Over the next week, campaigners from around the United Kingdom will converge on the site of a proposed expansion of the coal-fired Kingsnorth Power Station and participate in civil disobedience protests. The company behind the proposal, E.ON UK, a subsidiary of the German energy company E.ON, is so worried by the prospect of the planned civil disobedience campaign that it has hired the PR firm Edelman, to see if it can help ensure that the company's proposal retains government support.
"Media coverage of climate change is at a crossroads, as it moves beyond the science of global warming into the broader arena of what governments, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens are doing about it," reports Cristine Russell.
Next week, I will moderate a panel titled "Beyond the Phony 'Debate': Government Science and the Climate Crisis" in Washington, DC. In case I needed any proof that the climate is important, last month's flooding in the Midwest gave me a personal look at what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was talking about last year when it warned of "an increased chance of intense precipitation and flooding due to the greater water-holding capacity of a warmer atmosphere."
The photograph at right shows a road not far from my home in Portage, Wisconsin that was damaged during the floods. In Sauk County, just a few miles from where I live, officials estimated that 95 percent of the roads were damaged. The seven states where the flooding occurred are still trying to assess the cost of the disaster, but it is already clear that the damages will run into billions of dollars.
In Lake Delton, about 20 miles from Portage, the water broke through a dam, causing the entire lake (600 million gallons of water) to drain into the Wisconsin River, washing away several homes in its path. The Wisconsin River passes through Portage. Like other local residents, I spent some time at the levee, gawking at the rising waters and watching for bits of other people's homes as they floated downstream.
Do federal scientists fear for their jobs for speaking the truth? What about corporate-funded science? Increasingly, powerful institutions have tried to curb scientific independence and integrity regarding issues as wide-ranging as public health, the environment, the economy, and government energy policy.