Nature charges that Commerce Department blocked climate-change report

The Commerce Department blocked a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report indicating that climate change contributes to stronger hurricanes, the journal Nature reported yesterday. In February, a seven-member NOAA panel was directed to prepare a report on agency views regarding climate change and hurricanes, and a draft indicated that — gasp! — warming might indeed affect storms. In May, when the statement was to be released, a Commerce official informed the panel that the report was too technical to be made public. A NOAA spokesflack disputed the Nature article, saying the document was simply not ready in May — and besides, it was not a report but a fact sheet. NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher had a different view, calling it an internal document that was not released because the agency could take no official position on the matter — even though the report contained no policy statements. So many conflicting reports! Guess the only thing we can be sure of is that climate change affects hurricanes.