Quick Fact: Fox Nation falsely claims "EPA Scientist Silenced in Coverup"


Linking to an erroneous Human Events piece, The Fox Nation posted the false headline, "EPA scientist silenced in coverup," under a photo of Alan Carlin, who works as an economist -- not a scientist -- for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moreover, Carlin was not "silenced," as some of the "ideas" on climate change that he expressed in a March 16 report -- which Carlin himself conceded had "numerous problems" -- were addressed by and included in the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding.

From The Fox Nation, accessed on December 10:

Fox Nation:

FACT: Carlin is not a climate scientist

Carlin is an economist, not an "EPA scientist." Fox Nation links to a Human Events piece with the same headline, which claimed that a March 16 "report by EPA's Dr. Alan Carlin" rejecting the theory that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming was "subjected to a gag order." Human Events described Carlin as "a leading EPA scientist." In fact, according to his EPA staff profile, Carlin is a Senior Operations Research Analyst at EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. [EPA.gov, accessed 12/9/2009]

FACT: Some of Carlin's "ideas" were still "included and addressed" in EPA finding

Carlin never assigned to work on climate research, but his opinions were considered. FoxNews.com reported on June 29, "The EPA said in a written statement that Carlin's opinions were in fact considered, and that he was not even part of the working group dealing with climate change in the first place." The EPA further stated, "In fact, some ideas from that document are included and addressed in the endangerment finding." Indeed, Carlin is listed as among the "EPA authors and contributors" to the Technical Support Document for the EPA's December 7 final endangerment finding.

FACT: Climate scientists -- and Carlin himself -- noted "flaws," "problems" with his report

Climate scientists have criticized Carlin's report. The New York Times reported on September 24 that "[a]gency officials and outside experts who reviewed his report as a result of the outcry over the episode have said they found it wanting in a number of ways. It included unverified information from blog posts, they found, quoted selectively from journal articles, failed to acknowledge contradictory information and may have borrowed passages verbatim from the blog of a well-known climate change doubter." Indeed, Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has pointed to "a number of basic flaws" in Carlin's report, including "the complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales, the common but erroneous belief that any attribution of past climate change to solar or other forcing means that CO2 has no radiative effect, and a hopeless lack of familiarity of the basic science of detection and attribution." An EPA official reportedly noted that Carlin's report included "no original research."

Carlin "wouldn't dream" of sending his report to a journal. Carlin told the New York Times that "[t]here are numerous problems with" his report, adding "I wouldn't dream of sending it to a journal in its current form. It is totally unacceptable for that type of thing." In a July 1 TPM interview, Carlin also acknowledged of his report, "I didn't have time to fix all the problems -- and they still aren't fixed."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Fox Nation
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