Bush Administration Limits Discussion of Climate Change

The New York Times reports on efforts by the Bush administration to restrict discussion of climate change by government biologists and other employees while travelling:

Internal memorandums circulated in the Alaskan division of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service appear to require government biologists or other employees traveling in countries around the Arctic not to discuss climate change, polar bears or sea ice if they are not designated to do so.In December, the Bush administration, facing a deadline under a suit by environmental groups, proposed listing polar bears throughout their range as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because the warming climate is causing a summertime retreat of sea ice that the bears use for seal hunting.

Just like in the Soviet Union, scientists who want to travel must follow the party line:

The sample memorandums, described as to be used in writing travel requests, indicate that the employee seeking permission to travel “understands the administration’s position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues.”

Electronic copies of the memorandums and cover note were forwarded to The New York Times by Deborah Williams, an environmental campaigner in Alaska and a former Interior Department official in the Clinton administration.

“This sure sounds like a Soviet-style directive to me,” Ms. Williams said.

This is not the first time there have been reports of this nature:

Limits on government scientists’ freedom to speak freely about climate change became a heated issue last year after news reports showed that political appointees at NASA had canceled journalists’ interview requests with climate scientists and discouraged news releases on global warming.

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