Sunday, March 19, 2006

I say potato, you say pa-ta-to

Welcome to the spin everything zone.

Hard for any rational person to dismiss all the warnings about global warming. Too bad there seems to be no rational people working in the White House.

Those who watched "60 Minutes" Sunday night were confronted with a chilling bit of news. Unless greenhouse gases are reduced within 10 years, global warming will reach a point of no return, according to NASA's top climatologist, Jim Hansen. Temperatures are rising twice as fast in the Arctic as they are in the rest of the world. Whoops ... I meant to say temperatures may be rising twice as fast.

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

Restrictions like this e-mail Hansen's institute received from NASA in 2004. "… there is a new review process … ," the e-mail read. "The White House (is) now reviewing all climate related press releases," it continued.

And who was in charge of reviewing those press releases? A former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, until recently head of the White House's office on climate change. (He now works for Exxon).

A more accurate job title would be redacter in chief.

Annoyed by the ambiguity, Hansen went public a year and a half ago, saying this about the Bush administration in a talk at the University of Iowa: "I find a willingness to listen only to those portions of scientific results that fit predetermined inflexible positions. This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster."

"Will occur" becomes "might happen." "Not enough facts ... too speculative." The dissemination is jaw-dropping.

I know the drill: Hansen's a disgruntled liberal trying to bring W. down. One problem: Hansen also had disputes with the Clinton administration because he wasn't alarmist enough for their liking.

But now is the time for alarm. Sorry, you weren't supposed to hear that.

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