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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hillbillies and Propagandists: The Bush Administration's Approach to Science

I usually figure out what I'm going to write about the night before. I bookmark news stories and add notes so that all I really have to do is string it all together. Sometimes, I wake up, turn on the news, and something else gets my attention. So I post about that. But most of the time, this system stands.

Last night, I tagged a story at 27B Stroke 6 and added the note, "It just never stops with these guys..."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance (IPCC) today released a frightening summary (.pdf) of its latest report on climate change, predicting flood, drought and a host of biblical trouble that could wreak havoc on the planet in coming years. You can be sure that the 20-page summary is about as far into the report as most policymakers will get, which is why governmental delegates were meddling with it up to the last minute. Reuters quotes Neil Adger, one of the report's lead authors, as saying: "Very blatant vested interests are trying to stop particular messages getting out."

We're pointed to a pre-dawn press briefing on the report by Dr. Sharon Hays, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jim Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality.

There was a reason why this was a pre-dawn briefing and Hays opened up with it. "I want to give you a little bit of background on the report," Hays told reporters, "Go over some of what I consider to be the key findings, since I realize that many of you probably haven't seen the report itself, and then we'll open it up to questions."

In other words, "I want to tell you what this report says before you've seen it." No better way to spin something -- which she does pretty quickly. "I think there's a couple of additional facts to note," she told reporters, "In terms of this projection of this range of future impacts, including the fact that not all projected impacts are negative."

Of course not. Just think of the boom coming for the ice cold smoothie industry. Why, climate change is a positive boon for mankind.

But this was a real fun part:

[T]his is, I think, a good opportunity to make sure that you understand another really important point in developing these summary documents, and that is that many of the lead scientific authors of the underlying technical report are present during the discussions. And so those scientific authors played a very important role in helping the governments involved in these discussions to make sure that the summary document accurately reflect the scope of all of the information in their much longer technical report.

Complete BS. To go back to the Reuters article cited by 27B Stroke 6, we discover that the scientists see the report -- urgent as it is -- as a watered down version. "Environmentalists say governments tried to weaken the report in order to avoid taking strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Reuters reported. "China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were the main culprits at the meeting, delegates said."

The US wasn't mentioned as an obstacle by Reuters, but USA Today pulled no punches.

Patricia Romero Lankao, a sociologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., confirmed that delegates from the United States, China and Saudi Arabia forced the writers of the report summary to "downplay" the level of certainly about the damage to the environment and species by human-caused warming.

“That was a really hard discussion,” Romero Lankao told [USA Today reporter Patrick] O'Driscol in a telephone conference call from Brussels.

Stanford University biologist Terry Root, whose own chapter in the report was the one in dispute, told O'Driscoll: “It is really of concern if governments are allowed to rewrite some of the science, changing some of what we know at a very high confidence level. I’m concerned. We’re jeopardizing the power that the IPCC report carries.”

This administration has an extremely bad record of interfering in science. From censoring terms like 'polar bears' and 'global warming' to telling NASA scientists not to refer to the Big Bang, since it contradicts creationism.

The Bush administration's approach to science is a breathtaking mix of industry propaganda and hillbilly belief systems. They appointed a quack who argues that premarital sex literally causes mental illness to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs -- a post that oversees family planning programs. This despite the fact that said doctor, Eric Keroack, was widely considered to be a quack.

We can't afford these ignorant dopes anymore. It was bad enough when they limited their screwing with science to the US. But now they're taking their BS campaign on world tour. Climate change is too damned important to let these morons try to spin it away.


Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; It's time to stop letting the hillbillies and corporate shills in the screw with real

1 comment:

shooflypie said...

Don't know about you, but I'm scared :(
Found a html version of the IPCC report at