First you get the hysterical headlines:
Has the White House interfered on global warming reports?
White House Accused Of Interfering On Global Warming
Then you get the, shall we say, "carefully worded" information:
More than 120 scientists across seven federal agencies say they have been pressured to remove references to "climate change" and "global warming" from a range of documents, including press releases and communications with Congress. Roughly the same number say appointees altered the meaning of scientific findings on climate contained in communications related to their research.
These findings, part of a new report compiled by two watchdog groups, shed new light on complaints by a scattering of scientists over the past year who have publicly complained that Bush administration appointees have tried to mute or muzzle what researchers have to say about global warming.
Notice, that what has been changed are "communications" and "documents." Well, they have to claim that because there has not been a single incident of someone being kept from publishing their work exactly the way they want it in the peer reviewed literature. Not one.
And even the horrified groups have to admit it:
The question is not so much about federal scientists' ability to publish their results in specialized journals that few but their colleagues read, the report's authors say. Instead, the trouble arises when agencies translate "journalese" into language the general public or lawmakers can grasp for use in official government reports or media releases.
Gee, its "not so much" about publishing the research as they see fit? It would have been more accurate to say it isn't that at all! What it is about is curtailing scientists ability to act as political activists. The government has made it harder for scientists working for the government to act as free agents, making public relation cases to the press as to why whatever they study should have a crapload more money. ("Look at the poor drowning polar bears! The sadness of it all is only rivaled by the sorry state of my research grants!")
Of course we are all supposed to be horrified by the actions of the Bush administration, drawing a line between people's public role and their self interest. But should we be? If someone wants to make some research claim shouldn't they be forced to go through the peer review process? Why should employees of the government (which is what they are after all) be allowed to lobby for their own benefit without any oversight? To argue that government scientists are "above" such petty concerns is a lie. Its more than that, it is a damn lie.
And, I love the complaint that few people actually read the published research. It goes a long way to confirming this is more about the scientists' egos than anything else.
Oh and I also love the way the press portrays the "watchdog" group that issued said report, the Union of Concerned Scientists:
The UCS is an environmental group with a longstanding interest in the politicization of science.Oh my! How noble!
Oh my! What garbage!
The entire purpose of the UCS is to politicize science!!!! And they admit it that there role is, "To help shape the legislative debate on the most important issues of our time" (from the UCS website.) So they don't have any problem with science being politicized, as long as they are the ones doing it.
Look at their Mission Statement:
The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development, and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions.
Established in 1969, we seek to ensure that all people have clean air, energy, and transportation, as well as food that is produced in a safe and sustainable manner. We strive for a future that is free from the threats of global warming and nuclear war, and a planet that supports a rich diversity of life. Sound science guides our efforts to secure changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices that will protect and improve the health of our environment globally, nationally, and in communities throughout the United States. In short, UCS seeks a great change in humanity's stewardship of the earth.
Whether you agree with this or not, there is no way of getting around the fact that the UCS is every bit as much of a political advocacy group as, say, the NRA or NARAL. To represent them as anything other is a fraud.
There is an interesting tidbit on this over at Prometheus:
The UCS survey does have its own problems. For instance it lumped in budget issues as political interference. Dr. Shindell also did this at the end of the hearing. If not giving scientists enough money is evidence of political interference then what isn't? Here are some representative examples cited in the UCS report about how to improve climate science "integrity" (p. 22):"I believe that climate research at NASA is being undermined by the current administration. This is accomplished not through direct threats of intimidation, but through lack of funding. . ."By adding the politics of the budget process into the mix the UCS has revealed that climate science is indeed very political indeed.
"The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has not received sufficient funding . . ."
"Problems with climate research in the federal government mainly have to do with funding . . ."
"I have not worked directly on climate change since funding was eliminated in my area. Other areas of much less importance have been emphasized as a result."
"Funding for climate research is a factor of 5-10 below critical mass to develop a designed climate observing system."
[This last one is my favorite - $10-$20 billion, right!]
So much of this is about money. Who could have possibly guessed that?