White House Tried to Stop Climate Science Testimony, Documents Show

Rod Schoonover at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
Lisa FriedmanBy Lisa Friedman
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Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy group, said that it was common for the White House to vet agency testimony to Congress to ensure it did not contradict administration policy.But, he said, “I have never heard of basic facts being deleted from or blocked from testimony.” Mr. Ornstein said withholding the analyst’s written testimony was significant. A verbal presentation could be interpreted as an individual’s position, he said, but “the written testimony is a more formal expression of a department.”

Some species—including mosquitoes, ticks, jellyfish, and crop pests—are thriving. Booming populations of bark beetles that feed on spruce and pine trees, for example, have devastated millions of forested acres in the U.S.

The Washington Post first reported the effort to suppress Dr. Schoonover’s testimony. On almost every page of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony, the National Security Council offered comments and criticisms, according to a document that tracks changes. Two people familiar with the document said the notes were from William Happer, a physicist and White House adviser on the council who denies the established scientific consensus on global warming. “This is not objective testimony at all,” one comment read. “It includes lots of climate alarm propaganda that is not science at all. I am embarrassed to have this go out on behalf of the executive branch of the Federal Government.”Another comment objects to the phrase “tipping point” to describe when the planet reaches a threshold of irreversible climate change. “‘Tipping points’ is a propaganda slogan for the scientifically illiterate,” the comment reads. “They were a favorite of Al Gore’s science adviser, James Hansen.”
Dr. Schoonover’s testimony noted that his analysis drew from peer-reviewed scientific journals and work produced by top United States government scientists. That, too, came under attack from the National Security Council, which said that “a consensus of peer reviewed literature has nothing to do with the truth.”But the heaviest proposed edits, and the basis for ultimately blocking the written testimony, came from the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. That office, according to the document, recommended eliminating five pages of science that appeared under the headings “Scientific Baseline” and “Stresses to Human and Societal Systems.”

The year 2017 was the second hottest year followed by 2014. Studies found that the year 2014 was the hottest till 2015. And according to NASA, breaking the record by 0.17°C, the second hottest year was 2017 without the influence of El Nino. In fact, every component of the Earth’s is warming including surface air temperatures, lower atmospheric temperatures, ocean temperatures, and as ice around the globe is melting the sea level is expected to rise will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of 21st century, according to the IPCC 2007 report.

Those pages laid the scientific foundation for the rest of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony, which described the various national security threats linked to climate change, like instability from water shortages in some parts of the world.The science portion offered factual assertions like, “The Earth’s climate is unequivocally undergoing a long-term warming trend as established by decades of scientific measurements from multiple, independent lines of evidence.” It also noted that the past five years had been the warmest five on record.