This is the Bush Administration’s war on science, I mean. There’s lots we don’t hear about, I’m sure, but there has been a new discussion ignited by an article in Nature yesterday. I found this article on Associated Press by Randolph E. Schmidt. Seems that there was a report being prepared at NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) about hurricanes:
In the new case, Nature said weather experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration â€” part of the
Commerce Department â€” in February set up a seven-member panel to prepare a consensus report on the views of agency scientists about global warming and hurricanes.
According to Nature, a draft of the statement said that warming may be having an effect.
In May, when the report was expected to be released, panel chair Ants Leetmaa received an e-mail from a Commerce official saying the report needed to be made less technical and was not to be released, Nature reported.
The point is that (and yes, that is a picture of hurricane Katrina, above right):
A series of studies over the past year or so have shown an increase in the power of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a strengthening that many storm experts say is tied to rising sea-surface temperatures.
and this connects -it is believed- to our activities in this way:
Just two weeks ago, researchers said that most of the increase in ocean temperature that feeds more intense hurricanes is a result of human-induced global warming, a study one researcher said “closes the loop” between climate change and powerful storms like Katrina.
However, the official word from the Agency on this new apparent tinkering is as follows:
NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher is currently out of the country, but Nature quoted him as saying the report was merely an internal document and could not be released because the agency could not take an official position on the issue.
However, the journal said in its online report that the study was merely a discussion of the current state of hurricane science and did not contain any policy or position statements.
In case you’re not sure where this all fits into the scheme of things, recall the Jim Hansen stury of January, this New York Times discussion/summary, and have a look at the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists. We must be vigilant.
[Update: There's a lovely list of a lot of recent news articles on global warming over on Science and Reason. Excellent post. (Thanks, Say Lee.)]