NOAA Admits It Was Wrong to Back Sharpiegate

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Last September, as Hurricane Dorian was heading for Florida, Bunker Boy (as he has since come to be known) warned people in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama to brace themselves for the impact.

In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!
7:51 AM · Sep 1, 2019·Twitter for iPhone

NOAA Birmingham, getting panicky calls and not realizing that The Greatest Weatherman in the History of the Planet had thrown Alabama into turmoil, quickly put out a tweet telling everyone not to worry:

Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east. #alwx 8:11 AM · Sep 1, 2019·TweetDeck

For committing the mortal sin of suggesting that He Whose Ego Must Be Fluffed had made a boo-boo, NOAA said on Sept.6 that Alabama was in fact at risk just then and scolded the Birmingham scientists for, well, committing science:

The NOAA statement said: “The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

The Greatest President That Absolutely Ever Was (apologies to Alan Drury) even displayed his very own weather map to prove that he was right.

Now, however, NOAA has conducted an investigation of the eggs on its face and has conceded that, in fact, The Great Orange Shitgibbon was full of it.

The panel found that NOAA leadership’s media guidance between Sept. 1 and 6 did not violate scientific standards. But, they also found that NOAA Birmingham was not given a chance to weigh in on the Sept. 6 statement, and that leadership had “engaged in [this] misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the Code. . . .”
Then we come to point 3:
Allegation Three: The drafting of the September 6 Statement was driven by external political pressure from Department of Commerce (Commerce) senior leaders and inappropriately criticized the September 1 Birmingham Tweet and underlying scientific activity. Further, the September 6 Statement compromised NOAA’s integrity and reputation as an independent scientific agency and violated Section 7.02 of NOAA’s Scientific Integrity Policy. [emphasis added]

and the panel found that:

the actions of Dr. Neil Jacobs and Julie Roberts involving the development and issuance of the September 6 Statement violated the Code of Ethics for Science Supervision and Management set forth in Section 7 of NOAA’s Scientific Integrity Policy. Further, the Panel determined that they engaged in the misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the Code of Scientific Conduct or Code of Ethics for Science Supervision and Management in NOAA’s Scientific Integrity Policy. [emphasis added]

In the discussion section, the report says the administrators gave in to political pressure:



By issuing the September 6 Statement as a NOAA release, the NOAA participants violated the Scientific Integrity Policy. Dr. Jacobs and Julie Roberts did not believe it was a good idea to release a statement, but felt significant external pressure to do so. They recommended, at two different points, that the reference to the Birmingham WFO be removed – an edit that, if accepted, may have avoided the policy violation. However, when the edit was not incorporated, they chose to release
the statement as a NOAA document. [emphasis added]

In other words, they realized it was wrong, but let the statement go out anyway, hence they acted intentionally and knowingly. (“Reckless disregard” is just there as window dressing; they knew what they were doing.)

The list of recommendations is long, but can be summed up as reinforcing the scientific integrity of NOAA and reminding everyone at NOAA and the Dept. of Commerce of their ethical responsibilities. The was no specific recommendation that no weather maps should be allowed within 100 meters of the Oval Office, unfortunately. Still, it’s a pretty strong message telling the political types to leave the science alone.

Not that The Mad Unscientist is likely to pay attention, other than perhaps to fire off a few more tweets, given how he’s consistently ignored and contradicted far more devastating scientific warnings.

A bit more from a WaPo story just filed about this report:

Importantly, the NAPA panel was not permitted to interview the involved Commerce Department officials who mandated the statement be released. As The Washington Post has reported, the White House sought for NOAA to correct the record on the Hurricane Dorian forecast, and orders to NOAA were handed down through top aides to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, since NOAA is part of the department.

The story adds that Roberts and Jacobs dispute the findings, but NOAA has accepted them. Some of the NOAA scientists, including some who brought the original complaint, are (understandably) upset that the two administrations suffered no consequences for their misconduct.