This is a must see TV programme. As part of the BBC’s Climate Chaos series, the investigative programme Panorama has examined the Bush administration’s assault on the science of climate change. It includes stories of threats, gagging, cover-ups, censorships, misleading intelligence, and report re-writing.
It includes interviews with leading scientists such as Robert Corell, the chairman of the Arctic Impact Assessment, a four-year study into the affects of climate change in the Arctic that drew on the expertise of 300 climate scientists and indigenous experts. It had the backing of all the governments that surround the Arctic and 18 Academies of Science. Despite this, Corell said that the State Department had delayed the report until after the 2004 presidential election.
They feared what political damage the report would do. Corell is convinced that “if the report had come out it would have been a very strong piece in the presidential election in the US.”
James Hansen is one of the world’s leading scientists from NASA. He tells the programme how he was threatened “with dire consequences” after making a speech last December on climate change. He was told that all talks, edits to the websites and interviews had to be cleared before hand. “I had hoped that as we presented a clearer and stronger story on the status of the global climate we would begin to have had an impact on the polices,” says Hansen. Instead, the Bush Administration “want to listen to people who say the things they want to hear rather than scientists who know most about the science”
Another scientist, Tom Knutson, from NOAA, who was going to warn about the dangers of Hurricanes from increasingly warm waters just days before Hurricane Katrina hit was gagged by the White House. Rick Piltz, a former senior associate with the US Climate Change Science Programme, says the attitude saw simply “how can we spin this so its doesn’t cause problems for the White House.”
Watch the programme on-line here.