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Environment

Rewriting History, and Lying to the Public

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyFebruary 8, 2007 7:12 PM

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There was an absolutely incredible letter from the White House yesterday concerning Bush's record on climate change. It is signed by Office of Science and Technology Policy director John Marburger and Council on Environmental Quality chair James Connaugton, both of whom, with this letter, are guilty of deceiving the public. The letter says: "Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem." False. I need only point out, yet again, that just last year, Bush claimed there was a debate over whether global warming was "manmade or naturally caused." The House and the Senate need to compel both Marburger and Connaugton to testify, and confront them with quotations like this.

MOREOVER: The White House letter provides a skewed and misleading quotation from Bush's 2001 speech on global warming, so as to suggest it endorses the scientific consensus. The speech in fact ducked the central issue. Here's how the White House quotes Bush:

"First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming...There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming...And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity." - June 11, 2001

In the context of the actual speech, the "increase" being referred to here is clearly the increase in greenhouse gase concentrations, not the increase in temperature. Read in full what Bush actually said, and you'll quickly see how deceptive the White House is being, by literally misquoting the president himself:

First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming. It has risen by .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. There was a warming trend from the 1890s to the 1940s. Cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s. And then sharply rising temperatures from the 1970s to today. There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity. Yet, the Academy's report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it. For example, our useful efforts to reduce sulfur emissions may have actually increased warming, because sulfate particles reflect sunlight, bouncing it back into space. And, finally, no one can say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided.

The White House's shameless attempt to rewrite history simply cannot, and will not, stand. This 2001 speech is not an endorsement of the scientific consensus. It's an attempt to dance around it.

P.S.: Also last year, Bush claimed there was a "fundamental debate" over whether global warming is human caused or natural....This record cannot simply be made to disappear.

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