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A meltdown over climate change

Columnist

The high-temperature battle over the science of climate change got even hotter this week. A group of scientists who wrote a landmark, federally commissioned 2009 report are ticked off at the Cato Institute, which recently issued what the scientists say is a flimsy report that the libertarian think tank tried to make look like an extension of their original work.

But the author of the Cato report says the apparent copycat style was meant to be a “tongue-in-cheek” reference to what the think tank believes was left out of the original report.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

There’s no intrigue in Washington — or in scientific circles — like a scandal over a report.

The original report was called “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” and it was printed with a blue cover that featured an image of North America. The Cato report, now in draft form, is called “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” and its cover is nearly identical to the original report. (Check out the side-by-side images at bit.ly/reportcovers .)

Hey, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Nevertheless, the scientists, whose work was done under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, are irked. Pocket protectors are flying.

“We are dismayed that the report of the Cato Institute . . . expropriates the title and style of our report in such a deceptive and misleading way,” they wrote in a joint statement. “The Cato report is in no way an addendum to our 2009 report. It is not an update, explanation, or supplement by the authors of the original report. Rather, it is a completely separate document lacking rigorous scientific analysis and review.”

“Their conclusions that future climate change will be benign, if not beneficial, and easily adapted to, diverge markedly from our Committee’s view regarding the seriousness of the risks,” the scientists say.

Cato maintains that there’s no conspiracy or attempt to mislead readers afoot. The similarities (and calling the report an “addendum”) were meant to illustrate that they believed the 2009 document was incomplete, says Patrick Michaels, the report’s principal author.

“I’m amused that the authors feel the need to state the obvious, and that many of my colleagues on climate issues are casting this as some kind of attempt at counterfeit,” Michaels says. “The use of the Cato Institute name and logo throughout the product ought to have been a clue.”

Seems this controversy’s not going to cool down anytime soon.

The eyes are upon them

Looks as though somebody didn’t get that memo about not messing with Texas.

After learning that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe might be in the Lone Star State on Nov. 6, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott offered a not-so-warm greeting: You’re not welcome round these parts.

In a letter, he noted that the observers had no jurisdiction. In a tweet, as reported by the Dallas Observer, he was more succinct. “UN poll watchers can’t interfere w/ Texas elections. I’ll bring criminal charges if needed. Official letter posted soon. #comeandtakeit.”

The poll watchers aren’t actually from the United Nations, but no matter.

The OSCE has been sending staffers to observe U.S. elections since 2002, and this year it plans to send observers to 10 states.

On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the OSCE observers had promised to obey all laws while in Texas. “To my knowledge, it’s the only state that came forward and said please reassure us that you’re going to follow our state electoral law,” Nuland said of the Lone Star State officials. “And they have now been reassured.”

But will the furriners wear boots?

On the cacciatore beat

Shocking news from Italy this week. “Thirteen Italians die in bloody start to the hunt season,” screamed a Reuters wire headline.

Italian hunters have killed 13 and wounded 33 since the season opened in September, the Monday report said. Over the weekend, a 16-year-old was killed by a friend while hunting, a “pensioner” was wounded while he was out in his garden and a cyclist was wounded by grapeshot.

This has folks calling for changes to Italian laws, which permit hunting on private land and allow them to shoot “within 150 yards of a house.”

Hunters — there are about 700,000, down from 3 million a few decades ago — and environmentalists agree on the need to change the laws, the wire service reported, but they’ve been in a long-running dispute about precisely how to do so.

Others are calling for an outright ban on hunting in a country where, according to a survey last year, less than one-fifth of the population thinks hunting is “an acceptable pastime.” Most Italian hunters are over 65. (To save you time, yes, that’s how old Dick Cheney was when he shot his friend back in 2006.)

Hunters say hunting is needed to control some animal populations, such as the cinghiale, or wild boar, a nasty — albeit tasty — character that can be harmful to crops. Hunters also shoot deer, rabbits and birds.

Terwilliger’s new gig

Probably should scratch veteran Washington litigator George Terwilliger from any shortlist of candidates to be attorney general in a Mitt Romney administration.

It’s not that he’s lacking in legal chops. A former federal prosecutor, Terwilliger, now a partner at White & Case, served as deputy attorney general and acting AG in the George H.W. Bush administration.

But word is he and three other veteran D.C. lawyers at White & Case — Dan Levin , Matt Miner and Bob Bittman — are soon moving over to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

So doesn’t appear Terwilliger will be available for government duty — for now.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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