Paul Georgia

You've probably seen the latest tizzy over the Bush Administration's "censoring of science" (see here and here). The case against the Bush Administration this time is that it edited testimony presented to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The testimony, originally 14 pages, was cut to six.

However, the narrative of a scientific cover-up is overwrought to say the least. The hearing was on the potential impact of global warming on human health, an exercise in speculation. It appears, if press accounts are correct, that what the Bush Administration cut from the director’s testimony was more speculation than settled science.

The Center for Science & Public Policy has published a new report looking at the claims made in the portions of the testimony that were cut (as reported in the press) and concludes that in every instance, whether it be heat-related mortality, disease, extreme weather, etc., there is no link between climate change and harm to human health. In every case human health or conditions that affect human health are improving. The report concludes that the Bush Admininstration didn't censor settled scientific findings, but rather unjustfiable speculation by CDC experts.

Some of you may have seen Professor Cliff Ollier's write up of glacier dynamics originally circulated by Benny Peiser's excellent CCNet newsletter. The Center for Science & Public Policy has published a paper adapted from the original article with expanatory footnotes and diagram added to clarify some of the more technical parts of the article.

Professor Ollier takes on James Hansen's claim that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are in danger of collapse due to global warming. Hansen's claims are the basis for Al Gore's suggestion, in An Inconventient Truth, that the seas may rise by 20 feet in the near future.

Professor Ollier argues that, "Hansen's seeming ignorance of the mechanism by which glaciers flow leads him into major errors."

This paper describes glacier dynamics, such as the glacier budget, how glaciers flow (through a process known as "creep"), how creep is related to temperature and stress, and how the simple rules of creep allow us to understand some observations of glaciers.

Underway is a hearing by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming discussing the link between global warming and wildfire. The hearing, of course, was spurred by the Southern California wilfires.

Setting aside for the moment the fact that the fires were the direct result of a combination of arson and a child playing with matches and that the general increase the frequency and intensity of wildfire is due largely to the failure of the federal government to effectively manage the nation's forests over the last 50 years, is there a case to be made that rising temperatures are to blame for the current Southern California wildfires?

The answer to that question is, probably not. The Center for Science and Public Policy has recently published a report that addresses that question. The peer reviewed literature discussed in the paper shows that Southern California wildfires are due to increased wintertime precipitation, that facilitates the growth of grasses and other, highly flammable, fine fuels, which leads to an increased likelihood of wildfire. Higher temperatures and drought have nothing to do with wildfire in Southern California since it is always hot and dry there in the summer.

The full report is available here.