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On Climate, Who Needs the Facts?

By Editorial (The New York Times) - March 6, 2011

The IPCC is the leading international scientific body studying climate change. Despite criticism — much of it manufactured by climate-change deniers — the panel has for more than a decade provided rigorous and balanced information to policy makers to help guide their efforts to prevent and mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of global warming.

Regrettably, politics trumps science among House Republicans, who recently voted to zero out this country’s extremely modest $2.3 million annual commitment to the IPCC. The bill also slashes spending on a half-dozen domestic programs that study the causes and effects of climate change.

The budget for the Energy Information Agency — which gathers information on energy production, consumption and pollution — would be cut by one-sixth. Small but vital Interior Department programs that measure the impact of climate change on animal, plant and fish species and their habitat were reduced and in some cases nearly wiped out.

We have already pointed to devastating amendments to the budget resolution that, unless reversed by the Senate, will undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The bill would also make it impossible for President Obama to meet his promises to help poor countries save their rainforests and deploy clean energy technologies, also essential for addressing global warming.

Mr. Obama asked for $400 million for the World Bank’s clean technology fund, $95 million for the bank’s program to prevent deforestation and $90 million for its program to help at-risk nations cope with the effects of a warming planet by, for instance, developing drought-resistant crops. The House’s answer in all three cases: zero.

An appalling performance. But the worst of it was the House’s apparent belief that wishing away the evidence will eliminate the problem.