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Star Democrat (MD): Muzzling the Facts on Global Warming

March 20, 2006
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By Louis Clark, GAP President. This editorial also appeared in: Topeka Capital-Journal and Garden City Telegram (KS).

The earth is on a collision course with environmental catastrophe. Scientific studies show that we are fast approaching a point of no return – a tipping point. Greenland is melting. Polar bears are disappearing. The sea level is rising. The earth is becoming hotter. Storms are intensifying. All of these changes are the results of a scientifically accepted consensus – that of the human impact on climate change. Unless humanity takes dramatic steps now to correct this trend, the world as we know it will no longer exist.

Nobody understands this more than Dr. James Hansen. He is the top climate scientist at NASA, if not in the entire federal government. Hansen has spoken out about the problem of global warming since the Reagan administration and has been critical of every administration since. Although he is a brilliant scientist of towering international reputation, there is now an orchestrated attempt by political officials at NASA to shut him up. He refuses to be silenced.

His particular troubles began after he gave a speech stating "In my more than three decades in the government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now."

The problem has become more ominous, not less, since then.

As a matter of policy, NASA spokesmen have stated "any NASA employee speaking on the record...must coordinate such activities with the Office of Public Affairs." Effectively, supervisors wish to filter public information. Hansen has been ordered not to respond to questions from journalists or interview requests, instead being forced to provide NASA spokesmen a "first right of refusal" to provide public comment. Typically, journalists have received no official response to their inquiries, leaving the public in the dark. This has resulted in countless lost opportunities to disclose scientific work and findings. As NASA fiddles around in bureaucratic censorship, the earth slowly burns.

This news is not new. Last year, the White House was caught doctoring, censoring and skewing the results of $2 billion dollars worth of climate change studies. The official who changed the documents to make scientific findings fit administration policy was forced to leave a few days after the scandal became public. After scrutiny, it emerged that this individual was a lawyer with no scientific training whose previous job was as the lead lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. Fittingly, he was hired by ExxonMobil a couple of days later. Essentially, he's been doing the same work for years.

Hard science is becoming "controversial." The Bush administration has politicized the issue through intentionally fogging data and information the public receives. Not only is this done by skewing results, but by clamping down on all those who do not subscribe to blind loyalty to the administration. Even the weathermen at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are being muzzled – unable to speak openly and truthfully as the earth spins toward desolation.

The public cannot afford to lose this war on science. It is a battle for the quality of life of our grandchildren. But it is not too late if informed citizens are to act now. There is still time to throw a cog in the administration's well-oiled public disinformation machine: Collectively, we can give voice to those experts we depend on to safeguard our planet and the human race. To do this we must demand government openness from our members of Congress. It’s for the sake of the planet.

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