Environment

New Report Reveals Bush Manipulated Climate Science, Supressed Scientists

As Al Gore accepted his Nobel yesterday, a new report revealed just how low the Bush Administration sunk to cover up the climate crisis.
This story is written by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, and Ali Frick.

"The earth has a fever. And the fever is rising," warned former vice president Al Gore yesterday, accepting the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as "one of the world's leading environmental politicians."

Also accepting the award was Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), accepting the award on behalf of the world's preeminent scientific body unearthing the link between human activity and global warming. Before presenting the award to Gore and Pachauri, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, praised them for "moving climate to the top of the world agenda." Mjoes also added that "this year's choice was not a difficult decision," linking "the threats posed by climate change to the foundations of human stability and peace."

As the duo accepted their prizes, the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing the White House's egregious manipulation of climate change science. While much of Gore's speech focused on the impacts of the "planetary emergency" we now face, he did note that there is still time for action. "We have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst -- not all -- of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly," Gore said, specifically placing the "onus on the US and China to take the lead."

White House Junk Science

Science is warning us" to prevent a "permanent carbon summer," Gore declared yesterday. The White House, however, will not accept this science. In its report yesterday, the House Oversight Committee came to the "inescapable conclusion" that "the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming."

The administration censored 150 federal climate scientists from eight federal agencies and "exerted unusual control over the public statements of federal scientists on climate change issues." In response, the committee's conservative minority attacked the report: "The majority has relied on selective passages from two hearings, one deposition, and one transcribed interview to make grossly exaggerated claims of political interference with climate change science." White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the report simply "untrue."

But the committee's conclusions are consistent with the testimony of multiple former federal employees who were forced to fix the facts to fit White House policy. "The Bush Administration has acted as if the oil industry's communications plan were its mission statement," the report added.

Climate Change Outcast

A central tenet of Gore and Pachauri's acceptance speeches was urging action at Bali, where hundreds of delegates are working on a post-Kyoto climate change framework. "The question is whether the participants in Bali will support what Willy Brandt referred to as 'reasonable politics,'" Pachauri said. "If they do so at Bali and beyond then all my colleagues in the IPCC and those thousands toiling for the cause of science would feel doubly honored at the privilege I am receiving today on their behalf."

But U.S. negotiators insisted on removing crucial mandatory targets for cutting carbon dioxide that called for "reductions of 25 to 40 percent in richer nations' emissions" by 2020. Instead, the United States is charting its own voluntary targets at Bali, claiming caps would damage the economy.

Furthermore, the "United States is not ready to commit to limits on greenhouse gas emissions in part because the Bush administration is holding a series of climate conferences with the "major economies." James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said that these talks will help "reach agreement on a long-term global goal for reducing emissions."

Unfortunately, the "United States, the only major industrialized nation to reject the Kyoto treaty, is widely seen as the outcast of Bali," observed the LA Times.>

The IPCC Pioneers

In reality, climate change solutions are attainable and affordable. In a recent report, the IPCC -- comprised of the world's top scientists -- noted that successful global plans to combat global warming can be undertaken with a very modest reduction in global annual GDP growth of 0.12 percent.

In November, officials from more than 150 companies around the world -- worth "nearly $4 trillion in market capitalization" -- signed a petition demanding "urgent measures to cut greenhouse gas pollution at least in half by 2050." Like Gore, Pachauri urged yesterday that "it is within the reach of human society to meet these threats.

The impacts of climate change can be limited by suitable adaptation measures and stringent mitigation of greenhouse gas emission." While the science behind climate change is "unequivocal," there is still work to be done to advance the science. "There is also notable lack of geographic data and literature on observed changes, with marked scarcity in developing countries. Future changes in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet mass are another major source of uncertainty that could increase sea level rise projections. The need for further scientific input calls for continued trust and cooperation from policymakers and society at large to support the work needed for scientific progress," Pachauri said.

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