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Mar 9 / Dave Schumaker

US censoring scientists on climate change

A rule issued last month by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service prevents scientists from publicly speaking about polar bears, climate change or sea ice at various international meetings. Environmentalists and former members of the Department of Interior are saying this is censorship.

Of course this type of thing isn’t a surprise coming from the current administration:

The Bush administration has been under fire for several years for allegedly trying to curb the speech of government scientists who produce studies that contradict the administration’s positions, particularly on global warming.

Scientists in the Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been chastised for speaking to reporters, and some have been asked to submit papers and lectures to high-level managers for review. Political appointees at NASA have turned down journalists’ requests for interviews with scientists, and the Minerals Management Service has allowed journalists to interview scientists, including on polar bear observations, only if the agency could record them.

I don’t like to editorialize too much, but stuff like this makes me furious. Al Gore spoke at the AGU conference in San Francisco this past December and raised some interesting points. There is an onus on us as scientists to spread the word, talk about our research and get more involved in matters of public policy and not let ourselves be shut down by the powers that be.

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