House Oversight Jan. 30 hearing follow-up: News coverage

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Coverage of the January 30 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on climate science by the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Australian Broadcasting, New Scientist (UK), and the Christian Science Monitor.

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New York Times

January 31, 2007

“Scientists Criticize White House Stance on Climate Change Findings”

By Cornelia Dean

Under its new Democratic chairman, Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took on the Bush administrations handling of climate change science yesterday, and even the Republicans on the panel had little good to say about the administrations actions.
The subject of the hearing was accusations of administration interference with the work of government climate scientists.

Almost to a person, Republicans on the panel introduced themselves by proclaiming their agreement that the earth’s climate was warming and that the principal culprit was greenhouse gases generated by people and their machinery….

Another witness, Rick Piltz, said he resigned in protest in 2005 from his job with the federal Climate Change Science Program when he became convinced that the administrationҒs goal was to impedeғ the understanding of climate science among the public and even the Congress….

International Herald Tribune (archived)

January 30, 2007
“Advocacy groups say U.S. pressured scientists to play down risks of global warming”
Associated Press

Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at playing down the threat of global warming.
The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning.

Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to “global warming” or “climate change” from a report.
The questionnaire was sent by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private advocacy group. The report also was based on “firsthand experiences” described in interviews with the Government Accountability Project, which helps government whistleblowers, lawmakers were told….

Australian Broadcasting
31 January, 2007 12:26:00
“The World Today – Bush administration accused of pressuring scientists to downplay global warming”
Reporter: Kim Landers

ELEANOR HALL: In the United States, the Bush administration is being accused of pressuring scientists to downplay the threat of global warming….
The accusation comes just a week after President George W. Bush used his State of the Union speech to say that climate change is “a serious challenge”.
Washington Correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: With the Democrats in control of the US Congress, climate change is suddenly at the top of the political agenda.
And they’re looking for evidence that senior Bush administration officials sought repeatedly to mislead the public about the issue.

HENRY WAXMAN: We know that the White House possesses documents that contain evidence of an attempt by senior administration officials to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming and minimising the potential dangers.

KIM LANDERS: Henry Waxman is a Democrat who heads a US House of Representatives panel examining the Government’s response to climate change.
He says his committee has sought documents on climate policy, but has repeatedly been rebuffed.

HENRY WAXMAN: In this instance, the committee isn’t trying to obtain state secrets or documents that could affect our immediate national security. We are simply seeking answers to whether the White House’s political staff is inappropriately censoring impartial government scientists.

KIM LANDERS: A private advocacy group called the Union of Concerned Scientists has surveyed 279 climate scientists at seven US government agencies.
Dr Francesca Grifo has today presented those findings to the Congressional panel.

FRANCESCA GRIFO: Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words climate change, global warming or other similar terms from a variety of communications.

KIM LANDERS: Rick Piltz is the former senior associate at the US Climate Change Science Program.
He says a national assessment of climate change impacts, which was released in 2000, has since been buried by the Republican administration.

RICK PILTZ: This report has essentially been made to vanish by the Bush administration. All reference to it by Federal agencies has been prohibited. All use of it in reports to Congress and other climate change communications has been suppressed.

NewScientist.com news service

New Scientist Environment and Reuters
31 January 2007
“US climate scientists pressured on climate change”

US scientists were pressured to tailor their reports on global warming to fit the Bush administration’s climate change scepticism, a congressional committee heard on Tuesday 30 January. In some cases, this occurred at the request of a former oil-industry lobbyist.

“High-quality science [is] struggling to get out,” Francesca Grifo, of the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A UCS survey found that 150 climate scientists personally experienced political interference in the past five years in a total of at least 435 incidents.
“Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or other similar terms from a variety of communications,” Grifo said.

Rick Piltz, a former US government scientist, told the committee that former White House official Phil Cooney took an active role in casting doubt on the consequences of global climate change….

Documents on global climate change required Cooney’s review and approval, Piltz said, adding that “If you know what you are writing has to go through a White House clearance before it is to be published, an anticipatory kind of self-censorship sets in.”…

Christian Science Monitor
January 31, 2007
“Has the White House interfered on global warming reports?
A new report claims that the Bush administration has suppressed scientists’ climate-change work.”
By Peter N. Spotts

More than 120 scientists across seven federal agencies say they have been pressured to remove references to “climate change” and “global warming” from a range of documents, including press releases and communications with Congress. Roughly the same number say appointees altered the meaning of scientific findings on climate contained in communications related to their research.
These findings, part of a new report compiled by two watchdog groups, shed new light on complaints by a scattering of scientists over the past year who have publicly complained that Bush administration appointees have tried to mute or muzzle what researchers have to say about global warming.

“We are beyond the anecdotal,” says Francesca Grifo, director of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), one of the two groups, referring to press reports of a dozen instances of interference that have emerged over the past 12 months. “We now have evidence to support the view that this problem goes deeper than just these few high-profile cases.”…

During Tuesday’s hearing, additional evidence came from Rick Piltz, who resigned from his position as senior associate with the administration’s Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) in 2005 over what he saw as repeated instances of interference in the program’s reporting process….

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