Saturday, January 28, 2006

Admin is trying to quiet scientists


Not that this is new news, but I just think it is a bit ridiculous that we are the only modern, 1st world country who doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about the environment. In the news today, Dr James Hansen, the top climatologist working for NASA said the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. (this is absolutely absurd, this is what our country is coming to for all you conservatives out there who think Bush is God)
here is some of the text from the article:

Hansen stated in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.
In a talk he gave on Dec 6th, after which started the attempts to silence him, Dr Hansen said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions. After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.
There are examples of the censorship of Dr Hansen, although Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, has stated otherwise. In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute. Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

There is more but that about sums up the article posted on the New York Times
The photo is from an article on Mindfully.org
It is just ridiculous that they so this, that they try to shut people up... But that is the evil empire for you... God forbid someone disagrees with their views...

Unfortunately this isn't the first I have read about the government influencing the science that reaches the public. In June, 2005, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) distributed a 34-question survey to more than 460 NOAA Fisheries biologists, ecologists, botanists and other science professionals working in headquarters and regional and field offices across the country to obtain their perceptions of scientific integrity within the agency, as well as political interference, resources and morale. To sum that all up:
I. Political Interference with Scientific Determinations

Large numbers of agency scientists reported political interference in scientific determinations:

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More than one third of respondents positioned to make such recommendations (37 percent) have "“been directed, for non-scientific reasons, to refrain from making findings that are protective"” of marine life and nearly one in four (24 percent) of those conducting such work reported being "“directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a NOAA Fisheries scientific document;"”
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More than half of all respondents (53 percent) knew of cases where "“commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention;"” and
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More than half of the scientists (58 percent) knew of cases "where high-level U.S. Department of Commerce administrators and appointees have inappropriately altered NOAA Fisheries determinations."” A substantial minority (42 percent) also cited incidents where members of Congress "“inappropriately influenced NOAA Fisheries determinations."”

II. Negative Effect on Wildlife Protection
Only a slim majority of the scientists indicated the agency "“routinely makes determinations using its best scientific judgment, even when political pressure is applied,"” and there is further evidence that political intrusion has undermined NOAA Fisheries"’ ability to fulfill its mission of protecting marine resources:

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Nearly two in three (64 percent) did not agree that the agency was effectively protecting populations and habitats of federally listed species, and more than two in three (69 percent) also doubted the agency could effectively aid in recovering threatened and endangered species;
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More than two-thirds of agency scientists (69 percent) did not "“trust NOAA Fisheries decision makers to make decisions that will protect marine resources and ecosystems."”

III. Chilling Effect on Scientific Candor

Agency scientists reported being afraid to speak frankly about issues and felt constrained in their roles as scientists:

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Two out of five (40 percent) said they could not openly express "concerns about the biological needs of species and habitats without fear of retaliation"” in public, while more than a quarter (29 percent) did not feel they could do so even inside the confines of the agency;
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Almost a third (31 percent) felt they are not allowed to do their jobs as scientists; and
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A significant minority (18 percent) of scientists reported having "“been directed by NOAA Fisheries decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public, media or elected officials."

IV. Resources and Morale

There was a broad perception that the agency lacks the resources to accomplish its mission. Not surprisingly, results showed a strain on staff morale:

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More than four in five (81 percent) thought that NOAA Fisheries lacked sufficient resources "“to adequately perform its environmental mission;
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Three out of five scientists (60 percent) did not feel the agency "“is moving in the right direction."” This is consistent with a response from 46 percent that job satisfaction has decreased over the past few years, compared with half as many (23 percent) who reported an increase in job satisfaction; and
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More than two out of five (42 percent) scientists described morale as poor or extremely poor and more than half (56 percent) do not feel that "“upper-management will stand behind"” an employee with a scientifically solid, yet politically controversial position.

Its just amazing, when you think about it... just amazing...

4 comments:

Tait said...

I'm just gonna make my own private island out of soda bottles like that guy in Mexico did last year....that should solve all my problems

adam said...

thats an idea. i bet if you made it big enough, you could sell space when the water started to rise

James Douglass said...

Dang, that's messed up. It's like the Bush administration is allergic to the truth.

Nice blog btw. It came up on Google when I was searching for "Hippolyte pleuracanthus". I'm also a graduate student studying stuff that lives in eelgrass. My blog is http://jimbodouglass.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Sad...I can't believe you guys would be THAT gullable to believe that shit Al Gore made up to scare people...