Why is Climate Change so Politically Sensitive?
Science associated with policy-sensitive areas like climate change is almost bound to be hotly contested, with disputes within the scientific community being extensively reported by the media. Shortly after he took office in 2001, President George W.
Bush withdrew the US from the Kyoto Protocol on the grounds that it would harm the US economy. Given the link between fossil fuels, CO2emissions and economic activity, this is a legitimate concern; it may well be shared (privately) by other world leaders. Nevertheless, rejection of this landmark agreement to curb CO2 emissions from industrialised countries set the tone for the Bush Administration.
It was widely seen as hostile to any mandatory cutbacks in CO2 emissions and open to the influence of sceptical scientific opinion on global warming – either directly or through the activities of various business-backed lobby groups.

Professional Sceptics

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published in February 2007.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Climate scientists described the move as an attempt to cast doubt over the "overwhelming scientific evidence" on global warming. "It's a desperate attempt by an organisation who wants to distort science for their own political aims," said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
Source: Ian Sample, science correspondent, Friday February 2, 2007, The Guardian

‘Global Warming’. An OpenLearn chunk used/reworked by permission of The Open University copyright © (2007).’ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/