Science, Politics, and Global Warming

When policy and science collide in the Bush administration, it's like an 18-wheeler smashing into a Yugo. Science doesn't survive, as witnesses (including Rick Piltz, formerly of the federal Climate Change Science Program) told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday.

Part of his job, Mr. Piltz said, was to compile periodic assessments of government climate research for the Congress. “This report has essentially been made to vanish by the Bush administration,” he said.

The testimony coincides with the release of a report that documents and criticizes the administration's "widespread political interference in federal climate science." The Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed climate scientists, with disturbing results.

The scientists who responded reported experiencing at least 435 occurrences of political interference in their work over the past five years. 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.

The report offers a suggestion to Congress.

"The new Congress must act to prevent the continued interference with science for political purposes," said Maassarani. "A good first step would be for Congress to amend current whistle blower protections to specifically protect the rights of federal government scientists."
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    From today's LA TImes (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 03:54:59 PM EST
    U.N. says there's no stopping global warming
    Report also says climate change is 'very likely' the result of human activities.
    By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
    February 2, 2007

    In the strongest language it has ever used, a United Nations panel says global warming is "very likely" caused by human activities and has become a runaway train that cannot be stopped.

    The warming of Earth and increases in sea levels "would continue for centuries ... even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized," according to a 20-page summary of the report that was leaked to wire services.

    Billmon in September 2006 (none / 0) (#26)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 04:07:10 PM EST
    posted a story about:

    British scientist James Lovelock and his warning that catastrophic global climate change is both imminent and unstoppable:

    Within the next decade or two, Lovelock forecasts, Gaia will hike her thermostat by at least 10 degrees. Earth, he predicts, will be hotter than at any time since the Eocene Age 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Ocean.

    "There's no realization of how quickly and irreversibly the planet is changing," Lovelock says. "Maybe 200 million people will migrate close to the Arctic and survive this. Even if we took extraordinary steps, it would take the world 1,000 years to recover."

    It would be easy to view this as just another kooky end-of-the-world theory, if it weren't for the history of some of Lovelock's other kooky theories -- like the time in the late '70s when he hypothesized that chlorofluorocarbons wafted high into the stratosphere would eat great big holes in the ozone layer, exposing first the polar regions and then the rest of the earth's surface to increasingly harmful ultraviolet radiation. What a nut.

    Stern Warnings (none / 0) (#27)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 04:10:12 PM EST
    The global picture
    A British government report says global warming could have a disastrous effect on the world's economy, shrinking it by 20%.

    Tackling the problem now would require 1% of global gross domestic product, the report by the economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, says.

    The latest global warming report is a huge contrast to Washington's current approach to global warming.

    The Bush administration decided not to ratify the Kyoto protocol and that called for far more moderate cuts in carbon dioxide emissions than those suggested by the Stern report:

    The world has to act now on climate change or face devastating economic consequences, according to a report compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern for the UK government.

    What is that (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 10:20:36 AM EST

    What is "federal climate science" anyway?  Is there something inherently wrong with avoiding politically charged terms from "scientific" documents?

    Since the climate has been changing continuosly for hundreds of millions of years, the very term "cimate change" is somewhat misleading.

    Stop faking ignorance (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 10:46:25 AM EST
    You're neither satircal nor pointed.  If you don't want our federal government to tackle a federal (global) problem we contribute to at a wildly unacceptable rate, then just say so.  And then go tell your children that when you f*ck things up you don't need to help unf*ck them, you just shrug and say "It's someone else's problem."  

    Be a serious person here or don't waste the bandwidth.


    Dadler (none / 0) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 05:00:53 PM EST
    Wow. You have really turned into a Leftie, guy. Everyone has freedom of speech, to agree with you.

    If you can't stand the heat, why don't you get out of the kitchen?


    Question (none / 0) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 10:48:05 AM EST
    Is there something inherently wrong with avoiding politically charged terms from "scientific" documents?

    When doing so comes into direct conflict with scientific inquiry? Yes.

    Am I missing something here?


    Please don't flaunt your ignorance (none / 0) (#6)
    by Al on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 11:53:03 AM EST
    Since the climate has been changing continuosly for hundreds of millions of years, the very term "cimate change" is somewhat misleading.

    The spike in global mean temperature is very recent, and coincides with the growth in industrial activity. Come back when you've done some research into the subject before expressing an opinion. You can start with the IPCC report.

    Yeah! (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 11:12:03 AM EST
    Expressing opinion when you don't know anything is  left for military matters on this board!  Everything else, you better know what you are talking about, buddy!

    so... (none / 0) (#11)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:10:12 PM EST
    Just about everything I have read on climate indicates human impact from since the human use of fire and the dawn of agriculture.

    ...for example? Are you going to quantify any of this stuff?


    Do trolls (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:24:35 PM EST
    actually quantify? Or just take up space? ;-)

    here is a link (none / 0) (#16)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 10:36:24 PM EST

    Humans were burning biofuels long before fosil fuels


    Jim Hansen? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 11:24:01 AM EST
    The Threat to the Planet
    Jim Hansen
    Do we have politicians with the courage to explain to the public what is needed? Or may it be that such people are not electable, in view of the obstacles presented by television, campaign financing, and the opposition of energy companies and other special interests? That brings me to Al Gore's book and movie of the same name: An Inconvenient Truth.
    Indeed, Gore was prescient. For decades he has maintained that the Earth was teetering in the balance, even when doing so subjected him to ridicule from other politicians and cost him votes. By telling the story of climate change with striking clarity in both his book and movie, Al Gore may have done for global warming what Silent Spring did for pesticides. He will be attacked, but the public will have the information needed to distinguish our long-term well-being from short-term special interests.
    Perhaps the country came close to having the leadership it needed to deal with a grave threat to the planet, but did not realize it.
    *Jim Hansen is Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

    Disingenuous (none / 0) (#17)
    by Al on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:05:30 AM EST
    Are you going to quantify any of this stuff?

    If you don't know about the quantitative evidence, you shouldn't be commenting anything. Read the IPCC reports. Go to realclimate.org and learn something.

    Thin gruel (none / 0) (#18)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 07:55:41 AM EST
    I have read quite a lot of that.  There does not seem to be much is the way of quantative evidence.  In addition, nothing to clearly explain warmer periods in history that lacked SUV's and coal burning.  Nor does there appear to be a coherent explanation of the cooling between the 1930's and the 1970's.

    As climate science is in its infancy, that is not suprising.


    climate science is in its infancy (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 11:26:26 AM EST
    Trolls quite often start with unsupportable disinformation and unsubstantiatable lies, hoping to divert the discussion off topic.

    Usually they also have no idea how transparent they are.


    Politically controlled science is not science (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 11:19:25 AM EST
    US answer to global warming: smoke and giant space mirrors
    David Adam, environment correspondent
    Saturday January 27, 2007
    The Guardian
    The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned. It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday.

    The US has also attempted to steer the UN report, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), away from conclusions that would support a new worldwide climate treaty based on binding targets to reduce emissions - as sought by Tony Blair. It has demanded a draft of the report be changed to emphasise the benefits of voluntary agreements and to include criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing treaty which the US administration opposes.

    Hat tip to aw.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 11:41:02 AM EST
    These weather maps are pretty hard to ignore


    Now that Bush's administration is officially admitting that humans activity is contributing to global warming, perhaps we will see the naysayers start to realize that they've been simply played for fools by Exxon-Mobil

    Terms (none / 0) (#7)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 12:02:06 PM EST

    To some the term "global warming" means what has been more or less naturally occurring since the end of the last ice age.  To others it means human induced heating of the planet to catastrophic or soon to be catastrophic levels.  Using terms that have different meanings to different readers is not good policy.

    Take this forex.

    "Now that Bush's administration is officially admitting that humans activity is contributing to global warming..."

    Just about everything I have read on climate indicates human impact from since the human use of fire and the dawn of agriculture.  No one seems to deny that.  So why is this admission noteworthy in the least?  Its not from a scientific prospective, but it is from the political.

    Wilfully obtuse, with an agenda, IMO (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 12:10:56 PM EST
    The sons of the Prophet are many and bold
    and quite unaccustomed to fear,
    But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
    Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

    If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
    Or harass the foe from the rear,
    Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
    for Abdul Abulbul Amir.


    George Melly (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 01:28:58 PM EST

    George Melly has IMO the best recording available.

    BTW, the temperature here has gone up eight degrees in the past six hours.  If that trend continues we will all be cooked to death well before Valentines day.


    George Melly has IMO the best recording available (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by desertswine on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:29:15 PM EST
    I never heard it. So it can't exist.

    The globe is warming (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:32:01 PM EST
    but my coffee is friggin' hot, and all over the monitor. Thx, d'swine... ;-)

    A better recording (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 01:48:57 PM EST
    The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release on Feb. 2 in Paris, draws on research by 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries and has taken six years to compile. Link

    The Song Remains The Same.


    Hockey sticks and hat tricks (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 08:35:02 AM EST

    You guys have been sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

    The flaws could have been discovered during the review process under even the most elementary fact-checking. Yet the review process not only allowed this paper through, but made it front-and-centre in the final Report. The question then is not whether the IPCC review process is flawed: we can no longer conclude otherwise.

    In appreciating the promotional aspect of this graph, observe not only the number of times it appears, but its size and colourful prominence every time it is shown. This can best be seen by comparing its presentation with that of another equally-important climate data series, the global average of tropospheric temperatures as developed by Christie and Spencer using weather satellites... The two data series have been of central importance in debates over climate science in recent years and both convey information with potentially pivotal implications. Yet the graph of satellite-measured tropospheric data was omitted altogether from the Summary for Policymakers. It does appear in the Technical Summary, but only in a relatively small panel (TS Figure 4a) in black-and-white, overlaid with surface data and weather balloon data in such a way that it is hard to see where the MSU series actually starts. And it is immediately followed by a full-colour hockey stick occupying over half the next (facing) page. On the following page I reproduce the page sequence from the IPCC Technical Summary. The contrast is obvious. Like a magician misdirecting the audience's attention, the IPCC drew attention towards the hockey stick.

    We were not bothered by Mann's response on this point, but it did seem pointless to differ over trivial issues. So we requested his computational code to eliminate these easily-resolved differences. To our surprise he refused to supply his computer code, a stance he maintains to today.

    In 10,000 repetitions on groups of red noise, we found that a conventional PC algorithm almost never yielded a hockey stick shaped PC1, but the Mann algorithm yielded a pronounced hockey stick-shaped PC1 over 99% of the time.

    If that doesn't make you wonder, nothing will.

    lies and the lying liars (none / 0) (#23)
    by Sailor on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 03:40:31 PM EST
    McKitrick is an economist, not a climate scientist. He works at an institute 'Fraser' that is supported by oil money.

    His climate papers, and the institute's papers, are not peer reviwed.

    The institute was also aligned with tobacco companies' efforts to stop combat the science linking health problems with tobacco.

    In his own paper sceptical of man made climate change McKitrick confused radians with degrees. Our freshmen don't do that and pass math 101.

    Yes, a standard source for ppj; another oil money bought, outside of his field of study, not peer reviwed and unable to do simple math.

    Of course ppj would believe him, he was lying and incompetent.

    "Dosnt matter" (none / 0) (#24)
    by jondee on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 03:47:03 PM EST
    if he's lying and incompetent, as long as people believe. Kinda like the Bible as actual history.

    global warming (none / 0) (#28)
    by rasta4life on Tue Feb 06, 2007 at 04:07:00 PM EST
     Global warming is a fact and now an inconvinent truth, but are soecity is built on a go go life style that was put us in a capitalistic thinking. So, now an issue like this is to be avoided, cuz the now and yourself is important, what do you think people in the whit house think about huh, ay watever i don't care thats some oneelses problem I will be able to die a rich and happy man. SO, all we can do is watch as the next generation suffers and think of the evil we have done feeling the shame.

     so was it worth the ferrari.