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Creative environmental bookeeping
June 8, 2005 4:15 AM   Subscribe

A White House aide with no scientific training edited government reports to weaken the language linking greenhouse gases with climate change. Example of editing here. This comes on the heels of news that ExxonMobil was instrumental in the Bush administration's decision to reject the Kyoto Treaty.
posted by trey (40 comments total)

 
You know, I have heard rumors that the current U.S. administration has close ties to "big oil." Is that what these articles are trying to say? Because as far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on that whopper. But at least Bush is tough on terrorism. I do hope he manages to keep down the price of gas.
posted by mokujin at 4:25 AM on June 8, 2005


mokujin: You beat me to it and were much more clever than I would have been. My reaction was more like "No duh!!" Tell us something we don't know. The lefties among us already know this and the righties among us will deny this stuff to the grave.
posted by Doohickie at 4:36 AM on June 8, 2005


People who write and edit documents rarely have scientific training. This looks like a typical example of editing to me. I see no distortions or plotting intent.

People are going bat out of thier minds trying to be outraged by the tiniest things.
posted by Osmanthus at 4:46 AM on June 8, 2005


People who write and edit scientific documents almost always have scientific training.
posted by trey at 4:53 AM on June 8, 2005


I, too, think the chilli at Burger King leaves much to be desired.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:00 AM on June 8, 2005


Right. Because an administration crony - and a big-oil crony, to boot - weakening science in favor of business is among the "tiniest" of things. I mean, it's not like this could affect policy decisions relating to the entire country's future, or anything.
posted by Floach at 5:06 AM on June 8, 2005


entire planet's future, surely?
posted by handee at 5:08 AM on June 8, 2005


Climate change?

Well of course the climate changes. why it was rainy yesterday and today it's sunny.

Why, I'm holding in my formerly nicotine stained fingers a weather report that says the climate is going to change EVERY day this week!

Of course these reports have to be edited to remove the LIBERAL agenda. Everyone knows the scientific community is FULL of LIBERALS who want nothing more than to undermine America and to destroy the American way of life so that they can replace it with GODLESS socialism.

Exxon, Texaco, Shell have done more to bring liberty to the world than just about anyone else. Who do you think provides the fuel for those humvees that are fighting the insurgents in Iraq?

This man is doing the Lord's work ladies and gentlemen. he is a hero and we should be happy that we have such a good and true American in the White House working for the President. The LIBERAL media can spin this any way they want to, but these are the facts.

[/rush limbaugh]
posted by three blind mice at 5:12 AM on June 8, 2005


Does Rush Limbaugh really talk about "the Lord's" anything? I haven't listened to him in almost a year, but he seemed to keep his religious cards awfully close to the vest.
posted by alumshubby at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2005


Osmanthus-

People who write scientific documents are scientists. People who are responsible for reviewing those documents for veracity are also scientists. People who may edit those documents for style or readability are usually required to have a strong scientific background, if they are not scientists themselves.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2005


ExxonMobil was instrumental in the Bush administration's decision to reject the Kyoto Treaty.

Couldn't it maybe have been you know the 95-0 rejection of the Kyoto accord by the senate?
posted by PenDevil at 5:37 AM on June 8, 2005


Well, gosh, it's nice to see that the NYT hasn't lost all four of its legs as well as it's teeth, but fer fuck's sake--is this the best they can do? We're talking about a ludicrously, flamboyantly corrupt administration here, and this is all they scratch up?

Are we all supposed to renew our subscriptions now, and sleep easy again, knowing that the NYT is on the case? We've got a large man climbing through the window with a hatchet, and the Times is reporting that his watch is set incorrectly.

Thanks a fucking million, Times!
*snappy salute*

On Preview: Yeah, pendevil... you think there might be a connection?
posted by squirrel at 5:44 AM on June 8, 2005


the scientific community is FULL of LIBERALS who believe in bat-shit theories like evolution. [Note: not summoning bevets here].
posted by ericb at 5:48 AM on June 8, 2005


oops, forgot to say above - *sarcasm*
posted by ericb at 5:49 AM on June 8, 2005


Osmanthus wrote "People who write and edit documents rarely have scientific training."

I write documents. I have 11 years of college-level scientific training. I don't let anybody without similar scientific training edit my documents. If I was writing up my work into a layperson-friendly textbook style format, I still wouldn't let anyone without proper training edit things.

We've got oil industry insiders hired by the US government to make substantial changes to documents illustrating the impact that the oil industry has on the environment. How is this a trivial, minor thing? When cats make the laws, mice lose. We're all mice here, Osmanthus.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:08 AM on June 8, 2005


I know this is no surprise, but I have to say that this kind of thing makes me feel like a beaten dog these days. I can barely summon outrage anymore, it all seems so plebian and ordinary. I want people to be pissed off, I want to get a bit of energy back, but all I can think is that no one really cares and we're all going to hell in a handbasket (made of petroleum byproducts since willow no longer grows in these parts).

What I'm trying to say, and this is the wierd and scary part, is that it makes me feel sad for myself before feeling outraged. When I can summon a bigger view, that seems like quite an accomplishment for this administration.
posted by OmieWise at 6:10 AM on June 8, 2005


Oh yeah, and Osmanthus, you're just being disingenuous. You can see the impact in the documents and quotations provided. Even if you weren't wrong about the training of scientific editors, I think you're going bat out of your mind trying not to be outraged. If you were intellectually honest you'd recognize this for what it is.
posted by OmieWise at 6:13 AM on June 8, 2005


From the Article:
...while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings...

Can someone explain to me how that is subtle?

This stinks to high heaven.
posted by fadeout at 6:26 AM on June 8, 2005


Does Rush Limbaugh really talk about "the Lord's" anything? I haven't listened to him in almost a year, but he seemed to keep his religious cards awfully close to the vest.

Whatever alumshubby. He says whatever his audience wants to hear and gives them a reason for ignoring every corrupt thing the Bush administration does.

Personally I don't think even he believes what he says. His agenda is to keep his listeners happy and fill his pockets full of their money. He's been damned successful at that.

So one might ask who the NY Times thinks their audience is? They certainly aren't talking to liberal America. They don't seem to be talking to anyone.

Like squirrel observed:

Are we all supposed to renew our subscriptions now, and sleep easy again, knowing that the NYT is on the case? We've got a large man climbing through the window with a hatchet, and the Times is reporting that his watch is set incorrectly.

Renew my subscription? I'm wondering why I should read it at all. Liberal media indeed. Even The New Republic smells like neo-con spirit.
posted by three blind mice at 6:28 AM on June 8, 2005


Osmanthus writes "People who write and edit documents rarely have scientific training. This looks like a typical example of editing to me. I see no distortions or plotting intent."

So you're saying this is more Bush Administration incompetence, like putting too few boots on the ground in Iraq, rather than more Bush Administration lies, like the non-existent WMDs that tricked us into putting boots on the ground in Iraq?

So, ah, what do you make of the last link, about ExxonMobil acting as if it were a contestant on "Fox's American State Department" and America's foreign policy were just another song to be covered by no-talent amateurs?
posted by orthogonality at 6:28 AM on June 8, 2005


So basically this is their marketing of the Bush policies. I remember watching this Frontline episode where a marketing consultant for the republicans got them to quit talking about "global warming" and instead talk about "climate change". Everything is a marketing ploy anymore.
posted by Eekacat at 7:02 AM on June 8, 2005


In this month's Official Right Wing Conspiracy Newsletter, our Fearless Leader, James Dobson, wrote a heart-wrenching op-ed piece called "The Rough Beast Shall Drive a Hummer to Bethlehem" in which he made it clear that--however fond we neoconservativetheocraticfascitii might be of fluffy bunnies and pretty trees--we have to get over it, post haste. Oil concerns, Dobson wrote, and the rapid destruction of our environment--nay, the total elimination of a future for even our own heterosexually generated offspring--is our only directive.

It's a lot of work, but if we all band together, we can get it done. If you'll excuse me, I have to go spray some CFCs around my Designated Pollution Zone (DPZ).
posted by gsh at 7:21 AM on June 8, 2005




gsh, in need of a good laugh I googled The Rough Beast Shall Drive a Hummer to Bethlehem Dobson (without quotation marks) and stumbled across this off topic gem:

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt......If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

-- Thomas Jefferson, from a letter he sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act


Focus on that James Dobson. The only Rapture that is coming is a huge Liberal backlash. Run and hide neo-cons. The end is near.
posted by three blind mice at 7:58 AM on June 8, 2005


When I was in high school you could still tell the difference between the New Republic and the National Review. Ah, those were the days.
posted by clevershark at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2005


Meh, Hummers are for hippie enviro-fascists. This is the vehicle for men who still have bollocks. If you don't have one of those you're just a commie and you have a small penis!
posted by clevershark at 8:09 AM on June 8, 2005


trey essentially wrote:
Newsflash: Oil industry influences Bush Administration policy.

Man, that's like writing, "Newsflash: Sugar has been located in Hershey's Chocolate".
posted by shawnj at 8:21 AM on June 8, 2005


The only Rapture that is coming is a huge Liberal backlash. Run and hide neo-cons.

I would laugh, except I'm too busy crying.

The moment liberals try to get a spine, the fundamentalists will simply start escalating violence, and that will be that. The reason they've gotten as far as they have is simple. They've been stating quite simply that liberals are evil, and should be destroyed. They've been ratcheting up this rhetoric for almost my entire life. Now, we have people like Savage and Coulter and Dobson *speaking for the party in power.*

They've been beating down the liberals for decades, and they are not going to stop. If yelling isn't enough, why, they'll just tie you to a bumper and drag you around until you shut up, and if that's not enough, well, time for the bonfires. Nothing like tying your enemy to a post in the square and burning them alive to convince his allies that they're beaten.

If liberals decide that "When they swing at me, I'll stab them, then pull out a gun and pump four rounds into their hearts, then set them on fire and burn them to ashes, then mail the ashes to Fox News," then I'll believe there's hope. But that, quite simply, won't happen.

That's the real story. Liberals aren't being beaten. They have been beat down, destroyed, dispersed, demoralized, finished. When one dares make a stand, the rest just slip away, because they might get hit in the fight.
posted by eriko at 8:27 AM on June 8, 2005


I am shocked. SHOCKED. that the bush administration would do something untwoard.

meh.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 AM on June 8, 2005


I am shocked that bush admin has editors!
posted by srboisvert at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2005


from mk1gti's link: (Y)ou had better find a way to explain the near ubiquitous presence of the attack dog Robert Novak, along with those of neocon virtuecrat William Bennett, National Review's Kate O'Beirne and Jonah Goldberg, The Weekly Standard's David Brooks, and Tucker Carlson. This is to say nothing of the fact that among CNN's most frequent guests are Ann Coulter and the anti-American telepreacher Pat Robertson.

Interestingly (to me) there's not a small-government-type in the entire lot. I once again advance my theory that the "MSM" is neither left nor right, just a collection of prattling statists.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2005


Kwantsar:

There isn't a small government type in the entire Republican party anymore, near as I can tell.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2005


Small government is for those who are out of power. When you're in charge you want your government as big as possible.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:33 AM on June 8, 2005


Wait a second

* It doesn't really matter if the guy didn't have or did have scientific training

(actually, what difference could have made ..they could have used anybody with not enough or any reputation to defend..or hey you can buy scientists you know, they're not incorruptible)

** Why the hell is he selectively editing and introducing text AFTER the Bush officials approved the publication ?

That screams some things to me

1. whoever is behind the guy maybe considered the document a little too "treehugging" in its first version..but that's OK some capitalist thinks workers should be on a living wage too..hey let's talk about slavery it's not so bad ah ?

2. whoever is behind the guy is bypassing the Bush people..that should make the Bush guys mad beyond recognition..as being sidestepped like this means only

2a that you're the industry BITCH
2b that if you're such a bitch you'll be replaced easily and you will paid a lot less next season..IF you get to get paid
..actually HELL do whatever the hell I please or you'll not be elected

Neocons Republicass whatever..what a bunch of sissies
posted by elpapacito at 10:13 AM on June 8, 2005


2c That was almost coherent.
posted by Balisong at 3:39 PM on June 8, 2005


What gets to me isn't that the official had no scientific background, it's that he led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases as their lead 'climate change' lobbyist before being installed as chief of staff of the White House environmental policy office. WTF?!? Its things like this thread's links (and the judicial nominee that was a head lobbyist for the mining industry) that make it amusing to see anyone attempt to deny that the Bush Administration's subservience to the extractive corporations.
posted by SenshiNeko at 4:07 PM on June 8, 2005


** Why the hell is he selectively editing and introducing text AFTER the Bush officials approved the publication ?

I find this part more interesting than that a non-scientist is editing documents. True story: I submitted a report to NOAA on the health of Samoan reefs. We mentioned global warming as a potential threat to the reefs' health. The report was approved - but some PR lackey came through and tried to make us delete all the single paragraph on global warming, claiming that 'it would never pass muster' in DC.

The painful part of the story: this lackey claimed to be a liberal, an environmentalist, and all that. He 'sympathized' with our anger at his editing. He was just trying to save us a hassle down the road.

In other words: he was trying to kiss right wing ass in order to get ahead.

We went over his head [to a life-long Republican party member, no less], and the paragraph stayed in.

The lesson I learned: the damage isn't always done by the ideologues. There really aren't as many as we think. The damage is done by those without beliefs, who get overzealous in trying to appease their superiors.
posted by kanewai at 5:16 PM on June 8, 2005


Sobering and important point, kanewai
posted by squirrel at 11:18 PM on June 8, 2005


kanewai - In 2004, there were approximately 10 US Republican senators who voted in less than 100% accord with the diktat of the Christian Coalition, and 3 who voted in less than 80% accord.



So, I bet your "lifelong Republican" is on the way out, hounded by the theocratic set.
posted by troutfishing at 9:41 PM on June 9, 2005


Update: fuckwit resigns to "spend time with family."
posted by warbaby at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2005


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