At a time when the scientists studying global warming remain uncertain about the scope and scale of future temperature and sea level changes, many policymakers who fund the research seem to be quite sure of themselves. A recent science research authorization that passed the U.S. House of Representatives would ban the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from conducting long-term studies of climate change and would restrict the Department of Energy budget for such studies.

“Suppose we are driving down the road at night in a car and our headlights don't work,” says Kurt Cuffey, a paleoclimatologist from the University of Washington. “Most people would try to slow down and probably even stop. Climate and paleoclimate researchers are working on the headlights so they can see where they're going. But the current U.S. Congress is choosing to drive full speed ahead, to discourage [researchers] or even prevent them from working.”