White House refuses to release climate policy documents

From Greenspan - Wikinews
January 30, 2007

The United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing today on the accusation that the Bush Administration had interfered with data regarding climate change in order "to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming." On January 23, 2007, Chairman Henry Waxman (D) and Tom Davis (R) had requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality, but were denied access.

Waxman said that, "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. 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 minimize the potential danger."

During the hearing, two private advocacy groups, one of which was the Union of Concerned Scientists, also presented a survey to the panel that revealed that 279 scientists working for the government had been pressured into minimizing the threat of global warming in their reports. Almost half of the 279 said that they were told to delete any references to "global warming" or "climate change" in their reports. The scientists in the survey all worked for a wide array of government agencies: NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and the Department of Interior.


 NASA Study Finds Warmth at Ancient Levels

60 Minutes - James Hansen on Global Warming

Anew study by NASA scientists finds that the world’s temperature is reaching a level that has not been seen in thousands of years.

The study, led by James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y., along with scientists from other organizations concludes that, because of a rapid warming trend over the past 30 years, the Earth is now reaching and passing through the warmest levels in the current interglacial period, which has lasted nearly 12,000 years. An “interglacial period” is a time in the Earth’s history when the area of Earth covered by glaciers was similar or smaller than at the present time. Recent warming is forcing species of plants and animals to move toward the north and south poles.

The study used temperatures around the world taken during the last century. Scientists concluded that these data showed the Earth has been warming at the remarkably rapid rate of approximately 0.36 Fahrenheit (0.2 Celsius) per decade for the past 30 years.

“This evidence implies that we are getting close to dangerous levels of human-made pollution,” said Hansen....

The most important result found by these researchers is that the warming in recent decades has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius (1.8F) of the maximum temperature of the past million years. According to Hansen, “That means that further global warming of 1 degree Celsius defines a critical level. If warming is kept less than that, effects of global warming may be relatively manageable. During the warmest interglacial periods the Earth was reasonably similar to today. But if further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about three million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”

Global warming is already beginning to have noticeable effects in nature. Plants and animals can survive only within certain climatic zones, so with the warming of recent decades many of them are beginning to migrate poleward. A study that appeared in Nature Magazine in 2003 found that 1700 plant, animal and insect species moved poleward at an average rate of 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) per decade in the last half of the 20th century.

That migration rate is not fast enough to keep up with the current rate of movement of a given temperature zone, which has reached about 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) per decade in the period 1975 to 2005. “Rapid movement of climatic zones is going to be another stress on wildlife,” according to Hansen. “It adds to the stress of habitat loss due to human developments. If we do not slow down the rate of global warming, many species are likely to become extinct. In effect we are pushing them off the planet.”

Excerpt from the NASA GISS Release, Sep. 25, 2006

© 2007 Greenspan
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