Texas governor Rick Perry
Officials in the Rick Perry administration are alleged to have doctored scientific research concerning climate changed. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Officials from the administration of Texas governor Rick Perry have sparked outrage by doctoring a scientific paper involving evidence of climate change. Perry is considered a climate change denier and the scientific community in Texas is outraged.

Scientific community in nearly open revolt

A group of scientists in Texas has asked for their names to be removed from a 200-page scientific report prepared for the Houston Advanced Research Center concerning the sea level in Galveston Bay, according to The Guardian. The report, called “The State of the Bay,” has reportedly been doctored by officials in Gov. Rick Perry’s administration.

The Houston Advanced Research Center, according to the Houston Chronicle, was commissioned by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2008 and has been held up for almost a year. Scientists and HARC officials connected with the report have said that the document would have been published last year, but they have been in a tussle with the TCEQ since the revisions were discovered. It is only recently that the dispute was made public.

A rumored ringer

Gov. Rick Perry is known to be skeptical of climate change, or more accurately, changing global temperatures caused by human actions. Perry is also, according to The Guardian, often at loggerheads with the Environmental Protection Agency. He is considered hostile to any environmental regulations impeding business.

In 2007, Perry appointed Brian Shaw as head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to the Chronicle. Shaw, an engineer by training, is known to be skeptical that humans could have caused the temperature on Earth to rise.

Language revised and evidence deleted

One of the report’s authors, Dr. John Anderson of Rice University, noted the chapter he wrote in “The State of the Bay” had significant parts edited and deleted. Anderson, the Maurice Ewing professor of oceanography at Rice, found sea levels in Galveston Bay had risen by an average annual rate of three millimeters, according to the Houston Chronicle. The average had previously been 0.5 millimeters. Anderson’s findings were previously published in 2008, as part of a peer-reviewed, 10-year study.

Other language in “The State of the Bay” was revised so the report would not suggest sea levels were rising as fast as evidence indicated, according to Mother Jones. Terms such as “sea level rise” were revised to “sea level change,” according to the Washington Post. Rising sea levels are considered signs that Earth’s climate is becoming hotter. When the Houston Chronicle contacted the TCEQ for comment, an official said that it would be “irresponsible to take whatever is sent to us and publish it.”

Not the first time

The prospect of humans causing environmental damage by causing climate to change has proven politically unpopular.

According to the Washington Post, Bush administration official Phillip Cooney, who has deep ties to the oil industry, was caught editing scientific reports that demonstrated climate change so they would appear less conclusive.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tried to block state grants to climate scientist Michael Mann, according to The Guardian. Cuccinelli is an avowed climate change skeptic.


The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/14/rick-perry-texas-censorship-environment-report

Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Professor-says-state-agency-censored-article-2212118.php

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/would-a-rick-perry-administration-censor-climate-science/2011/10/14/gIQAIQ52jL_blog.html

Houston Chronicle: http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2011/10/texas-on-the-verge-of-limiting-academic-freedom-of-climate-scientists/

Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/perry-officials-censored-climate-report

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