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SST Committee Questions Integrity of GAO Climate Change Report Relying Heavily on Non-Peer Reviewed Study

Oct 31, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) inquiring about GAO’s reliance on questionable science to publish a report on the alleged economic effects of climate change.

Chairman Smith is critical of the report’s heavy reliance on a non-peer reviewed study to reach its conclusion that climate change will cause vast economic damage in the future. Scientific organizations warn against using studies that have not been subject to vigorous review by scientific peers, Chairman Smith notes.

Chairman Smith’s letter requests documents, information and a briefing of committee staff regarding GAO’s decision to rely on the questionable Rhodium Group study for the report.

The letter reads in part:

[GAO’s] heavy reliance on this study raises concerns considering that it is a non-peer reviewed document that has not received the same scrutiny as many other scientific documents used in similar reports.

Relying on non-peer reviewed work has long been discouraged when working in fields of science. In 2010, the InterAcademy Council, an international organization of 2000 science academies tasked with overseeing the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that using non-peer reviewed sources is controversial and could be blamed for errors in IPCC reports. The InterAcademy Council went on to say that guidelines should be created to ensure that unpublished or non-peer reviewed literature is adequately evaluated and even flagged in reports.

The Rhodium Group was commissioned for this study by the Risky Business Project, an organization founded by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer. These individuals have a history of funding one-sided advocacy campaigns as well as political elections that align with their agenda. Their funding of this study blurs the line between science and advocacy and taints the conclusions of the GAO study.

Given that the report utilizes questionable sources and appears to ignore a wealth of peer-reviewed scientific studies, the Committee has concerns about the integrity of the GAO study process as well as its impartiality.

The letter can be found here.

115th Congress