Think Politically, Act Globally

Bill Scher

We already knew the Bushies were trying to muzzle American climate scientists. Now, they’re going global.

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report detailing how global warming, if left unchecked, will impact all the regions of the planet.

But before the report could be approved, Bush’s people were working with Chinese officials to water it down and politicize scientific conclusions.

From the AP:

Agreement came after an all-night session during which key sections were deleted from the draft and scientists angrily confronted government negotiators who they feared were watering down their findings.

Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However, some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.

The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised the many of the objections to the phrasing, often seeking to tone down the certainty of some of the more dire projections.

During the final session, the conference snagged over a sentence that said the impact of climate change already were being observed on every continent and in most oceans.

“There is very high confidence that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases,” said the statement on the first page of text.

But China insisted on striking the word “very,” injecting a measure of doubt into what the scientists argued were indisputable observations. The report’s three authors refused to go along with the change, resulting in an hours-long deadlock that was broken by a U.S. compromise to delete any reference to confidence levels.

What a great compromise! Just get rid of an important conclusion altogether.

And the BBC (link via Gristmill) reported just before the report was released:

Correspondents say the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India were unhappy with the strength of the language in the draft summary…”The Europeans want to send a strong signal. The US does not want as much quantification,” one official told the French news agency AFP.

Conservatives often argue that America shouldn’t take strong action because China and India pollute too. But it’s certainly harder to get China and India on board when you’re working with them to muffle the alarm.

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