Top climate experts must get approval before speaking to the press
Today several Canadian newspapers report that for more than two years climate scientists working for the federal government have had to get formal permission from their political bosses before speaking to reporters.
The article is based on a leaked Environment Canada document released by Climate Action Network Canada. It says that the policy has resulted in an “over 80 percent” decline in media coverage of climate change science, because reporters, who often have same-day deadlines, cannot wait for the political bureaucrats to give approval.
“In many cases, the policy also required them to get approval from supervisors of written responses to the questions submitted by journalists before any interview…
“The document suggests the new communications policy has practically eliminated senior federal scientists from media coverage of climate-change science issues, leaving them frustrated that the government was trying to ‘muzzle’ them.”
According to the internal government review, “Our scientists are very frustrated with the new process. They feel the intent of the policy is to prevent them from speaking to media.”
“The document also noted that government scientists voiced their displeasure to communications officials about the policy during meetings in June 2008. A few months later, a couple of requests for interviews with scientists in the midst of the 2008 federal election campaign were never answered, including one request that was ‘denied’ after it was forwarded to the office of former environment minister John Baird.”
The article quotes the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, Graham Saul, accusing the Harper government of “muzzling scientists; they’re putting climate deniers in key oversight positions over research, and they’re reducing funding in key areas. . . . It’s almost as though they’re making a conscious attempt to bury the truth.”
The article, by Canwest News Service reporter Mike De Souza, is in the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, and other papers.