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Bush administration 'censoring science'

by Joy Kikuchi, staff writer

 
On February 18, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, that detailed findings from its investigation into the Bush Administration’s misuse of scientific information. According to Kevin Knobloch, president of UCS, the Bush Administration is censoring, suppressing, and distorting science to meet its own agenda.

 

The investigation, which was led by scientist Seth Schulman, first reported incidents of information distortion at federal agencies. The first of these issues involved humans’ contribution to global warming. The report accused the Bush Administration of distorting the public’s understanding of global warming by suppressing formation on human causes—human production of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to it.

The UCS also reported that the Bush Administration had censored the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an independent group, by completely removing the section on climate change from its annual air pollution report in September 2002.

According to the UCS, the Bush Administration also deleted information regarding mercury emissions from power plants in another EPA report, this time leaked by a frustrated EPA official in February 2003 to the Wall Street Journal. Had the official not leaked the draft report, the White House would have been successful in preventing the report from reaching the public.

Yet another case of report tampering by the Bush Administration involving the EPA took place in June 2003. In this case, the Bush Administration “blatantly tampered” with the EPA’s draft of the Report on the Environment by trying to make numerous changes to the report. This case was brought to the public’s eye by The New York Times; however, the altering of these reports and other information continued. Russell Train, former EPA administrator during the terms of Presidents Nixon and Ford, wrote to The New York Times following these incidents, calling the Bush Administration’s actions “virtually unprecedented for the degree of their political manipulation.”

These are by no means isolated incidents by President Bush, despite his statement in 2001 that his “administration’s climate change policy will be science-based.”

Recently, the war with Iraq has become the key focus of the public’s attention. Also coming to light is information regarding the Bush Administration’s hasty decision to go to war. The UCS has also found evidence that the Bush Administration misinformed the public and the United Nations (UN).

In his address to the UN’s Security Council on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell convinced the council that Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. The evidence he claimed was that Iraq was receiving a shipment of more than 100,000 aluminum tubes to use in enriching uranium, which is a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. When the shipment was intercepted and officials and experts from the CIA and the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that the tubes were not conducive to enriching uranium, the Bush Administration ignored them. The Bush Administration instead used a second opinion from the State Department’s Intelligence branch, and Secretary Powell “lumped” the CIA and DOE experts with the Iraqis in his speech. Thus, through their alteration of information, the Bush Administration successfully persuaded the public and Congress to support its war with Iraq.

Anyone who reads Kalamalama will remember the article regarding humanity’s contribution to the sixth Great Extinction. The Bush Administration is doing its part to contribute to what may ultimately lead to humanity’s own extinction. The UCS report also accuses the Bush Administration of “being engaged in a systematic attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act.” The Bush Administration is currently supporting legislation that would make it harder for new threatened or endangered species to be added to the Endangered Species list. These amendments, if passed, would also make it harder for scientists to conduct population research for endangered species.

Forest management is also being undermined by the Bush Administration, which has created a group of five nonscientists, called the “review team” to overrule the Sierra Nevada Framework, a plan to manage forests and reduce the risk of forest fires, which was put into place by the Clinton Administration. With the new “review team” in charge and more new legislation on the way, America could be looking at the complete loss of forests within the next 10 years.

The Bush Administration is also slowly putting people sympathetic to its cause into positions once held by impartial scientists whose only goals were-and still are-the betterment of the country.

Science is the foundation of life as we know it. We, ourselves, are scientific beings from the beating of our hearts to each breath we take.

So how can we stop the Bush Administration’s slow degradation of our planet? We can start on Election Day, by choosing the people who have our best interest at heart, instead of their own.

For more information or to learn how you can take action, contact UCS at www.ucsusa.org.

 

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