Saturday, September 30, 2006

BUSH ADMINISTRATION ATTACKS SCIENCE

The Bush administration is riding with a heavy hand over the research of this country’s Scientists and Researchers. Censoring and hand picking science to conform to his administrations goals. Even over riding existing laws and regulations which are protecting our health and well being.

ATTACK S ON ACADEMIA:

In an article at Blue Oregon it is shown how this distortion is starting early.
At an informal meeting of the World Affairs Council’s Young Professionals it was discussed how “a civil society cannot exist unless critical thought is promoted, from kindergarten through the university level:
Yet we find the Neo-cons running a website called Students For Academic Freedom which promotes itself as a “clearing house and communications center for a national coalition of student organizations whose goal is to end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge.”

Don’t be fooled! This is just another Bushism for a site that instead of promoting discussion of academic freedom, serves as a spring board for promoting neo-con agendas such as those of the Christian right and tying Federal funding to those agendas. It also serves as a place for conservative students to inform on “controversial professors” who among other things criticize the US policies in Iraq.

The Blue Oregon report tells us that hostilities against the intellectuals are nothing new for regimes which hunger for power.
“Take, for example, the Khmer Rouge, who, emulating Stalin's model, murdered thousands of doctors, lawyers, philosophers, writers and university professors a mere 30 years ago. As for Stalin, the “intelligensia class” was among the first groups targeted in his Great Purges of the 1930s and 40s.”

BUSH DISCOUNTS GLOBAL WARMING
In 2002 the Environmental Protection Agency released a report which was surprising in its agreement with what many scientists and weather experts had long been saying - that human activity was adding to Global Warming.

In this coverage from CBS News we find that when asked about this, the first report of his administration to link global warming and human sources, Bush replied dismissivley: “"I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," adding that he still opposes the Kyoto treaty.”

National Environmental Trust president, Philip Clapp, hailed the report: “(The report) undercuts everything the president has said about global warming since he took office”

During his campaign for election in 2004 Salon reports that Bush is “...certainly not going to bring up global warming, which he's done so little about. "Bush is not mentioning it because it goes against the major interest of his supporters," says Ross Gelbspan, author of a new book on global warming called “Boiling Point” which calls for buying out coal miners to speed the transition from CO2-intensive coal to electricity made from renewable sources. "Bush has given the reins of our climate and energy policies to the coal and oil industries completely."

Oil and gas companies have contributed more than $2 million to Bush's reelection effort, making him the largest recipient of the industry's campaign dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics ; and the coal industry has given his reelection effort more than $200,000, making the president that industry's biggest beneficiary too.”

“"His response to everything is we still need more study," says Robert F. Kennedy Jr. "You're never going to get a scientist to say there is an absolute certainty that this consequence is going to happen. You're standing on a railroad track and a train is coming. A scientist is not going to say that there is a complete 100 percent certainty that that train is going to hit you, but it's still a good idea to get off the track."”

BUSH IS OUR SAVIOR FROM GLOBAL WARMING:
In a July 2006 interview with People Magazine Bush had this to say:

“I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it's caused by mankind or whether it's caused naturally, but it's a worthy debate. It's a debate, actually, that I'm in the process of solving by advancing new technologies, burning coal cleanly in electric plants, or promoting hydrogen-powered automobiles, or advancing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.”

But Matt Stoller at MyDD has another opinion of Bush’s statements:

“...Bush is certainly doubt-mongering. But that's not all, because he's also casting himself as the hero of the story. You see, he's also personally solving the problem of global warming by advancing new technologies like hydrogen cars.”

The “New Technology” argument is just another in the :rhetorical set of tricks that the global warming deniers and apologists use to prevent the American people from activating the political system”

Matt concludes with an interpretation of Bush’s statement:

“There's no problem, really, and it's not our fault if there is a problem, and don't worry, the non-problem is being taken care of by magic ponies.”

THE FINAL PROOF
Since we began monitoring the extent of the North Polar sea ice by sattelite in 1979 the average decline in the maximum winter ice pack was 1.5% per decade. For both of the last two years the decline was 6% each year.

The summer time sea ice quantity continues its retreat at a steady 10% per decade.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center research scientist Joey Comiso used sattelite data from 1978-2006 in his research which included data from aircraft instruments and all were checked against ground based meteorological instruments.

In an article at the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Website Comiso states:

"This amount of Arctic sea ice reduction the past two consecutive winters has not taken place before during the 27 years satellite data has been available,"

"In the past, sea ice reduction in winter was significantly lower per decade compared to summer sea ice retreat. What's remarkable is that we've witnessed sea ice reduction at six percent per year over just the last two winters, most likely a result of warming due to greenhouse gases."

Aggravating the condition is the fact the fall freeze is occurring two weeks later each year.
The less ice and the longer the water is open the more solar heat is absorbed. Thus it becomes a self supporting loop and the melt continues.

BUT DO HUMANS REALLY ADD TO GLOBAL WARMING?
Global Warming is a natural phenomenon which occurs in a cycle of approximately 100,000 years.

This is actually a collection of various earth cycles known as the Milankovitch Cycles comprised of the eccentricity of the Earths orbit around the Sun, the tilt of the earths axis and the precession of the earths orbit.

Each of these have different time spans which when combined create the warming and cooling cycles the earth has experienced over history.

Of course the actual climate changes evoked by this cycle are complicated and would take much bandwidth here to explore.

From Ice cores, sea bed cores and other means we are able to get a glimpse at these cycles.

Ice Core Samples dating back as far as 800,000 years show a clear correlation between CO2 and CH4 (Methane) concentrations in the atmosphere and the average temperatures.

Therefore it can be said Global Warming is in fact a natural occurrence accompanied by elevations in greenhouse gasses. But which is cause and which is effect?

Putting that question aside and just observing the natural cycles of both these phenomenon reveals the problem.

There is no doubt that humans have contributed much to the carbon dioxide concentrations in the air over the last century and a half. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil have released billions of tons of carbon that had previously been locked up in the ground.

We know that this carbon in the atmosphere reflects radiant heat back to the earth causing some warming.

What is reveling is the accelerating rate of warming compared with the historical mapping from the ice core samples.

This warming over the last 1,000 years is represented by what has been known as the Hockey Stick Graph for its shape similar to a hockey stick.

It shows a very gradual decline of 0.2 degree centigrade over 900 years and then a sharp climb of 1.1 degrees centigrade over the last 100 years.

In correlation, the rate of increase in CO2 - typically about 30ppm per 1,000 years, has risen 30ppm in just the last 17 years to a record high of 380ppm, well above the 200-300 historical average.

THE SUN IS MUCH MORE ACTIVE RIGHT NOW, ISN’T THAT WHY IT’S HOTTER?
In an article in Scientific American we find that although there are in fact changes in the Sun’s activity they are self-canceling and the total solar output varies by no more than 0.1% over its 11 year cycle:

“A reasonable question is whether natural changes such as solar activity could have caused or contributed to the upturned blade of that [hockey] stick, perhaps because the sun's luminosity varies widely over centuries or more. "The question is, were there times in the past when it was equally warm, and the answer is no," says Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research”

“The sun's luminosity swings up and down by less than 0.1 percent in accord with an 11-year cycle of sunspots and faculae, bright areas of heightened output. This cycle accounts for most of the sun's variability. Recent simulations reinforce the idea that convection inside the sun rapidly smoothes out internal hot spots before their concentrated heat can escape like an upwelling of magma, the researchers note. This inertia allows surface changes to have a discernible effect and explains why no additional sources of variation have been identified so far, they say”

BUSH ADMINISTRATION BLOCKS SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION ON WARMING/HURRICANE LINK SHORTLY AFTER KATRINA
This article at Think Progress highlights a letter from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) ranking member on the Government Reform Committee to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In this letter he complains about copies of emails he received showing that a post-Katrena CNBC interview with NOAA scientist Tom Knutson had been scrubbed because he held the belief that Global Warming could yield a small increase in hurrican strength.

IF GLOBAL WARMING ADDS TO HURRICANES, WHY IS SUCH A CALM YEAR THIS YEAR
CNN brings us news of a new El Nino cycle which has formed in the Pacific. These El Nino cycles have a moderating affect on Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.

“September 13, 2006 El Nino, an extreme warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean that wreaks havoc with world weather conditions, has formed and will last into 2007, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday”

“So far, there have only been seven tropical storms and two hurricanes halfway through the hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends November 30.

“Scientists said El Nino disrupts storm formation because it allows wind shear to rip apart thunderstorms in the center of the hurricanes, reducing power and intensity as a result.”

OTHER TYPES OF SCIENCE TARGETED AS WELL
the Washington Post reports that even studies and programs to protect the salmon in the American west are under attack.

The Washington office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has instructed its scientists to route their communications with the media through their headquarters.

Only three people are now authorized to speak to the media regarding salmon. All three persons are political appointees.

These instructions were enacted the day after a federal judge ruled that during drought years water delivery to farmers must be limited to protect the salmon. At the same time a report by federal scientists with NOAA and the Interior Department calling for the removal or reconstruction of dams to allow salmon to pass through to spawn.
Both of these developments flew in the face of Bush policy.


SIXTY TWO LEADING SCIENTISTS LODGE COMPLAINT
Sixty two of this country’s leading scientist lodge a complaint in early 2004 AGAINST THE Bush administration for its misrepresentation and suppression of scientific knowledge for political purposes.

Tidepool reports:

"Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front," the statement said. "Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies."

They go on to state:

“Now it's one thing to ignore research when making policy. What the Bush Administration has done goes beyond this -- they have repeatedly and systematically censored or tried to manipulate federally-funded, widely-accepted scientific information from the public”.

“"What we are seeing here, and we have not seen it before, is an administration that distorts the process by which it gets advice and censors the advice it gets from its own scientists," Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the LA Times.”

"Science, to quote President Bush's father, the former president, relies on freedom of inquiry and objectivity,” said Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford, who joined the scientists in calling for action. “But this administration has obstructed that freedom and distorted that objectivity in ways that were unheard of in any previous administration."

CLIMATE RESEARCHERS HAVE MANY COMPLAINTS
Climate scientists are concerned about the American public not getting the complete and acurate information on global warming. It is hard for these scientists to speak out to the public or the media.

Truthout reports:

“Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a US Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well”

“These scientists - working nationwide in research centers in such places as Princeton, NJ, and Boulder, Colorado - say they are required to clear all media requests with administration officials, something they did not have to do until the summer of 2004. Before then, point climate researchers ...were relatively free to discuss their findings without strict agency oversight.”

“Thomas Delworth, one of Stouffer's colleagues, said the policy means Americans have only "a partial sense" of what government scientists have learned about climate change."

"American taxpayers are paying the bill, and they have a right to know what we're doing," he said.”

JAMES HANSEN A LEADER IN THE PROTEST AGAINST THE CENSORSHIP
63 year old Physicist Dr. James Hansen joined the space agency in 1967 and now works at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

He has had conflicts in the past with various politicians including George Bush Sr. And even Al Gore.

In 2001 he was invited twice to brief Vice President Cheney and other administration personel on global warming.

Dr. Hansen is without a doubt one of the world’s leading researchers on global warming.. The head of NASA’s top institute studying climate change.

In a report by CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley first reported last spring, this imminent scientist says that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say.

Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

"I find a willingness to listen only to those portions of scientific results that fit predetermined inflexible positions. This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster."
NASA has been keeping a close watch over Hansen and Pelly’s interview was only allowed with a NASA representative in the room taping the conversation.

"I object to the fact that I’m not able to freely communicate via the media," says Hansen.

"National Public Radio wanted to interview me and they were told they would need to interview someone at NASA headquarters and the comment was made that they didn’t want Jim Hansen going on the most liberal media in America. So I don’t think that kind of decision should be made on that kind of basis. I think we should be able to communicate the science."

Hansen has not only clashed with Bush, but also the Clinton administration which wanted him to spin the research to make it look worse than it really is. Being a man of integrity he refused to do so.

"Should we be simply doing our science and reporting it rigorously, or to what degree the administration in power has the right to assume that you should be a spokesman for the administration?" asks Hansen. "I've tried to be a straight scientist doing the science and reporting it as best I can."

According to a report in the Wshington Post, while speaking at the New School University, Hansen claimed:

"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States,"

“New School President Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, said he invited Hansen to speak because he was "very concerned" about what he called the administration's efforts to steer the debate over global warming: "It's not only inappropriate; it stifles the very debate we're trying to have today, and that we need to have on this issue."”

THE OIL INDUSTRY CONNECTION
Also in the report by CBS News we meet Rick Piltz who co-writes the reports for the federal Climate Change Science Program.

Plitz has this to say about the process:

"The strategy of people with a political agenda to avoid this issue is to say there is so much to study way upstream here that we can’t even being to discuss impacts and response strategies,
There’s too much uncertainty. It's not the climate scientists that are saying that, its lawyers and politicians."

Piltz worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Each year, he helped write a report to Congress called "Our Changing Planet."

Piltz says he is responsible for editing the report and sending a review draft to the White House.

Asked what happens then, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."

As it turns out, the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality is a man by the name of Phil Cooney.

Piltz says: "He's a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House,".

Piltz claims Cooney edited climate reports in his own hand. In one report, a line that said earth is undergoing rapid change becomes “may be undergoing change.”

“Uncertainty” becomes “significant remaining uncertainty.” One line that says energy production contributes to warming was just crossed out.

"He was obviously passing it through a political screen," says Piltz. "He would put in the word potential or may or weaken or delete text that had to do with the likely consequence of climate change, pump up uncertainty language throughout."

THE COAL INDUSTRY LINK
In another report at Tide Pool it is revealed that;

“The federal government filed charges against energy companies because they had violated a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires plants to install pollution control mechanisms on old coal fired power plants whenever a plant is upgraded or expanded. The Bush Administration -- heavily funded by those energy companies -- changed the law to help those companies beat the federal charges. If the Post report is true, officials within the Bush Administration also mislead Congress prior to the passage of the new rules.

“So this summer the Bush Administration changed that part of the law by expanding the definition of "routine maintenance" which was exempt from the requirements. Under the Bush definition, "routine maintenance" now covers expansions and upgrades costing millions of dollars -- even if the upgrades result in increased pollution they are now exempt for Clean Air Act requirements.

Moreover, because this change was made by altering the definition of a key term in the law, it undermined federal enforcement cases pending against Bush Administration friends and funders. Judges will now be forced to consider the cases before them based on the new definition of the term, assuming it is the "correct" definition.”

AND SO IT GOES