Scientists Denounce Global Warming Report 'Edits'

"All of these [topics] are routinely mentioned in public health coursework across the nation," agreed Dr. Alan Ducatman, a professor of community medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. "Each ? can be found in the pages of leading journals, such as Science and Nature. If anything, they understate the problem."

Censoring the Science

The problem, according to the unedited version of the testimony, is that climate change is likely to have a significant impact on health -- and not only due to heat waves and disease epidemics.

The CDC report highlighted other issues addressed in the IPCC report, including how extreme weather events such as floods and hurricanes will cause deaths, large-scale population displacement and contamination of drinking water. Other concerns included how increases in temperatures encourage the formation of ground level ozone, the primary ingredient of smog which can cause permanent lung damage and aggravate chronic lung diseases, such as asthma.

Also, climate change is predicted to alter agriculture, leading to the scarcity of some foods and increases in prices, a concern for the poor in America.

Following the deletion of these details, the remaining parts of the testimony discussed the CDC's preparedness measures -- but seemed to omit what it was they were preparing for.

"The redacted version just is a very strange document. It becomes a kind of recitation of what the CDC does in general," Jamieson said. "It becomes strangely decontextualized once you take out all the [relevant] material."

"We talk of the politicization of science," said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, dean of the UCLA School of Public Health. "In the politicization of this topic -- the science wasn't changed, it was deleted."

Could Edits Hurt Disaster Response?

Public health experts also expressed their fear over the potential impacts of ignoring the deleted sections of the testimony.

"If communities -- states and counties -- aren't given the information and the resources ? if there isn't planning to be prepared for these global warming related disasters, then our governments won't be able to help us," said Knowlton.

Jamieson agreed. "By not informing the public or emphasizing preparedness, you set yourself up for a Katrina-like failure, but on a global scale."

Significant concerns were also raised that damaging the credibility of the CDC could threaten Americans' welfare in the long run.

"We know from previous health threats, for example anthrax, 9/11, and concerns about pandemic influenza, that having a credible and believable voice from our highest officials is the best way to inform the public and get a reasonable response," said Rosenstock.

"If we have antics -- and I mean the word antics -- where we undermine the credibility of the most credible public health official, then we hurt our ability to respond to health threats."

Knowlton also felt that if information is not forthcoming from public officials, Americans may need to educate themselves. "People really need to be reading and learning," she said. "Even if the White House doesn't want them to."

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