Watching the Fox in the Henhouse

In a front-page story in today’s New York Times , the invaluable Andy Revkin shows exactly how the Bush adminstration White House treats news it doesn’t want to hear on climate change. Here’s a paragraph from the U.S. Global Climate Research Program’s report in late 2002:

Warming will also cause reductions in mountain glaciers and advance the timing of the melt of mountain snow pack in polar regions. In turn, runoff rates will change and flood potential will be altered in ways that are currently not well understood. There will be significant shifts in the seasonality of runoff that will have serious impacts on native populations that rely on fishing and hunting for their livelyhood. These changes will be further complicated by shifts in precipitation regimes and a possible intensification and increased frequency of extreme hydrological events. Reducing the uncertainties in current understanding of the relationship between climate change and Artic hydrology is critical…

This became, two months later, after being rewritten by the White House:

Warming could also lead to changes in the water cycle in polar regions. Reducing the uncertainties…

Eight months later, when the report was released in July 2003, the paragraph was omitted.

Who was the fox in the henhouse? Philip Cooney, a lawyer. His credentials? He’s a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute.

The irony? When asked about climate change in a four-question "press conference" with Tony Blair, Bush took credit for the money being spent on the global climate research program…research his administration is doing everything possible to obscure, obfuscate, and deny.   

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