U.S. Issues Stealth Report on Climate Change

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It’s well known in Public Relations circles that the best way to avoid media coverage of unpleasant or controversial information is to release it on Friday afternoon, after the reporters have gone home. The Bush administration did just that last week, issuing the 19-months-late US Climate Action Report with the least-possible publicity.

Climate Science Watch, a useful site devoted to the sisyphusean task of “Promoting integrity in the use of climate science in government,” comments on the much-delayed report to the U.S., which the U.S. is obligated by treaty to publish:

“The Department of State submitted the report on Friday July 27, marking the event only with a brief media note from the department’s Office of the Spokesman. The media note includes a link to the report. The report was not mentioned in the department’s daily briefing that day; nor did the White House Council on Environmental Quality mention the report’s release on its Web site. Under climate treaty guidelines the report was due December 31, 2005, and thus was submitted 19 months past the deadline.”

The report’s coverage of the impact of climate change is “haphazard and incomplete, with a lot of major impacts not even mentioned.”

Despite the long delay in publishing, “the Administration discusses only a limited set of expected impacts and fails to even mention most of the North American impacts specifically highlighted in the IPCC Working Group II Summary for Policymakers.” The report “offers no explanation” for this major omission.

“We conclude that the Administration and the Climate Change Science Program leadership have failed to draw on the conclusions of the IPCC 2007 report because to do so would require acknowledging the likelihood of a wide range of adverse societal and environmental consequences of climate change that the Administration is unwilling to discuss forthrightly. This was clearly a political decision, without scientific justification.