Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bush vs. the truth



According to a story in today's Washington Post, which was for some reason buried on page A27, the Bush administration has engaged in a systematic campaign to prevent government scientists from sharing their findings on climate change with the media (or anyone). The lede of the article sums up nicely how important and fundamental such distortions are.
"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."
Last week's Time magazine cover story provides ample evidence of why global warming is so dangerous.
Dumping that much water into the ocean is a very dangerous thing. Icebergs don't raise sea levels when they melt because they're floating, which means they have displaced all the water they're ever going to. But ice on land, like Greenland's, is a different matter. Pour that into oceans that are already rising (because warm water expands), and you deluge shorelines. By some estimates, the entire Greenland ice sheet would be enough to raise global sea levels 23 ft., swallowing up large parts of coastal Florida and most of Bangladesh. The Antarctic holds enough ice to raise sea levels more than 215 ft.
In other words, imagine every run-of-the-mill category 3 hurricane having the same effect as Hurricane Katrina.

One could point to the Time article as evidence that the public and the scientific community already know about the dangers of global warming, and thus that Bush's scientific cover-up, so to speak, isn't that consequential. However, it's not just the lack of public disclosure that makes the Bush administrations muzzling of scientists disturbing. If the administration won't even acknowledge global warming, then it certainly isn't going to take any substantial effects to remedy it. Regardless of how convinced the public is of global warming, and how certain researchers and academics are it takes the inititiative of the federal government to make any substantial improvement on the national level. This makes the administrations anti-scientific not just improper but altogether dangerous.

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