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Climate Researchers Feeling Heat From White House 635

Posted by Zonk
from the get-up-there-and-talk-science-boy dept.
Jeff K writes "Facts and science collide with tribal loyalties, the Washington Post reports: 'Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.'"
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Climate Researchers Feeling Heat From White House

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  • Re:do they care? (Score:4, Informative)

    by artlogic (819675) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:50AM (#15076044) Homepage

    It doesn't appear that US citizens even care about global warming. Maybe work on this first, or is the Federal goverment responsible for public morals?

    Actually, according to http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/0 4/1154214 [slashdot.org]:

    "A recent poll published in the Chicago Sun-Times now shows that 'An overwhelming majority of Americans think they can help reduce global warming and are willing to make the sacrifices that are needed, a new poll shows. After years of controversy, 71 percent of Americans now say they think global warming is real."

    I'd say the public's morals are just about right, and it's time for the government to take notice and change its backward policies.

  • Re:do they care? (Score:4, Informative)

    by WankersRevenge (452399) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:51AM (#15076061)
    do you and the idiot moderator even read this site [slashdot.org]?
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:58AM (#15076131) Homepage Journal

    In effect, a non-issue. Most of you already know you shouldn't go to the media and make comments about the job your boss is doing, or make comments about what they should do instead.

    No, it *is* an issue. My tax dollars are at work funding government scientists. What's the fucking point of paying these scientists to do research if they can't talk about the results of their work with the public? We have a long tradition of federally-funded scientists being generally insulated from politics, because in the past both major parties have recognized the value of unbiased scientific research.

    The Bush Administration has been muzzling the results of government-sponsored research for several years now, and this is a very troubling development. Representative democracies (yes, even republics, for those of you who will latch onto the semantics) need some areas of government to be devoid of partisanship.

    If you're wondering about Hansen's reference to Nazi Germany and the USSR, read Hitler's Scientists [amazon.com] to see how science can be co-opted for political ends.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:00AM (#15076146)
    People also need to realize that using energy is not necessarily bad, it's the pollution that is bad. If those SUVs get terrible mileage, it's not necessarily bad if they don't pollute. Your little 4-banger from the early 80's may get great mileage but it pollutes a lot worse than a modern SUV.

    The pollution in question is carbon dioxide. One litre of petrol will produce the same amount of carbon dioxide when burned, regardless of the engine in which the burning takes place. Hence, as far as global warming is concerned, the fuel-efficiency of your vehicle is all-important.

    Of course, there are other pollutants in car exhausts, against which measures the new-but-inefficient car may perform better, but that's a separate issue.

  • by whitehatlurker (867714) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:03AM (#15076191) Journal
    The new Harper government in Ottawa has cut funding [www.cbc.ca] to groups studying climate change. That has to be as chilling as gagging scientists.
  • by apsmith (17989) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:31AM (#15076527) Homepage
    If anybody has any doubts about the science, please take your pick of the following three sites - all excellent material, from historical, science, and political perspectives:

  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:40AM (#15076639) Homepage Journal
    I believe the literal understanding of Genesis is the most likely explanation of what happened, although it .... may be figurative or symbolic or something.
    Look, if you truly believe the literal understanding of Genesis, then you don't think its figurative or symbolic. That's what literal means. It means "not figurative or symbolic".

    So, you either believe the literal word of Genesis, or you believe it might be figurative. And if you're truly a fundamentalist, its the former.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:41AM (#15076655)
    While we're on the topic of things that contribute to global warming cleaning up their mess I say we need to rally in protest of those damn volcanos constantly spewing all that Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere and get them to clean up after themselves!

    When you see this point, it's always a good indication that the person making it doesn't have a clue about WTF they're talking about.

    Here's [sciam.com] the scoop from a geologist, you know, someone who actually knows something about this topic:

    There is no doubt that volcanic eruptions add CO2 to the atmosphere, but compared to the quantity produced by human activities, their impact is virtually trivial: volcanic eruptions produce about 110 million tons of CO2 each year, whereas human activities contribute almost 10,000 times that quantity.
    Can't we just put this "volcanoes are the problem" urban legend to rest once and for all?
  • by GalacticCmdr (944723) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:47AM (#15076709)
    Why would anyone slap you down? We all have our beliefs and frankly my policy is to repect others and I expect them to respect mine. I would no sooner dissuade you of your beliefs than I would my kids belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

    Now before you get ruffled, I am not saying your beliefs are childish. To my kids Santa is not a childish belief either. He believes with all of his heart that Santa really does exist.
  • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

    by jackbird (721605) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:08PM (#15076940)
    You mention CO (Carbon Monoxide), but the original poster is talkiing about CO2 (carbon dioxide), which may or may not be a typo by you. Your statement is correct as applied to CO, but as the OP says, this is not the issue. The issue is CO2, and If CO2 production from combustion goes down, the percentage of other nasty pollutants goes up. Pure C02 and H20 is the ideal exhaust of a 'clean' internal combustion engine, and the purpose of a catalytic converter.
  • Sciam (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:23PM (#15077102) Homepage Journal
    Scientific American [sciam.com] Did a great article recently on how the Bush Administration has been censoring scientific reports to fit thier particular agenda. It seems an oilman doesn't want oilmen to look like bad people. Who would have guessed? LINK TO ARTICLE [sciam.com]
  • by avicarmi (582269) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:28PM (#15077141) Homepage Journal
    The polar bears' ice sheet habitats are literally melting beneath them - putting polar bears at serious risk of extinction.

    The thick multi-year ice essential to polar bears has been shrinking 8 to 10 percent per decade, and already, an area of sea ice roughly equal to twice the size of Texas has melted away. Some studies forecast an ice-free Arctic in summer as early as 2050, spelling certain doom for polar bears.

    The effects of global warming on polar bears can already be seen in the western Hudson Bay, where there has been a 14 percent decline in the Hudson Bay polar bear population over the past 10 years, and polar bears weigh about 15 percent less than they did 30 years ago.

    Polar bears in the United States are also showing the effects of global warming. A recent report by the U.S. Minerals Management service revealed that polar bear drownings, once a rare event in Alaska, are now taking place with greater frequency due to the bears being forced to swim longer distances. Indeed, a new record was established in September of 2005 for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite monitoring began in the late 1970s.

    However, we can help protect our last remaining polar bears by listing them as an endangered species. Please click on the following links to send a message to:

    Supervisor Scott Schliebe
    Polar Bear Project Leader
    Marine Mammals Management Office

    http://ga3.org/campaign/polar_bears [ga3.org]
    http://www.savebiogems.org/polar/takeaction.asp [savebiogems.org]

  • by Glock27 (446276) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:29PM (#15077161)
    That's why some people get angry about Bush and Cheney when the latter deny man's influence on global warming or, until recently, global warming itself. They are lying to protect their self-interest and those of their oil-industry executive buddies who make big campaign donations. They know they are lying and they don't care how bad the results are.

    First, read this [whitehouse.gov].

    I don't think you have before. It was written in 2001, hardly "recently". Bush had just gotten into office.

    What do you think of the point regarding China and the Kyoto Protocol?

    Other than avoiding the Kyoto Protocol (which I support) Bush is advocating most of the things that will help in the long-term effort to reduce pollution. Actually, Bush has behaved entirely responsibly with regard to global warming. His administration is also correct in pointing out that the first thing that's needed is definitely a LOT more research!

    It's beyond hypocritical. It's evil.

    You're misinformed. Or could it be that your distaste for Bush has muddied your thinking?

  • Save the Polar Bears (Score:2, Informative)

    by avicarmi (582269) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:33PM (#15077189) Homepage Journal
    The polar bears' ice sheet habitats are literally melting beneath them - putting polar bears at serious risk of extinction.

    The thick multi-year ice essential to polar bears has been shrinking 8 to 10 percent per decade, and already, an area of sea ice roughly equal to twice the size of Texas has melted away. Some studies forecast an ice-free Arctic in summer as early as 2050, spelling certain doom for polar bears.

    The effects of global warming on polar bears can already be seen in the western Hudson Bay, where there has been a 14 percent decline in the Hudson Bay polar bear population over the past 10 years, and polar bears weigh about 15 percent less than they did 30 years ago.

    Polar bears in the United States are also showing the effects of global warming. A recent report by the U.S. Minerals Management service revealed that polar bear drownings, once a rare event in Alaska, are now taking place with greater frequency due to the bears being forced to swim longer distances. Indeed, a new record was established in September of 2005 for the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite monitoring began in the late 1970s.

    However, we can help protect our last remaining polar bears by listing them as an endangered species. Please click on the following links to send a message to:

    Supervisor Scott Schliebe
    Polar Bear Project Leader
    Marine Mammals Management Office

    http://ga3.org/campaign/polar_bears [ga3.org]
    http://www.savebiogems.org/polar/takeaction.asp [savebiogems.org]

  • Come on now.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by norman619 (947520) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @12:40PM (#15077278)
    Humans are the cause of global worming? VERY doubtful. Myth: Humans Are Causing Global Warming. Scientists do not agree that humans discernibly influence global climate because the evidence supporting that theory is weak. The scientific experts most directly concerned with climate conditions reject the theory by a wide margin. A Gallup poll found that only 17 percent of the members of the Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society think that the warming of the 20th century has been a result of greenhouse gas emissions - principally CO2 from burning fossil fuels. [See Figure II.] Only 13 percent of the scientists responding to a survey conducted by the environmental organization Greenpeace believe catastrophic climate change will result from continuing current patterns of energy use. More than 100 noted scientists, including the former president of the National Academy of Sciences, signed a letter declaring that costly actions to reduce greenhouse gases are not justified by the best available evidence. While atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 28 percent over the past 150 years, human-generated carbon dioxide could have played only a small part in any warming, since most of the warming occurred prior to 1940 - before most human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:02PM (#15077505) Homepage Journal
    Do you care to cite your reference for orders of magnitude greater, or at least give a number?

    Sure, not a problem. I had this very discussion yesterday. I'll repost with I did then:

    According to this article [umich.edu] the amount of greenhouse gases that man puts out in one year is ~30 billion tons. Unfortunately the article doesn't have a date but judging by the references it is somewhere around 2000.

    This article [ecobridge.org] (which uses figures from 2000) indicates that the U.S. alone produced 1,583 million metric tons of carbon from burning fossil fuels.

    Now, consider that in 1815 Mount Tambora (Indonesia) produced an estimated 400 million tons of sulfurous gases and ash and that caused the year without a summer (i.e. global cooling), it is quite easy to suggest that mans dumping of multiple times that amount of gases into the atmosphere could cause an increase in world temperatures.

    As far as what NOAA has to say [noaa.gov], you can read and make your own judgements. They seem to agree with my assertion that the global increase in temperatures seem to be the result of both natural and man-made factors. The page in question was last updated on Feb 3, 2006.

    Then of course there is the Wiki entry [wikipedia.org] which indicates the volume of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from around 280 parts per million in 1800 to around 315 in 1958, 367 in 2000 (a 31% increase over 200 years), and about 380 in 2006. In other words, despite the huge quantity of atmosphere that exists around the planet, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing. Not remaining the same, not decreasing. Increasing. That's just CO2. In trying to find numbers to justify my claims I saw the same increase in other gases during the same timeframe (which is what the Wiki entry says in the next sentence).

    After all that I found another source [sdsu.edu] which says that on a yearly basis volcanoes contribute 100 million tons of CO2 whereas other sources of CO2 produce about 10 billion tons a year. It's under the section marked 'Influence on the Greenhouse Effect' halfway down the page.

    As far as my quote about the amount of gases and such from Mt. Tambora, I left out a zero in my posting and didn't catch it during preview. The correct number is 400 million tons (as shown in this posting) of sulfuours gases though various sources differ. One says 200 million tons [bellrock.org.uk] while another indicates 400 million tons [physorg.com].

    Despite my mistake and even using the higher figure of 400 million tons, comparing that figure to the sources I listed in the beginning it still shows that what man produces is substantially more, every year, than what Mt. Tambora produced in a 3-month period. In the case of Tambora after the eruption stopped nature had a chance to recover. In the case of us burning fossil fuels, nature never gets a breather. We are always pumping out more and more gases.

    I must state that I am not an uber-treehugger. I do, however, try to minimize to an extent my footprint. That said, there is not reason NOT to try and reduce our CO2 and other emissions if for no other reason than our health. Think LA and how wonderful it must be sucking in that brown atmosphere. For a better example think Mexico City. I don't know about you but I prefer to look through a clear atmospher, not a brown one.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:08PM (#15077570) Homepage
    My most sincere hope is that McCain can carry the Republican ticket, and we can wrest the Republican party back from the lunatic fringe.

    What makes you think he's any better? McCain voted for every one of Bush's failed policies, stood shoulder to shoulder with him in 2004 and has his share of lobbyists on his staff payroll doing his part for the K Street Project. Oh, he stood up against Bush on torture. Woohooo, that was a pretty safe departure. He didn't stand up and slam the administration's response to hurricane Katrina, didn't start yapping about campaign finance reform until the Repubs got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And didn't take a stand on the war in Iraq until the political wind started to shift. He voted for the Credit Card Company give back labeled bankruptcy reform, the Drug Company Medicare Benefit Plan and all of the spending in the 8 TRILLION dollar deficit. That's $90,000 for every family in America.

    I say he's just as corrupt as the rest of them and you're one of the people who supported them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:17PM (#15077659)
    Wrong. "Although the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. In July 1999, the United States Senate voted 95-0 to pass a resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Hagel (R-Neb.), which stated the Senate would not ratify the Protocol unless rapidly developing countries such as China were included in its requirements to reduce greenhouse gases. The Clinton Administration announced it would not send the treaty to the Senate for ratification." In other words, they voted it down! http://www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/278.html / [enviroliteracy.org]
  • by bjrubble (129561) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:37PM (#15079535)
    Look at your numbers. You're talking about climate changes taking place over 10,000 to 100,000 years. The current climate changes are theorized to take place over a few hundred years.

    Let's do a little thought experiment. Say that the current climate change takes place over 250 years. That's 50 times faster than for the smallest timespan you cited.

    Now get in your car. Drive 1mph into a concrete barrier. (Hope you didn't damage your bumper.)

    Okay, now drive 50mph into that concrete barrier. When you get out of the hospital (IF you get out of the hospital) let's talk a little about the difference between gradual climate change and rapid climate change.
  • by Phronesis (175966) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:25PM (#15080041)
    One of the robust predictions of climate models is that the stratosphere will cool, making the prevelance of PSCs (polar stratospheric clouds) more likely. Ozone-destroying chemistry is accelerated by having ice crystal surfaces available. Thus it is not true that there's no relationship between global warming and the ozone hole.

    But even in the presence of PSCs you need stratospheric chlorine levels above a threshold value before substantial ozone depletion takes place. That's there wasn't any ozone hole before 1980 despite plentiful PSCs over Antarctica. By the time anyone thinks we'll have enough cooling for significant PSC levels over the Arctic, CFC concentrations will have fallen well below the threshold for ozone hole formation, so it's very difficult to imagine a polar ozone hole even in the presence of very strong global warming.

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