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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260. globalize
7:30 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Listen cyclone...I put a pot of water on to boil. If I throw in an icecube, it delays the boil a little while.
To keep the water from boiling I have to turn down the heat. Are your tunnels going to do that?
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
259. cyclonebusted
2:29 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Link

Myles
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257. globalize
7:27 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Heard you, shauntanner.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
255. globalize
7:21 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
In the human community there should be the sensitivity to begin reversing the causes of global warming, even if there is no impirical evidence to prove these causes. What normal soul wants the polar regions to melt or the rain forests defoliated? Who wants the earth littered with human refuse and urban sprawl?
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
254. jeffB
7:20 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Skyepony, in regards to your reminder about the IWIN shutdown (remember that reminder, a few hundred posts back?):

Termination of IWIN is in line with planned consolidation of NWS web farms ~This tuesday is the last day to comment to NOAA on their planned termination of this site.

I had commented to them earlier today, and received a reply within an hour or so pointing out the IWIN alternatives that are already available:

Jeff,

True text only products are here:

http://www.weather.gov/data/ - but I suspect that isn't what you are looking for :-)

An alternative is also here:

http://mobile.srh.noaa.gov/

If IWIN is not terminated, it will pick up the banners/footers and the tables; as that is dictated by policy now.

Finally, the alternative product pages, here is an example:

http://www.weather.gov/view/prodsByState.php?state=MO&prodtype=zone

Does not have menus or back grounds and a very light banner/logos.


So, this action has nothing to do with making weather info less accessible. It's just termination of a service that's been rendered obsolete by newer, better services. In a followup, they mentioned that IWIN has gone from 350,000 users per day to around 100,000, while weather.gov (after many improvements) is up to 6-10,000,000.
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253. shauntanner (Admin)
7:11 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
There is a very important point that all of you are missing regardlesss of you view of whether or not humans causing global warming. Let's say that there is a CHANCE that humans ARE causing global warming...just a chance. Are you willing to ignore that chance in order to perform the uncontrolled experiment we are currently performing on the environment? Ignore that chance just because you think you need to drive that oversized SUV or need your house one degree warmer or cooler? Earth is all we have, let's treat it nicely if only to enjoy its beauty.
252. cyclonebusted
2:17 PM EST on January 30, 2006
With gravity is it known as observed that objects attract each other and this force has been measured and documented.
But why do they attracted that's where the theory fits in.
I guess STSimon is comparing the theoritical reasons why to that of Global warming, where we know's it's happening, but can only theorise why.
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250. HurricaneMyles
7:17 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Do we have two St.SimonsIslandGAGuy? I've seen 4 strange posts by what seems like the same guy.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
249. HurricaneMyles
7:14 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Because of the amount of proof to support gravity vs the amount of proof the supports human induced global warming. In other words, unless I'm wrong, we've never seen an object defy gravity. We dont have that same kind of proof for global warming.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
246. HurricaneMyles
7:06 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
No such thing as a law, Ok? If you say so, but it is still rediculous to put the theory of global warming next to the theorys/laws of gravitation.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
240. HurricaneMyles
6:53 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Who said the dreaded 'its just a theory' because if that last post in response to my post StSimons, it was never said.

Human induced global warming is a theory. Its a contested, but generally accepted theory. And theory's you mention, gravity, electricity, ect, are more accuratly described as laws. They are accepted by everyone(almost, their are some of course that disagree)

Please dont compare global warming theory to Newtons Law's our anything like that.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
239. cyclonebusted
1:58 PM EST on January 30, 2006
F5

So why are the majority of other developed countries willing to sign the Kyoto, with as you say 'no proof'.

Are they are just stupider than Americans?
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237. globalize
6:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
St Simons- good statistic, but hold on. Look at practically every item produced in China. Do you see Yung Tau Ming toy company on the label, or Toys R Us. Do you see Lo Mei Shek tool company or Black & Decker? The increase in fuel consumption in China is primarily due to the transference of production facilities from the US to China. Just pick a headline every day. How about today:
Dell plans to hire 5000, in India!!
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
236. F5
6:40 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
snowboy,

I have been advocating those things as well. But there is a difference between advocating things that make common sense and adopting radical rules/restrictions that will cause severe economic harm and provide unknown effects. The Bush administration has been quite up front about continued research, and letting business develop the technologies to curb pollution, etc. Unfortunately, for those on the other side of the debate, those kinds of actions are unacceptable. The only acceptable action is the immediate implementation of rules/restrictions such as those mandated by the Kyoto protocol. That is why there is fierce debate in the US about climate change.

Otherwise, I think we all agree that reducing pollution, reducing energy consumption, etc., are good things. I don't know anyone who is FOR pollution or spending more than they have to on gas, electric, etc.

My house that I built last year had an energy star inspection prior to completion. I have Techshield radiant barrier on the underside of my roof to reduce the heat in my attic, which lowers my cooling costs. I have a ridgevent system on the roof as well, which provides more efficient transfer of heat from the attic to the outside. My builder uses addition insulation on the outside with a R value of 4 (compared to the standard .5), providing additional insulation. Also, they caulk around every piece of insuation/2x4, outlets, etc. Where my neighbors have summer cooling bills over 400, or 500, my cooling bill in TX is usually under $300.00. I keep my summer thermostat set at 78deg, have ceiling fans in most rooms, etc. I drive a Toyota Camry that gets 35mph on the highway. I pay close attention to the traffic to avoid congestion so I'm not buring gas while idling and making no progress, etc.

I think these things are important. I think we can do more, but the incentive to do more has to economic and people have to see the benefit of doing so (just saving money should be sufficient benefit).

I don't think we are so different in our opinions, other than I will no be forced to accept rules/restrictions that don't make sense for something that can't be proven and is still questionable at this point. Maybe that is also a unique American trait, given our history.
234. cyclonebusted
1:42 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Its amazing nearly every other developed country is willing to sign the Kyoto Treaty and reduce green house emissions, except America.
Are all the scientists advising their governments in these countries wrong and only the US ones right, even when some are saying the same thing like Dr Hansen.
Or it is a big conspiracy as chaser and drifter appear to think against the US and its great economy, as all other countries willing to sign must be liberalist..? Now that is alarmist and paranoid!!
Its amazing these countries like the UK and Japan are willing to do this on no proof isnt hit.
Time to pull your head out of the sand and stop listening to the government propaganda. You dont live in a communist state.
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233. Trouper415
6:40 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Very intersting stats there. And the Yangtze Dam will generate as much power as 18 nuclear plants? Thats amazing. How much does the average coal power plant produce compareds to that damn? I think we will once again be a world leader who other countries respect and look up to for morals and ways of life, it will come with time.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
231. HurricaneMyles
6:28 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Snowboy,
I dont think it's the theory that gets people fired up, but how some people say it is a fact. Which it is not, its a contested, but generally accepted theory with huge implications in all areas.

As far as the US leading the way on the issues you mentioned, lets be serious, the US has never been about the environment or world trade. We're isolationists until the early-mid 1900's that logged and mined our country to death. However, we still do contribute more foreign aid then anyone else, and you can whine about %GDP and whatnot, but I dont think the people getting the money care. As far as human rights go, I'd say we're up there. You can bring up gay rights, but that wont go away until people get off their religious horses and get over it.

All in all, I'd say the US aint all the bad. We get a lot of bad stuff thrown at us from the rest of the world, but I'd rather live here then 95% of the other nations of the world, and the other 5% have thier problems, too.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
230. snowboy
6:38 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
An interesting conundrum for environmentalists is that the logical implicating of global warming theories is that we should be shifting significantly toward nuclear energy, due to their minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
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229. Cregnebaa
1:38 PM EST on January 30, 2006
If that dam ever fails, is the scary thought.
Personally I think it's a terible idea that will adversly affect millions of people.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
228. snowboy
6:32 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
boy those coal stats are amazing, with China now burning close to twice US amounts..
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226. Cregnebaa
1:29 PM EST on January 30, 2006
I think the Chinese point on the Dam, was there were more enviromental pros than cons in the long run, especially as most of their power stations are coal powered and the dam will supposedly produce the same amount of power as 18 nuclear power stations.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
224. snowboy
6:20 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Hey HurricaneMyles, only in the US does the theory that human greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to global warming get people fired up.

In the rest of the first world, people have stopped denying the obvious and are developing solutions. The US admin approach of attacking or silencing the messengers and ignoring the obvious just means that other nations will develop the technologies of the future (kind of like what happened with the US car industry). It's too bad.

I remember a time not that long ago when the US was a respected leader in the world community, on issues like human rights, the environment, world trade, foreign aid, etc. I am hopeful that it will be again in the future.
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221. Cregnebaa
1:20 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Like I said some whopping cons. Having to move 1.2million people is another one.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
220. HurricaneMyles
6:16 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
I think everyone agrees on that snowboy. Its saying they will help global warming, or attributing global warming to humans that seems to get people fired up. `
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
217. theboldman
10:13 AM PST on January 30, 2006
interesting was just reading that chevy has come out with a new tahoe that you can change it when you need power to 8 cl and then when you need a gas saving suv then you can have it only use 4 cl interesting

plus ford might be comin out with a new truck that runs on gas ethanol and hydrogen.

just thought i would post that.
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
216. Cregnebaa
1:10 PM EST on January 30, 2006
Of course China's building that super dam on the Yangtze, which is estimated to produce 84 billion kilowatt hour of power per year by 2009 and is costing them $29 billion to build.
This should put a dent in future increases in emmisions.
Of course there are huge other factors as cons to this project.
Link
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
215. snowboy
6:10 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Hey I have a great idea that may help end the great global warming debate! Could we agree that it makes sense for governments, businesses and individuals to seek to do what we reasonably can to:
- insulate our homes better;
- drive more fuel efficient vehicles;
- improve the efficieny generally of our machines and factories;
- develop alternative energy sources (like wind, solar, etc.)?

If it makes sense to do these things (and I think it does) then why not just do them and never mind if they will or won't affect the world's climate?
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213. wxfan
6:07 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
NASA ought to explore space and leave climate change to government WEATHER agencies.
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211. Trouper415
6:03 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Hey St Simons, hows it been? Very intersting how it is mainly the USA who does not believe that global warming is actually happening. Pretty bad if you ask me. And someone who is as close an allie as the UK and a world power with the USA who firmly believes that global warming is taking place is not right either. Someone want to turn on the light bulb?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637

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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.

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