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Scientists 'pressured on climate findings'


By The Australian

US scientists felt pressured to tailor their writings on global warming to fit the Bush administration's skepticism, in some cases at the behest of an ex-oil industry lobbyist, a congressional committee heard today.
"Our investigations found high-quality science struggling to get out," Francesca Grifo of the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

A survey by the group found that 150 climate scientists personally experienced political interference in the past five years, for a total of at least 435 incidents.

"Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change', 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications," Ms Grifo said.

Rick Piltz, a former US government scientist who said he resigned in 2005 after pressure to soft-pedal findings on global warming, told the committee in prepared testimony that former White House official Phil Cooney took an active role in casting doubt on the consequences of global climate change.

Mr Cooney, who was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before becoming chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, resigned in 2005 to work for oil giant ExxonMobil.

Documents on global climate change required Mr Cooney's review and approval, Mr Piltz said.

"His edits of program reports, which had been drafted and approved by career science program managers, had the cumulative effect of adding an enhanced sense of scientific uncertainty about global warming and minimising its likely consequences," Mr Piltz said.

The hearing was one of two today spotlighting global climate change; a Senate forum featured testimony from members of that chamber, including presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois among Democrats and Republican John McCain of Arizona.

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