Monday, March 19, 2007

Henry Waxman investigates the politicization of science

Science magazine reports on the Congressional investigation into the White House's propaganda campaign against climate science. Once again, we have a case where an industry insider, and lobbyist against global warming science, was allowed to oversee and edit government science reports for political ends.
Waxman and other representatives focused on changes made to drafts of three documents. Beginning in 2001, [the White House's Council on Environmental Quality] officials suggested 113 edits to the Administration's draft Strategic Plan of the Climate Change Science Program that Waxman says played down the role of human activities in global warming. Another 181 changes either exaggerated or emphasized scientific uncertainties, such as changing "will" to "may" in the draft sentence "Warming temperatures will also affect Arctic land areas."

Philip Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist who was then chief of staff at CEQ, was asked to explain why he had made the changes. He said that many of his suggested revisions were based on a 2001 National Research Council report on climate change and were intended to "align these reports with the Administration's stated policy."

Cooney, now an official with ExxonMobil, made other changes to the 2003 annual report to Congress from the Climate Change Science Program and to a draft of the 2003 State of the Environment report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). E-mails show that EPA staff objected to the edits as "poorly representing the science," and the agency ultimately decided to omit the climate change section of the report. Waxman said he thought Cooney was "sowing doubt" on climate change.
The oversight committee has posted documents online. Among the edits made:

Original report:
Is the Earth's climate changing?

...suggest that the recent warming is unusual and that the 1990's are likely to have been the warmest decade in the past 1000 years for the Northern Hemisphere (Exhibit 18).
The Earth's climate has changed dramatically throughout history and will continue to change due to natural variability.

...suggest that the recent warming may be unusual.

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