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April 2004

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From:
Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Sun, 4 Apr 2004 08:17:03 -0700
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Kerry, on the other hand, admits the problem but won't do anything
about it for fear of scaring off big business. --PG


http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1185292,00.html

Bush attacks environment 'scare stories'

Secret email gives advice on denying climate change

Antony Barnett in New York
Sunday April 4, 2004
The Observer

George W. Bush's campaign workers have hit on an age-old political
tactic to deal with the tricky subject of global warming - deny, and
deny aggressively.

The Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent to the press
secretaries of all Republican congressmen advising them what to say
when questioned on the environment in the run-up to November's
election. The advice: tell them everything's rosy.

It tells them how global warming has not been proved, air quality is
'getting better', the world's forests are 'spreading, not deadening',
oil reserves are 'increasing, not decreasing', and the 'world's water
is cleaner and reaching more people'.

The email - sent on 4 February - warns that Democrats will 'hit us
hard' on the environment. 'In an effort to help your members fight
back, as well as be aggressive on the issue, we have prepared the
following set of talking points on where the environment really
stands today,' it states.

The memo - headed 'From medi-scare to air-scare' - goes on: 'From the
heated debate on global warming to the hot air on forests; from the
muddled talk on our nation's waters to the convolution on air
pollution, we are fighting a battle of fact against fiction on the
environment - Republicans can't stress enough that extremists are
screaming "Doomsday!" when the environment is actually seeing a new
and better day.'

Among the memo's assertions are 'global warming is not a fact',
'links between air quality and asthma in children remain cloudy', and
the US Environment Protection Agency is exaggerating when it says
that at least 40 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes are too
polluted for drinking, fishing or swimming.

It gives a list of alleged facts taken from contentious sources. For
instance, to back its claim that air quality is improving it cites a
report from Pacific Research Institute - an organisation that has
received $130,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998.

The memo also lifts details from the controversial book The Skeptical
Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg. On the Republicans' claims that
deforestation is not a problem, it states: 'About a third of the
world is still covered with forests, a level not changed much since
World War II. The world's demand for paper can be permanently
satisfied by the growth of trees in just five per cent of the world's
forests.'

The memo's main source for the denial of global warming is Richard
Lindzen, a climate-sceptic scientist who has consistently taken money
from the fossil fuel industry. His opinion differs substantially from
most climate scientists, who say that climate change is happening.

But probably the most influential voice behind the memo is Frank
Luntz, a Republican Party strategist. In a leaked 2002 memo, Luntz
said: 'The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet
closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the
science.'

Luntz has been roundly criticised in Europe. Last month Tony Blair's
chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, attacked him for being too
close to Exxon.

Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace condemned the messages given in the
Republican email. He said: 'Bush's spin doctors have been taking
their brief from dodgy scientists with an Alice in Wonderland view of
the world's environment. They want us to think the air is getting
cleaner and that global warming is a myth. This memo shows it is
Exxon Mobil driving US policy, when it should be sound science.'

The memo has met some resistance from Republican moderates.

Republican Mike Castle, who heads a group of 69 moderate House
members, senators and governors, says the strategy doesn't address
the fact that pollution continues to be a health threat. 'If I tried
to follow these talking points at a town hall meeting with my
constituents, I'd be booed.'

Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, who left the Republican Party in 2001
to become an independent partly over its anti-green agenda, called
the memo 'outlandish' and an attempt to deceive voters.

'They have a head-in-the-sand approach to it. They're just sloughing
off the human health impacts - the premature deaths and asthma
attacks caused by power plant pollution,' Jeffords said.

Republican House Conference director Greg Cist, who sent the email,
said: 'It's up to our members if they want to use it or not. We're
not stuffing it down their throats.'

He said the memo was spurred by concerns that environmental groups
were using myths to try to make the Republicans look bad.

'We wanted to show how the environment has been improving,' Cist
said. 'We wanted to provide the other side of the story.'

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