President claims human influence on global warming is fundamentally in question

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At a March 29 press briefing, in response to a question about global warming, the President said, “Well, first of all, the globe is warming—the fundamental debate, is it manmade or natural?”  In a March 31 interview on KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, Climate Science Watch Director Rick Piltz said, “For the President to say there is a “fundamental debate” about that—that’s misrepresenting the intelligence on an issue of tremendous importance to the future of this society, in order to conform the intelligence to a predetermined political position.”

KPFK-FM (90.7) Evening News, Los Angeles, March 31, 2006

[from a longer interview]

Molly Paige, News Director: NASA is offering a new media policy after accusations it had censored space agency scientists on global warming.  The policy, found at nasa.gov, states scientific and technical information from or about space agency programs and projects will be accurate and unfiltered.  Rick Piltz, founder and director of Climate Science Watch:

RP:  It does seem to be a step in the right direction, in terms of lifting some of the heavy hand of overt censorship on NASA climate scientists, in particular Jim Hansen.  We don’t see the same kinds of steps forward at some of the other key federal agencies.  NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, still has an egregious media policy.  EPA has problems.  We’re heading toward another hurricane season.  This kind of thing cannot be allowed to continue through another season, where political offices are picking and choosing which scientists are allowed to answer questions.

Beyond lifting the censorship—which is really a terrible situation for us to be in, as far as the national intelligence on this—even if scientists are speaking freely, you still have to have the political leadership use what they are saying, from all the billions of research we support.  And just the other day [March 29], the President, during a press briefing Q&A, one of the reporters, from Australia, asked a question about global warming and the President said, “Well, first of all, the globe is warming—the fundamental debate, is it manmade or natural?”

That is a complete misrepresentation of the state of scientific understanding.  There is no “fundamental debate” on whether global warming has a human influence.  The general agreement among leading climate scientists is that the last 50 years of global warming is largely human-caused, and that greater warming and climate disruption is projected within the lifetimes of people who are living today.  For the President to say there is a “fundamental debate” about that—that’s misrepresenting the intelligence on an issue of tremendous importance to the future of this society, in order to conform the intelligence to a predetermined political position.  And you’d think that, with all the billions we’ve spent on research, it would have caused the President to budge just a little bit in his understanding, or his representation, of this problem.

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