Mar 12, 2007

Gag Me with a Glacier: U.S. Scientists Ordered Not to Discuss Polar Bears

Scientific censorship is on the rise in the U.S., with a recent Bush administration memo to scientists warning them not to mention the axis of evil, which is now "polar bears, sea ice, and global warming." The gag order is aimed at scientists traveling abroad on U.S. government business. Since December of 2005, the White House has been considering whether to give polar bears the status of "threatened" on the Endangered Species Act, but has yet to do so, many believe because of the concern that this would increase debate about American responsibility in the global warming scientists are also warned not to speak about. The U.S. is by far the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions: with just 4% of the total world's population, we account for 25% of its carbon dioxide generation, and this amount has risen in recent years:
The Bush administration has repeatedly ignored calls to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which aims at reducing environmental pollution by 2012. Citing economic interests as the reason, the United States has chosen to stay out of talks to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by developed countries. If the United States does not take steps to cut pollution, it would be emitting 25 per cent more gases in 2012 that it did in 1990.
While scientific debate still continues about man's contribution to global warming, and about the accuracy of global warming as a phenomenon, "Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are responsible for roughly 80 percent of yearly carbon dioxide emissions worldwide," and carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. Regardless of what you believe in terms of man's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, putting a cap on these emissions seems to be the wisest choice. The U.N. Secretary General believes so too:
Ban Ki Moon argued Thursday that global warming poses as great a threat to the world as modern warfare, and he vowed to make reduction of greenhouse gases one of his tenure's top priorities.
Meanwhile, regardless of the causes, the warming trend in the Arctic is not under debate. The melting of the glaciers there, the rising sea levels, the record numbers of polar bear drownings--all are well documented. With U.S. scientists now disallowed from discussing this situation publicly, will it take other countries forcing the U.S. to the table? And how many _____ _____ will have to drown before legislation will be enacted to help protect them?

Update: Britain is proposing its own Climate Change Bill, that, if approved, will mandate a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by 2050. Britain is striving to lead the way for other countries to follow.

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