NASA tries to silence its top climate researcher

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 AM GMT on January 30, 2006

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NASA�s top climate researcher has been told by his superiors to stop voicing his opinions on climate change. Dr. James Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a New York Times interview that the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since a Dec. 6 lecture at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he gave his personal views that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles. Furthermore, he expressed his opinion that without United States leadership, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

Dr. Hansen is one of the world�s foremost climate researchers. He has published hundreds of papers and testified numerous times before Congress on the issue of climate change. He said that NASA headquarters officials had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. He was warned of �dire consequences� if his public statements continued. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions, noting that NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

A public affairs official at NASA said that government scientists were free to discuss scientific issues, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen. Since Dr. Hansen�s December 6 talk, NASA has rejected several media requests to interview him, including one by National Public Radio (NPR). According to Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the NASA Goddard Institute, a NASA public affairs official appointed by the White House, George Deutsch, rejected the NPR interview request. He called NPR �the most liberal� media outlet in the country, and that his job was �to make the president look good.� Deutsch denied making the statements. McCarthy disagrees, saying she has no reason to lie.

The effort to control information coming out of NASA echoes similar directives issued last Fall in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when on September 29, a memo aimed all National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees (including those in the National Weather Service) ordered them not to speak to the national media unless the interview request was first approved by public affairs personnel. I talked to a contact at NWS who confirmed that the memo was indeed sent out, and was likely done in response to the political fallout from the Katrina disaster.

Both NASA and NOAA have emphasized that the rules preventing scientists from speaking freely to the media had always been in place, but that the rules were being enforced more rigorously now. I say the new enforced restrictions are ridiculous. Our scientists have never needed these restrictions in the past. Our tax-payer salaried scientists should be free to speak out on more than just their scientific findings without the chilling oversight of politically-appointed officials concerned with �making the president look good.� Climate change is of critical importance to all of us, and we should hear the opinions of those scientists who understand the issue the best.

Jeff Masters

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411. TampaSteve
1:39 AM GMT on February 02, 2006
jeffB: If you envision a full-scale nuclear exchange like was talked about during the Cold War, with thousands of nuclear explosions and all the major cities in the United States, the Soviet Union, and Europe burning in massive firestorms and throwing enormous quantities of thick, black smoke into the atmosphere for days or weeks, you'd probably cool the climate off a little bit, but I don't think you'd chill the planet that much. The total area of all major cities in the world is still tiny compared to the total land area of the planet. I'd be more worried about an asteroid impact or the Yellowstone supervolcano. Now those are two things that could seriously alter the climate on a global scale.
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410. jeffB
6:10 PM GMT on January 31, 2006
Fair enough, certainly.

Out of curiosity, and without any claim that it's relevant to the current discussion, do you think the theory of "nuclear winter" -- that a sufficient number of nuclear detonations could significantly reduce solar flux and lead to widespread climate change -- is also implausible? We don't hear as much about nuclear winter any more, thank goodness, but it raises some of the same issues.
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409. TampaSteve
5:18 PM GMT on January 31, 2006
jeffB wrote:

"Well, there are those who think that the real "arrogance and hubris" is the assumption that humans can continue to do as we will, dumping whatever we want into the atmosphere, and the planet will always take care of it."

From a pollution standpoint, I can agree with you, but from a global warming standpoint, I cannot. Fair enough?
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408. jeffB
4:24 PM GMT on January 31, 2006
TampaSteve wrote:

To think that human activity is the primary cause of global climate fluctuation is to take human arrogance and hubris to whole new level.

Well, there are those who think that the real "arrogance and hubris" is the assumption that humans can continue to do as we will, dumping whatever we want into the atmosphere, and the planet will always take care of it.
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407. F5
4:19 PM GMT on January 31, 2006
Snowboy,

My credibility is the same now that it always was. For people like yourself, as soon as I posted my position on global warming, I had no credibility anyway. Frankly, I don't give a rat's rear whether you think I have any credibility or not. It doesn't change anything. But since once again, you have nothing to offer but ad hominem attacks, I think I'll let people judge for themselves as to what they think of you.
406. snowboy
1:45 PM GMT on January 31, 2006
c'mon F5, just because you can maybe find some reference asserting that all of the scientific work done over three decades on the ozone layer is full of holes (please pardon the pun), doesn't mean that that is the case. It just means you've been trolling through some dubious sites.

The ozone layer is being steadily degraded, through the action of various chemicals (in particular CFCs and halons) which act as a catalyst in promoting that degradation. These chemicals are broken down by UV light high in the stratosphere, liberating chlorine and/or bromine atoms which then catalyze a reaction which destroys ozone.

Yes, ozone is constantly being created and destroyed through natural processes, but the human-induced destruction through CFCs and halons is superimposed on those natural processes. At the poles, "holes" in the ozone layer have been forming (this is where the CFC and halon catalysis reactions take place) with losses in the winter of up to 70% of the total ozone over the Antarctic and 30% over the Arctic. These losses are made up during the rest of the year through mixing with less depleted areas, but this has led to observed 5% depletion of ozone levels worldwide between 1979 and 1990.

Why on earth you would term this issue to be "of little concern for the vast majority of the world" (when the world community in a rare show of unanimity has decided it is of great concern) is beyond me. As said, the credibility of the stuff you're dredging up is now at an all time low.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
405. F5
5:43 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Sorry snowboy, you are incorrect again. The only problem with the ozone layer occurs over a portion of the far southern hemisphere and occasionally over the far northern hemisphere, and is directly related to the north/south polar vortex. While it may be true that CFC's play a role in the destruction of the ozone during that period and at that location, it is also true that this "thinned" layer, which occurs only at certain levels of the stratosphere as well, is replenished when conditions change.

In addition some studies have shown that natural releases of bromine, also a destroyer of ozone, may be occuring over the N/S poles, which may be more or almost entirely responsible for the ozone depletion that occurs over those areas.

See Link

We spent tens, maybe hundreds of billions of dollars to eliminate a substance that had no feasible replacement, and quite possibly isn't even the source of the ozone depletion. And even if it is, because it only happens at the N/S polar areas, it holds little concern for the vast majority of the world.
404. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
9:51 PM PST on January 30, 2006
well good night talk more soon
403. F5
4:05 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
stubbs...

Challenged what? Global warming or anthropogenic global warming. No one is disputing that we are in a global warming trend. Skeptics are disputing whether it's causation is anthropogenic or not, or to what degree.

"A survey of climatologists from more than 20 nations has revealed scientists are evenly split on whether humans are responsible for changes in global climate. The findings refute a widely reported study by a California Gender and Science professor who claimed that, based on her personal examination of 928 scientific papers on the issue, every single one reached the conclusion that global warming is real and primarily caused by humans.


Professor Claims Scientific Unanimity

In December 2004, Dr. Naomi Oreskes of the University of California at San Diego received widespread media attention for claiming her review of scientific literature showed scientists were in unanimous agreement that global warming is occurring and is being caused primarily by humans.

In an article titled Undeniable Global Warming, Oreskes wrote in the December 26 Washington Post, There is a scientific consensus on the fact that Earths climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason. We need to stop repeating nonsense about the uncertainty of global warming and start talking seriously about the right approach to address it.


Climatologists Dispute Oreskes

The May 1 London Telegraph, however, noted Oreskes unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global warming line.

The newspaper reported that Dr. Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents [cited by Oreskes]--and concluded that only one-third backed the consensus view, while only 1 percent did so explicitly.

The London Times then reported on Professor Dennis Bray, of Germanys GKSS National Research Centre. Bray surveyed hundreds of international climate scientists, asking the question, To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes? Bray received 530 responses from climatologists in 27 different countries.

With a value of 1 indicating strongly agree and a value of 7 indicating strongly disagree, Bray reported the average of the 530 responses was 3.62, almost right down the middle. More climatologists strongly disagreed than strongly agreed that climate change is mostly attributable to humans.

The results, i.e. the mean of 3.62, seem to suggest that consensus is not all that strong, Bray reported in his findings. Results of surveys of climate scientists themselves indicate the possibility that Oreskes conclusion is not as obvious as stated.


Journals Swayed by Politics

Lorne Gunter, a columnist for the Canadian journal National Post, was more blunt in his assessment of the survey.

Its a long way from a consensus backing the most extreme global warming scenarios, as environmentalists and UN officials would have us believe, observed Gunter.

Interestingly but hardly surprisingly, Dr. Bray has had trouble getting his findings published. Science magazine turned down even a letter-to-the-editor from him, Gunter added. Thats doubly galling because back in December Science didnt hesitate for a second to print a discreditable paper by Dr. Naomi Oreskes of UC San Diego in which she claimed that in her analysis of 928 abstracts from peer-reviewed climate research papers, Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Concluded Gunter, Actually, were Dr. Oreskes assertion of unanimity true, it might only prove how totally co-opted the peer journals have become by enviro group-think and how willing they are to censor dissenting views in an effort to preserve and polish the notion of worldwide scientific consensus."
402. snowboy
5:30 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
note that the increased Cat4/Cat5 storms observation is consistent with what is expected from global warming - not necessarily more storms, but more severe storms...
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
401. Skyepony (Mod)
5:06 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Fshhead~I ran across & posted some about that a few weeks ago, cat 4 & 5's up about 50%. ~interesting that # of canes greatly increased in N Atlantic, while slightly to dramatically dropped proportionally in the other cyclone producing oceans. This was cool ~click on the hotter oceans fiercer storms. I would have posted some of the graphs in there, but copywrited. The segment was good too, caught that on TV.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37326
399. snowboy
5:00 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
... and Fshhead, wow that is amazing with the Cat4 and Cat5 storms - hadn't seen that before.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
398. snowboy
4:53 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
F5 is now apparently in denial (or just doesn't get) that there is a problem with the ozone layer as well. Credibility at an all-time low.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
397. Skyepony (Mod)
4:01 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
F5~
More polar stratospheric clouds than anticipated are forming high above the North Pole, causing additional ozone loss in the sky over the Arctic, according to Dr. Azadeh Tabazadeh, lead author of the paper and a scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. link

Dr Masters had pics & a blog on how the rarely seen stratospheric clouds (atleast for the northern hemisphere) was seen alot more than normal this year. Perhaps I could have said slightly compermised instead of thinning.

As for you don't understand the thinning all together ~ The amount of ozone required to shield Earth from biologically lethal UV radiation, wavelengths is somewhere from 200 to 300 nanometers. It's been this or more since the snowball earth around 2.5 billion years ago, the time after which the creatures crawled out of the ocean, until the late 1980's. There is now a hole over the Antarticia. Yes, nature makes & loses ozone naturally, but it was a balance, until we combined chemicals in an unnatural way & released it in the air. Some of these things love to bind & bind with oxygen & it gets crowded which impedes on the process to create more 03 as well.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37326
396. Fshhead
4:30 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Posted By: StSimonsIslandGAGuy at 8:16 PM GMT on January 30, 2006.
Anyway, one thing global warming alarmists can't explain is why hurricane activity is rising so much in the north Atlantic and not really changing much in the other ocean basins.

Table 1. Change in the number and percentage of hurricanes in categories 4 and 5 for the 15-year periods 19751989 and 19902004 for the different ocean basins. Period

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Basin 19751989

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
19902004

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number Percentage Number Percentage

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

East Pacific Ocean 36 25 49 35
West Pacific Ocean 85 25 116 41
North Atlantic 16 20 25 25
Southwestern Pacific 10 12 22 28
North Indian 1 8 7 25
South Indian 23 18 50 34

Saw this post & had to comment!!!! It says there are more storms that are cat 4 & 5 intensity WORLDWIDE!!!! I had to point that out.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5742/1844
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395. Trouper415
4:04 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Very true F5,

I believe that in this situation the positives (if the effort is put in to reducse c02 emissions) outway the negatives (spending billions of dollars, and somehow losing billions of dollars; I take it you mean the lose in economic power, however my answer to that is millions of jobs would also be created with all the new technological fields). And global warming, which I believe can be reversed if we make the effort would save lives as millions of people would be displaced and also possibly killed by these more violent storms that could be created. And the obvious ecological benefits that we would see by reducing pollution etc.

As always, its great descussing these issues with you all, and have a good evening.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
394. F5
4:03 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
AdamGirard,

All of those things exist apart from global warming. They are not DUE to any global warming. They could potentially be exacerbated by global warming, but that is no given. Should we return to a global cooling phase, disease, starvation, pollution would still be with us and would still be a problem, and they cost us much more in terms of wasted potential than the miniscule warming we've experienced so far.
393. stubbs
4:02 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Here's a Fact:

"...a study has been done of the available scientific literature on the current state of scientific knowledge. The scientists gathered up nearly a thousand peer-reviewed articles that purported to examine the issue and picked at random, ten percent of these to read. They found a grand total of zero actually challenged the existence of the phenomenon.
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392. F5
4:01 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Well, last night and today certainly offered some spirited debate. However, I clearly spent way too much time on this site today, to the neglect of other things that I need to get done. Guess I'll need to make up for some of that time...

Take care all.
391. AdamGirard
11:00 PM EST on January 30, 2006
F5 you said, "And all the resources used to combat the this potentially phantom menace could have been used to combat real problems, like disease, starvation, etc, cleaning the environment, etc."

All of those worthy causes you just stated are predicted to happen DUE to global warming/climate change.
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390. F5
3:56 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Skyepony,

The already thinning northern hemisphere ozone? Can you explain what you mean? It's not as if ozone only exists and once it is destroyed, it never returns. Ozone is created and destroyed every day by solar activity, in combination with temperature, angle of the solar rays, etc. Ozone 03 when destroyed becomes O2 and O1. Those O1 particles are free to reform with O2 at any time, so I'm just not sure what you mean by already thinning.
389. F5
3:51 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Trouper415,

What is the reason to argue against it? Just because something can happen doesn't mean it will happen. Given that there are a finite amount of resources, they have to used where they are best fit seen to be used. We could spend billions of dollars, lose potentially millions of jobs, and yet have ZERO effect on the current global warming trend. And all the resources used to combat the this potentially phantom menace could have been used to combat real problems, like disease, starvation, etc, cleaning the environment, etc.

And that's why we have the discussion.
387. Trouper415
3:19 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
For all the people who constantly disagree that global warming is indeed human induced, I ask you whats the point to disagree with whats going on? Whats the worst that could happen if this is indeed just a trend and cooling will again take place in the near furture and our efforts of cleaning up the planet are indeed not for the reason as originally intended? A cleaner place to live with less polution, cleaner eco systems and a better place to live for our children.

For, I enjoy the fact that people natually have different beliefs as they make the world a more diverse place. However, when the argument such as the one being discussed has such a possible negative result if one side of the picture comes true, what is the reason to argue against it?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
385. Skyepony (Mod)
2:49 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
The hole is over the Antartica, with a hole predicted by NASA in 2002 to begin seasonally forming over the North Pole sometime in the next 30 years, due to N. Hemisphere volcanic activity. A big volcano event would cool the atmosphere enough to allow the clouds needed to destroy ozone. Hence~ the volcanic ozone hole .

A big volcano eruption would give us a cooler summer, a chance for a slack hurricane season. It could open up a hole in the already thinning Northern Hemisphere ozone. Look one,s waking up in Alaska right now. Wonder if it's gonna blow...
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37326
382. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:23 PM PST on January 30, 2006
i would love to be around by the year 2,100
381. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:20 PM PST on January 30, 2006
is there a way that you can be put a sleep for 100year or so then wake up to a oh new year
379. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:16 PM PST on January 30, 2006
if there was a way could i be put to sleep then wake up and find out its the year 2,100 or what put it this way then if you want to be put a sleep for a vary long time oh say from the year 2006 to and then wake up in the year 2,100 well any way you may all no what i am talking about thats ok if this tell would there be a way?
377. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:15 PM PST on January 30, 2006
?
375. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:10 PM PST on January 30, 2006
between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees by the year 2100 what dos this means dos it mean its the end
374. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:08 PM PST on January 30, 2006
raise sea levels by 16 feet dos any one no what this will mean or do to the usa and ever where
372. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
7:03 PM PST on January 30, 2006
so will it be the end of you no what by the year 2100?
368. weatherguy03
2:25 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Tony Blair on Global Warming...Link
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367. Skyepony (Mod)
1:46 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Some things from Chemisty class ~ Quoting the the Enviromental Protection Agency.

The global warming potential (GWP) represents how much a given mass of a chemical contributes to global warming over a given time period compared to the same mass of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide's GWP is defined as 1.0.

A link to the table of non-ozone destroying chemical compounds their GWP, atmospheric life & use. The winner here is Sulfur hexafluoride
(SF6), with it's GWP over 23,000 (remember CO2=1) & atmospheric life a stagering 3,200 years. It's still in use~ Cover gas in magnesium production, casting dielectric gas and insulator in electric power equipment fire suppression. Also used as a discharge agent in military systems and formerly an aerosol propellant.


A link to the ozone destroying chemicals, their GWP & atmospheric life. CFC-13 the biggest contributer at 12,000-14,000 GWP & a atmospheric life over 600 years. This one takes the prize over any in section 2 type ozone depleting chemical compounds (a whole other table).

Before the ozone hole was discovered, GWP #'s were around, scientist that won international awards, used them in the models that predicted the hole in the ozone. Yes the models were off, most pointed to a hole opening in the ozone way on down the road. The models had predicted the end result, but the hole came much faster than predicted.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37326
366. globalize
2:09 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
cyclone- if you have a sealed, unopened package with a registered mail date, then whatever is in the package originated with you, whether it is a design for a machine, or a novel. I'm just saying it is one way to protect your idea should someone try to steal it. It is highly unlikely that you will ever get a design patent from the US patent office, unless your design is presented according to accepted design drafting codes, etc., and then after waiting in line for several years.
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365. F5
1:42 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
HuuicaneMyles,

Check out this link regarding the ozone layer...

Link
363. HurricaneMyles
1:25 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
cyclonebuster,
I researched the ozone hole thing and found that the only major 'hole' is in the Antartic during winter when 60% or more of the ozone disappears. The Artic has a much smaller and much weaker 'hole' in which ozone losses about 15-20%, the rest of the artic and mid-lattidues there is around 10% loss of ozone. 10% is still pretty serious, which is why CFC use had been banned in most countries, they contribute most to ozone depeletion.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.