I wonder if readers have noticed the controversy surrounding the decision made by the head of the American Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

It is to the effect that any environmental regulation imposed by that organisation should be based on research for which the data has been made available to others who may wish to reproduce it.  

It seems to me that this requirement is reasonable and essential, and is a basic tenet of the scientific method.

It is a matter of concern that many significant EPA regulations in the past have been based on private (but publicly funded) research for which the results, but not the evidence, have been published. 

Such concern is only increased by the reaction of some researchers to the new requirement, which is to resist publication of their data on the basis that it infringes their intellectual property rights.

It appears to me, therefore, that EPA regulations have been based on ‘secret’ research for which there is no direct evidence or data. 

It may be for this reason that some consider climate change science is settled.

The data on which climate and environmental science is based is vital to national energy and environmental policy, and must be open to those capable of authenticating it. 

Otherwise, we may be led towards decisions made by experts who hide in the shadows.

Openness is vital —  let there be light in this murky subject.

By the way, has anyone noticed that America has had the coldest winter for 50 years and planting of crops in many states has had to be significantly delayed?  And, by coincidence, sunspots are at a minimum. — Robert Sheppard, Hill-side, Beckingham.