Thursday, June 09, 2005

NYT: Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming

AKA "it's not global warming unless I say it's global warming".

Link: Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming - New York Times

It's absolutely scandalous that the head lobbyist for the largest pro-oil trade group is now serving as the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. So it's not surprising that he is editing scientific reports and summaries to downplay the effects of greenhouse gases on global warming. But surely, you say, this man is a scientist and knows what he's doing, right? Nope. He's a lawyer. But surely he's at least studied the sciences involved? Nope. He has a degree in economics.

This isn't a case of some administration official being bribed into crafting bad environmental policy; it's inviting the polluters' representative to reshape the science that drives that policy as he sees fit.

Per the New York Times article:

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. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

In one instance... 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."

Who is he to insert his own evaluations and alterations into a scientific report? Yes, his position in the administration gives him permission, but having this man in this position is worse than a farce. It's an insult. And it undermines the entire point of having such a council in the first place.

The Bush administration is "friendly" to environmental concerns only because the "environmentalists" are actually oil lobbyists (and let's not forget that Bush's first head of the EPA resigned in frustration; that the air is "cleaner" now thanks to lower standards of what constitutes "clean"). This whole situation is so ridiculously Orwellian that it would be funny, were it not so upsetting.

Greenhouse gases "may" be contributing to global warming, but this man and his role in this administration is definitely sickening.


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