I'm a little surprised I've come to this decision, but I think NOAA should give Lamar Smith the emails he is asking for.
I say that being fully aware that the usual scoundrels will pick over them like vultures, looking for any sentence or phrase they think they make hay with, regardless of its context. It happened in Climategate I and II -- and what I wrote here was certainly off-base and wrong -- and it will happen here. It's likely the primary goal of Smith and the think tank people who are surely urging him on.
There's no doubt that NASA is an agency of the executive branch, subject to Congressional oversight. That includes what's on their hard drives and in their emails, even though I'm sure such scrutiny as this will only drive people to stop using email, or use private email instead.
Congress, of course, won't dare allow anyone to look at its emails. (Gee, I wonder why?) So we can't see what is being suggested to Lamar Smith's staff. Shame.
If I worked for NOAA I would resist anyone reading my emails. I might even leave over it, if that was a possibility, and I might not go quietly. Scientists, like many others, need private correspondence to talk, hash out ideas, question ideas, question calculations, entertain hypotheses and question data. That's why science attains the amazing successes it does.
So what Lamar Smith is doing is killing the scientific process, killing the scientific enterprise that has benefited Americans and the world so much. That should be pointed out again and again.
Smith hasn't even given any indication that he or his staff have read the paper by Karl et al (and the one of revisions to ERSST v3 before them), and why that information and data doens't answer their questions. What about these papers do Smith et al find incomplete or not adequately explained?
This clearly shows, I think, that their focus is certainly not on the science.
Smith should be thanking these scientists for all their work on this huge problem of manmade climate change.
I doubt Lamar Smith can recognize that, and I doubt he cares anyway. I think Lamar Smith is craven and just wants to make his oil and gas friends happy, and the think tank people urging him on just want to make their own fossil fuel funders happy.
They don't care about science. It's all politics to them. To be blunt, I don't know how they live with themselves. I really don't.
But Lamar Smith, or Marc Morano or Chris Horner can't stop the greenhouse effect. They can't stop the warming that will only continue in the future. But they can harm a lot of people in the process -- both the scientists and the scientific process, and especially the people who are and will continue to suffer from climate change.
Of course, they couldn't care less about these people.
But, regardless of the consequences and repercussions, NOAA is subject to Congressional oversight. I am glad they are making a stink about it. But it seems to me the law is clear. And it's a law that needs to change, if scientists (and others) are to properly do their jobs. Everyone needs some privacy, some room to think and noodle and kvetch.
Like the AEI before him, Lamar Smith is driving science underground. And that means less of it, just at the time when even more is needed.