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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360. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:22 PM PST on January 30, 2006
hey theboldman mail for you
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358. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
1:15 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Okay... I need to get to bed since my ablity to spell is out the window now with this cold.....

Cyclone, I second the idea that you need to set up your own blog about the tunnels. It really isn't fair to keep hijacking Dr. Master's blog for them, and on your own blog you can post some of the hard science you have for others to help you work out some of the difficulties that may be there.
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357. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
1:10 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
How about the copy my patent attorney has?

If it is officially dated and contains the exact specifications of what you are trying to build, then that should protect your ideas from thief (or at least give you a chance of suing the person who stole them).
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356. theboldman
5:13 PM PST on January 30, 2006
i agree cyclone start your own blog with designs and plans for yuor tunnels ok
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
355. theboldman
5:05 PM PST on January 30, 2006
wow lots of talk while i was gone

BTW dont listen to gatorboy hes only 15 i know him (:
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
354. Oeneus
1:07 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
cyclone, the appropriate thing to do would be to start your own tunnel-focussed WU blog rather than tying up this general interest one which is one of the portals to the whole WU blog network...

Us lurkers would REALLY appreciate it!
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352. snowboy
12:58 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
cyclone, the appropriate thing to do would be to start your own tunnel-focussed WU blog rather than tying up this general interest one which is one of the portals to the whole WU blog network...
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
349. snowboy
12:41 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Jim Hansen from Nasa just finished an interview on Canada's national radio (CBC). He gave the impression of a thoughtful sincere scientist, cautiously trying to get people to act on what he has identified as a concern for the future of the US.

What must have the US admin so irritated is that he is not content to make climate predictions, but that he is also willing to make sensible recommendations on measures that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like using energy more efficiently and insulating homes better... pretty radical, eh?

Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
348. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
12:32 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Typing on cold meds is fun... that should have read: Another way (though unless you know one, it can get expensive) is to have each of the pages of your plans notarized. They date their seal.
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347. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
12:25 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
globalize,
Is it proof enough they sent it back to via postal service?

Cyclone; No, if you opened the letter (which I assume you would have to read the results), it's no good. You have to keep the envelope you mail yourself sealed. That way, should someone try actually work out the hard science based off of something you've said on a blog, you would have legal proof of what you had worked out. The the courts could compare the processes and determine if there was thief involved.

Another way (though unless you know one, it can get expensive) is to have each pages of your plans notarized. They date their seal.
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346. HurricaneMyles
12:17 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
And as far as I knew the only hole in ozone was located over Antartica where the cold temps play a key role in ozone depeletion.
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345. HurricaneMyles
12:14 AM GMT on January 31, 2006
Stormchaser77,
I dont think you're understanding what he saying at all. He said that you cant conclude either natural or human induced global warming with short term events like hurricane seasons or El Nino.
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343. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
11:53 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
The great thing about the tunnels is that they can Regulate SSTs and be turned off if to much cooling is happening way before starting an ice age

Cyclone, please show me hard science (and not a principle that doesn't occur in nature) that your tunnels will work as you claim. Everything you have said implies a system that would have vast repercussions every time we used it. Repercussions that quite likely would compound upon themselves every time we used it.

It's one thing to have an idea. Right now you are acting like someone who has this great plot idea that wants to sell it to an author for half the profit. You haven't done anywhere near half the work yet to get half the money. The idea is the first 5% of the job. Get the hard science worked out. Then you will have something to actually pitch to folks like MIT. And we will have something that can be actually be modeled so we have a chance of seeing what will happen if they are used.

Making wild claims about how your tunnels will save us from "insert disaster here" before you have the hard science is not going to help your cause.
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342. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:58 PM PST on January 30, 2006
well look like dr jeff did a good blog we are up to 340 post so good blog dr jeff and hi ever one
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341. snowboy
11:46 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
folks, Dr. Hansen is apparently being interviewed on CBC radio in the next few minutes - if you're lucky you may be able to tune in on NPR (which sometimes carries CBC's "As it Happens" program, the one he is being interviewed on).
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
337. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
11:33 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
The weather is one of the most complex systems out there. We need to certain of what we do before we try to purposely change it.

Hmm.

So, we shouldn't "try to purposely change it", but our ongoing activities that accidentally cause change are okay?

Besides, we've received repeated assurance here that our activities can't possibly lead to significant climate change. :-)

Finally, I (personally) don't think we have the luxury of waiting until we're "certain" to act. As you and others have correctly said, certainty isn't an option at present.

JeffB, That was a response to Cyclonebuster's tunnels, which is an active attempt to moderate the weather. While I personally believe that this warming cycle is natural, I have repeatedly stated that I am for cleaning up our world.

I just believe it is a separate issue that should not be muddied with the Global Warming issue. We need to clean up our world. Period. It doesn't matter if the temperature is going up or down, it needs to happen.

While the public transportation system sucks here in Tucson, I have a Van that gets 28 mpg in the city and I take to and from work everyone that I can that is along my route (usually 5 to 6 other people). I set my heater to 68 in the day time and 65 at night and my swamp cooler (an already more environmentally more friendly piece of equipment than an AC) to 82. There are lots of little things people can do every day that help, and are cost effective as well (I get gas money for the people I give rides to and I spend less on my heating and cooling bills).

Will cleaning up the planet stop the rise in temperatures? There's only one way to find out. But personally I don't think it will help much. We were in a ice age during the first century and change of the industrial revolution and I don't see how with no controls in place we could have stayed the ice age for so long after the start of the industrial revolution if the emissions were the biggest cause of global warming.

The year with no summer was well after factories started pumping smoke and other nasties into the air. (Yes, I know that was volcanically based, but shouldn't have all the "greenhouse" gases we had in the air then countered it if factories are causing global warming?)

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336. HurricaneMyles
11:48 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Dont ask rhetorical questions that cant be answered, Gatorboy, it only makes things worse.

The fact is we cant prove or disprove global warming or human induced global warming because we dont have a control group. We cant clone the Earth and run expirments and test variables, its simply not possible. So instead we go with the best data we have, which some of us feel is reliable on some of us dont.
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335. atmosweather
6:51 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Gatorboy, its just a movie. Calm down.
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334. Gatorboy
11:42 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
But really, has any major events occured because of this global warming, and yes i am getting real by NOT believing this
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333. Gatorboy
11:40 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
i want proff the global warming exists right now!
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332. TampaSteve
11:33 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
stormchaser77 wrote:

"TampaSteve...The KEY To The Accuracy of Your Statement
Are The Words "Short Term". You Are InAccurate. El Nino
Would Be a Good Example."


How is El Nio a good example? Are you saying that El Nio causes, or is caused by, global warming? If so, please present your verifiable, objective evidence to support that claim. If not, then what the hell are you talking about?

El Nio is not evidence of global warming.

Besides, I merely said that an active hurricane season last year does not equal global warming, much less anthropogenic global warming. Get real.
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331. Gatorboy
11:35 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
also stop blaming the bush adminstration for this, the fact is, clinton really didnt do much either to stop this, thank goodness we arent in the kyoto protocal.
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330. Gatorboy
11:32 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
i mean really,the movie day after tommorow is so screwy, a major climate change happening in 2 days cause the northern hemisphere to freeze over, that is a bunch of crap. then there is the truth that the earth has been around for billons and billons of years, this has probally happend so many times, and then just cool off. We could just be living in one of those time periods!
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329. Gatorboy
11:30 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
umm why are we worried about global warming again?
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327. globalize
11:09 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
cyclonebuster- US patent office is screwed. Do this: Flesh out your design, scan it and email it to yourself.

Additionally, print a hard copy, stick it in a sealed manila envelope. Put a wax seal on the flap, and mail it to yourself. When you receive it, don't open it. It is your proof that the idea was yours by the postal registration date. This is the way novelists sometimes prevent their manuscripts from being stolen.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
324. weatherwannabe
10:42 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
F5 where do you get your statistics? In case you ahven't figured it out yet, Bush lies.

322. globalize
10:49 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
cyclonebuster- why don't you scan and throw up a diagram?
Got a design patent yet? I notice you refer to the tunnels as 'yours'. You better have the design patented at least before you start handing out ideas.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
321. snowboy
10:37 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Globalize, I agree with you on all points except for one - I am concerned that our civilization (by that I mean the industrialized world) is much more fragile than people think and that it will not be able to withstand the shock of significant changes in climate (such as are predicted to occur). Think for example of how the US is reeling from the hurricanes of the last few years, and then consider that these impacts are small compared to those which may occur in the future if the model predictions bear out (and there is no reason to think they won't).
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
320. TampaSteve
9:59 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
While there may be a long-term warming trend, the Earth has been much warmer in the past than it is now, and there were no factories, cars, or power plants back then. To think that human activity is the primary cause of global climate fluctuation is to take human arrogance and hubris to whole new level. If the climate is changing, then there is precious little we can do about it other than adapt and move away from either the advancing oceans or the advancing glaciers.

Those people who like to point to the recent very active hurricane seasons as evidence of global warming do not understand the fundamental difference between weather and climate. Like the old saying goes, "climate is what you expect, weather is what you get." Short-term fluctuations in weather patterns do not equal long-term climate change.

We should be concentrating on reducing pollution (without destroying the economy, of course), and reducing our dependence upon Middle East oil...those two things have consequences that are very real and well documented.
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318. globalize
10:17 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Snowboy- when you refer to our civilization, if you mean the 'American civilization', the Americans haven't done so much damage, and none which can't be corrected. This country is the great laboratory. The insanity of environmental disregard which took place here in the 60's was corrected in large part. But it seems to be beginning again, and this time on a world scale. What kind of pollution controls do you think exist in the flowering industry of the orient? Looser environmental controls is the second most important reason western capital is there right now, the most important reason being cheap labor.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
317. F5
10:19 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Snowboy,

"F5, HurricaneChaser and others on this blog distract from the real issue and make much of the fact that the climate changes we are currently seeing (or that we are projected to continue seeing) can't be proven to be caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. So what? Such proof is impossible to deliver.

Relevant to the issue is the simple fact that our best models are projecting a warming of the climate, and the more fossil fuels we burn the greater the projected warming."

Distract from the real issue? That is the real issue. If anthropogenic causation of global warming is not true, then all the reduction in the world, at a huge economic cost, will reap no benefit. The world benefits from enhanced economic output. It's what feeds the world, creates new technologies, etc. Diverting money from where it should be going to attempt to fix something that may be beyond our control could have much bigger implications.

I for one, am more concerned about another H5N1 flu pandemic than about a minute rise in global temperatures, that may or may not even be accurate, and even less concerned about the climate models with unverifiable output. We simply have to make choices about where our money goes. Check out the clock on the Junk Science site. Compare the costs of malaria to those of Kyoto. Imagine what would happen if H5N1 suddenly became easily transmittable to humans like the 1918 version. It's estimated that 19 million to 38 million people worldwide were killed by the "Spanish" flu. Today, it could be hundres of millions, maybe even a billion people. Imagine if 1/5 the worlds population suddenly died. That would have a heck of a lot greater impace than the miniscule warming we've experienced and may continue to experience in the future.
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316. globalize
10:12 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Snowboy--using a rational, western, traditional line of thinking I would say you are right. But as we consider the genuine face of the cultures of other nations we begin to
perhaps see otherwise. The male domination in these Asian cultures is so radical, I believe these assumptions will not hold true.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
315. gippgig
10:12 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
I'm issuing a topical storm warning for this site.
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314. globalize
10:05 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Busted--think there may be a blurb in that population growth statistic? Of those countries cited, which statistical result might be most skewed by immigrant population increase?
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
313. snowboy
9:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Globalize, for the most part, population growth rates decrease as standard of living increases and world population is pojected to peak this century.

Atmospheric greenhouse gases on the other hand will continue to climb inexorably year by year with every tonne of oil, coal, gas, peat or wood we burn...

Assuming the climate is otherwise stable (not cooling or warming for other reasons), the addition of the greenhouse gases is projected by every substantive global climate model to cause warming of the atmosphere - the only open question is by how much.

F5, HurricaneChaser and others on this blog distract from the real issue and make much of the fact that the climate changes we are currently seeing (or that we are projected to continue seeing) can't be proven to be caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. So what? Such proof is impossible to deliver.

Relevant to the issue is the simple fact that our best models are projecting a warming of the climate, and the more fossil fuels we burn the greater the projected warming.

What is causing the discussion to heat up (if you'll forgive the pun) is that we're starting to see global warming on a planetary scale, making it suddenly personal. The droughts, the extreme storms, the melting polar sea ice and permafrost, the receding glaciers, the missing winter in North America etc. have gotten people concerned.

Thus the arguments rage about whether the warming observed to date is human induced or not. That misses the point. The point is that we're projected (by our best researchers using their best models) to experience more of the same (ie. continued warming) for the forseeable future...

And for those who have studied the history of civilizations, many of the world's great civilizations ended due to a combination of self-induced environmental degradation (eg. deforestation) plus externally caused climate change.

Our civilization has the unique distinction of being the first to both degrade its environment AND to make changes in atmospheric composition which are predicted to change the climate.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
312. cyclonebusted
4:53 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Growth rates per year (2005)
India 1.40%
USA 0.92%
China 0.58%
EU 0.15%
Russia -0.37%
South Africa -0.31%
globalise seems you are right, but US still seem high
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311. F5
9:55 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Here's another link to some great research and blogs on climate studies.

Link.

This is run by Colorado State University
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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.