Worst regime in history? Looks like it!

White House cuts global warming from report

Environmental study censored, say critics

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles

Friday June 20, 2003

The Guardian

The White House has removed damaging references to global warming from a major US government report on the environment due to be published next week.

References to health threats posed by exhaust emissions that were part of the draft report by the environmental protection agency (EPA) have been removed, according to leaked versions of the report.

White House officials have cut details about the sudden increase in global warming over the past decade compared with the past 1,000 years and inserted information from a report that questions this conclusion and which was partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, according to the New York Times, to whom the draft documents were leaked.

The removal of controversial passages has caused concern within the EPA. At the end of April a memo circulated among staff members and also leaked to the paper said the report “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change”.

Another memo warned of the danger to the agency’s credibility posed by agreeing to the deletions, because the “EPA will take responsibility and severe criticism from the science and environmental communities for poorly representing the science”.

The report was commissioned in 2001 by the agency’s head, Christie Whitman, who has just announced her resignation for unrelated reasons. Its aim was to provide a comprehensive overview of the major environmental issues facing the government and the scientific community.

One of the most striking changes comes in the report’s “global issues” section.

In the draft version the introduction reads: “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.”

This has been replaced with: “The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future.”

Environmental groups have criticised the changes. Aaron Rappaport of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington said yesterday: “It’s ridiculous to leave global warming out of a report on change in the environment.”

The references had apparently been “censored out”, he said.

“It shows a serious lack of transparency,” Mr Rappaport added. “I regret to say we’re not surprised.

“The administration’s prejudice against the scientific consensus around global warming is well known.”

Ms Whitman, who will leave office at the end of next week, has said she is content with the deletions made by the White House.

“The first draft, as with many first drafts, contained everything,” she said.

“As it went through the review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change.

“So, rather than go out with something half-baked or not put out the whole report, we felt it was important for us to get this out because there is a lot of really good information that people can use to measure our successes.”

The EPA did not return a call yesterday requesting a comment by time of going to press.

Mr Bush angered environmentalists early in his administration by declining to endorse the Kyoto international agreement on global warming, and subsequently expressing doubts about whether global warming even existed.

His administration has often clashed with environmental groups. Environmentalists have accused the government of being too ready to listen to oil and logging interests.

The major environmental clash has centred around the Arctic national wildlife refuge where the White House seeks to allow drilling for oil. The issue remains stalled in the legislature.