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March 20, 2006


Mark Harden

If This Is "Muzzled," What Does "Silenced" Look Like?
03/20 08:07 PM
"This post on liberal blog Think Progress — "How The Bush Administration Muzzles The Government’s Top Global Warming Scientist" — is self-evidently ludicrous. The administration is doing such a good job of "muzzling" global warming evangelist James Hansen of NASA, he could only find a forum for his criticisms on 60 Minutes.

"Another example of how the administration has cruelly muzzled Hansen: Right before the 2004 presidential election, he traveled to Iowa and delivered a speech in which he declared that the policies of George W. Bush would create an environmental disaster, and so he planned to vote for John Kerry. Hansen, who received a $250,000 award from the Mrs. John Kerry Foundation in 2001, next faced the harsh muzzle of the Bush administration when the New York Times did a puff piece about how NASA was trying to silence him.

"The Media Blog hears that Sunday's one-sided 60 Minutes story — not the first time correspondent Scott Pelley has seen no need to challenge the climate-change fear-mongers he promotes — was just the beginning of global-warming media blitz in the coming weeks. Keep checking this space for details."


This is a bit off-topic, and I haven't even seen the 60 minutes report. Still, it seems clear to me that Hansen is talking about other scientists--not himself. [On edit (5:50pm): Upon review of transcript, it appears he is also talking about himself after all. It also sounds like this interview may have been done before the big NASA press office flap became public last month.] And remember that NASA (via the infamous George Deutsch) did indeed try to prevent Hansen from speaking to the press quite recently. Of course, Hansen is prominent enough to push back and survive, and he has done so. Others are not in such a position and would risk much more by speaking out in public.

Yes, Hansen announced his plans to vote for Kerry over Bush back in October 2004. I wrote about that at the time it happened.

Mark Harden

Off topic? You wrote "against harassment of scientists working on global warming issues"...the debunking of Hansen's supposed "silencing" is precisely what I am talking about.

Hansen would be a more credible administration opponent if he returned his Kerry "award", maybe.

Here's Hansen, after discussing the data used to establish the existence of global warming:

"We have to, in the next 10 years, get off this exponential curve and begin to decrease the rate of growth of CO2 emissions,"

What's missing here? Of course: with an almost admirable sleight of hand, Hansen has moved directly from global warming as a fact to an unsupported presumption that global warming is related to the growth of CO2 emissions.

Nice try. And you say the Bush administration are the ones politicizing science!


"an unsupported presumption that global warming is related to the growth of CO2 emissions" On the contrary, this is extremely well established. If you want to point to uncertainties, you're going to have to go in a different direction.

Mark Harden

On the contrary, this is extremely well established

Not really, for example there is evidence in the historical and fossil record which indicate periods of extreme warming which occurred prior to the Industrial Age. Reducing industrial CO2 emissions would not have helped then...they will not necessarily help now.

What know for certain is that radical, immediate reduction of CO2 output such as is called for by alarmists such as Hansen would most definitely result in a serious global economic depression; which would be, in effect, the worst thing for the environment conceivable. It's a truism: the more wealth and prosperity, the cleaner the environment, or have you not been to Nuevo Laredo recently?


Earlier periods of warming have little to do with our current situation. Carbon dioxide emissions in the future will warm our planet significantly, with likely, but uncertain, devastating consequences for many regions. That is what is well established, and that is what Hansen is trying to bring attention to.

Meanwhile, it would help to pay attention to what Hansen and other knowledgeable proponents of action to curb CO2 emissions actually say, and not repeat deceptive caricatures of what they say.

The caricature: "radical, immediate reduction of CO2 output"

The actual words: "begin to decrease the rate of growth of CO2 emissions"

Mark Harden

It turns out the Hansen case is just the mirror image of a scientist hounded from his position by Al Gore in 1993 for dissenting from the administration party line.


Based on that article, the case you refer to is ludicrously, pathetically weak as an alleged "mirror image" to the Hansen case during the Clinton years.

The fellow you refer to was a political appointee holdover from the Bush I administration who was apparently asked to leave his post in May 1993 rather than July 1993.

Surely you can do better.

Mark Harden

asked to leave his post

Dang, even Bushitler didn't demand that Hansen leave his post!

A nuanced discussion of why Hansen should stick to being a scientist and not try to be a policy maker is here.

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