While Mooney continues to operate under the delusion that the only way to justify emissions reductions policies is to fight over climate change findings, his other shibboleth – the so-called ‘war on science’ – is operating without his preferred Republican adjective in front of it.
The latest concern comes from the Department of Interior. In connection with complaints on a report from the Secretary on a drilling moratorium in the Gulf, the Department’s Inspector General investigated whether the report was altered and “misrepresented that the moratorium was reviewed and supported by a group of scientists and industry experts.”
The Inspector General found that the Executive Summary did imply that the recommendation for the moratorium was peer reviewed by the scientific experts the Department consulted with. However, their investigation did not find evidence of wrongdoing – of willful misrepresentation.
However, as I discussed when exploring the notion that poor editing could be the culprit, the lack of intent does little to mitigate the impact of this apparent politicization of science. (Again, having some recommendations on how to maintain scientific integrity in policy decisions would be really helpful.) As the Nature piece indicates, opponents of the moratorium have taken the apparent bad action regarding science and used it to cloak their own political motives.Let me re-emphasize something that will likely get lost in all of this posturing (unless, like Mooney, you pretend this didn’t happen). The Department is within its authority to make the decision it did, even if the scientific experts disagreed with it. They can simply add their own additional reasons to the report. The misrepresentation of what the scientists (or the science) said about it is a problem, even though the ability to make the policy choice made here is not.
That the misrepresentation in this case was found unintentional and by implication matters with respect to culpability at the Department. But it does not matter in terms of how science advice is perceived politically. If people are serious about mitigating politicization of science, they need to be as critical of these incidents as they might about more willful misrepresentations, regardless of party. That only Republican members of Congress asked for the IG report is to be expected out of a body that acts from partisan perspectives. If those who claim common cause with science act selectively in how science is used politically, they cannot seriously claim that they are championing science. And it’s that last kind of misrepresentation that’s way too common today.
To my knowledge, Mooney has yet to weigh in on this, perhaps preoccupied by trying to recast his “war on science” as needing a counterinsurgency strategy (scroll to the end). I take his lack of engagement as further evidence of stealth advocacy.