Scientist who saw drowned polar bears reprimanded

Sep 29, 2012 by Becky Bohrer

(AP)—An Alaska scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears helped galvanize the global warming movement has been reprimanded for improper release of government documents.

An official said emails released by Charles Monnett were cited by a in decisions to vacate approval by the Bureau of Management of an oil and gas company's plan.

The official, Walter Cruickshank, deputy director of BOEM, said in a memo that an inspector general's investigation contained findings that Monnett had improperly disclosed internal , which he said were later used against the agency in court. He also said the investigation made other findings in regards to Monnett's conduct, but he wasn't taking action on those. He would not specify those findings.

Cruickshank called Monnett's "misconduct very serious," and said any future misconduct may lead to more severe discipline, including removal from federal service.

Monnett was briefly suspended last year during an inspector general's investigation into a polar bear research contract he managed. The inspector general's report, which was released Friday, said its investigation was set off by a complaint from an unidentified Interior Department employee who alleged that Monnett wrongfully released government records and that he and another scientist, Jeffrey Gleason, intentionally omitted or used false data in an article they wrote on polar bears. During that investigation, authorities also looked into the procurement issue.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which has been involved in the matter on Monnett's behalf, said Friday that the issue of the document release did not even come up in investigators' questioning of Monnett.

He called the outcome "completely unexpected," and said Monnett is confused by it.

PEER, in a news release, said the email disclosure had nothing to do with polar bear research but that it embarrassed the agency.

"We think he's owed an apology, but we're not going to hold our breath until he gets one," Ruch said.

Federal investigators had said that Monnett helped a polar bear researcher prepare a proposal even though he was the government official who determined whether the proposal met minimum qualifications. PEER has said that Monnett's handling of the study was proper and that Monnett, instead, was being targeted for a 2006 article on drowned polar bears.

The article was based on observations that Monnett and Gleason made in 2004 while conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales. They saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm.

In the article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of the bears floating dead and presumed drowned while apparently swimming long distances. They wrote that while polar bears are considered strong swimmers, long-distance swims may exact a greater metabolic toll than standing or walking on ice in better weather.

They said their findings suggested that drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future "if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open water periods continues."

The article and related presentations helped to make the polar bear a symbol for the global warming movement.

According to the inspector general's report, investigators found that Monnett and Gleason used an incomplete database as their primary source of information to write the article, made conflicting statements to investigators regarding the writing and editing process and understated data in the manuscript. However, they found that the article had "little or no impact" on a federal decision to extend special protections to under the Endangered Species Act, according to the report.

A BOEM spokeswoman, Theresa Eisenman, said the findings in the report do not support a conclusion that the scientists involved engaged in "scientific misconduct."

Monnett's reprimand could be removed from his record in two years or less.

Ruch said Monnett has been told he will return to scientific work.

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VendicarD
3.4 / 5 (15) Sep 29, 2012
In other words they couldn't find anything to get him on based on science, so they had to trump up charges of "releasing government documents" so that they could charge him with something - anything.

This is how Republicans treat science. Slander, innuendo, trumped up charges, investigational fraud. It's all from the Republican handbook.
rogerfgay
3 / 5 (8) Sep 29, 2012
Obama's a Republican now?
VendicarD
3.3 / 5 (12) Sep 29, 2012
Obama has nothing to do with this investigation. It was ordered by Republican scum.

gmurphy
3 / 5 (12) Sep 29, 2012
This is despicable, if the issue of the document release did not even come up in investigators' questioning of Monnett, then it's clear that it was conjured up a cover for their crudely executed attempt to suppress his findings.
thermodynamics
3.7 / 5 (9) Sep 29, 2012
Anyone can use the "Freedom of Information Act" to obtain anything that is not classified. I can't imagine that there could be any legitimate reason to classify drowned bears as Secret or Confidential. So, you and I can request these photos but this guy has his career ruined for releasing unclassified photos that we could have if we asked for them? Let's examine the other side of this. Suppose the photos were classified "Secret." What on earth would be a national threat due to drowned bears? We are not getting the whole story here.
kochevnik
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 29, 2012
Obama's a Republican now?
Obama is to the right of Ronald Raygun, in case you have been sleeping for the past three decades.
AgentOfFate
2.5 / 5 (11) Sep 29, 2012
Obama's a Republican now?
Obama is to the right of Ronald Raygun, in case you have been sleeping for the past three decades.


HaHa, Ronald Raygun. That is the most hilarious example of misspelling someone's name I have ever seen, thats great my friend, makes the recent conservative president sound like a Star Wars character. But in all seriousness, it is really despicable that this scientist is being charged in this way. Truth should never be censored.
Canman
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
Agent of Fate,
You dummy,
"Raygun" is a play on words referring to President Reagan's "Star Wars" space based weapons program.
A_Paradox
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2012
I think the issue is intrinsic to the nature of bureaucracies, whether government or corporate mercantile: chain-of-command legalism drives out humane insight. It's the same all over the world; people who get to positions of power just forget that the command structure ['establishment'] is not a communication network, it is a skeleton. We have the same problem in Australia and it is _not_ confined to federal, state, and local governments; big business entities and educational institutions all end up in the same rut.

The only antidote to the intrinsic evils of bureaucracy is Open Communication Amongst Peers [OCAP for short]. Unfortnately this concept seems to strike fear [accomanied by denial of this fear] on the part of honchos and honcho wonna-bees.
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (11) Sep 30, 2012
"In the article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of the bears floating dead and presumed drowned

Read more at: http://phys.org/n...tml#jCp"

Where is the data proving the bears drowned?
JoeBlue
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 30, 2012
Internal Documents do not have to be classified at any rate to prevent release. When you sign on for grants to do research for a government agency the contract you sign states specifically the procedure to release documents. As with all government grants any documents you handle are to be reviewed by the handling agency before release, a breach of this contract is punishable by law.

If some of you statists above me understood contract law to the margin that you understand how fragile your insecurities are within science, you would be well aware of this.

Charles Monnett violated his contracted, and the embarrassment of an agency is to not be able to keep one of their own in check is bad enough to warrant them reprimanding him at the least. That the alarmists think that the information released was more vital that actually finding the basis for his conclusions demonstrates that you are not advocating actual science, but dogmatic alarm-ism pretending to be science.

Time to grow up.
VendicarD
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 30, 2012
Tard boy is right. Those bears might have been resting after a long anal probing by the very same Moon Men who keep him up all night with their non stop Polka music.

"Where is the data proving the bears drowned?" - RyggTard

VendicarD
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
If there is a God, why are people like Bluetard still breathing?

"If some of you statists above me understood contract law to the margin that you understand how fragile your insecurities are within science..." - BlueTard

Random words, do not make thoughts.