Bush Covers Up Climate Research
White House Officials Play Down Its Own Scientists' Evidence of Global Warming
PAUL HARRIS / The Observer (UK) 21sep03
New York—White House officials have undermined their own government scientists' research into climate change to play down the impact of global warming, an investigation by The Observer can reveal. The disclosure will anger environment campaigners who claim that efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions are being sabotaged because of President George W. Bush's links to the oil industry.
Myron Ebell of Competitive Enterprise Institute speaks with 2003 Julian Simon Award recipient Bjørn Lomborg at CEI's 9th Annual Dinner. More on Lomborg below.
Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue.
Central to the revelations of double dealing is the discovery of an email sent to Phil Cooney, chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, by Myron Ebell, a director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI is an ultra-conservative lobby group that has received more than $1 million in donations since 1998 from the oil giant Exxon, which sells ESSO petrol in Britain.
The email, dated 3 June 2002, reveals how White House officials wanted the CEI's help to play down the impact of a report last summer by the government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the US admitted for the first time that humans are contributing to global warming. 'Thanks for calling and asking for our help,' Ebell tells Cooney.
The email discusses possible tactics for playing down the report and getting rid of EPA officials, including its then head, Christine Whitman. 'It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible,' Ebell wrote in the email. 'Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired,' he added.
The CEI is suing another government climate research body that produced evidence for global warming. The revelation of the email's contents has prompted demands for an investigation to see if the White House and CEI are coordinating the legal attack.
'This email indicates a secret initiative by the administration to invite and orchestrate a lawsuit against itself seeking to discredit an official US government report on global warming dangers,' said Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, who has written to the White House asking for an inquiry.
The allegation was denied by White House officials and the CEI. 'It is absurd. We do not have a sweetheart relationship with the White House,' said Chris Horner, a lawyer and senior fellow of CEI.
However, environmentalists say the email fits a pattern of collusion between the Bush administration and conservative groups funded by the oil industry, who lobby against efforts to control carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming.
When Bush first came to power he withdrew the US - the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases - from the Kyoto treaty, which requires nations to limit their emissions.
Both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are former oil executives; National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was a director of the oil firm Chevron, and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans once headed an oil and gas exploration company.
'It all fits together,' said Kert Davies of Greenpeace. 'It shows that there is an effort to undermine good science. It all just smells like the oil industry. They are doing everything to allow the US to remain the world's biggest polluter.'
Other confidential documents obtained by The Observer detail White House efforts to suppress research that shows the world's climate is warming. A four-page internal EPA memo reveals that Bush's staff insisted on major amendments to the climate change section of an environmental survey of the US, published last June. One alteration indicated 'that no further changes may be made'.
The memo discusses ways of dealing with the White House editing, and warns that the section 'no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change'.
Some of the changes include deleting a summary that stated: 'Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.' Sections on the ecological effects of global warming and its impact on human health were removed. So were several sentences calling for further research on climate change.
A temperature record covering 1,000 years was also deleted, prompting the EPA memo to note: 'Emphasis is given to a recent, limited analysis [which] supports the administration's favoured message.'
White House officials added numerous qualifying words such as 'potentially' and 'may', leading the EPA to complain: 'Uncertainty is inserted where there is essentially none.'
The paper then analyses what the EPA should do about the amendments and whether they should be published at all. The options range from accepting the alterations to trying to discuss them with the White House.
When the report was finally published, however, the EPA had removed the entire global warming section to avoid including information that was not scientifically credible.
Former EPA climate policy adviser Jeremy Symons said morale at the agency had been devastated by the administration's tactics. He painted a picture of scientists afraid to conduct research for fear of angering their White House paymasters. 'They do good research,' he said. 'But they feel that they have a boss who does not want them to do it. And if they do it right, then they will get hit or their work will be buried.'
Symons left the EPA in April 2001 and now works for the National Wildlife Federation as head of its climate change programme. The Bush administration's attitude was clear from the beginning, he said, and a lot of people were working to ensure that the President did nothing to address global warming.
Additional reporting by Jason Rodrigues
source: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1046363,00.html 21sep03
Press Release / Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty 7jan03
Bjørn Lomborg, author of the controversial anti-green critique 'The Skeptical Environmentalist', has been found guilty of scientific dishonesty by a well-respected committee in his home country Denmark.
Lomborg came to prominence in August 2001 when the publication of his book caused great controversy within the scientific and environmental communities in both Europe and the United States. It was favourably reviewed in much of the non-specialist media, especially the Economist, the New York Times, and the Sunday Times. The Guardian ran extended extracts in its G2 supplement, and at the recent Earth Summit in Johannesburg, Lomborg was given a slot on BBC2 on which to expound his theories.
Today's judgement in effect upholds what Lomborg's critics have always claimed -
that his work is scientifically fraudulent and seriously misleading. Danish scientists expect the ruling to threaten his position as Director of Denmark's Institute for Enviromental Valuation, to which he was appointed by the country's new right-wing government in March 2002.
The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty, which brings together some of the most senior members of Denmark's scientific establishment, spent much of 2002 considering the evidence before concluding today that Lomborg had "clearly acted at variance with good scientific practice".
The Committee's ruling continued: "There has been such perversion of the scientific message in the form of systematically biased representation that the objective criteria for upholding scientific dishonesty... have been met." Although the Committee did not feel able to conclude that Lomborg had misled his readers deliberately, this was only because the scientists considering the case felt that Lomborg might simply have misunderstood the issues he was working on.
Jeff Harvey, a former editor of the prestigious scientific journal Nature and currently a Senior Scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, was one of the original complainants who took the case to the Danish committee. He said: "It is unfortunate that I and many others felt it necessary to take Lomborg and his book to task for the veritable deluge of inaccuracies it contains, but Lomborg has veered well across the line that divides controversial, if not competent, science from unrepentant incompetence."
He continued: "Lomborg has failed time and again to rectify the egregious distortions he makes, he has based his conclusions on cherry-picking the studies he likes, and he has seriously undermined the public's understanding of important contemporary scientific issues. Scientists must be held accountable for serious transgressions that are committed without responsibility, and this judgement goes at least some way to underlining Lomborg's dishonesty."
Notes to editors:
1. The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty's judgement is available in full to journalists. It meets under the aegis of the Danish Research Agency, and has a website on www.forsk.dk and email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: + 45 3544 6200. Alternatively, contact email@example.com (for telephone numbers see below) for an electronic copy.
2. Jeff Harvey is available for comment on the following telephone numbers: +31 26 47 91 312 (work) and +31 318 62 30 84 (home) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Senior Danish scientist Carsten Rahbek can speak to the media about the significance of the decision within the country's scientific community. He can be reached at +45 38 79 48 60 (home) and +45 35 32 10 30 (work)
4. There is also a UK-based website containing critiques of Lomborg's work on www.anti-lomborg.com. For more assistance on any UK angle contact Mark Lynas on 01865 711424 or 07811 456824.
Bjørn Lomborg, born January 6 1965, M.A. in political science (Cand.scient.pol.) 1991.
Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. 1994.
Assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, 1994-1996.
Associate professor 1997- . On leave February 1, 2001 - July 31, 2003.
Bjørn Lomborg is an
associate professor of statistics in the Department of Politital Science at the
University of Aarhus. In 1998 he published four lengthy articles about the state
of our environment in the leading Danish newspaper, which resulted in a
firestorm debate spanning over 400 articles in major metropolitan newspapers.
The articles lead to the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001,
which has now been published in Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and German, coming
out in Portugese, Italian, Korean and Japanese.
Now, Lomborg is a frequent participant in the environmental discussion, with commentaries in such places as New York Times, Globe & Mail, Daily Telegraph, and the Economist. He has also appeared on TV, such places as Politically Incorrect, ABC 60 minutes, CNN, BBC, CNBC, and PBS.
In November 2001, Lomborg was selected Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.
In February 2002, Lomborg was named director of Denmark's national Environmental Assessment Institute.
In June 2002, Lomborg was named one of the "50 stars of Europe" (as one of the 9 "agenda setters" in Europe) in Business Week (June 17)
Professional areas of interests:
Simulation of strategies in collective action dilemmas; simulation of party behavior in proportional voting systems; use of surveys in public administration; use of statistics in the environmental arena.
source: http://www.lomborg.com/biograph.htm 8jan02
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