Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It's not hot in here, it's just you.

From the Joint Science Academies’ Statement: Global Response to Climate Change

The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. Itis vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Action taken now to reduce significantly the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change. As the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognises, a lack of full scientific certainty about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

Well now, who ya gonna believe? A buncha scientists or this guy?
A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.(emphasis added)

Ohhhhh…he used to work for the American Petroleum Institute. So maybe it was one of those retraining programs. Lose your job at the institute, take a few classes at the community college, make yourself more “marketable.” Apparently he shied away from those chemisty and physics courses and gravitated to creative writing.

In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word "extremely" to this sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult."

In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings."

The alterations are sometimes as subtle as the insertion of an adjective, but cause a clear shift in the meaning of the documents. For example, a sentence in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," originally read: "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

Mr. Cooney's neat, compact notes modified the sentence to read: "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

In places where uncertainties in climate research were described, Mr. Cooney added qualifiers like "significant" and "fundamental."

Tony Blair may speak the language of Shakespeare as he tries to persuade the President to curb greenhouse gasses, but he’s got nuthin’ on ol’ Phil “The-Pen-Is-Mightier-Than-The-Facts” Cooney.


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