March 28, 2007 4:36 PM PDT

Report: Feds manipulate release of climate change research

WASHINGTON--A new watchdog group report claims the Bush administration has been muzzling government scientists who research climate change, raising eyebrows among a small group of politicians assembled for a hearing here on Wednesday.

The 131-page document by a whistleblower organization called the Government Accountability Project documents a number of instances since 2001 in which scientists at government agencies have encountered obstacles to communicating their publicly funded research to major media outlets.

Examples most commonly consisted of "inappropriate" editing; delay and suppression of scientific reports and press releases; designating public affairs officers to "monitor" press interviews with scientists; and quashing interview requests before consulting with the scientist or diverting them to scientists who had arguably more tentative positions on links between greenhouse gas emissions and human activity.

"Some scientists have given up trying to issue press releases or even pursue media contacts," Tarek Maassarani, the report's primary author, told politicians at Redacting the Science of Climate Change" (PDF), came from both named and anonymous scientists working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The watchdog group notes that it did not uncover any instances of "direct interference" with climate change research itself. Government scientists surveyed for the report generally said they believed research in that area was "of excellent quality," as well as "independent and impartial."

Still, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), the House panel's chairman, said the findings supply additional evidence that the oil and gas industry is pressuring the Bush administration to "manipulate public debate about climate change."

"We need to rely on sound, dispassionate scientific research to inform our decisions," he said.

Referring to climate change science, House Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, (D-Tenn.) voiced dismay that some continue to "try to create doubt where there is little doubt." He pointed to a recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose findings were endorsed by 113 nations, in which scientists said, in Gordon's words, that they were "100 percent certain" that global warming is real.

Jeff Kueter, president of the George C. Marshall Institute, a research group that has challenged the extent to which humans have contributed to global warming, cautioned the public not to adopt the IPCC's findings too hastily. Deeming the underlying science "incomplete," he told the politicians, "Reasonable people can reach different conclusions about human impact (on global warming)."

James McCarthy, a Harvard University professor who formerly worked with the U.N. climate change panel and now serves as president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said a "broad consensus" on the science of climate change has emerged over the past 25 years and suggested views to the contrary, including "disinformation campaigns" by Exxon-Mobil and other oil interests, rest on nothing but "smoke, mirrors and hot air."

Not all of the politicians present--which numbered four or five throughout most of the hearing--were concerned about the report's findings.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the sole Republican in attendance, fumed about what he perceived as attempts by previous administrations and the scientific community to suppress so-called contrarian positions on global warming, thus stifling debate on the source of the phenomenon. He said it was too early to say there's a "consensus" on the issue, claiming hundreds of "very respectable scientists" disagree with the likes of McCarthy and the U.N. panel.

Rohrabacher, who made headlines for joking at a recent hearing that global warming could have been caused by "dinosaur farts," also challenged the idea that limiting scientists from publicizing their findings through agency press releases was a bad thing.

"That's not suppression at all," he said, later adding: "There may be other scientists that disagree totally with that science."

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) took more of a middle-of-the-road approach, urging his colleagues to look out for "abuse or misuse of science on all sides."

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14 comments

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Names please!
"Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.):... claiming hundreds of "very respectable scientists" disagree with the likes of McCarthy and the U.N. panel."

I want names, and peer review articles, so that his claims can be validated. Otherwise it's the usual campaign of dismissal of which this administration is a champion (an example? The now forgotten "Intelligent design" issue was "backed by really respectable scientists".)
Posted by feranick (212 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OK, here are some names
* Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* Fred Singer, who set up American weather satellite system
* Patrick J. Michaels, professor of environmental science, University of Virginia
* David R. Legates, professor of climatalogoy, Universiry of Delaware
* Duncan Wingham, professor of climate physics, University College, London
* Nigel Weiss, Cambridge University
* Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg
* Henk Tennekes, erstwhile research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society (until he questioned the orthodox view of anthropogenic global warming)
* Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization
* Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza
* William Gray, head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University
* Dr. Timothy Ball of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project in Canada
* Phillip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London

I did not have to try very hard to find these names. Very true, they are not ever heard from in the mainstream media. Yes, yes, I am sure that they must be shills for Big Oil. Rather than subject their work to the rigors of the scientific method, let's just fall back on circumstantial argumentum ad hominem--it's so much easier.
Posted by zaichik58 (3 comments )
Link Flag
climate change
I constantly think about this issue... Just about everytime I step outside, wouldn't you? The smallest of changes are evident such as the increase in summer like storms through out the year, the melting of the polar cap, animals changing their migration habits, etc. etc. etc. For one to refute the obvious is simply implicating either everyone is simply blind, ignorant, and with out a doubt brain dead. This is one situation where science has proven it, the animals tell it, and of course, it is disputed by man's greed to include basic ignorance. I'm sad to say that my generation and my forefather's generations have robbed from our children and our children's children what could have been. I was a young teen when "I" realized that we needed to create and strive for other fuel sources with were cleaner, more efficent, and not used like a drug to control the masses. I am in my mid-forty's now. Do you think this idea was shared by at least a billion other people? I don't need some tree hugger to show me the truth when it comes to global warming, I only need but to step outside and watch nature.
Posted by wetfeather (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This is old news to the rest of the world
The rest of the world has known about this for years. BBC even interviewed former white house staff who confirmed this was a white house strategy to allow the president to discredit global warming in his speeches.

The real question is why the USA media chose to go with the flow and not question the white house until now, when it was clear to the rest of the world that the white house had edited reports and prevented its scientists (NOAA and NASA) from speaking up in public without white house approval.

I guess it is better to wake up late than never to those news.

The rest of the world "told you so" for Iraq. the USA chose to ignore it.

The rest of the world "told you so" on environment, the USA chose to ignore it.
Posted by jfmezei (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Global Warming Swindle
Every person should watch The Great Global Warming Swindle. <P>


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XttV2C6B8pU">The Great Global
Warming Swindle</a>
Posted by Zonsb (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How does it taste?
So you have drunk the koolaid. How does it taste?
Posted by befuddledms (113 comments )
Link Flag
Agree..
While we the people are oppresssed into a state of peonism, elitists like Al Gore will continue to live a life of luxury.
Posted by trapper1964 (14 comments )
Link Flag
Trash!
Propaganda from the machinery of the new socialists, not fact!
Posted by mycroft69 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just the Dems getting ready for 2008
This is a perfect made for the media story designed to help the Dems take the white house in 2008. Some unnamed scientists complain that the "feds" are slowing the release of climate research. Who the ^&#38;^$# are these scientists? Why do they refused to be named? Who is funding this so-called "whistle-blower" organization and what is their hidden agenda? What a load of crap... of course it is uncritically published in the media without any perspective what so ever.
Posted by C_G_K (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't worry
This is obviously not something we need to worry about. We,
and our animal family, have over the last couple of millions of
years demonstrated that we are capable of adapting to climate
change. We've beneficially mutated before, we can do it again!
Who knows, we might even see some new, heat resilient species
appear to replace all the extinct ones.

In reality it's sad to see masses ignore the changes in our
climate. Maybe if you spent all day in a high rise, air conditioned
and isolated, in a city that never saw the sun I could understand.
In the Western Cape of South Africa where I'm from the seasons
have dramatically changed over the last 20 odd years. Winters
are drier. Summers are hotter. Where once you could spend an
hour in the sun you now can't be in it for more than 10 minutes
before you feel it burning away at your skin. Corporate greed
feeds this lie. Ask the agricultural community and you might see
a very different picture.
Posted by Mintsauce (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give Up Your Computers, Luddites!
It never surprises me how arrogant control freaks are willing to propagate mass hysteria through lies so that they can dictate to people. How many of you global warming enthusiasts are getting rid of your cell phones and computers?? Don't you know that bottled water has now been determined to be a threat to "the environment"?
Posted by mycroft69 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Global Warming" has been happening for . . .
. . . the last 150+ years.
Since the last "Little Ice Age" ended.
It was not triggered by Big Oil Companies.
It was not triggered by selfish American Soccer Moms driving
SUV's.
It was not triggered by Coal Fire Power Plants.

It's called "Climate Change" and it happens all the time.
It never stops.
Through centuries and millenia.
Throughout the entire history of this tiny little planet.
A tiny little spec of dust placed with in a very vast universe.
Warming and Cooling periods are triggered by forces far greater
than man.

Just look up to the sky in the daytime.
See that "Big Yellow Ball" up there?
That's called "The Sun".
Are you Global Warming alarmists going to try to tell me that
"The Sun" is inconsequential to this whole debate?
Yes you are.
Because, in your mind, "Man" is inherently evil.
More than that . . . "Man" is the root of all evil.

When temperatures dropped between between about 1940 and
1980 it was "The Coming Ice Age".
That was also being blamed on man.

Temperatures over the last few thousand years have been both a
whole lot hotter and a whole lot colder than they are today.
And you know what?
Over the next few thousand years the tempuratures are going to
also be a whole lot hotter and a whole lot colder than they are
today.

It's called "Climate Change".
Until man learns to control every element in the entire universe -
which man, in my opinion, will NEVER be able to do - Then
"Climate Change" will be with us until the end of earths
existance.
Get used to it.

Don't get me wrong.
I think pollution is bad.
Reusable/Renewable energy is good.
Less dependance on oil or coal as a power source is good.

I'd like to see more research into:
Solar Power
Hydrogen Power
Wind Power
Geothermol Power
Wave Power Generators
Cold Fusion

But then the "Eco-Religious" would, and do, always find
something inherently wrong with any kind of man made
technology.

That's my rant for now.
Sorry if I've offended anyones "Eco-Religious" sensibilities.
Posted by K.P.C. (227 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These reports have been cropping up for years
We at last have a congress exercising oversight.
Posted by Mark Greene (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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