Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.
Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.
These scientists -- working nationwide in research centers in such places as Princeton, N.J., and Boulder, Colo. -- say they are required to clear all media requests with administration officials, something they did not have to do until the summer of 2004. Before then, point climate researchers -- unlike staff members in the Justice or State departments, which have long-standing policies restricting access to reporters -- were relatively free to discuss their findings without strict agency oversight.
"There has been a change in how we're expected to interact with the press," said Pieter Tans, who measures greenhouse gases linked to global warming and has worked at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder for two decades. He added that although he often "ignores the rules" the administration has instituted, when it comes to his colleagues, "some people feel intimidated -- I see that."
So how, I want to know, is suppressing the facts supposed to help? Will muzzling the scientists stop the ice from melting, the seas from rising, the polar bears from drowning, the Canadian wolves from dying of starvation (because the carribou don't have ice to walk across)? Is gagging the scientists going to stop hurricanes from being more severe, is it going to stop the famiine and drought that will be the inevitable result of global warming? Most frightening of all, is it going to stop the plankton (the basis of the food chain in the oceans) from dying off?
The people in this administration are suffering from a severe case of the mind poison of delusion. I just hope that some day they are made aware of the enormity of what they have done.