Voices of Federal Climate Scientists

Published Jul 11, 2008


Climate scientists in the U.S. government are the world's leading experts on global climate change. They are entrusted to observe, analyze, and model our changing planet and convey their findings to other scientists, policy makers, and the public. Unfortunately, scientists report that their findings are being tailored to reflect political goals rather than scientific fact. They are concerned that, while federal climate scientists are providing a solid basis for understanding climate change and crafting solutions, our government has been obscuring the state of our knowledge by exaggerating the level of uncertainty in global warming science.

In the summer of 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists distributed surveys to more than 1,600 climate scientists working at seven federal agencies and the independent National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), asking for information about the state of climate research at federal agencies. Scientists' responses indicated a high regard for the quality and integrity of federal climate research itself, but also identified broad and substantial interference in their work.

The reality of global warming, including the role of heat-trapping gases from human activities in driving climate change, has been repeatedly affirmed by scientific experts. Every day the government stifles climate science is a day we fail to protect future generations from the consequences of global warming. It is crucial that climate scientists be allowed to accurately inform government decisions. For this to occur, the federal government must pursue reforms that prohibit political interference and misrepresentation of federal climate science research, and affirm the right of scientists to communicate freely with the media and the public.

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