House committee testimony shows weakening of climate reports
Documents released by a House Committee Monday showed alterations of climate reports to downplay the human role in global warming by a former White House official, according to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/washington/20climate.html).
Phillip A. Cooney, the former chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who was a oil industry lobbyist, testified in front of the committee. Cooney claimed the changes he made were part of the normal White House review process and reflected changes made to earlier climate reports.
Cooney had no scientific background.
Dr. James E. Hansen, a NASA climate official who had attempted to be silenced by former Bush aide George C. Deutsch III, said at the committee that editing reports and silencing scientists muddied the public debate.
Representative Henry A. Waxman of California said the documents revealed a systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of global climate change.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the documents showed more than 181 changes made to a strategic plan on global climate change (http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/scientists-muzzled-congress-told/2007/03/20/1174153066947.html).
Cooney has denied the changes were directly cooridinated with the White House but he was in contact with an unnamed, senior White House aide. Dr. Hansen did admit that editing like this occurred in previous administrations but to a much lesser extent.
The New York Times article focuses more on the political aspects and less on the scientific. I found it interesting that Cooney came off much more defensive and less cooperative in the Times than in the Herald. I thought the Times article did a much better job of providing background for each of the major players. However the Herald did a better job explaining the actual changes made to the reports. I also found it interesting that Cooney was the central character in the Times article while Hansen was in the Herald article. I thought the Herald article had a much better flow. The Times article begins to bog down near the end, getting wrapped too much in partisanship.