March 08, 2004

Scientist 'gagged' by No 10 after warning of global warming threat

Despite the sad disassembling of the
shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair,
2+2=4...Remember, the 2004 campaign must be waged on
the core issues of National Security, Economic
Security AND Environmental Security...

Independent/UK: Ivan Rogers, Mr Blair's principal
private secretary, told Sir David King, the Prime
Minister's chief scientist, to limit his contact with
the media after he made outspoken comments about
President George Bush's policy on climate change. In
January, Sir David wrote a scathing article in the
American journal Science attacking Washington for
failing to take climate change seriously. "In my view,
climate change is the most severe problem we are
facing today, more serious even than the threat of
terrorism," he wrote.

Save the Environment, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=499013


Scientist 'gagged' by No 10 after warning of global warming threat
By Steve Connor and Andrew Grice
08 March 2004


Downing Street tried to muzzle the Government's top
scientific adviser after he warned that global warming
was a more serious threat than international
terrorism.

Ivan Rogers, Mr Blair's principal private secretary,
told Sir David King, the Prime Minister's chief
scientist, to limit his contact with the media after
he made outspoken comments about President George
Bush's policy on climate change.

In January, Sir David wrote a scathing article in the
American journal Science attacking Washington for
failing to take climate change seriously. "In my view,
climate change is the most severe problem we are
facing today, more serious even than the threat of
terrorism," he wrote.

Support for Sir David's view came yesterday from Hans
Blix, the former United Nations chief weapons
inspector, who said the environment was at least as
important a threat as global terrorism. He told BBC1's
Breakfast with Frost: "I think we still overestimate
the danger of terror. There are other things that are
of equal, if not greater, magnitude, like the
environmental global risks."

Since Sir David's article in Science was published, No
10 has tried to limit the damage to Anglo-American
relations by reining in the Prime Minister's chief
scientist.

In a leaked memo, Mr Rogers ordered Sir David - a
Cambridge University chemist who offers independent
advice to ministers - to decline any interview
requests from British and American newspapers and BBC
Radio 4's Today .

"To accept such bids runs the risk of turning the
debate into a sterile argument about whether or not
climate change is a greater risk," Mr Rogers said in
the memo, which was sent to Sir David's office in
February. "This sort of discussion does not help us
achieve our wider policy aims ahead of our G8
presidency [next year]." The move will be seized on by
critics of Mr Blair's stance over the Iraq war as
further evidence that he is too subservient to the
Bush administration. It will also be seen as an
attempt to bolster the Prime Minister's case for
pre-emptive strikes to combat the threat of
international terrorism, which he outlined in a speech
on Friday.

Sir David, who is highly regarded by Mr Blair, has
been primed with a list of 136 mock questions that the
media could ask if they were able to get access to
him, and the suggested answers he should be prepared
to give. One question asks: "How do the number of
deaths caused by climate change and terrorism
compare?" The stated answer that Sir David is expected
to give says: "The value of any comparison would be
highly questionable - we are talking about threats
that are intrinsically different."

If Sir David were to find himself pushed to decide
whether terrorism or climate change was the greater
threat, he was supposed to answer: "Both are serious
and immediate problems for the world today." But this
was not what Sir David said on the Today programme on
9 January when the Science article was published.

Asked to explain how he had come to the conclusion
that global warming was more serious than terrorism,
Sir David replied that his equation was "based on the
number of fatalities that have already occurred" -
implying that global warming has already killed more
people than terrorism.

The leaked memo came to light after a computer disk
was discovered by an American freelance journalist,
Mike Martin, at the annual meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle,
where Sir David gave a lecture.

"The disk was lying on the top of a computer in the
press room and I popped it into the machine to see
what was on it," said Mr Martin, whose own article is
published on the ScienceNow website, an online service
operated by Science.

Mr Rogers' memo, written a few days before the Seattle
conference, was aimed at limiting his exposure to
questions from US and British media. While in Seattle,
Sir David sat on a panel of scientists at one
carefully stage-managed press conference, but his
press office said he was too busy to give interviews
afterwards to journalists.

Lucy Brunt-Jenner, Sir David's press officer, said she
could not comment on internal government documents but
said it would be wrong to suggest that Sir David was
in any way muzzled. "Sir David had a press conference
and he was available to the media at three times," Ms
Brunt-Jenner said.

But Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats' environment
spokesman, said: "It's a clear attempt by the Prime
Minister to keep Sir David quiet. The Government's
chief scientist is the nation's chief scientist and
I'd expect him to say what he thinks."
8 March 2004 07:58

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Posted by richard at March 8, 2004 01:17 PM