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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61. snowboy
5:56 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Progressive, that's what's so funny about the posts from F5, Chaser and others - the weather is clearly abnormal but they're absolutely insistent on making the lame point that it can't be PROVEN to be caused in any way from human activity. As if the lack of proof matters.

Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
60. HeavySnow
1:02 AM EST on January 30, 2006
yes boldman?
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59. weatherwannabe
6:01 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Snow is that some arcane reference to the speach at the end of Team America World Police? That is really funny if it is.
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58. theboldman
10:01 PM PST on January 29, 2006
oh i dont care wannabe just playin with ya
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57. theboldman
10:00 PM PST on January 29, 2006
heavysnow ?
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56. weatherwannabe
6:00 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Just speakin my mind Boldman. Not trying to cause any problems.
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55. HeavySnow
12:57 AM EST on January 30, 2006
Bush is bush.
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54. theboldman
9:58 PM PST on January 29, 2006
so i would have to say cali is doin their part
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53. theboldman
9:57 PM PST on January 29, 2006
i think here in cali we have the toughest regulations on emmissions thats why the gas is more expensive here they tax it a bunch for enviromental money
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52. weathermantrey
5:54 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
snowboy, talk to me when you quit using any product manufactured in an American Factory!
and yes we have produced a lot of pollution in the 70's and 80's, but the EPA has turned 90 percent of that around. Grant it, there's still some things that need addressing. But we are getting it done
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51. theboldman
9:57 PM PST on January 29, 2006
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50. weatherwannabe
5:56 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
arc is the closest to the correct answer yet. Nice job.
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49. theboldman
9:56 PM PST on January 29, 2006
lol yeah you know how to stil the pot lol
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48. snowboy
5:51 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
As posted earlier, America's track record on the environment is far from stellar. But until this administration, one could at least take comfort in the fact that there was a wide spectrum of opinion in the US and that dissenting opinions could be heard. Preventing scientists from speaking on important issues of the day is simply unforgiveable.
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47. ProgressivePulse
5:47 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Say all you want but I personally guarantee you can call anyone across the country and they will tell you they are experiencing abnormal weather. And no guarantee cause I have not looked lately but good chance that statement holds true worldwide.
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46. theboldman
9:54 PM PST on January 29, 2006
wow snowboy is it really that bad i thought there were laws againsted all that stuff.
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45. weatherwannabe
5:55 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
hey boldman - good been quiet here until tonight LOL
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44. arcturus
5:38 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
I read that article yesterday and meant to comment on it but
Dr. Masters beat me to it. I don't no that voting would change anything. Didn't we have Bill and Al in the white house for eight years. Al the environmentalist. The same time period saw the SUV explosion in sales and the end of increasing car fuel economy. Corporations run the world behind the scenes. It won't matter who is in the White House. Is it a suprise to anybody the current administration wanted to muzzle Dr. Hansen. Come on people.

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43. theboldman
9:47 PM PST on January 29, 2006
wannabe long time no see hows it goin
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42. snowboy
5:43 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
rmh9903, I am curious about the basis for your statement with respect to the USA that
"This country does way more for the enviroment then any other country."

Up here in Canada, our normally clear blue skies turn a brown milky shade as soon as the wind swings around to the southwest and the air comes from the Ohio Valley and mid-west. We had dozens of smog alerts last year, in most cases worst air quality was measured closest to the American border.

Acid rain from American factories and power plants has killed tens of thousands of Canadian lakes.

American pollution just about killed Lake Erie, and dioxins and many other organics from the Buffalo (Love Canal) area are polluting the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.

Seen from up here, your track record on the environment is not impressive...
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41. weathermantrey
5:49 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
This is off topic to the original blog, but if anybody's interesting in the stuff about New Orleans, here's a link.
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40. weatherwannabe
5:46 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
weathermantrey, and a good part of that is being laundered into Neocon friendly lobbyists who will use YOUR taes to contribute to perpetuate the criminal enterprises started under this administration. If you have tome have a look at the Abromhoff scandal and then look into the K Street Project. But don't eat any food before you do, it will disgust you.
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39. weatherwannabe
5:45 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
weathermantrey - estimates are in the TRILLIONS for Iraq. TRILLIONS. Think about that. For 1/2 of the cost of the Iraq war we could have fied Social Security. WPE. Worst President Ever.
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38. weathermantrey
5:41 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
We can spend 14 billion dollars in Iraq like it's not a big deal... But god forbid we spend 14 billion dollars to creat barrier islands around N.O. so that we dont have to spend 50 billion dollars 20 years from now when another hurricane hits new orleans.
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37. weatherwannabe
5:42 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
rmh - what are you talking about?
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36. rmh9903
5:40 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Yet why do we rebuild what nature destroys? Nature nows how to handle its self and earth better then we do.
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35. weathermantrey
5:39 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
whoops i meant to quote "we will NOT succumb to the whims of nature"
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34. weathermantrey
5:35 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
And you're right, we are the leading country when it comes natural resource conservation... and we must continue to set the example. The only problem i have with Bush and the environment is the fact that he allocated 250 million dollars to restore the wetlands around New Orleans, yet it's gonna take 14 billion dollars to actually implement the plan that will bring the barrier islands back. But oh yea i forgot we can control mother nature, and make strong enough levee's to hold back storms, as bush said. "we will succumb to the whims of nature!!"-that is the most ignorant thing i've ever heard a president say
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33. weatherwannabe
5:34 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
I don't get to vote in China. Do you?
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32. weathermantrey
5:34 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Has anybody bashed Bush on this board for destroying our planet???? NO!!!!! They are bashing him for not letting some one speak out on what they beleive!!!
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31. Skyepony (Mod)
5:16 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Being America & all, There is no reason we should be muzzling climate info, be it a top researcher in the feild or info gathered during a hurricane.

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.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 321 Comments: 41703
30. rmh9903
5:22 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
This country does way more for the enviroment then any other country. I am so sick of everyone saying we need to do more. Its BS. If you think that Bush is destroying our planet you are the fool and the idiot. Why don't you guys that bash Bush get mad at the rest of the world, I mean at least be fair. China creates 38% more pollution then us..why don't you bitch about them? Or how about all of Africa?
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29. weatherwannabe
5:19 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
It's too bad that Limboob is such a siren for the addle minded and invincibly ignorant. A real shame. Hope you freepers have made lots of dough in the last 6 years. If you can't pick out the sucker at the poker table it's you.
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28. weatherwannabe
5:13 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
F% see snowboy's post. No this admin borders on being fascist. WPE says it all.
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27. rmh9903
5:09 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
We have only 200 years of true records when it comes weather. The rest is all theory. I for one do not believe in gobal warming. We are in a cycle. Weather has done extremes from day one.
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26. weathermantrey
5:08 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
I think it's hilarious that someone can write so much on how dr. hansen shouldn't voice what he believes, but then goes on a 5,000 word essay about what he believes is FACT! I dont know about everybody else but it sounds a little hypocritical to me??
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25. weathermantrey
4:49 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
I dont see how this turned into a global warming debate... regardless your stand on global warming, you should be able to say what you want to about it. What's wrong with this scientist saying what he believes? and on a side note to are basing your thoughts on global warming with other people's research and opinions... unless i'm mistaken and you've spent your life researching the topic??? which is very unlikely, but the great thing for you is... you get to voice your opinion about it anyways, but you are saying a man who has spent his life researching global warming shouldn't voice his opinion?
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24. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
9:02 PM PST on January 29, 2006
ok all i got a Dumb Question for you all if you want to go to sleep and wake up in oh say in the year 2080 to 2371 year would there be a way to do it like i say be for it is only a Dumb Question
23. snowboy
4:41 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
F5, I did read the articles. Read the one in the Spiegel in the original German. They were not persuasive, nor are you.

If you're going to opine that the global climate models are "claptrap" and "highly dubious as to their veracity", try actually learning about and studying these models (rather than just searching the web for those with similar points of view to yours) and you may learn something of lasting value.
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
22. snowboy
4:30 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Chaser, I was wondering when Dr. Master's article would get a rise out of you.

Of course we can't prove how much or little of the observed changes in climate we're causing (not sure why you needed such an extended riff to get that across)..

But Chaser, our best climatology scientists making predictions based on their best models are concluding that human emissions of C02 will lead to global warming. Could you tell me, do you as a scientist disagree with their predictions? If so, please point me to the flaw in the science.

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21. HurricaneMyles
4:38 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
I could supply a laundry list of political activities of the Clinton administration too, many of which were unethical and likely some of which were illegal, but what would be the point? If we head down that road, we'll spend eternity slinging mud and never actually discussing the important issues before us.

Wow, sounds like American poltics in a nutshell; slinging mud and never really doing anything.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
20. F5
4:31 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
snowboy, you bet your life I'm serious. Your comments exactly mirror what several of the links I posted stated. Anyone who disagrees with your position is simply a crackpot and/or associated with the energy industry). Did you even bother to read the articles. Your comments are prima facie evidence to their veracity, and the likelihood that you didn't bother to read them because you knew they were presenting an opposing point of view.

Why is it that some of the top climatologists in the world who disagree with the anthropogenic alarmist view are viewed as crackpots or on the dole of industry, yet those who espouse the viewpoint you've adopted are revered and held in above reproach?

"The only question is how much of what we've seen so far (ie. in the last 100 years) is natural fluctuation in climate, and how much is human-induced. "

The fact that you have to ask this question is one of the primary reasons why we should not attempt to take drastic action to attempt to modify something we aren't even sure if we are the cause of. Other important factors include the fact that since we really don't understand the earth's climate very well, how can we have any faith that taking such action will a) achieve it's goals and b) not do something even worse...

Our "best" models may be nothing more than complete claptrap, so why on earth would I want to take actions based on outcomes that are highly dubious as to their veracity.

19. F5
4:25 AM GMT on January 30, 2006

Sources please? Or perhaps you are your own spinmeister?

Every administration engages in attempts to shape and transform discussions to follow their agenda. This is nothing new. That's what politics is all about.

Nice of you to throw in the "Enron" comment as well. I could supply a laundry list of political activities of the Clinton administration too, many of which were unethical and likely some of which were illegal, but what would be the point? If we head down that road, we'll spend eternity slinging mud and never actually discussing the important issues before us.
18. snowboy
4:05 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
c'mon F5, are you serious?

The world's top scientists (a vocal minority consisting mainly of crackpots and industry lapdogs aside) are convinced that our atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases will cause or contribute to global warming. This was the case when I was taking climatology courses in the 1980s and its the case now (only now the evidence is much more compelling). They are convinced because their best models are all pointing in the same direction - global warming will occur due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The only question is how much of what we've seen so far (ie. in the last 100 years) is natural fluctuation in climate, and how much is human-induced.

Going forward, if our best scientists using their best models are predicting human-induced global warming, then why would we not act on their advice to do what we reasonably can to reduce of greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce the predicted climate changes?
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17. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
8:03 PM PST on January 29, 2006
i this like to say that i have my new blog up and you would no some in new on there to so come on by and take a look and say wow
16. weatherwannabe
4:20 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Drink some more of that kool aid. It's grape I heard. And I have a nice bridge to sell ya too.
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15. weatherwannabe
4:17 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
And as I have said before, you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with respect to the censorship, propoganda and outright lies that the Bush administration has perpetuated agasint the American people. It's Enron on a mganified scale.

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14. jcasey
11:10 PM EST on January 29, 2006
Tony (hurricanechaser):
I actually happen to agree with you, scientifically - the evidence of rates of change in present climate are not at all out of line with the historical record, as near as I have been able to surmise from my reading.
Nevertheless, I am disturbed by any quashing of scientific opinion for political reasons, which I believe is what Dr. Masters was pontificating. I may not agree with the alarmists and their shouting, nor do I like their popularity with the press, but I strongly believe that their opinions should get an open hearing.
The present administration doesn't have a very good record in that regard....
- Jeff

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13. weatherwannabe
4:12 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Seem like pretty solid facts. I don't know how effective it is to argue with a scientist using straw man arguments, ad hominems and red herrings. Lots of words, hurricanechaser, very little substance.
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12. hurricanechaser
3:00 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Hey Dr. Masters,

I guess you have chosen to also make your apparent liberal political persuasion known as well by quoting something you can't personally know to be true as an apparent FACT when the source sited in the article denies the so called limitation on it. I also wanted to know when you chose to use the weather site you created to become a political platform to bash the Bush administration as you have done in the past as well.

Would you have a problem with someone making unsubstantiated claims that you are doing something you very well MAY not have done. Since when has the media been the sounding board of TRUTH?

Once again, we see those who support the ALARMIST perspective that you nor any other scientist can EVER conclude as fact, interjecting politics into the debate in order to build momentum on an issue that can only find its success in the political arena, rather than in the scientific community. Although, the scientific community could certainly form a consensus without factual evidence since much of it is based upon the subjectivity and the majority opinion (which can also be swayed by ones personal political views). With such a low standard, how can any objective person subscribe to an unsubstantiated GUESS that is completely UNPROVABLE making subjectivity the only possible way to ascribe to this human induced global warming perspective.

The simple yet truly undeniable FACT is that NO ONE can ever prove that the increased temperatures around the globe during the past century is DIRECTLY related to human induced greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, the same is true that NO ONE can ever completely rule out the POSSIBILITY that human activities such as the aforementioned has actually had some effect. Therefore, simple logicalical analysis concludes that this issue will ultimately come down to subjectivity rather than any undeniable substantial FACTS.

Moreover, it is truly undeniable that NATURAL climate variability has happened countless times over thousands of years and will do so again whether we were living here or not. Therefore, the basic odds as to which theory seems most credible would logically fall back on the undeniable reality that Natural climate change is still occurring today. This doesn't discount the possibility that human activities are also having a VERY MINIMAL effect on global warming as well. As we all understand in the scientific community, the models are only as good as the information put into them. That being said, I believe you and I both are aware of the CSU report that through reanalysis discovered that there was indeed faulty and unreasonable information which distorted the climate model data from the study that has been repeatedly sited in order to suggest a definite correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and more frequent and intense hurricanes through 2080.

This is simply just another attempt by the alarmists, supported by their stronghold on the media outlets to misguide the general public into accepting as FACT something that can NEVER be anything more than a consensus view of scientists based strictly upon subjectivity. As we have seen by these blogs, it seems impossible for most to keep political loyalties out of the debate.

I am most disappointed that you too have chosen to encourage the continued politicalization with the contents of your latest blog posting. No where did you offer any credible scientific arguments to support your apparent view of human induced global warming. Instead, you made a politisized argument to try and substantiate the UNPROVABLE.

I am certain that my own personal decision to challenge your viewpoint and the contents of your blog will no doubt turn some against me for they would not dare challenge the founder of this excellent website. However, I cannot nor wouldn't ever sacrifice my principles and the need to challenge such irrelevant and obvious politisized comments that in my personal opinion have no place in this debate.

To put this debate back into its proper perspective.

Do you honestly believe that any increased temperature trends around the globe can ever be proven that they are a DIRECT result of greenhouse gas emissions? If so, please explain how this could ever be possible when there is NO WAY we could ever know how much a difference if any, there would have been without such human activities.

Furthermore, how can you or anyone else ever PROVE that such Global warming trends(as it should be correctly defined)are not a DIRECT result of the proven Natural climate variability that has occurred for thousands of years? Please keep in mind, the debate has been focused around the idea that human activities are the DIRECT cause of the current warming cycle NOT a secondary affect upon it. In other words, the alarmists as you well know want to frame the debate as suggesting that the current warming cycle would NOT have occurred without greenhouse gas emissions.

Regardless of ones personal perspective, no one can circumvent the obvious FACT that global warming(by my own logical definition)can NEVER be proven and will always be based upon the subjectivity of the scientific community as a result. For me, that standard is truly unacceptable and cannot be regarded as anything remotely resembling TRUTH.

Consequently, the alarmist response will always refer back to the undebatable(because we are not debating anything observable)"WHAT IFS" of the most extreme scenarios that play on peoples fears rather than their objectivity. In addition, the alarmists will continue to appeal to ones emotions by politisizing the issue rather than allowing people to objectively review the evidence from both a logical as well as an intellectual perspective.

All of the aforementioned just goes to support my argument that there will NEVER be an end to this undeniably subjective debate regardless of anyone's personal opinion.


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11. F5
3:53 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
For an interesting read on one climate scientists view of climate models and their reliability, read this..


Here's another great article. I've extracted one paragraph
"Unfortunately, the corrective mechanisms in science are failing. Public reservations with regard to the standard evidence of climate catastrophe are often viewed as unfortunate within the scientific community, since they harm the "worthy cause," especially because, as scientists claim, they could be "misused by skeptics." Dramatization on a small scale is considered acceptable, whereas correcting exaggeration is viewed as dangerous because it is politically inopportune. This means that doubts are not voiced publicly. Instead, the scientific community creates the impression that the scientific underpinnings of climate change research are solid and only require minor additions and adjustments."

Gosh, that sure sounds like what goes on in Dr. Masters blog as well. Here's the link..


The whole article sums up the debate quite nicely.

For those interested in a really good climate blog, let me recommed


Whether you agree with the opinions of the authors or not, I hope you find it intellectually interesting.

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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