Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Disassembling dissembly on global warming

Philip Cooney is the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That's the White House's top environmental policy office.

ABC reporter Terry Moran attempted today to force White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to clarify Phil Cooney's qualifications to dissemble by diassembling scientific documents on global warming (emphasis added):

Q The person in question, Phil Cooney, does he have any scientific background at all?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, there are policy people and scientists who are involved in this process, in the interagency review process. And he's one of the policy people involved in that process, and someone who's very familiar with the issues relating to climate change and the environment.

Q Because of his work lobbying for the oil industry?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be glad to get you his background, Terry. But he's one of many people who are involved in the interagency review process....

McClellan never clarified Cooney's credentials.

The NY Times today reported that Cooney's non-scientific background and previous experience working for the largest oil lobby tainted his perspective on global warming, and published examples of language in official reports that Cooney sanitized to minimize the urgency of finding solutions to global warming.

Cooney's handwritten edits on those global warming documents were obtained by the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower organization.

The documents were handed over by Rick Piltz, after he recently resigned from the government office that coordinates climate research. In his resignation, Piltz said:
I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program in its relationship to the research community, to program managers, to policymakers, and to the public interest.

What was Cooney doing before he began reviewing slashing global warming reports? Cooney worked for the American Petroleum Institute until he was hired by the White House in 2001.

So the guy went from the most influential oil lobby to the most influential environmental policy office, with no scientific credentials, and cleansed documents to diminish the evidence of global warming.

Another Bush administration spokesman, Robert Hopkins, defended the sanitization of global warming documents by stating that the edits were necessary in order to achieve "consistency" between programs and policy. So, the Bush administration doctored scientific evidence to issue a policy, and set forth programs, which downgraded the threat of global warming. The Bush administration fixed the facts around its policy on global warming, obfuscating the evidence and obstructing any action.

That sounds remarkably like another recent discovery, the Downing Street Memo, in which the chief of British intelligence, Richard Dearlove, stated that the Bush administration decided to go to war with Iraq before a war could be justified. Eight months before the war started, Dearlove told Prime Minister Tony Blair:
Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

Shocked? But wait, there's more.

The Bush administration isn't even listening to objective science on the issue of global warming. The White House policy was written by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company. The Guardian UK reported the White House asked Exxon executives what its policy should be on global warming, and what would be acceptable alternatives to the Kyoto Treaty. The evidence of Exxon influence on White House policy was revealed in State Department documents obtained in a Freedom of Information request by Greenpeace.

In the joint press conference Wednesday with Tony Blair, President Bush said that the issue of global warming needed more consideration, more research, more delay (hmm...kind of sounds like Bush's criticism of the United Nations as a debating society):
In terms of climate change, I've always said it's a serious long-term issue that needs to be dealt with. And my administration isn't waiting around to deal with the issue, we're acting. I don't know if you're aware of this, but we lead the world when it comes to dollars spent, millions of dollars spent on research about climate change. We want to know more about it. It's easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it. And if you look at the statistics, you'll find the United States has taken the lead on this research.

"It's easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it?" This is the President of the United States? What? Really people, you have to hear monkey boy stammer this little nugget of wisdom (it's 2:19 minutes in).

There was another little bit of Bush stammering that deserves attention. In response to a question about the Downing Street Memo:
Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (Laughter.) And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

I just have to say - Hey! You guys and gals in the White House press corps! The next time you want to ask a question about global warming, why not hold up a picture? You know how much easier it is for the president to understand something when he can see a picture.

Here's a great visual that gets the point across.

Or how about this series of panels of South Cascade Glacier (Washington) retreating, 1928, 1979, and 2003:

Color works better for you Mr. President? How about this image of the warming trend in the Arctic Circle between 1981 and 2001:

Hey President Bush, other than global warming, how else would you explain the reams of NASA evidence of global warming:
More than 110 glaciers have disappeared from Montana’s Glacier National Park over the past 150 years, and researchers estimate that the park’s remaining 37 glaciers may be gone in another 25 years. Half a world away on the African equator, Hemingway’s snows of Kilimanjaro are steadily melting and could completely disappear in the next 20 years. And in the Alps, glaciers are retreating and disappearing every year, much to the dismay of mountain climbers, tourist agencies, and environmental researchers.

Or how about this: The University of Colorado - Boulder predicted in 2001 that Alaska's Columbia glacier would retreat as much as 10 miles in 10 years. 10 MILES! And that rate of retreat is increasing:
In 1977, the glacier was 41.3 miles long and, at its terminus, was moving at 1.3 miles per year, said Meier. By 1999, the glacier's length had decreased to 33.5 miles, but its speed at the terminus had increased to 5.5 miles per year, or more than 80 feet per day.

There are more images here, here, here, here, and here, and more in-depth research reported here.

For more on how Exxon has muddied the perception of global warming, including how it funds think tanks and influences the press, the most comprehensive resource I've seen recently is in the May/June 2005 issue of Mother Jones:

There's even a handy little chart of how much money ExxonMobil has poured into think tanks.

Finally (thanks to Globalize This!) maybe those guys in the White House who refuse to admit to global warming have been reading 10 Ways to Destroy Earth at


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