The Bush administration is trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed, a NASA scientist said Tuesday night.
"In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," James E. Hansen (search) told a University of Iowa audience.
Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (search) in New York and has twice briefed a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming.
Hansen said the administration wants to hear only scientific results that "fit predetermined, inflexible positions." Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being of sufficient interest to the public.
"This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster."
Hansen said the scientific community generally agrees that temperatures on Earth are rising because of the greenhouse effect — emissions of carbon dioxide and other materials into the atmosphere that trap heat.
These rising temperatures, scientists believe, could cause sea levels to rise and trigger severe environmental consequences, he said.
Hansen said such warnings are consistently suppressed, while studies that cast doubt on such interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration.
He also said reports that outline potential dangers of global warming are edited to make the problem appear less serious.
"This process is in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science," he said.
White House science adviser John H. Marburger III (search) has denied charges that the administration refuses to accept the reality of climate change, noting that President Bush pointed out in a 2001 speech that greenhouse gases have increased substantially in the past 200 years.
Last December, the administration said it was planning a five-year program to research global warming and climate change.
Hansen said he was speaking as a private citizen, not as a government employee, and paid his own way for the Iowa appearance. He described himself as moderately conservative, but said he will vote for John Kerry in the presidential election.
"He certainly is not in denial of the existence of climate change problems," Hansen said.