U.S. Government Scientists Instructed Not To Discuss Climate Change, Sea Ice, and/or Polar Bears

According to CNN (emphasis mine),

Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said Thursday.

Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration’s history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.

…Listed as a “new requirement” for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel “involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears” require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.

Two accompanying memos were offered as examples of these kinds of assurance. Both included the line that the traveler “understands the administration’s position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues.”

(Read the entire article.)

This is intolerable.

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6 thoughts on “U.S. Government Scientists Instructed Not To Discuss Climate Change, Sea Ice, and/or Polar Bears

  1. Nice post, Darmok. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised that this is happening, considering oil lobbyists have been put in a position to edit scientists’ work.

  2. Are we the only country in the world that restricts the discussion of particular species?

    Even given the administration’s positions, this one seems bizarre.

  3. Thanks for drawing attention to this censorship.

    The countries that are used as examples by Hall are significant in that they show Hall’s naïvety. It reminds me of John Cleese taking orders for dinner from his German guests in Fawlty Towers and saying “Don’t mention the war!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MbeT7_ARm8)

    Hall defended the policy laid out in the memos, saying it was meant to keep scientists from straying from a set agenda at meetings in countries like Russia, Norway and Canada.

    For example, he said, one meeting was about “human and polar bear interface.” Receding Arctic sea ice where polar bears live and the global climate change that likely played a role in the melting were not proper discussion topics, he said.

    “That’s not a climate change discussion,” Hall said at a telephone briefing. “That’s a management, on-the-ground type discussion.”

    Hall is way off base with his categorisation of the discussion. I have stood on glaciers in Norway. They are not so far away that people conveniently forget about them. That’s their local inconvenient truth. I bet the same could be said of northern Canada and Russia. Hall’s malapropos advice is about as disingenuous as saying “Oh, we won’t talk about the ice melting right now, let’s just stand here for a photo opportunity and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”

  4. Thanks for your comments, guys. I suppose I’m not surprised that it is happening per se, but the degree, specificity, and persistence of this censorship is what amazes me. Why aren’t more Americans objecting to this?

  5. Why aren’t more Americans objecting to this?

    What makes people object to anything?

    When objecting, why do some people object and remain silent, others object and grumble ineffectually to their neighbors, and others voice their concerns and suggest possible solutions in public and to authorities who may be able to make changes?

    Personalities, education, and situation have a lot to do with whether people know enough to care and care enough to know.

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