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Friday, March 09, 2007

Bush to Scientists: "Don't Talk About Polar Bears"

Remember the 2007 State of the Union? You know, the one where Bush finally 'got' global warming. "America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil," the president said. "And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change." Yeah, that one. The one where he talked about vehicles that would 'use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel' produced from 'everything from wood chips to grasses, to agricultural wastes'

That was BS. No big surprise there. While many argue that George W. Bush is the worst president in history, few environmentalists would argue if you told them he was one of the most disappointing. In every State of the Union address since 2001, Bush has made noise about fuel efficiency, energy, and the environment. And every year, he's failed to even try to keep those promises. It's the lie he tells us every year.

But the language was stronger this time. The promises less vague. His energy policy initiative tells us he would reduce dependency by 'Increasing The Supply Of Renewable And Alternative Fuels By Setting A Mandatory Fuels Standard To Require 35 Billion Gallons Of Renewable And Alternative Fuels In 2017 – Nearly Five Times The 2012 Target Now In Law.' That was months ago. Haven't heard a lot about that one since, have you?

Given that, this story should come as no surprise.


Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.

Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.

But H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said this policy was a long-standing one, meant to honor international protocols for meetings where the topics of discussion are negotiated in advance.

Hall's explanation makes less sense when you when you get to the immediately following paragraph:

Listed as a "new requirement" for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel "involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears" require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.

So only these topics require special permission to talk about, but not any other. If I were going to Norway to talk about erosion in fjords or Jamaica to talk about papaya blight (if there is such a thing), I could say pretty much whatever I wanted, regardless of what had been 'negotiated in advance.' It's polar bears, global warming, and ice that I need to avoid.

Bush, apparently, doesn't get global warming after all. He was just doing what he always does, lying during the SOTU. Nothing has changed -- the Bush administration is still covering up evidence of climate change and gagging government scientists. In January, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) put out a study of 1,600 climate scientists that showed, "Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change,' 'global warming,' or other similar terms from a variety of communications. Forty-three percent of respondents reported they had perceived or personally experienced changes or edits during review of their work that changed the meaning of their scientific findings. And nearly half (46 percent) perceived or personally experienced new or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate-related work." Since then nothing has changed.

So now, scientists have to deal with BS like this, from the Reuters story again:

Hall defended the policy laid out in the memos, saying it was meant to keep scientists from straying from a set agenda at meetings in countries like Russia, Norway and Canada.

For example, he said, one meeting was about "human and polar bear interface." Receding Arctic sea ice where polar bears live and the global climate change that likely played a role in the melting were not proper discussion topics, he said.

"That's not a climate change discussion," Hall said at a telephone briefing. "That's a management, on-the-ground type discussion."

Excuse me, but what the hell are you talking about? As polar ice recedes and bears move south, there's going to be one helluva lot more 'human and polar bear interface' and it's not going to be pretty. Trying managing that problem without discussing the relationship of the bears to the ice.

But that's George W. Bush. He says one thing and does another -- constantly. There's a word for that. 'Liar.' In fact, 'serial liar.' Remember when everyone on the right was all bent out of shape over Clinton and lying? They tried to impeach him for it. "Character counts," we were told.

Apparently, it only counts when the character in question belongs to a democrat. Republicans are above questions of character. They can lie their lying asses off and that's just great.

In their defense, I think voters on the right are probably so used to being lied to that they don't even notice it anymore. It's like wallpaper for their lives; you only see it when you look at it. How long have they been told that they were going to get abortion outlawed, how long have they been told flag burning was going to be illegal, and how long have they been promised some sort of crackdown on gays? As long as I can remember -- back to Nixon buddying up to Jerry Falwell, at least. Hasn't really gone anywhere, though. Instead, they get a bunch of wealth-friendly legislation that screws most of them over. And the rest of us, too.

Well, that and the occasional war. That way, we get a chance to wave all the flags we haven't burned.

The media never follows up on Bush's SOTU promises. We have to look at stories like this and go back and make the comparison ourselves. Politics is a big deal for me, so I make the time. But most of us don't have the time it takes and the press fails to do it. These lies are just boldly stated, then allowed to slowly fade away -- forgotten by anyone but the few with the time to keep track of this stuff. Otherwise, it's straight down the memory hole.

The polar bears, the ice, the scientists, and the State of the Union are symptoms. The disease is neglect. We neglect our environment and our media neglects history. If Bush says one thing, then months later does something else, the original statement never happened. History doesn't exist, other than in terms of decades.

The problem is much bigger than the bears. We need to do more than just reclaim our government. We have to reclaim history and reality.


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