Political Pressure Shown to Stifle Federal Climate Scientists

Representatives of two nonprofit advocacy groups told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week that climate scientists at seven federal agencies reported being subjected to political pressure in order to play down the threat of global warming. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who chairs the committee, called the hearings to look into allegations of political interference as the Democrat-controlled Congress steps up efforts to pass legislation to limit emissions of the greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is looking into allegations of political pressure to downplay scientific evidence of global warming.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Government Accountability Project, 40 percent of the 279 federal climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers on climate had been edited in order to change their meaning. Meanwhile, half of the scientists surveyed reported that they had been told to delete any references to "global warming" or "climate change" from their reports.

"The new evidence shows that political interference in climate science is no longer a series of isolated incidents but a system-wide epidemic," says Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Tailoring scientific fact for political purposes has become a problem across many federal science agencies."

Addressing climate change is a top priority of Congressional Democrats this term. Several competing bills regulating emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are making their way through various Congressional committees, although the White House is unlikely to sign onto any of them. But with George W. Bush leaving the White House in 2008 and several top contenders from both parties concerned about global warming, Congressional Democrats hope to at least lay the groundwork for meaningful action.

Source: Uniior of concerned Scientists