Much Ado About Nothing: The New York Times’ Claim of “a striking shift” in the Bush Administration Portrayal of Climate Science

In an August 26 article by Andrew Revkin, The New York Times claimed that a report submitted to Congress by the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), represented “a striking shift” in the way the Bush Administration portrayed climate science.  We at the Marshall Institute questioned that claim based on the work the Administration had done to develop a strategic plan for climate science research and the systematic approach it is using to implement that plan.

We’ve now had a chance to review the CCSP report, which is titled Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005. It is the latest in a series of similar documents in which the CCSP reports to Congress on key program results, its expenditures for the previous fiscal year, and its budget request for the next fiscal year. The part of the report that appears to have gotten The New York Times so excited appears on Pg. 47, where CCSP presents the results of a modeling study conducted at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study purports to show that the increase in global average surface temperature of the first half of the 20th century was due to natural causes, but that the increase of the second half of the 20th century was due to human emissions. The report also refers to an unspecified study showing similar results for North America.

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