Monday, April 26, 2004

As Cold as Dick Cheney's Heart?

A disaster movie set to open nationally on May 28th, "The Day After Tomorrow," has got the Bush administration's panties in a bunch. Why? Because the movie depicts a climatic catastrophe brought on by massive environmental degradation, specifically global warming, a sore subject with this laissez faire White House, since it more or less denies that any such thing as global warming is even happening.

So sore a subject, in fact, that NASA administrators, hearing about the movie plot (which features a sequence in which the president's motorcade is flash-frozen ... if only!), issued a directive to its scientists not to talk to ANYBODY about events depicted in the movie, apparently lest any errant scientist should let slip the non-news that indeed the Bush administration is fiddling while the environment goes to hell. (New York Times story here.)

(Of course, once "outed" that it was trying to censor its own scientists -- again! -- NASA began backpedaling and said that the eggheads would be allowed to answer questions about the science in the movie. But so what? This administration often waffles once someone blows the whistle. It does not, however, change the essential behavior that led to the coverup.)

"Copies of the [thou shalt not speak to the press] message ... were provided to The New York Times by a senior NASA scientist who said he resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers .... 'It's just another attempt to play down anything that might lead to the conclusion that something must be done' about global warming, one federal climate scientist said. He, like half a dozen government employees interviewed on this subject, said he could speak only on condition of anonymity because of standing orders not to talk to the news media."

"Along with its direct criticisms of a Bush-like administration, the movie also could draw attention to a proposed Bush budget cut. The lead character, played by Dennis Quaid, is a paleoclimatologist, an investigator of past climate shifts, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. President Bush has proposed sharp cuts to the agency's paleoclimatology program, which began under the first Bush administration."

I heard a caller on C-SPAN this a.m., voice all a-quiver, speak cryptically about what might happen with the Gulf stream, so I went looking. And I so get it! why his voice was quivering. Take a look at this and at this, for starters. There's a lot more scientific opinion out there in this vein.

Abrupt climate change? It happened in the past, it could happen in the future. One such abrupt change killed the dinosaurs, or at least most of them. The surviving ones currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. might be caught in the next one.

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