Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Climate Change and Government Practice

This may become a multiple post day, but there are many things that I am interested in and which are moving very quickly, so bear with me.

I want to call attention to a new (long) report from the Government Accountability Project. Entitled "Redacting the Science of Climate Change" (pdf), it would add credence to the story of government policy manipulation that Chris Mooney laid out in The Republican War on Science.
This report, which presents and synthesizes the findings of a year-long investigation to determine the extent of political interference at federal climate science agencies, demonstrates how policies and practices have increasingly restricted the flow of scientific information emerging from publicly-funded climate change research. This has affected the media's ability to report on the science, public officials’ capacity to respond with appropriate policies, and the public's grasp of an environmental issue with profound consequences for our future.
Author Tarek Maassarani clearly outlines the process by which the flow of "sensitive" scientific information was throttled down to a dribble at a time when the seriousness of the impact of climate change absolutely requires scientifically informed decisions at all levels of society.

I find it interesting to note that Maassarani begins his story with Scientific Communications with the media. While you would expect that most of the attention would be focused on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or on NASA, where our most well known climate researcher, Dr. James Hansen works, the Enviornmental Protection Administration came in for its share of scrutiny.
On June 20, 2006, Cornelia Dean of The New York Times [“Next Victim of Warming: The Beaches”] reported that James Titus, EPA project manager for sea level rise, was no longer allowed to publicly discuss issues such as beach erosion, and that all such questions were to be routed to the EPA’s press office.
Thomas Jefferson is frequently quoted as to the relationship between Democracy and the being informed. "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government:..." [Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. ME 7:253]. When our government takes away our right to be truly informed and makes it all a game of political spinmanship, our Democracy in truly an endangered specie.

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