NY Post Article: Cornell Prof Howarth’s Farcical Science

junk scienceAn article in the New York Post lays bare the motivation of Cornell professor Robert Howarth and his conclusions about natural gas. Howarth, you may recall, along with two other Cornell professors—Renee Santoro and Tony Ingraffea—published a study in the journal Climatic Change last year making the assertion that natural gas is actually worse for the environment than coal (see this MDN story). It’s laugh-out-loud funny, except many people (excepting most scientists) take him seriously. The study has been roundly refuted by both the U.S. Department of Energy and Carnegie Mellon University.

Last week a new study was published in the same journal by a second set of Cornell professors that refutes Howarth et al.’s conclusions as “seriously flawed” (see this MDN story).

The new Post article shows how the outcome of Howarth’s study was pre-determined before it was even written. The anti-drilling Park Foundation commissioned and funded the study. They wanted a study with the name of “Cornell” on it, to give it credibility. Their aim is to use science to prop up their ideological viewpoint—that only solar, wind and other “renewable” sources of energy should be used. If natural gas threatens that future, then it’s time to attack natural gas.

…hard leftists have always opposed any energy other than wind or solar. That’s where Howarth and the anti-fracking Park Foundation come in.

In an interview, Howarth told me his goal was to make the anti-fracking movement mainstream and fashionable. He said he met with the Ithaca-based foundation two years ago, agreeing to produce a study challenging the conventional wisdom that shale gas is comparatively clean.

The polluting impact of shale gas revolves around one key issue: how much methane gas is released during extraction. Methane has more short-term global-warming impact than any other fossil fuel. Howarth emerged from academic nowhere when he claimed shale-gas wells leak like sieves, venting methane half the time, spewing 7 percent to 8 percent of reserves into the atmosphere.

“That’s absurd,” says Michael Levi, director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council of Foreign Relations. “Most methane gas is either ‘delivered to sales’ with no leakage, or it’s burnt off through flaring, which diminishes its greenhouse impact.”*

Not to be shamed by the truth, Howarth has issued a new study:

Last week, Howarth released another scientifically questionable study, now warning that fracking could push the world over a tipping point, sending temperatures irreversibly higher—an inflammatory and demonstrably incorrect assertion.*

MDN recommends you read the entire article by clicking below.

*New York Post (Jan 24, 2012) – Killing drilling with farcical ‘science’