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.
"We are beyond the anecdotal," says Francesca Grifo, director of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), one of the two groups, referring to press reports of a dozen instances of interference that have emerged over the past 12 months. "We now have evidence to support the view that this problem goes deeper than just these few high-profile cases."
Global-warming science must be accurately represented to enable lawmakers to craft adequate policies to control the problem and adapt to climate change, Dr. Grifo says. Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other agencies working on climate-related issues are doing excellent work. "But it's under threat, and they are struggling to get their results out" to the general public, she says.
Grifo described some of the report's findings during hearings Tuesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and during a press briefing afterward. The two groups say they will release additional material next week, when the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds similar hearings.
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