Omitted from the Cato "addendum," meanwhile, are two chapters in the 2009 report on Pacific and Caribbean islands and the coasts, as well as mention of hardships projected for Native Americans. Cato counters that information on coasts and islands are covered elsewhere in the book.
"It's like they took the simple part of what the U.S. is," said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for climate change programs at the Climate Institute who helped review the 2009 report.
"If you hadn't seen the original report, you wouldn't know," he added. "They made it look really similar. Why would they do that unless they're trying to mislead?"
Patrick Michaels, director of Cato's Center for the Study of Science and the report's editor-in-chief, said the point was to showcase the arbitrary and selective science used by the federal authors.
The 2009 report, Michaels said, is "a key document" buttressing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's finding, in December 2009, that carbon dioxide endangers human health. By issuing a fake addendum – instead of an independent report – Cato can highlight the "highly selective nature of the science, and the political chicanery" that went into the original, he said.
"You could make the argument that they left out more than half of the science when they produced their report," Michaels said in a podcast. "We did this because we know that if anyone wants the EPA to back off, they have to turn around the endangerment finding. So this is the user’s manual to reverse the endangerment finding.”
Not the first
By law, every four years the federal government must assess the state of climate science and summarize it in a report for Congress. Draft text of the next version is expected in December, with the final version due to lawmakers at the end of 2013.
Cato is not the first group to mimic governmental reports and nomenclature.
In 1998 former National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz received a rebuke from the academy for a circulating a petition criticizing the science underlying the Kyoto treaty on carbon dioxide limits. The petition copied the format and style of a peer-reviewed articles in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
More recently, in 2009 the Heartland Institute published a report from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, or NIPCC – an 880-page critique of the United Nation's official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
MacCracken, who headed up the first national assessment in 1995, wonders at the effort devoted to mimic and imitate instead of contribute to the official process. "They put more effort into this than they do in commenting on the reports when they're actually due," he said.
But Cato's Michaels says he tried: He was on his 45th single-spaced page of suggestions as the 2009 report's comment period was about to close. "And I had barely gotten into the document," he said.
Michaels ultimately filed a 170-page response, he said. "In a 60-day comment period, there's no way you can actually do it. It's designed that way."
"That's what generated this."The Cato Institute expects to release its report,
Addendum: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, as early as this week. A draft version can be downloaded from its website [pdf].