Magazine article The Nation

A Hot Issue

Magazine article The Nation

A Hot Issue

Article excerpt

The Bush Administration isn't talking much about the weather, but it is doing something about it: trying to keep it secret. That's the message of Dr. James Hansen, whose bearish testimony on global warming trends was altered and made to seem more optimistic by officials at the Office of Management and Budget. Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told a Senate subcommittee May 8 that his original report predicted that pollution from human activity presaged more drought for much of the world, accompanied by severe storms and other weather upheavals.

This is not news the Administration wants to hear, and well before Hansen blew his whistle on the O.M.B., officials at the Department of Agriculture were making rosy predictions about the summer to come. On February 19, U.S.D.A. chief meteorologist Norton Strommen met with White House agriculture specialist Cooper Evans and announced publicly that, for the most part, the searing drought that ruined farming in the United States last year was over.

A few weeks later Kansas, its red winter wheat crop already decimated by a record dry winter and a late-season cold snap, was socked by a dust storm of a severity not seen since before the Depression. The storm, with seventy-mileper-hour winds, raised a cloud of topsoil two miles high and dumped it in a muddy downpour on Chicago a day later. By mid-March, Iowa was in the "extreme drought" category, according to the index of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. …

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