Skip to main content

Notebook Science

Storm stories

Barack Obama (Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci)

Science

Storm stories

Former official claims Obama administration skewed climate change data

The U.S. government during the Obama administration frequently promoted its climate change agenda by manipulating scientific data, claims a former top official. Steven Koonin served as the Department of Energy’s undersecretary for science from 2009 to 2011. “What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analyses was, I would say, misleading, sometimes just wrong,” Koonin said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.

For example, the 2014 National Climate Assessment found that hurricane activity had increased from 1980. “What they forgot to tell you,” Koonin said, “and you don’t know until you read all the way into the fine print, is that it actually decreased in the decades before that.” He said scientific papers concur that there is no definite long-term trend in hurricane activity, and the apparent increase since 1980 is actually a return to normal after a long period of decreased activity.

F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Steven Koonin (F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A team of scientists corroborated Koonin’s assertion in a June 7, 2007, letter to Nature. “The record indicates that the average frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s until the early 1990s, reaching anomalously low values during the 1970s and 1980s,” they wrote.

Koonin is concerned about the politicization of science, in which politicians used skewed data to set policy and influence public opinion. He told the Journal the ethos of science was different when he began his career: The standard was, “you tell it like it is. You’re a scientist and it is your responsibility to just put the facts on the table.”

Handout

X Prize winner (Handout)

Trekkie medicine

The “tricorder,” a fictional, hand-held medical sensor used in the popular science fiction series Star Trek, may have finally become a reality.

A technology team calling itself Final Frontier Medical Devices invented a tricorderlike medical kit as part of an international X Prize competition inspired by the Star Trek gadget. The kit may not be quite as sophisticated as the device Dr. Beverly Crusher used onboard the starship Enterprise, but it can diagnose conditions like pneumonia and diabetes and monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs with the use of noninvasive sensors. It works with an iPad or smartphone and can share information with physicians in real time.

Qualcomm, a telecommunications equipment company that launched the competition with X Prize in 2012, required participants to produce a medical kit weighing less than 5 pounds that could identify 13 health conditions and continuously monitor five health vitals. The winning team landed a $2.6 million prize for its tricorder kit. —J.B.

Handout

Tranexamic acid (Handout)

Save the mothers

A readily available, low-cost drug called tranexamic acid could spare thousands of mothers around the world from bleeding to death after childbirth.

Severe postpartum bleeding is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide, claiming the lives of about 100,000 women each year. Women in low- and middle-income countries account for 99 percent of these deaths.

A recent study of 20,000 women from 193 hospitals in 21 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, examined the efficacy of the drug, which prevents blood clots from breaking down. Published in The Lancet in April, the study showed that tranexamic acid reduced death from maternal bleeding by over 30 percent when doctors administered it within three hours. The drug also reduced the urgent need for surgery to control bleeding by 36 percent. It did not appear to cause side effects in either the mothers or the babies. —J.B.

Comments

  • RANDY CREWS
    Posted: Fri, 05/19/2017 10:48 am

    Storm Stories:

    Incomplete disclosure is one of the most common threads of "Mis Information" ( The source or presenter does not disclose all the relevant facts ) Climate change has been a Government drum roll for decades - to furter their regulatory policies and agenda.

    Randy Crews

  • Donald Cramer
    Posted: Fri, 05/19/2017 12:35 pm

    This article doesn't say it was all wrong, it just said the data was scewed and that this infromation was also verified by others.