Watchdog Group Challenges Biden Administration & NOAA over Massaging Climate Disaster Data

Watchdog Group Challenges Biden Administration & NOAA over Massaging Climate Disaster Data

  • April 8, 2024

Leslie Eastman, Legal Insurrection

A non-partisan watchdog group asserts that a key agency monitoring weather disaster outcomes for the Biden administration used misleading and self-serving data analysis to claim storms are becoming more extreme and expensive due to climate change.

Protect the Public’s Trust cited a new study that combed through data used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for its climate and disaster tracking project and found it inflated damages and made inexplicable data calculations that did not factor in obvious contributions to disaster costs, such as an increase in development in coastal regions and other areas vulnerable to hurricanes, flooding or wildfires.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed the complaint with the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as NOAA operates under its auspices.

The group’s report focuses on the “Billions Project” dataset. The information obtained through this program is focused on natural disasters that have caused at least $1 billion in damages going back to 1980.

PPT’s complaint alleges that NOAA does not adequately disclose its sources and methods for compiling the BDD [billion dollars disaster] dataset, adds and removes BDD events from the dataset without providing its rationale for doing so and produces cost estimates that are sometimes significantly different than those generated by more conventional accounting procedures.

While NOAA states that it develops its BDD data from more than a dozen sources, the agency does not disclose those sources for specific events or show how it calculates loss estimates from those sources, PPT’s complaint alleges.

“The American public has every right to expect, even demand, that the scientific research funded by their tax dollars is conducted under the most rigorous standards of integrity, transparency, and quality,” said PPT director Michael Chamberlain.

“This is especially true when that research is used to underpin decisions that affect nearly every aspect of their lives – from the cars they drive, to the foods they eat, to how those foods are prepared. Despite the fact the Billions Project is being used to affect precisely these types of decisions, the principles of scientific integrity, transparency, and quality appear to be severely lacking in its work.

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