Monday, June 23, 2008

NASA scientist James Hansen goes ballistic

You remember Dr. Hansen: a prominent climate specialist who complained loudly (and with some justification) that NASA had blocked release of his work supporting human-driven global warming. Whether you think Hansen is right or wrong, his recent actions threaten his credibility, and maybe they should. A stunning article quotes him as saying oil company executives should be tried for crimes against humanity for downplaying the threat of climate change. He told an interviewer that he intended to tell Congress: “When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organizations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime." The Guardian newspaper also reports, “He is also considering personally targeting members of Congress who have a poor track record on climate change in the coming November elections. He will campaign to have several of them unseated.”

COMMENT: Now this is ridiculous. First, how does Hansen propose to differentiate between someone putting out deliberate misinformation and the many people (including some energy company folks, certainly, but also independent scientists) who honestly disagree with the “scientific majority” position on this topic? He would criminalize scientific dissent, and that is a crime against the bedrock of free inquiry and debate on which all science rests. Also, it should be pointed out Hansen’s political intentions are a major, flat-out violation of the Hatch Act outlawing partisan political activity by Federal employees.

Dr. Hansen, you may have gotten yourself in the newspaper, but you have done your cause no favors this time

No comments: