andrew H, I noticed that Jet propulsion and space shuttles is left off the list of emitters and as a place where efficiency and cut backs could take place. Nimby.
    I suppose now that RC has become such a place of moral high ground when it comes to climate change, if the conflicted posters that work at Nasa, discovered something that pointed to a reduced role of A in AGW, would they publish it, since it would kinda the soapbox from under the feet of RC, and many of its supporters.. Or do you pull a it was just bad intelligence ripcord?

  102. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    Ankle surgery today. Arrgghhh. Can’t get comfortable; can’t sleep, and I’m the every 10th person that Vicodin keeps awake(in case anyone should wonder why I’m blogging at this ungodly hour).

    There is nothing immoral, illegal or even improper about it. He has not been fired. nuff said.

    Huh?! Do I understand this correctly? Do you really mean that since he hasn’t been fired, he has therefore done nothing improper, etc? Please tell us you didn’t mean it that way.

    Susann – I too once shared your naive belief in the inherent skepticism of scientists. The AGW debacle has purged me of this silliness, especially when it comes to Climate Science. I have several scientist friends and a scientist brother, and it is disheartening, to say the least, to see how willing some of them are to accept Argument from Scientific Authority. Earth scientists in particular seem prone to religionism & missionary zeal; macro-biologists can be downright insufferable. Keep reading; in time, you too will see the truth of CA’s informal slogan, “But hey, it’s just Climate Science.”

    But onward to topic: I read the NASA guides linked here, and I re-read the bio’s over at RC, and I don’t see how anyone could not find the NASA/RC relationship stinkingly incestuous. Not only does NASA flout its own guidelines, I bet it’s flouting several Federal regulations as well. How the agency that was set up strictly to get payloads off the planet morphed into the Church of Climatology is another can of worms, but someone, some day, needs to aim a searchlight at it (but hey, it’s NASA (and anyone who questions my cynicism should (re)read Mr. Feynman Goes To Washington)).

    #85 eric mcfarland: You’re funny. Now run along and play.

  103. bender
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

    #85 eric mcfarland
    Can you cite one independent replication of the hockey stick?

    [Hint: It's a trick question. There are none that are mathematically "independent". All rely on one of the California bristlecone pine series. This is why Craig Loehle published his reconstruction excluding all the tree-ring proxies. And although his result is not completely "independent" of Moberg et al (2005) (they share many series, look fairly similar in many ways), it is independent enough that it demonstrates a warmer MWP than today's temperature.]

  104. kim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 5:48 AM | Permalink

    Eric’s line at #85 is exactly the same story I hear from otherwise bright people at non climate blogs; it is a peculiarly local phenomenon to believe the Piltdown Mann has been exposed. Young minds are directing their bright eyes at that Crook’t Stick on the silver screen, as we speak.
    ========================================

  105. bender
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    #104 Intelligence and experience are orthogonal. Many intelligent people have still not been exposed to the true facts.

    The broken hockey stick is a very important point that needs to be understood by all – even though it is far OT for this thread. To summarize: there is zero probability that we can say with confidence that current temperatures exceed those of the (some would say non-existent) MWP. The word “unprecedented” gets thrown around a lot by uncertainty denialists – people without proper statistical training.

    Let me know if and when Gavin Schmidt or Raymond Pierrehumbert ever argue (as individuals) otherwise. My bet is they’re smarter and wiser than that. (Why they allow -mike to set RC party policy is beyond me.)

  106. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    If you want to challenge NASA there is a procedure for doing so. Write me and I will help.

    RBB

  107. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    #76 Steve Mo, that’s a very good question. (Wouldn’t touch it with a 10ft pole? RC is the canary for their coal mine?) this is interesting.

    104 & 105, bender and kim,
    folks I’ve talked to think the Hockey Stick measures temp rise from “pollution”. We are polluting the earth so they can’t understand why anyone would disagree and not want to do something about that. (which is understandable)

  108. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

    >> I don’t think Gunnar really gets it. Governments typically have rules about these things that are aimed at protecting the tax payer.

    Don’t project your country’s typical rules onto the US.

    >> employees shall not use public office for private gain

    The point is that it’s not private gain. NASA goals are aided by RC. It’s naive to think otherwise.

    >> but the system by which NASA’s website uses product from its own employees supposedly produced in a “personal capacity”.

    Steve M, there is nothing wrong with this. Supervisors can even authorize him to work on this web site during work hours.

    >> Huh?! Do I understand this correctly? Do you really mean that since he hasn’t been fired, he has therefore done nothing improper, etc? Please tell us you didn’t mean it that way.

    That’s exactly right. All of this is based on department policy, which is at the discretion of the immediate supervisors.

    Steve: Gunnar, you’re wrong here. Mosher sent the following link
    http://nasapeople.nasa.gov/references/NDG03_TableofPenalties.pdf which precludes the following:

    16. Requiring/allowing subordinates to perform non-official work.

    If realclimate is done in a “personal capacity”, then Hansen cannot allow Schmidt to work on it during business hours.

  109. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    As we reflect on these policies, try looking at Gavin’s role in the Hansen-1934 affair and try to figure out whether the line between NASA employee and “personal capacity” an be drawn. Gavin’s post at RC on 1934 was widely relied on by the media (google schmidt hansen 1934). Gavin, identified as a NASA climate modeler, was quoted all over the place.

    In the post, dated Aug 10, 2007 at 5:33 pm (was any of this done during business hours?), Gavin says:

    Another week, another ado over nothing.

    Last Saturday, Steve McIntyre wrote an email to NASA GISS pointing out that for some North American stations in the GISTEMP analysis, there was an odd jump in going from 1999 to 2000. On Monday, the people who work on the temperature analysis (not me), looked into it and found that this coincided with the switch between two sources of US temperature data. There had been a faulty assumption that these two sources matched, but that turned out not to be the case. There were in fact a number of small offsets (of both sign) between the same stations in the two different data sets. The obvious fix was to make an adjustment based on a period of overlap so that these offsets disappear.

    This was duly done by Tuesday, an email thanking McIntyre was sent and the data analysis (which had been due in any case for the processing of the July numbers) was updated accordingly along with an acknowledgment to McIntyre and update of the methodology.

    As I’ve observed elsewhere, my original post contained an accurate diagnosis of the problem, although Gavin here and elsewhere has purported to deny me even this modest credit by saying that NASA, rather than myself, ultimately diagnosed the problem.

    My point here is different: in this account, Gavin is talking about internal NASA events and timelines based on the knowledge that he has a NASA employee working for Hansen.

    Gavin was front and center as a NASA spokesman on 1934. Hansen was undoubtedly happy to use realclimate as an “off-balance sheet” way of putting their spin on things.

  110. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    Gunner

    If the supervisor authorizes an employee on government time
    to do stuff on RC that violates federal regulations, then
    its the supervisor who will have to take responsibility.
    And of course, someone will ask the question, maybe the
    NASA budget has a bit of flab if employees can spend
    parts of their working day on private matters.

    The buck will have to stop with someone and supervisors
    cannot disregard federal regulations on their own authority.
    I suspect those higher up the administrative chain of
    command will disavow all responsibilty anything unpleasant
    looks like happening.

  111. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    SM #110

    Was there ever an official response from NASA, or was
    the sole response the RC outlet?

    And one assumes that RC taken by the media as the
    official NASA response?

    The line between RC/NASA is getting increasingly fudged.

  112. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    92, my understanding is that he (and Gavin) are at the Goddard center at Columbia University in NYC. The most logical way for that to be set up is for he and Gavin to be in the employ of Columbia, and Columbia, in turn, contracts with NASA. But I can’t verify that. If that’s the case, it’s unlikely that the same Columbia University that hosted Ahmedinijad would discipline either of them, but NASA could find the University in violation of contract.

  113. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    105,

    Why they allow -mike to set RC party policy is beyond me.

    My understanding is that MM was the mover and shaker in getting the site established in the first place, and the ops came along later. Gavin doesn’t own the site, EMS does. As long as EMS stays loyal to MM, he’ll be calling the shots there.

  114. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    #112

    “The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), at Columbia University in New York City, is a laboratory of the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute. Research at GISS emphasizes a broad study of global climate change.”

  115. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    BTW if one browses back through the posting times of Gavin’s posts (and those of other realclimate authors), many of his posts (though not all) have been made between 9 am and 5 pm – odd timing for posts supposedly prepared during Gavin’s “spare time”

    sorry Steve, but this is getting disgusting.

    is this attempt to silence real climate and damage Gavin’s career part of the “climateaudit” process?

    wouldn t it be the SINGLE logical way, to discuss this privately with him, if you have some objections to what he is doing?

  116. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    114, does that shine any light on their employment status? I would thing that they would have to be Columbia professors and NASA contractors second.

  117. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    Also

    “GISS works cooperatively with area universities and research organizations, most especially with Columbia University. Close to half of our personnel are members of Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) and we also work with researchers at Columbia’s Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.”

    My guess is GISS has some affiliation with the University, but most
    of the staff are federal employees.

  118. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    115, “silencing” has nothing to fo with it. It’s about making them do it on their time, as they claim that they’re doing. There’s no NASA mandate to support RC.

    The only thing that’s disgusting is your attitude.

  119. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    >> Requiring/allowing subordinates to perform non-official work.

    And who decides what is non-official? The supervisors. If these 2 have the approval and support of their supervisors, who exactly is going to say different?

    >> Hansen cannot allow Schmidt to work on it during business hours

    Obviously, he can. The table you linked to is just an internal document that they can use at their discretion to discipline and/or fire people. It’s purpose is to prevent lawsuits. In this case, there is no evidence that they want to fire anyone for any of this. This document does not provide an outsider with any leverage.

    This whole line of thought is a dead end. As the griffin incident shows, even the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, has no apparent political leverage over this.

    >> If the supervisor authorizes an employee on government time to do stuff on RC that violates federal regulations

    No federal regulations have been violated. However, we’re not talking about federal regulations. This is an internal deperatment guideline. They have complete discretion here folks, let’s move on.

  120. J.C.H.
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    The NASA policy allows its scientists to discuss their work, including in the form of web postings, with the press and the public. That is very plainly stated. I don’t see a violation. Griffin directed the creation of the policy. For it to violate the peer review policy, it would have to be NASA work that had not yet been peer reviewed.

    I don’t think there is a single thing here.

  121. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    sod is right. This appears to attacking the messenger, not the message.

  122. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    They have complete discretion here folks, let’s move on.

    Who died and made you dictator?

  123. Dean P
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    Re #93,

    Steve,

    That’s EXACTLY the point that must be hammered home. If he is moderating posts during his normal working hours, then he is either 1) misusing his time (defrauding the government”)or 2) making RC a “NASA webpage”.

    If it is the latter, then it must be upheld to the NASA webpage guidelines. Now, the problem is determining if this is truly what he is doing.

  124. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    or 3) following the direction of his supervisor

  125. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    Actually #115

    “Sorry Steve, but this is getting disgusting.”
    “is this attempt to silence real climate and damage Gavin’s career part of the “climateaudit” process?”

    Actually, the issue is that a government employee is
    making repetitive statements of the kind

    “On Yet Another False Claim by McIntyre and McKitrick”

    on government time with a byline that say, GISS NASA.
    This is simply not appropriate.
    A question, looks at comments made on RC by Dr Schmidt.
    Would you suppose they are trying to damage the reputation
    of SM? The few I have read are simply inappropriate.

  126. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    >> Would you suppose they are trying to damage the reputation of SM?

    What gave you the first clue?

  127. Boris
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    If you can’t publish any science, I guess you try to get somebody fired? This thread is illuminating in its pettiness and ill will.

    Happy New Year, BTW.

  128. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    Re #124

    The “following orders” defence did not work at Nuremberg
    and will not work here, because the supervisor is

    “misusing employee time” [snip] or
    2) making RC a “NASA webpage”.

    Do we really want a situation where

    FBI agents can name people they think are criminals on their
    provate web-sites.

    IRS officials have private web sites ruminating about Tax
    cheats.

    INS officials can run commentary sites on illegal immigration

    All done during office hours, while being paid by the
    governments, but being couched as the “private views”.

    I could go on with case after case.

  129. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    If the publishing is “private” isn’t a disclaimer required?

    i.e. “these are my personal views and do not represent those of my employer”

    If the NASA site was in fact “real science” wouldn’t they have to say something like “our view is xx but yy and zz are confounding results. We feel that yy and zz are in error because of qq and rr.

    Or dd has questioned the statistical methods in pp but Statistics Prof. ff at the Advanced Institute For Advancement Of Advanced Institutes shows that such methods are correct in cases ww which our data conforms to.

    Or in the case of “divergence”: we have a set of data from a number of tt proxies and that data diverges from the weather station data and we are unable to come to a robust conclusion as to the cause. This reduces our level of certainty for nn hypothesis from a previous guess of 90% to a current guess of 75%. The levels of certainty are not mathematical in nature, but are the best guesses by scientist aa, ll, kk, and jj averaged.

    Side note: I interrogated an AGW proponent on blog-radio and asked if his estimate of 90% certainty was mathematically derived. Nope, he said. Just professional judgment. Sadly only a hundred or so were on line and probably fewer than 1,000 will ever listen. I did get it on the record FWIW.

    Steve: There is a disclaimer deep within the RC site, but not obviously not attached to individual posts.

  130. John M
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    Being a fan of trite old adages, I think the proper way to view this is to consider that sunshine is a powerful disinfectant.

    The NASA/RC link is one that can be debated forever, but it’s worthwhile to have it as part of an active debate and for it to be put in context, especially when RC gets a bit huffy about individuals. I think it would be informative for the media to report on it and allow the general public to decide for itself whether RC is an unbiased source of scientific information or a policy advocacy site with an axe to grind.

    Another interesting adage that seems to be selectively applied includes the phrase “even the mere appearance of impropriety…”. It’s usually spoken with a pompous tone, but easily forgotten when it’s convenient to do so.

  131. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    130, voting officials running a website on how to cheat elections….

  132. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    Steve Mc said: “Hansen cannot allow Schmidt to work on it during business hours.”

    Gunnar replied:

    Obviously, he can. The table you linked to is just an internal document that they can use at their discretion to discipline and/or fire people. It’s purpose is to prevent lawsuits. In this case, there is no evidence that they want to fire anyone for any of this. This document does not provide an outsider with any leverage.

    Analogy: you and I witness a murder. I say, “He can’t do that!” You say, “Yes he can. He just did.”

    There are laws and regulations that govern behavior in bureaucracies. The question is whether Schmidt or Hansen should be held accountable when they use their position (and taxpayer money) to disseminate their doctrinaire beliefs and launch attacks on those with whom they disagree.

  133. Mike Davis
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    This is an ETHICS issue.
    All large orginaizations have an ETHICS policy.
    IF employee is not adhearing to Ethics policy and supervisor is allowing or encourging tnen both are in VIOLATION.

  134. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    boris,

    What happens happens. However, my intent is not to get any one fired. I would prefer a clean up (follow the rules) and that all subsequent efforts follow the rules.

    It is up to the employer to decide how serious the infraction was. If not following the rules was part of the organizational culture I would be more lenient. The employer might not be so forgiving.

  135. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    So when you search NASA.gov or Earth Observatory.nasa.gov nothing for the 1934 error comes up at all.

    however, check this out, if you search Earth Observatory.nasa.org for Gavin, 2 pages of links come up of related articles. So I click on this one:
    link

    which starts off: Media Alerts Stories Archive (earthobservatory.nasa.gov)
    August 4, 2005
    CLIMATE CHANGE OVER THE LAST 2000 YEARS — WHAT DO WE (REALLY) KNOW?
    In a “warts and all” panel discussion, a group of influential scientists will battle out the myths and realities of what we really know about temperature records since the time of Christ.

    The so-called “hockey stick” curve by Michael Mann and others shows global temperature over the past millennium reconstructed from a variety of “proxy” records such as tree rings, ice core samples and corals…
    yadda yadda..

    at the end it lists the panel which includes:
    Mike Mann (Pennsylvania State University, USA) can be called the father of the “hockey stick”. His reconstructions and complementary modeling of the Earth’s temperature evolution over the last millennium provided the context for the view that the recent decades’ climate change was exceptional and man-made.

    Gavin Schmidt (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York) is a leading modeler of modern as well as past climate change. He is also very active in disseminating the scientific climate change debate to the public, e.g. via the realclimate.org web blog.

    And THEN at the end of this it says: text derived from http://www.pages-igbp.org/ which is located in Switzerland and called “PAGES (Past Global Changes) which supports research aimed at understanding the Earth’s past environment in order to make predictions for the future. We encourage international and interdisciplinary collaborations and seek to involve scientists from developing countries in the worldwide paleo-community. ”

    What the heck?

  136. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    Just thinking out loud, suppose that Gavin had posted an account of the 1934 events that was critical of Hansen and contained details known only to insiders. Would Hansen have been content with Schmidt saying that he did so in his “personal capacity”? Of course not. There’s an obvious bias for underlings to flatter supervisors.

    #119. Gunnar, I don’t expect anyone at NASA to do anything. It’s a convenient system for them. Gavin can defend Hansen in his “personal capacity”; Hansen as his supervisor appreciates Gavin’s enthusiastic defence and lets Gavin spend part of his employment time doing so. Everyone at GISS is happy.

    In Gavin’s case, he’s obviously a very able and very bright person and an effective spokesman for NASA. I can’t imagine that NASA/GISS does not appreciate his work at realclimate. But do Americans want a system where federal employees can discuss work-related matters on blogs in their “personal capacity”? Gavin is setting a precedent here. If Gavin can do this, why can’t all federal employees?

    I suppose that what annoyed me enough to examine what obligations Gavin may or may not have as a NASA employee was his censorship of responses to allegations made at realclimate, e.g. their refusal to post my rebuttal to Eli Rabett’s defamatory comments. If Gavin ran his blog in a more evenhanded manner, it would probably not have attracted my attention. I can’t imagine that NASA as an institution could allow allegations like that to be made without affording me the opportunity to respond and that;s why I’m exploring NASA policies.

  137. Mike M.
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

    Arthur Smith, is this your first time commenting here? If so, thank you for taking my advice and visiting. Please peruse the archives. You will see that Steve and his commenters deserve the Best Science Blog accolade. (Stay long enough and you might begin to change your mind!)

  138. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    Re: #138

    If Gavin does unpaid work for a organization that
    has certain rules that require he take a partisan
    position about a specific policy related to his
    empoyment, then as a government employee he should
    have nothing to do with that organization due to
    conflict of interest. He is totally compromised.

  139. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    An obvious poser

    What do you think would happen if a NASA GISS
    scientist had a blog on an website, paid for
    by EXXON, in which it was claimed that the
    AGW argument really did not hold up and the
    people who were advocating the A in GW were
    a bunch of incompetent clowns?

    I wonder in the “private” view argument would hold water.

  140. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    [snip - Gunnar, we're talking policy here not politics or realpolitik. All of us know that institutions can disregard policies, but let's discuss the letter of the policies. That's a large enough issue for this thread.]

  141. Phil.
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Re #135

    So when you search NASA.gov or Earth Observatory.nasa.gov nothing for the 1934 error comes up at all.

    Perhaps you didn’t look in right place?

    The U.S. annual (January-December) mean temperature is slightly warmer in 1934 than in 1998 in the
    GISS analysis (Plate 6). This contrasts with the USHCN data, which has 1998 as the warmest year in the century.
    In both cases the difference between 1934 and 1998 mean temperatures is a few hundredths of a degree. The main
    reason that 1998 is relatively cooler in the GISS analysis is its larger adjustment for urban warming. In comparing
    temperatures of years separated by 60 or 70 years the uncertainties in various adjustments (urban warming, station
    history adjustments, etc.) lead to an uncertainty of at least 0.1°C. Thus it is not possible to declare a record U.S.
    temperature with confidence until a result is obtained that exceeds the temperature of 1934 by more than 0.1°C.

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2001/2001_Hansen_etal.pdf

  142. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    Jim, #139:

    What do you think would happen if a NASA GISS
    scientist had a blog on an website, paid for
    by EXXON, in which it was claimed that the
    AGW argument really did not hold up and the
    people who were advocating the A in GW were
    a bunch of incompetent clowns?

    Something like what DR describes in #96, but uglier? :)

    I’ve been saying for some time that Hansen should, if he really believes in what he is doing, leave his government paid job and dedicate his life to his crusade. He could probably make significantly more money from speaking engagements, and he won’t be accused of using his position to promote what are clearly policy positions. As DR notes, it’s the “honorable” thing to do.

    Spencer did it. Why not Hansen?

  143. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    As this thread evolves I wish to make another point.

    One of the reasons for preventing publicly paid officials
    from being able to comment willy-nilly on public policy
    directly related to their employment is actually to
    protect the employees. Not everyone is sufficiently
    adept to make public commentary for an extended period
    without putting their foot in it. When a public official
    does transgress, then life can become quite uncomfortable.
    Making statements on partisan issues must be done very, very
    carefully, because the Taxpayers who disagree with your
    position will wonder why they should be paying your salary.

    And the other issue is cherry-picking. When engaged in
    public policy debate, partisan positions are often presented.
    To be effective in this arena often requires one to be
    selective in the information that is presented. Information
    that is true, but does not reinforce the position being
    advocated is simply not presented. This is directly
    contrary to the behavior we expect from civil servants
    and it represents a truly awful precdent.

    Actually, it would not set a precdent. The present expectation
    that civil servants will be neutral is probably due to partisan
    excesses in the past.

  144. Arthur Smith
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    Mike M (#137) – yes, I came here a few days ago at your suggestion from the “dotearth” discussion. By the way, “dotearth” has not made public the last 3 comments I’ve tried to post in response to some of your and some other peoples’ comments, I don’t know what’s up with that.

    Pat Frank (#94) – you found my Amazon book reviews page, great! I used to get paid for some of those reviews, but it’s been a while (economic downturn and all that). Feel free to start up a wikipedia page on me if you like, I’ll send you my resume :-)

    I’ve had long email/discussion board debates with many “skeptics” in the past who claimed to be well-informed. It’s very frustating when I do several hours worth of research (the IPCC reports help speed that up a lot now though) that completely demolishes whatever line they’re spouting, and then they don’t even acknowledge their old argument in tatters but come back with some new equally false claim. But almost uniformly it’s been the “skeptics” who give up and say we “have to agree to disagree”, usually once they’ve fallen back on their vast conspiracy theories about the climate science establishment. I certainly hope that’s not the default position here.

  145. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    This is not govt policy. NASA internal guidelines are their own affair. See, you snipped that post, which is your right. Why do you expect them not to exercise the same right?

    Because this is a private blog, and they are a public agency. It’s the difference between Steve buying donuts with his own money, and Officer Wigham buying donuts out of the department budget.

  146. Mike M.
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

    Arthur: I think you can chalk up our missing comments to New York Times incompetence! And I had a nice long one about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation vanish, too. Oh, well, stick around!

  147. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    Larry, your analogy is incorrect, since your premise is that the activity is personal and does not support the goals of the superiors. It does.

    If I volunteered to do some extra work for my employer in my free time, they would be glad that I did.

  148. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    #142 Phil, wasn’t looking for a pdf or publication. Looking for an announcement or some article on the sites I mentioned. Apples/oranges not the point. regular joe’s do not know to search publication hubs, and if they don’t know what the 1934 error meant, and why would they? Gavin said in press “no big deal”

  149. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    It is up to the employer to decide how serious the infraction was. If not following the rules was part of the organizational culture I would be more lenient. The employer might not be so forgiving.

    Well I wouldn’t be lenient at all. It’s a Federal agency, working in part on my nickle, and I expect them to abide by the rules – their internal rules, and whatever more general Federal regs are appropriate. And no, Virginia, I and others here are not so naive – as Das RealPolitik Gunnar seems to believe – as to think that NASA or any other gov’t agency will abide by their own policies w/out some oversight; which is why it is absolutely essential for Steve and others to keep up the light and pressure. That is the way Democracies are supposed to work.

    Gunnar – please inform us what inside track you’re on that allows you state with such confidence which rules are rules, and which are merely internal guidelines, to be enforced or not at the whim of a supervisor or Director.

    As for me, I’ve just memo’d my Congress Critters with a short summary and link to this thread, asking what they intend to do about it.

    Bore-us, the Steve Bloom sock puppet, misses the point by a mile, as always.

  150. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Susann, when you say the following:

    Sometimes I am amazed at how willing people – even libertarians – are to muzzle government employees but who rail against any restrictions on their own rights to free speech. Restricting a governmnet employee’s right to be politically active, etc. is a limit on free speech. While that goes against my natural grain, for the most part, I grudgingly accet polices that restrict the political activities of employees.

    I think that you have to be aware of contractual agreements any employee might need to make as a precondition for employment — be it government or private. In this case the taxpayers (employers??) have evidently through their legislators decided that they want to restrict what those employees can involve themselves in. These types of agreements are not considered a restriction of speech by most libertarians with whom I am familiar. In fact they are examples of the freedoms of individuals to contract.

    By the way, what Steve M has evidenced here is that agreements, as far as government employees are concerned, can be ignored or got around rather easily and without consequence. Unfortunately the enforcement can be arbitrarily applied depending on the consensus views.

    The point is not what anybody will do about these occurrences, as that is most probably nothing, but rather that we have a Wegman described network operating here and understanding that helps understand the information (right or wrong) that comes out these networks.

    I would judge that the situation discussed here is an example of a more general problem and an inherent weakness of government involvement in these issues and, therefore, none of these manifestations are particularly surprising to me.

  151. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    It is very illuminating to read this thread. My first response is that many people do not appear to understand the difference between legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines. Where I live and work, each has a different legal weight and different consequences for violation, in descending order. Violating legislation has the most significant consequence and thus only matters of real consequence come under legislation. Legislation implies a higher degree of legal liabilities and thus you only put in legislation that which you are willing to inspect and enforce. Guidelines are just that — lines used to guide – not determine – behavior. They are not laws. Violation of policies and guidelines tend to be met by a simple reminder of the policy or guideline rather than any more serious consequence. Repeated violation of the policy or guideline may result in more serious consequences — or a more lenient policy. It depends on the importance of the policy and guideline to the organization’s goals.

    Steve McIntyre, I understand your impatience with the way you and your work have been treated at RC and elsewhere. NASA seems to have covered its derriere by a few disclaimers about data requirements not applying to webpages linked to on NASA websites. It appears that RC is legit and need not follow NASA guidelines for data quality/dissemination. By making that statement about links on NASA webpages, I think RC is exempt but perhaps a lawyerly type could advise you on this. I don’t know the policies and guidelines for “contractors” to NASA and their expectations. As a one-time contractor to a non-profit organization, my time was my own and legally, there were no constraints on my hours. Hence I could work at my contractor position at midnight or at noon if I choose. I don’t know if this applies to Gavin Schmidt’s work for NASA but before people start getting all hot and bothered about when Gavin does what, I would seek to clarify that. If he is attached to Columbia and contracts to NASA, then he may be primarily an academic. Academics don’t really have set hours in the way that a private corporation or non-profit organization does. You teach, do your office hours, attend department meetings, and depending on your department head, you can go home to your office and read the newspaper the rest of the day if you so desire.

    My advice FWIW: take the high road. Keep this blog free of personal machinations. It’s ugly here and its ugly there.

  152. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Gunnar #147

    “And before I hear any more trite comments about “it’s the people’s web site”,
    this is the same government that considers our tax dollars theirs by right.”

    There was a sociologist by the name of Michels who did studies on
    organization behaviour. The conclusion was organizations behaves in
    a way to benefit its own members. The most extreme examples nowadays
    are the Vampire States in Africa.

    Now governments by their nature are extremely powerful. If you
    don’t give them 30-50% of your salary they put you in gaol! Walmart
    on the other hand actually have to persuade you to purchase your
    next TV from their store. So what does this mean to the current
    situation. In order to reduce the influence of government agencies,
    restrictions have been placed on the public utterences of its
    members. Undoubtedly, especially in the USA, there are partisan
    aspects to the arms of the government, but regulations constraining
    public policy advocacy help diminish their influence. This helps
    prevent them putting policies in place that may run counter
    to the general interests of the citizenry.

    The activities of GISS scientists at RC is undoubtedly beneficial
    to GISS. After all, promotion of the climate disaster does help
    keep the funding coming. This the “real-politik” analysis.
    But are the activities of GISS/RC in running a partisan
    website beneficial to the general public?

    One of the greatest problems in public governance is how
    to keep the public service under control (in certain parts
    of the western world we have been successful). So the wise
    citizenry who enacted regulations about the pronouncements
    of public servants really knew what they were doing. The
    regulations may be ignored, but every now and then along
    will come a politician who might want to fry a government
    agency in committee to get votes.

    The issues being raised here go to the very heart of
    good government.

  153. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Susann – do you believe that Steve’s motive in this thread is in the way of “personal machinations?”

  154. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    In this case the taxpayers (employers??) have evidently through their legislators decided that they want to restrict what those employees can involve themselves in. These types of agreements are not considered a restriction of speech by most libertarians with whom I am familiar. In fact they are examples of the freedoms of individuals to contract.

    Correct for the most part, but it only goes so far, does’t it? Libertarians would not support the employer’s right to restrict an employee’s right to own a gun in the privacy of their own home or worship at a Church of their own choosing outside of work hours or vote in an election or for a candidate of their own choice. An employee has the right to enter into a contract that governs behavior during the work period but not after it, surely. A contract might include protection of company information that prevents the employee from discussing the company and its business with outsiders. There are limits on limits to free speech / personal liberties in the contractual relationship that even libertarians should agree to. The employer-employee contract does not invalidate the bill of rights / charter of rights (depending on which country you come from). Or so I would hope.

  155. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    154, red herring. Nobody’s saying that Gavin can’t own a gun. Btw, have you noticed the hours in which he’s active on the site?

  156. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    >> please inform us what inside track you’re on that allows you state with such confidence which rules are rules, and which are merely internal guidelines, to be enforced or not at the whim of a supervisor or Director

    Common sense says that there is no law of federal regulation that prevents what they are doing. No one has pointed out one.

    >> In this case the taxpayers (employers??) have evidently through their legislators decided that they want to restrict what those employees can involve themselves in.

    In case you missed it, the democrats control congress, so what these guys are doing is technically the will of the people. Besides, no laws have been passed 1) preventing linking to external sites or 2) educating the public or 3) expressing scientific opinions.

    >> but regulations constraining public policy advocacy help diminish their influence

    What regulations? Either you are talking about a different country or you’re living in a mythical world of your own making.

  157. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

    Susan,

    Try not following tax regulations implemented pursuant to legislation. You will not get the kid glove treatment.

  158. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    147, “free time”? Check the hours in which he’s active on the site. My question is, does he actually do anything else? Maybe he’s a NASA scientist in his spare time.

  159. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar:

    I’m kinda offended by people trying to criminalize or delegitimize partisan politics.

    What did you expect? It’s Climate Science.

    No one likes robust political debate more than me. To have an informed debate, however, politicians (and citizens) need objective facts. In the case of the debate on AGW, the facts need to be grounded in solid science. We are learning more every week that the science that underlies the AGW theory is problematic– that there is a paucity of verifiable fact and growing skepticism. Consequently, much of the political debate is premature because it cannot produce sound policy.

    If I volunteered to do some extra work for my employer in my free time, they would be glad that I did.

    The real employer here is the taxpayer, not NASA or Hansen, who are also employed by the taxpayer and overseen by the taxpayer’s representatives. Several taxpayers have objected to Gavin doing what is clearly political work during office hours. In other words, as employers, we the taxpayers are unhappy with the personal conduct of our employees.

    If you read the Hatch Act in its original form you will understand why there are proscriptions against career bureaucrats engaging in political activities while on the job. In short, it’s because it gives them advantages over citizens who are not employed in government.

  160. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    Common sense says that there is no law of federal regulation that prevents what they are doing.

    Oh.

  161. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    Susann – do you believe that Steve’s motive in this thread is in the way of “personal machinations?”

    I will not comment on Steve McIntyre’s motives. He can tell us what they are if he chooses. I only go on the actual content of the posts. As a participant on this website, I think the entire thread should be deleted because there are comments by participants that sink to the level of personal machination that sullies the site. As an academically-inclined person interested in the politics and history of this whole debate, the thread should probably be preserved as evidence. Regardless, it’s ugly.

  162. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Linking Policy and Disclaimer of Endorsement

    NASA links to many Web sites created and maintained by other public and/or private organizations. NASA provides links to these sites as a service to our users. The presence of a link is not a NASA endorsement of the site.

    When users follow a link to an outside Web site, they are leaving NASA and are subject to the privacy and security policies of the owners/sponsors of the outside Web site(s). NASA is not responsible for the information collection practices of non-NASA sites. http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/HP_Privacy.html

    Is going to Realclimate LEAVING NASA or not?
    I expect NASA to be able to answer that.

  163. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    154, red herring. Nobody’s saying that Gavin can’t own a gun. Btw, have you noticed the hours in which he’s active on the site?

    We are talking about restricting an employee’s right to free speech, which is comparable to restricting their other rights.

    As I said in my comment above, I would need to know the contract he entered into with NASA or Columbia before I could draw any conclusion regarding what would be considered his employment hours v his free time.

  164. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    Susan,

    You are conflating what the government can impose with what private parties can agree to.,,,
    As long as the contract is voluntary the latitude for private parties re: contract is a lot wider than what the government may impose on the general population.

  165. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    theduke, you should read it then: http://www.osc.gov/ha_fed.htm

    They can do what they are doing. Even the folks at the restricted agencies (which NASA is not) are able to express opinions about issues.

  166. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Try not following tax regulations implemented pursuant to legislation. You will not get the kid glove treatment.

    Regulations are almost as powerful legally as legislation, depending on how they are crafted. Policy and guidelines are usually a qualitative/quantitative step downward in terms of legal weight, inspection and enforcement.

  167. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    163, what does free speech have to do with any of this? He’s completely free to run RC or any other blog in his free time, and say whatever he wants, as long as it’s not privileged information, or otherwise actionable content. Nobody is censoring anyone. That’s a complete, unmitigated, and frankly disingenuous red herring. The issue here is abusing his position at NASA to promote his personal activities.

  168. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar says:

    They can do what they are doing. Even the folks at the restricted agencies (which NASA is not) are able to express opinions about issues.

    No disagreement with that statement.

    The question at hand is if it is allowable to do so on the government dime.

    It is my understanding that even those elected (politicians) are limited in what they can do on the government dime. For mere employees the restrictions are narrower.

  169. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

    The issue here is abusing his position at NASA to promote his personal activities.

    How so? I don’t understand. NASA is linking to his website. It would seem that there is already some level of approval in place towards RC.

    You are making claims but offer no evidence to back them up. Show me how he is abusing his position at NASA before you make that claim. What are the terms of his employment contract? What are his normal work hours? Do you have that evidence or are you just making unsubstantiated claims?

  170. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Susann,

    I only go on the actual content of the posts. As a participant on this website, I think the entire thread should be deleted because there are comments by participants that sink to the level of personal machination that sullies the site.

    I choose to believe that you have a different understanding of “machination” than I, since you don’t strike me as evasive. My understanding of machination is “devious activities directed to some purpose.” Steve is the only person who can do that, since it’s his blog and he started the thread. Perhaps you meant “smear,” “insult,” etc.

    I agree there is some ugliness here, but the issues are real and fundemental, in that they apply to governance in general, and not just AGW; so I cannot agree that the thread should be deleted (or preserved as a momento mori). Quite the opposite – it should be disseminated beyond CA, which is why I alerted my Congress Critters.

  171. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    >> The issue here is abusing his position at NASA to promote his personal activities.

    Except it’s the opposite. He is using his personal resources to help the goal of his NASA department.

  172. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    >> The question at hand is if it is allowable to do so on the government dime.

    That’s not a legal issue or even a public issue. That’s between him and his supervisor. See #172.

  173. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    It would seem that there is just a difference of opinion about all this. Is that allowed Susann? Gunnar? Holy cow.

  174. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    Susan,

    It is quite simple. Don’t go to work for an entity whose policies you don’t agree with.

    I have turned down big bucks in order to retain my integrity. Certainly with your principles such behavior should be no problem.

  175. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    It is quite simple. Don’t go to work for an entity whose policies you don’t agree with.

    I have turned down big bucks in order to retain my integrity. Certainly with your principles such behavior should be no problem.

    Oversimplification. Human rights cannot / should not be violated by virtue of an employment contract. If you think so, then, well, I am truly at a loss for words.

  176. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    WTF does human rights have to do with any of this???

  177. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    I choose to believe that you have a different understanding of “machination” than I, since you don’t strike me as evasive. My understanding of machination is “devious activities directed to some purpose.” Steve is the only person who can do that, since it’s his blog and he started the thread. Perhaps you meant “smear,” “insult,” etc.

    “Machination” can mean the act of plotting for some outcome. In this case, plotting to negatively affect a person’s career. I note that several people have already done so and have expressed that intention to do so. Like I say, ugly. If I saw it being done to Steve McIntyre, I’d say the same thing.

  178. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    #136 — Steve M. wrote: “In Gavin’s case, he’s obviously a very able and very bright person…

    If that’s true, then he knows for a fact that General Circulation Models have no skill at predicting global or regional climate; not even to one year on.

    He knows for a fact that the Hockey Stick proxy for paleotemperatures was (most charitably) naive at first, and [snip]

    If he follows surface temperature he knows that Anthony Watts’ volunteer network has demonstrated that USHCN temperatures cannot have an uncertainty of less than plus or minus 2 Celsius, and that the uncertainty in the global surface temperature record must be at least twice that.
    snip

  179. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Susann, see my 162. The lines are blurred. I want to know why. ok?
    Yours, Gavin’s, anybody’s rights end where my rights begin.

    The whole reason ClimateAudit was created was “it was being done to SteveM”

  180. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    WTF does human rights have to do with any of this???

    It’s a digression from the topic at hand, but we were discussing how / whether employer/employee contracts can limit personal freedoms and what libertarians might or might not think about such a thing. I mentioned above that I find the political restrictions on civil servants to be grating but understandable give the need to prevent undue influence/undermining of government policies, etc. I made an off-hand reference to libertarians. One thing led to another, and we went off on a tangent as these kinds of discussions usually go.

  181. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    Susan,

    When I was in the US Navy there were certain things I couldn’t talk about. In fact the rules were so restrictive that I was not even allowed to divulge the subjects that were OT. I still live by those oaths.

    Is my free speech being limited? No. Because the education in the relevant subjects was conditioned on my willingness to be silent except at appropriate times and places. In fact I still operate on the assumption that my oath was valid even though there is no one watching.

    You call it a violation of human rights. I call it keeping my word.

  182. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    Except it’s the opposite. He is using his personal resources to help the goal of his NASA department.

    Pure supposition. As Susann has noted in a different context, no one here appears to know what the conditions of his employment are – whether or not he’s “blogging on the clock” or working on behalf of the company on his own time. But GISS is publicly funded, at least to some degree, so records should be available?

    That’s not a legal issue or even a public issue. That’s between him and his supervisor. See #172.

    Again, how do you know this? And please, spare us the “common sense” response. This is a skeptical blog; I doubt anyone here has any illusions as to the commoness of commen sense. There well may be rules that allow government supervisors the latitude you claim, but my position as a taxpayer is still that anything done on the public dime is the public’s business. Per-i-od.

    BTW, while my memory is obviously not as keen as Gunnar’s, I do seem to recall reading a few hours ago in those NASA guidelines some very specific infractions, with very specific penalties for commission of them. When an organization gets that picky with its guidelines, it’s usually done to limit the discretion of managers and supervisors (and to protect underlings from managerial capriciousness).

  183. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    Lest I get further gummed up in Gunnar’s tarbaby, this will be my final post on this subject.

    Gunnar, what you seem to be saying is that politics and political power are and should be the final arbiter on what is to be stated as scientifically true. Your admiration for the founders notwithstanding, that is a dangerous belief. Every amendment in the Bill of Rights is a “thou shalt not” directed at the government.

    The purpose of this blog (imo)is to caution governments and people that the science governments are now embracing with alacrity might not be correct and might even be purposefully misleading. You seem to be saying we are wrong for doing that, or that we should just let government officials go their merry way without oversite.

    Schmidt and Hansen were hired by the government to practice good science. When they venture beyond that and insult those who question their methods and findings, they are exceeding their mandate, and particularly if they do it on government time.

  184. Dennis Wingo
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    Steve

    #92

    The Goddard Institute, just like John Christy’s Center for Global Hydrology associated with NASA MSFC is a FFRDC (Federally Funded Research & Development Center). This was a dodge done by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin in the 1990’s whereby he was able to get more people off the civil service payroll to make Al Gore look good for his reducing the size of government program. If you look at their site, they are funded through a contract with Columbia University/Goddard Space Flight CENTER (GSFC). I would bet that if you traced things back that Gavin, nor Hansen are badged U.S. government civil servants. I may be wrong but this looks just like how the Center for Global Hydrology is set up. They carry the NASA name Just like NASA JPL does but JPL is also an FFRDC funded through The Caltech.

    What this does is create this bastardized system where the FFRDC can play games with how the do contracts, relying on federal government procurement rules when it suites them and State of New York when it suites them. If you see Gavin’s badge it may even have a NASA symbol on it but I would wager that his retirement is through the state of New York University system not NASA civil service.

    That being said…..

    BTW if one browses back through the posting times of Gavin’s posts (and those of other realclimate authors), many of his posts (though not all) have been made between 9 am and 5 pm – odd timing for posts supposedly prepared during Gavin’s “spare time”.

    THIS is another issue. Government employees (or contractors) who post things on websites that are derogatory to private individuals or businesses are liable for sanction. I had a similar incident where a contractor at NASA KSC was bashing his former company on Yahoo financial websites, causing material damage to the stock price of a public company. He was warned to stop it and if he had done it after the warning, could have been fired as he was using his time on a government charge code, to do outside work. This is not allowed, ESPECIALLY if Realclimate receives ANY funding from outside entities. To do outside work during government business hours is a really big no no. There was a group at NASA MSFC in the 1990’s that were using the Space Sciences Laboratory as their business incubator, using government phones, computers, and internet service as a means to foster their outside interests. Many of them were quietly given the opportunity to pursue their business careers outside of NASA.

    All that has to be done there is to record the times of the posts, the content of the posts, and then make a complaint to the Inspector General’s office.

  185. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    Now my question is. What code does xx put on his time sheet when he is doing work at his personal blog? Is the code valid for that work? If so. Fine. If not according to government rules he is cheating his employer and the punishments are severe. As they should be.

    Even in the private sector that is true. I once got paid for six months at a large aerospace firm to surf the net 8 hours a day. No restrictions (mostly and no NSFW sites). For the first two months I did project related stuff. Then it was whatever I wanted.

    I was given a special code to put on my time sheet. Why did they pay me the big bucks to surf the net? I had some special skills and they wanted to hold me in reserve for a project that was not guaranteed to go forward. Woe be unto me however, had I charged my time to a project instead of the idle code. And more woe unto me had I not been authorized to do what I did.

    Thankfully the project went forward and I helped bring it in on time and under budget.

    So the question is: according to the rules of the company xx was working for was he properly charging his time?

    If not xx was a cheat. I hope you don’t approve of cheats.

  186. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    Sussan

    Actually, regarding machinations. Do you know how incredibly
    hard it is to actually sack a government employee!? (I work
    for the government). Especially when you are doing exactly
    what you immediate superior wants you to do. Also post #143.
    Government agencies get most interested in trying to sack
    someone when they actually attack the agency itself.

    Sussan is regarding this as an individual rights issue. In
    my opinion the issues are
    bigger than that. Is GISS allowing/urging an employee
    to act as a public policy advocate to its benefit on a private
    web-site since by doing so it is able to evade the data
    quality act?

    If written material on a partisan issue is disseminated
    with the person listing his employer in his bio, is it a
    violation of the persons human rights for the employer
    to constrain what he writes?

    These are questions that go beyond this individual case.

  187. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    Is my free speech being limited? No. Because the education in the relevant subjects was conditioned on my willingness to be silent except at appropriate times and places. In fact I still operate on the assumption that my oath was valid even though there is no one watching.

    I’ve already acknowledged that there are reasonable limits to free speech. There are also unreasonable ones. The question is where that line is drawn.

  188. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    185, I’m pretty sure Columbia is private. They’re not at CUNY, they’re at Columbia.

  189. ShauneS
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    Visit the RC About Page. At the top of the page you will read …

    About

    RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.

    At the bottom of the page you will read the disclaimer:

    Disclaimer

    The contributors to this site do so in a personal capacity during their spare time and their posts do not represent the views of the organizations for which they work, nor the agencies which fund them. The contributors are solely responsible for the content of the site and receive no remuneration for their contributions

    It speaks volumes.

  190. Dennis Wingo
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

    Research on GISS

    It seems that GISS is a part of NASA GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center). It was established well before the 1990’s craze by Dan Goldin. James Hansen is more than likely a badged civil servant, but there is still wiggle room depending on exactly how the system is set up. Here is what their site says in this regard:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/about/

    GISS works cooperatively with area universities and research organizations, most especially with Columbia University. Close to half of our personnel are members of Columbia’s Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) and we also work with researchers at Columbia’s Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    The above is where it gets interesting. There is this interwoven relationship between Columbia’s Earth Institute and the GISS. The above says that almost half of their personnel are members of Columbias CCSR, which is part of the Earth Institute, which is funded by NASA but is a research center at Columbia, just like the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville has badged NASA employees as well as UAH badged people.

    Hansen is a NASA guy but is Gavin? You would have to know a lot about his contracts and how his work is funded.

    That being said, whether he is a contractor or NASA Civil servant, he does not have the right to bash anyone or support any outside website like Real Climate during his work hours. That is against the rules.

  191. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    192, that’s breathtakingly disingenuous. In so many ways.

  192. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    #175 — Susann wrote, “Human rights cannot/should not be violated by virtue of an employment contract.

    You’ve got the wrong concept of human rights, Susann. Employment contracts circumscribe conduct within their bounded context, as you already suggested in #154. If one insists on engaging in contractually restricted behavior, the contract is voided. A line, of course, can be drawn at criminal contracts; hence protection of whistle-blowers. One cannot by any reasonable legal contract, enforce collusion in criminal conduct. Nor can any employment contract gratuitously and unreasonably restrict rights and freedoms.

    Gavin Schmidt remains free to say whatever he likes. However, if NASA contractual rules reasonably restrict his speech or activities during business hours, or curtail convolving personal views with official legitimization (e.g., by misrepresenting RC as peer-reviewed authoritative through links on official NASA web-sites), then Gavin is required to honor those restrictions or else give up his contract.

    His free speech is not restricted. He can say anything he wants, including anything about climate, so long as it is separate from NASA. See the discussion of the 2006 SC decision of Garcetti v.Ceballos here. The Justices wrote: “When [a public] employee speaks as a citizen addressing a matter of public concern, the First Amendment requires a delicate balancing of the competing interests surrounding the speech and its consequences. When, however, the employee is simply performing his or her job duties, there is no warrant for a similar degree of scrutiny.

    What Steve M. has done is present a very reasonable probable cause for a NASA rules violation. That is neither a gratuitous attack on career nor a personal smear. Nor is it ugly in any sense that reflects back on Steve M. Suppose that Gavin Schmidt has indeed been violating NASA rules, and with Jim Hansen’s knowledge. Would that be “ugly”?

  193. Mark T
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    then Gavin is required to honor those restrictions or else give up his contract.

    If he works in FL, it is a right to work state, btw. I think TX is, too.

    Mark

  194. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    I suppose that what annoyed me enough to examine what obligations Gavin may or may not have as a NASA employee was his censorship of responses to allegations made at realclimate, e.g. their refusal to post my rebuttal to Eli Rabett’s defamatory comments. If Gavin ran his blog in a more evenhanded manner, it would probably not have attracted my attention. I can’t imagine that NASA as an institution could allow allegations like that to be made without affording me the opportunity to respond and that;s why I’m exploring NASA policies.

    Steve, i have many problems with this.
    if you believe that NASA shouldn t link to RC, then that is a fair point to raise.
    but i would NOT do it in a moment of anger, after being “censored” on their page. and i would not bring up the times that he is writing his posts.

    when a moderator or referee treat me unfairly, i am not going to scratch his car.

    the big problem here is, that you are pretty much a role model for the “sceptic” community. if you think it is fair game, to attack someone via his employment, you are setting an extremely bad example.

    there are plenty of maniacs, on both sides of the subject, who when unable to win a discussion (or moderated, or ..) will follow your example.

    i would hope for a clarifying comment from you, and i would seriously divide this discussion into the relevant part and the one, that better should be erased.

  195. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    I think we’re getting confused. The issue in this thread isn’t, and never was, free speech. The initial issue was promotion of a private activity on government resources. The second (and probably more serious) issue was the observation that Dr. Schmidt appears to run the RC site during business hours, when he is ostensibly being paid to do other things.

    There is no free speech issue here, and no human rights issue, etc. That’s a red herring that’s being waved by one here for no other purpose than to confuse.

  196. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    The employer-employee contract does not invalidate the bill of rights / charter of rights (depending on which country you come from). Or so I would hope.

    Susann, the Bill of Rights limits what government can do in restricting individual rights. But all this discussion simply is avoiding the point of the thread which is the interactions and interconnections of a government funded organization with an ostensibly private blog that is utilized by a network of climate scientists for advocacy purposes. Contrast that situation with what Steve M has been doing: a private blog without involvement of a network from within government or the fossil fuel industries – or, for that matter, without being a policy advocate.

    I enjoy the light that Steve M shines on these less than straight forward situations and sometimes even more the lawyerly reactions of would be protectors and defenders of these situations.

  197. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    RE 180. If you want a comment from the Rue Paul libertarians? we say this.

    Public dollars should not be used to promote in any way shape or form the private exploits
    of federal employees. Further, federal employment should not restrict an individual
    from expressing their opinion on any matter provided they do not appropriate federal assets
    to accomplish this.

    This is not hard. Gavin can use his personally purchased computer, personaly paid for software,
    personally paid for house, personally paid for bandwidth, to promote whatever position, perversion
    or platitude he likes.

    He cannot use his position at NASA to promote in any way shape or form his personal endeavors.

    Bright Line:

    If RC is personal, then Gavin has no place promoting it on a NASA web site.
    If RC is Nasa Ensorsed public behavior, then it is subject to Control.

    SO. Answer the question. Public or private?

    Monica does science.

  198. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    203, slight modification. Gavin’s volunteer activities for someone else’s site (EMS) is his private affair. Otherwise, the result you came to was correct.

  199. Susann
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    His free speech is not restricted. He can say anything he wants, including anything about climate, so long as it is separate from NASA. See the discussion of the 2006 SC decision of Garcetti v.Ceballos here. The Justices wrote: “When [a public] employee speaks as a citizen addressing a matter of public concern, the First Amendment requires a delicate balancing of the competing interests surrounding the speech and its consequences. When, however, the employee is simply performing his or her job duties, there is no warrant for a similar degree of scrutiny.”

    The policy I read states that as a NASA employee, Gavin is free to speak to the public about the science he does. As long as he clarifies that what he says is as a private citizen and does not prepresent NASA, he is OK. The RC website makes that clear in the “about” section. NASA linked to RC. NASA has a disclaimer regarding websites linked to from NASA’s webpage. They are excluded from those provisions regarding data quality/data dissemination. I don’t see that there is a problem there either. It might be prudent for NASA to remove the link to RC in order to remove the appearance of a conflict even if there isn’t legally one. As to speculation that Gavin posts at RC on “company time”, I don’t personally know the content of his contract and thus cannot say anything about whether he is acting in violation of its terms. For all I know, he may have had vacation time and posted then. [snip]

    What Steve M. has done is present a very reasonable probable cause for a NASA rules violation. That is neither a gratuitous attack on career nor a personal smear. Nor is it ugly in any sense that reflects back on Steve M. Suppose that Gavin Schmidt has indeed been violating NASA rules, and with Jim Hansen’s knowledge. Would that be “ugly”?

    The content of many posts here are small and ugly and do reflect back on Steve McIntyre if he lets them stand or in any way encourages them. It also reflects on him if he chooses to pursue this in public on a blog that is supposed to be about auditing the science, not trying to harm the careers of the scientists. That applies to RC as well. To me, this is a personal matter between him and Schmidt and should stay private. I’m disheartened by the actions of some here and will take no further part in it.

  200. eric mcfarland
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    Sorry for intruding on the choir whilst in a state of full blown glory and worship, but my question is very simple. Now that Mann’s data, etc., has been surrendered, shouldn’t Steve and the gang be able to easily debunk the global warming myth that has been built up around the hockey stick? And, I am not talking about footnote nit-picking … I mean a full blown conclusion that refutes Mann’s basic conclusion – i.e., that the proxy data shows that we are very likely in a period of unprecedented warming. I don’t think that conclusion has yet to be refuted. If it has, please direct me to the WSJ article wherein this skeptic victory should have been crowed from on high. Thanks ahead of time for the information … presuming it exits.
    Eric McFarland,
    The Skeptic’s-Skeptic

  201. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    I wrote: “Gavin, as a very bright and very able climate physicist, must know for a fact that there is no scientific basis at all to claims of AGW. There never has been, and there is not now.

    And Susann wrote, in #186: “That’s quite the claim. I’m impressed you feel so certain.

    It’s not feeling, Susann, it’s knowing. All you need to do to reach that level of certainty is read the peer-reviewed literature. Have you done that? For example, look at M. Collins (2002) “Climate predictability on interannual to decadal time scales: the initial value problem” Climate Dynamics 19, 671-692. You can get a pdf of the pre-print version here. Figures 5 and 13 show that even if they were perfect climate models with almost perfect empirical inputs, state-of-the-art GCMs cannot predict climate, neither globally nor locally, even one year in advance. Read the abstract. Collins says the same thing in words that Figures 5 and 13 show graphically.

    In fact, just read WG1 Chapter 8 and Chapter 8 Supplemental of the IPCC 4AR — the parts about model errors and uncertainties. You’ll quickly see that the errors are so large, and the uncertainties so poorly understood, that you’ll wonder how the declarations of certainty found in the 4AR Summary for Policy Makers could ever have been ethically conceived.

    Susann, you also wrote: “I don’t feel comfortable making such a certain claim about AGW as a whole.” This is a typical misunderstanding of the point. Notice that I didn’t write anything about AGW as such in #178. I wrote about the scientific basis of the claim. That’s a different kettle of fish entirely. AGW, or not, describes actuality. Science describes objective knowing. The two are not identical. I’m speaking to knowledge, not to actuality. No one knows whether AGW is, in fact, occurring. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. However, GCMs are so imperfect that their projections are unfalsifiable and entirely physically unreliable. Paraphrasing Margo, they have been negligently oversold. -snip

    We can only speak to what we know. In science, the meaning of data is strictly determined by a falsifiable theory. It’s a fact that GCMs are entirely unable to make predictions at the level of physical accuracy required to test a claim that increased CO2 is warming Earth climate. It’s not that GCMs are too poor by 10%, or even by 50%. They’re too poor by more than an order of magnitude. That, by the IPCC’s own reckoning in 4AR WG1 Chapter 8ff. As a consequence, within science no meaning can be given to climate warming with respect to the human-produced CO2 increase. In other words, there is no evidence whatever that human-produced CO2 has detectably warmed Earth climate. Zero evidence, Susann. You can believe what you like, and feel as you wish. But if you wish to feel deeply concerned about AGW, you’ll do so in the complete absence of scientifically valid evidence.

  202. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    >> Pure supposition

    paddikj, you need to read what I wrote. I said nothing that would involve his employment contract. One goal of this dept of NASA is to educate people about AGW. Your whole premise is that there is some disconnect between these two and their superiors. There isn’t.

    >> my position as a taxpayer is still that anything done

    Their view of your position as a taxpayer is that you work for them, and they have already let you keep some of what you earned. Democrats control congress, and this is exactly what they want done.

    >> When an organization gets that picky with its guidelines

    Given the historical nature of NASA’s mission, and the challenger disasters, those guidelines are probably there to make it easier to fire people. They don’t want to fire these guys. If they did, they would lose funding.

    >> Gunnar, what you seem to be saying is that politics and political power are and should be the final arbiter on what is to be stated as scientifically true.

    No, certainly not. I believe in a complete separation of government and science.

    >> Schmidt and Hansen were hired by the government to practice good science. When they venture beyond that and insult those who question their methods and findings, they are exceeding their mandate, and particularly if they do it on government time

    See the inherent contradiction in what you said? They think they are practicing good science. Your premise is that AGW is false. If it’s true, then they have not exceeded their mandate. This is especially unnerving to me since this site is specifically NOT dedicated to proving AGW is false. Steve M is deliberately neutral. Therefore, you have to allow for the possibility that it’s true. In this case, they are practicing good science.

    #200, sod, I agree with you completely. Some of things said here are amazing. All of sudden, it seems like a personality cult. I would have thought that my previous warnings about libel were sufficient.

    >> He cannot use his position at NASA to promote in any way shape or form his personal endeavors. Bright Line:

    steven m, it’s not such a bright line. All indications are that this department of NASA fully supports the mission of educating people about AGW and spreading the message. They are using these positions and whatever resources they can to advance the mission that over half the members of congress want them to.

  203. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    I also vote to get off this free-speech stuff (closely related, I stipulate), and back to the propriety/legality of an individual claiming to be a private blogger, but possibly doing so on the public dime, and almost certainly furthering the agenda of his agency (which may or may not be in the public interest). The legal/contractual issues appear formidable, but we also appear to have a capable & knowledgeable researcher in the person of Dennis Wingo. I think he deserves a big round of thanks for services rendered already.

    And then the converse issue of NASA using RC as a stealth resource, which I believe is Steve’s main bone of contention: That in so doing, NASA’s QC procedures have been compromised (Steve, correct me if I’m mistaken). This is serious, my previous cynicism notwithstanding. It should be investigated, and if someone’s career gets scuttled as a result (highly unlikely), it is not evil machination, it is appropriate citizen activism – the perp would have only himself to blame.

    Gunnar is correct that this incestuous relationship is merely politics as usual, and works for the parties involved, but it’s not right, and it’s our civic duty to demand an investigation.

  204. Phil.
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    Re #148

    #142 Phil, wasn’t looking for a pdf or publication. Looking for an announcement or some article on the sites I mentioned. Apples/oranges not the point. regular joe’s do not know to search publication hubs, and if they don’t know what the 1934 error meant, and why would they? Gavin said in press “no big deal”

    So Hansen says in 2001 that 1934 was slightly warmer than 1998 and then you expect him to make an announcement that ‘we’ve recalculated it and 1934 is still the warmest US year as I said before’? I’m not quite sure why you call it the 1934 error since the error was in the assimilation of post 2000 data from NOAA? Here’s the GISS announcement you craved which acknowledges Steve McI’s role:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/updates/200708.html

  205. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    “All indications are that this department of NASA fully supports the mission of educating people about AGW and spreading the message.”

    I don’t think so. I can’t find any official stance in print at all from NASA about AGW to make such a claim, and I see no huge effort “at spreading a message” anywhere. That’s why they link offsite perhaps (at least it seems so) They do claim to assist climate scientists by collecting data from space. And show me where it says there’s a “Stop Climate Change Mission” At NASA. They name their “missions”.

    Are you making stuff up now?

  206. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    #206 — Eric wrote: “…Mann’s basic conclusion – i.e., that the proxy data shows that we are very likely in a period of unprecedented warming. I don’t think that conclusion has yet to be refuted.

    Your implied message shows ignorance. Read the Wegman Panel Report, available on Ross McKitrick’s website, here.

    I wrote “implied” by the way, because your last quoted sentence engages a double negative, and actually means the opposite of what you intended.

  207. paddikj
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar 208 – Actually, you need to read what you wrote (or perhaps, write what you mean):

    He is using his personal resources to help the goal of his NASA department.

    This is the latest in a long string of bald assertions you have made in this thread. Please tell us how you know whose resources he’s using. I do not (nor does anyone else here, as far as I can tell) believe there is a disconnect between Gavin/RC and NASA/GISS. This is a Gunnar’s World straw man. I think they’re all as happy as pigs in poop; I think most everyone else here thinks that as well. What we question is the propriety/legality of this arrangement. It should be scrutinized.

    What part of this is confusing to you?

  208. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    Mr Mosh has it right in 203 and it is, as he explains, very simple. In particular, if they are Gavin’s private views then why the link from NASA to RC?

  209. procrustes
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    Re Gunnar 108 way back yesterday Australian time

    “Don’t project your country’s typical rules onto the US.”

    Gunnar, thanks for the open-minded approach to debate.

    Looking at the US rules for executive branch employees their thrust is the same as the UK and Australian rules. The general principles remain – don’t act impartially in your public position and don’t misuse public funds.

    Steve’s original post raises significant questions here. Someone in NASA is linking to an impartial site that appears to abuse its opponents.

    It doesn’t matter whether “NASA goals are aided by RC”, these rules are about enforcing important principles. And this has nothing to do with crushing dissent – it’s about appropriate use of publicly funded positions. If I was a US taxpayer, I’d be concerned about this behaviour.

  210. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Modern day scholasticism

    While angels dance on the heads of pinheads creating distinctions without differences
    I will listen to ocsar and wish his smile upon you all for the new year.

  211. Jim
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Re: #218

    Are your sure you meant to write

    “don’t act impartially in your public position”

  212. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    #205 — “I’m disheartened by the actions of some here and will take no further part in it.

    Your disheartenment is peculiarly asymmetric.

  213. D. Patterson
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

    As just one example of NASA conflict of interest policies, it has to be asked how it is possible that James Hansen and others have not already run afoul of these types of policies? By what reasoning do such policies not apply to their activities?

    SCIENCE MISSION DIRECTORATE POLICY
    HANDLING CONFLICTS-OF-INTEREST FOR PEER REVIEWS
    SMD POLICY DOCUMENT 01 REV A (SPD-01A)
    [....]
    Section 1. Guiding Principles
    (a) All peer reviewers must possess appropriate technical expertise to provide knowledgeable expert reviews. The issues of conflict-of-interest and confidentiality are of critical importance to ensure the fairness and credibility of the peer review process. All NASA personnel and all reviewers of NASA proposals are directed to avoid not only actual but also any apparent conflicts-of-interest and to maintain confidentiality about all activities involved in the review process.
    [....]
    (d) Generally, peer reviewers have potential non-statutory or “scientific ethics” conflicts–of-interest if they are associated with a proposing institution and/or are participating in a proposal under evaluation. Reviewers who are Federal employees or IPA’s are also subject to statutory conflict-of-interest restrictions under criminal statute codified at 18 USC §208 and Office of Government Ethics (OGE) guidelines.
    [....]
    (f) NASA expects all peer reviewers to disclose all conflicts of interest including situations which may be actual conflicts of interest or which may give the appearance of a conflict of interest. Peer reviewers are also expected to disclose situations which may give the appearance of bias, or may cause a reasonable observer to question the ability of the reviewer to provide an unbiased evaluation of a proposal. A summary of situations which may constitute conflicts of interest for NASA peer reviewers is given in Appendix E.3 of the Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NASA Research Announcement (reproduced as Attachment 1 of this document).
    [....]
    (c) Bias. The Program Officer should make every effort to avoid using reviewers with possible biases such as having a close personal or professional relationship with a proposing individual, being a recent advisor or student of a proposing individual, and participating in a directly competing investigation to a proposed investigation. Such biases may lead to unnecessary perceptions of an unfair review process, which would be detrimental to the Agency’s science program.
    [....]
    Attachment 1
    Conflicts-of-Interest for NASA Peer Reviewers
    (Appendix E.3, Guidebook for Proposers Responding to a NRA)
    1. YOUR AFFILIATIONS WITH A PROPOSING OR APPLICANT INSTITUTION.
    You may have a conflict if you have/hold/are:
    • Current employment at the proposing organization as a professor, adjunct professor, visiting professor, employee, or similar position.
    • Other current employment with the proposing organization (such as consulting or an advisory arrangement).
    • Formal or informal employment arrangement with the proposing organization.
    • A financial interest in the proposing organization (e.g. ownership of securities).
    • Any office, governing board membership, or other role of authority in the proposing organization. (Ordinary membership in a professional society or association is not considered an office.)
    • Current enrollment as a student. (Only a conflict for proposals or applications that originate from the department or school in which one is a student.)
    [....]
    • Previous employment with the proposing organization within the last 12 months including any award or payment received. [Only applies to civil servants.]
    • Seeking or negotiating employment with the proposing organization. [Only applies to civil servants.]
    2. YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH AN INVESTIGATOR, PROJECT DIRECTOR, OR OTHER PERSON WHO IS A PARTICIPANT IN THE PROPOSAL OR
    APPLICATION.
    • Known family relationship as spouse, child, sibling, or parent.
    • Business or professional partnership. (An ordinary scientific collaboration is not considered a partnership).
    • Association as thesis advisor (major professor) or thesis student within the past 36 months.
    • Professional or personal relationship which may preclude you from being impartial.
    3. YOUR OTHER AFFILIATIONS OR RELATIONSHIPS.
    • Interests of the following persons are to be treated as if they were yours: Any affiliation or relationship of your spouse, of your minor child, of a relative living in your immediate household, or of anyone who is legally your partner. (E.g., if your spouse is employed by a proposing organization, then this creates a conflict of interest for you.)
    • Other relationship, such as close personal friendship, that you think might tend to affect your judgment or be seen as doing so by a reasonable person familiar with the relationship.

  214. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    RE 222. You see that is the peculiar thing about Susann.

    Gavin can have his “personal” site. He can promote his “personal” site on his employers Web site,
    on NASA’s web site, on a federally funded web site and she won’t lift a dainty finger to protest
    that behavior. Won’t denounce it. Won’t demand that nasa stop. Won’t call gavin out. Won’t join us
    in writing a letter.

    SteveMC, on the other hand has a personal site. He is not in the employ of any governemnt agency.
    He funds this blog privately and with contributions. And when HE is slighted on a NASA web site,
    slighted with government funds, slighted by an employee passing off his activities as Private,
    when he is slighted in this way, Susann judges his response as non scientific or non professional.
    She thinks it will make interesting but Ugly history.

    Well it bloody well better. If gavin used his personal position at Nasa to publish a link
    to his PERSONAL site that trashed me, I’d have his [self snip] in a non scientific highly
    personal courthouse. Soros would pay his bills, I’m sure.

    Now, I go listen to oscar some more.

  215. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

    >> Please tell us how you know whose resources he’s using.

    The RC blog is a non NASA resource.

    >> What we question is the propriety/legality of this arrangement.

    Right, you have no argument, since there is nothing illegal about this arrangement. Certainly, no one has made any such case.

    >> Looking at the US rules for executive branch employees their thrust

    What rules? I note well that you don’t provide a link for support. I linked to the Hatch Act which specifically allows these folks to do what they are doing.

    >> The whole farrago arises because the issues are not, as yet, fully settled.

    But they think they are. As we proved when we laid our cards on the table, there is no one here more anti AGW than me. However, AGW is all about politics, not science. I’m offended by 1) the attempt to criminalize partisan politics (it works both ways you know), and 2) the attempt to stifle the messenger, rather than the message.

    >> But the issue of doing private activity during work hours is very much the issue here, as well as the very real need for education. Not prophesy, not proselysation, not propaganda but education about just how uncertain everything still is.

    All those adjectives are your opinion. In a way, this site made it’s bed, now it has to lie in it. It’s deliberately neutral about the science, choosing instead only to audit the work of a small number of AGW proponents.

    >> No official stance Gunnar on AGW by NASA on any of those pages

    Distinction without a difference. Very weak argument. CA has no official stance about AGW either.

  216. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

    In this case, there is nothing wrong with expressing opinions about scientific issues.

    Correct. But that’s not what they’re doing. RC declares their “opinions” to be the absolute unshakable truth. The site does NOT represent itself as an opinion site, it represents itself as the fount of absolute truth.

  217. Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    He funds this blog privately and with contributions. And when HE is slighted on a NASA web site,
    slighted with government funds, slighted by an employee passing off his activities as Private,
    when he is slighted in this way, Susann judges his response as non scientific or non professional.
    She thinks it will make interesting but Ugly history.

    you surely can proof all of those claims?

    the part about being moderated and checking the time of posts ARE non scientific AND non professional.

    ps: Gunnar is a reasonable guy, and he is on YOUR side. please read his comments and don t attack him, simply because you mistake him for a truue-AGW-believer. his argument is just slightly more complex than yours, but surely not beyond reach to be understood.
    you responses to him, are one of the best illustrations, why it is NOT a good idea, to interfere with the real lives of the people, whom you disagree with in the blogosphere.
    just imagine, the minute after you alerted his employer about about someone activities during working time and on a business computer, it turns out that he was not only a nice fellow, but on your side even.

    pps:
    another reason why you shouldn t do it is, that we all have been waiting for answers.
    do you notice the contradiction between demanding swift moderation and your work time attack, Steve?

  218. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Thanks for another outstanding thread. It is clear Gavin has violated NASA and other federal policies (OMB). It appears Jim Hansen probably also has violated these policies in that he no doubt knows Gavin has been working on RealClimate during NASA business hours.

    Some changes are definitely in order. NASA should not link to RealClimate website as long as Gavin is a NASA employee. Also, Gavin should not be allowed to post to RealClimate during work hours. The right agency to look into this would be OMB. While NASA could be self-regulating, I doubt that will happen. OMB should be willing to ask Gavin and Jim Hansen some pointed questions about their knowledge of federal policies. Gavin should be given the opportunity to play by the rules or find other employment. Perhaps Gavin will decide to become a full-time employee of Environmental Media Services – the PR company that registered RealClimate.com.

    Perhaps the best way to get OMB’s attention on this matter is to have Senator Inhofe send them a letter. Does any reader here live in the great state of Oklahoma?

  219. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar re:229

    You referred to #192. Just because RealClimate claims they work on the website on their personal time does not make it true. We have Gavin’s time stamped posts showing he is working on it during regular business hours. The evidence against him is unshakable.

  220. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    I have a fantasy that NASA’s been waiting for someone to say something.
    Maybe they’ve seen the data too.

    Poor SteveM. Out having a nice day and coming back with this mess here!

    Off to a nice early dinner and book shopping! And then football on tv Good eve all!

  221. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    239, Don’t worry. He’s got his Zamboni parked right next to his snow blower.

  222. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    Gunnar re 243

    I do not think OMB will have a similar attitude as NASA. What they are doing is clearly against both the spirit and the letter of the regulation. OMB cannot allow Gavin to get away with this and expect to keep other government employees on the straight and narrow. It is that simple.

  223. Larry
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    I’m not sure if I’m understanding Gunnar’s position. If he’s saying that Hansen has a fiefdom with supporters going all the way into congress (and probably the EPA), yes. That’s obvious. Is it ok? No.

  224. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 29, 2007 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    This discussion has obviously gone off the rails. I’ve deleted a number of posts and got tired. Steve Mosher is one of the few people who got my nuance. I’ve got a few more thoughts but will close this thread for a while until I post those thoughts.

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] and regulations on the dissemination of NASA information – see a CA discussion from late 2007 here). Would Lights Out Upstairs – with its whiny and juvenile tone – comply with NASA peer [...]

  2. By Petty Petty Puzzler « The Policy Lass on Jan 23, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    [...] and regulations on the dissemination of NASA information – see a CA discussion from late 2007 here). Would Lights Out Upstairs – with its whiny and juvenile tone – comply with NASA peer review [...]

  3. By trackmanmouse on Feb 8, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    [...] MilesGo With The Flowski Photo Blog: Pond Skimming at Kirkwood …2000 January | News AskewNASA Evasion of Quality Control Procedures ” Climate AuditWGN Weather Center Blog: January 2005 [...]

  4. [...] Once again it appears NASA has violated the Data Quality Act. Steve McIntyre wrote in 2007: NASA Evasion of Quality Control Procedures [...]

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