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NY Times emits greenhouse gas

The NY Times reports:

Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming

A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase “significant and fundamental” before the word “uncertainties,” tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

In other words, Mr. Cooney added some nuance, which we thought liberals valued. It is a fact that there are uncertainties and doubts in climate science, and specifically in regards to global warming. There’s nothing in the Times report that indicates Mr. Cooney altered any scientific data, it appears he only made minor changes to the narrative, such as changing “is” to “may”. The Times and those who agree with the Times just don’t want uncertainties about climate change science reported.

The Times adds:

Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the “climate team leader” and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

The documents were obtained by The New York Times from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers.

The project is representing Rick S. Piltz, who resigned in March as a senior associate in the office that coordinates government climate research. That office, now called the Climate Change Science Program, issued the documents that Mr. Cooney edited.

Note how the Times made sure to point out Mr. Cooney’s lack of “scientific training”, but they made no mention of Mr. Pultz’s scientific credentials.

The Times gives as another example of Mr. Cooney’s malfeasance:

In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, “Our Changing Planet,” Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word “extremely” to this sentence: “The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult.”

Again, there’s no indication that any data were changed here. Whether something is “difficult” or “extremely difficult” is an entirely subjective assessment either way. All the Times is demonstrating is that they prefer one subjective assessment over another.

The Times offers some balance:

Other White House officials said the changes made by Mr. Cooney were part of the normal interagency review that takes place on all documents related to global environmental change. Robert Hopkins, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, noted that one of the reports Mr. Cooney worked on, the administration’s 10-year plan for climate research, was endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences. And Myron Ebell, who has long campaigned against limits on greenhouse gases as director of climate policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, said such editing was necessary for “consistency” in meshing programs with policy.

Note the ideological labeling of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Groups that agree with the Times are “non-partisan,” groups that disagree must be explicitly labeled.

Then after offering all these implorations to keep politics out of science, the Times notes:

Yesterday, saying their goal was to influence that meeting, the scientific academies of 11 countries, including those of the United States and Britain, released a joint letter saying, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.”

So right after presenting arguments that politics should be kept out of science, the Times reports on a group of scientists who released a political statement. Whether nations should take action and what sort of action they ought to take are political policy questions, not scientific questions. So does the NY times want to keep politics out of science, or only the politics they don’t agree with? The answer is obvious.



posted by: The Editors @ 9:29 am June 8, 2005



3 Comments

  1. Actually the nuance that he added was WRONG!

    Comment by Dr. Forbush — June 8, 2005 @ 2:10 pm June 8, 2005


  2. Of course it was, because you used all caps. And you believe that’s all that’s needed to make your case, apparently.

    Thanks for visiting and writing.

    Comment by The Editors — June 8, 2005 @ 2:26 pm June 8, 2005


  3. Great job of taking a biased article apart guys! I’ll make this a prominent post over at Liberty, and add you to my blogroll.

    Comment by Mark — June 10, 2005 @ 4:56 pm June 10, 2005


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