Bush administration blocks report linking hurricanes to global warming
September 26, 2006
The Bush administration blocked release of a report suggesting that global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday.
According to Nature, a panel of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists drafted a February report that linked recent hurricane activity to human-induced climate change. When the study was scheduled to be released in May, officials at the Commerce Department rejected the report on technical grounds and prohibited its publication.
Nature quoted NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher as saying the report could not be released because the agency could not take an official position on the contentious issue. However, the journal said the study did not contain any policy statements and was simply a discussion of the current state of hurricane science.
Hurricane Katrina. Image Credit: NASA/SVS.
Tree rings could settle global warming hurricane debate. Scientists have shown that ancient tree rings could help settle the debate as to whether hurricanes are strengthening in intensity due to global warming. By measuring different isotopes of oxygen present in the rings, Professors Claudia Mora and Henri Grissino-Mayer of the University of Tennessee have identified periods when hurricanes hit areas of the Southeastern United States up to 500 years ago. The research could help create a record of hurricanes that would help researchers understand hurricane frequency and intensity. Currently reliable history for hurricanes only dates back a generation or so. Prior to that, the official hurricane records kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic basin hurricane database (HURDAT) are controversial at best since storm data from more than 20 years ago is not nearly as accurate as current hurricane data due to improvements in tracking technology. The lack of a credible baseline makes it nearly impossible to accurately compare storm frequency and strength over the period.
Birthplace of hurricanes heating up say NOAA scientists. The region of the tropical Atlantic where many hurricanes originate has warmed by several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century, and new climate model simulations suggest that human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming. This new finding is one of several conclusions reported in a study by scientists at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., published today in the Journal of Climate.
"Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy," reads the statement. "Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences. Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle."
"When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions," it continues. "This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government's own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice. Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies."
"For example, in support of the president's decision to avoid regulating emissions that cause climate change, the administration has consistently misrepresented the findings of the National Academy of Sciences, government scientists, and the expert community at large. Thus in June 2003, the White House demanded extensive changes in the treatment of climate change in a major report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To avoid issuing a scientifically indefensible report, EPA officials eviscerated the discussion of climate change and its consequences."
This article used information from the Assoicate Press and Nature. It quotes extensively from the Union of Concerned Scientists' web site.
Recommend this article? Comments?
>Digg this article | >Hugg this article | Contact