Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bushco Policy: Muzzle the Honest Scientists

Global warming? Let's just pretend it's not happening. The only government scientists who are free to speak to the media are the ones who hew to the "global warming, pshaw" bottom line. The ones who speak the truth? Silenced. Can only speak while a Bushco media monitor is in the room.

From the Scripps-Howard News Service (via Booman Tribune)
NOAA accused of hiding truth about global warming

Hurricanes are getting worse because of global warming.

Kerry Emanuel, a veteran climate researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made that assertion to a roomful of University of Rhode Island scientists a few months ago. He also charged the federal government's top science agency with ignoring the growing research making that link.

Instead of telling the public the truth, he said, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials are insisting that hurricanes are worse because of a natural cycle.


James E. Hansen, the top climate scientist at NASA, was quoted in The New York Times in January as saying he had been threatened with "dire consequences" by some NASA political appointees if he continued to call for limits on emissions of gases linked to global warming.

Many climate scientists at NOAA may no longer take calls from reporters, the story went on to say, unless the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and is conducted with a public-affairs officer present. But where scientists' views on climate change align with those of the administration, the Times said, there are few restrictions on speaking or writing.


Soon after Emanuel's appearance at URI to discuss his research and his new book, "Divine Wind: The History of Science and Hurricanes," The Providence Journal sought to test his conclusions.

The first call was to Isaac Held, a senior research scientist at NOAA's prestigious Geophysical Fluids Laboratory, in Princeton, N.J. It was there, last fall, that Emanuel said he first heard about NOAA censorship. Held said he hadn't been affected, but he advised calling Thomas Knutson, a NOAA scientist whose research showed a link between climate change and hurricane intensity.

"Stick to hurricanes. Talk to Tom," Held advised.

Knutson wouldn't talk.

"When we're contacted by reporters, we have to have clearance before we can speak about issues. This is NOAA's media policy," Knutson said.
He suggested calling Jana Goldman, in NOAA's public-affairs office.

Is this a new policy? he was asked.

"Check with her," Knutson said. "I'm not sure when the policy was implemented."

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