Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Media Darling on 'Global Warming' Assailed by Colleagues

NASA scientist James Hansen, profiled by the New York Times, "60 Minutes" and other media titans as a renowned scientist with unassailable credibility on the issue of "global warming" and a victim of White House censorship, is actually a loose cannon at NASA who lied about the alleged censorship, according to one of Hansen's former colleagues as well as a current co-worker.

George Deutsch, a former NASA public relations employee who resigned his job in February, told Cybercast News Service that he was warned about Hansen shortly after joining the space agency. "The only thing I was ever told -- more so from civil servants and non political people -- is, 'You gotta watch that guy. He is a loose cannon; he is kind of crazy. He is difficult to work with; he is an alarmist; he exaggerates,'" Deutsch said.

Deutsch provided Cybercast News Service with agency internal documents and e-mails detailing the frustration among NASA public affairs officials over Hansen's refusal to follow protocol when it came to granting media interviews. (See internal NASA Memo here (PDF))

On Dec. 14, 2005, Hansen released to ABC News a letter to the editor, which he had originally sent to the research journal Science. Hansen was also featured in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," during which he declared that 2005 had tied 1998 as the warmest year on record. But according to an internal memo provided by Deutsch, Hansen failed to clear his scientific data or his ABC News media appearance with NASA headquarters in Washington. Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told ABC News his scientific conclusions before he told his fellow NASA scientists and the NASA public affairs department, according to a memo dated Dec. 15, 2005, and entitled "PAO (Public Affairs Officer) Point Paper."

Hansen's release of the temperature information "was not properly coordinated with Headquarters and was disseminated without our knowledge or approval," read the PAO Point Paper written by Deutsch and fellow NASA public relations official Dwayne Brown. Brown, currently a senior public affairs officer with NASA headquarters, confirmed the memo's authenticity in a telephone interview on April 13. "NASA has not officially released any data declaring 2005 tied with 1998 for the warmest year on record, only Dr. Hansen has. Dr. Hansen acted independently of Headquarters and approved PAO channels when he spoke with ABC News and gave them his letter to the editor," the Deutsch/Brown memo stated.

During an interview earlier this month with Cybercast News Service, Deutsch elaborated on the agency's frustrations with the high-profile Hansen. "When you are as big a name as Dr. Hansen is, and you make a proclamation like that, it is really NASA policy."

Hansen's appearance on ABC News and his release of unapproved data caused internal anxiety at NASA, Deutsch said. "None of his [scientific] peers had agreed with [2005] being the warmest year on record yet, and knew about the findings saying that it was. "Why don't you tell the rest of NASA it is the warmest year on record before you tell ABC?" Deutsch asked. "This is one of those things that really, if you do it enough, it is a fire-able offense."

It was the subsequent effort by the NASA public affairs office to require Hansen to follow proper protocol when talking to the media that led the scientist to tell the New York Times in January that he was being "censored," according to Deutsch. "I don't think Hansen has ever really been censored," said Brown, a career civil servant with over 20 years' service at NASA. "We at public affairs have been very supportive of all our scientists. [Hansen] has always been welcome to talk about this data. I mean, we encourage our scientists to talk about the data. That is what they get paid to do."

Hansen's subsequent complaints to the media that he was being censored prompted an incredulous reaction at a NASA public affairs staff meeting, Deutsch said. "Someone said James Hansen is making claims of political censorship. And everyone in the meeting just groaned -- groaned, like 'What a joke,'" Deutsch said. "When you cry censorship and there isn't any, I mean you are crying wolf," Deutsch said. "So, [Hansen] wanted to do it his way. He's got a big ego, he's a control freak guy, and he wanted to do it his way, so he did. And he knows that there is not going to be any real crackdown on him. If someone is going to say something, it's not going to be a political appointee," Deutsch said.

The 24-year-old Deutsch was a political appointee at NASA after working for the committee that coordinated President Bush's second inauguration in January 2005. Deutsch eventually resigned from NASA when it was revealed that he had falsely indicated on his resume that he had graduated from Texas A&M University. Deutsch, who provided his university transcript to Cybercast News Service, was one class short of fulfilling the requirements for graduation at the time he took the job with NASA in 2005. "I had more credits than are required to graduate, but I needed one math class," Deutsch said, noting that he participated in the class of 2004's graduation ceremony. He also attracted controversy for recommending that the word "theory" be added to each reference of the "Big Bang" on NASA 's website. Deutsch said he was simply making recommendations to comply with Associated Press style.

He also denied published reports that he sought to prevent Hansen from appearing on National Public Radio last December. In January, Hansen's public affairs spokeswoman Leslie McCarthy told the New York Times that Deutsch had refused to allow Hansen to be interviewed by NPR because Deutsch considered the radio network "the most liberal" in the country.

Deutsch provided Cybercast News Service an internal NASA e-mail dated Dec. 9, 2005, which he claims shows that the December 2005 NPR interview request was treated fairly. Hansen's claims of censorship were a result of senior NASA managers wanting to allow scientists with more seniority than Hansen to do the interview, according to Deutsch. "His bosses expressed interest in doing the [NPR] interview. [The e-mail] proves we took the NPR interview request very seriously. We didn't brush it under the rug. We didn't do anything like that," Deutsch explained, adding that Hansen ended up doing a later NPR interview.

Deutsch said the NASA public affairs staff met with senior leaders at the agency to discuss the problems with Hansen, and the topic of firing Hansen was raised, but the conclusion from the meeting was that such an action would have "huge political fallout," so the idea was rejected. "Your first reaction is how can we stop this problem completely, and so that was one of the ideas going around," Deutsch said. "But it's never anything that people got too serious with or too far with because they realized it would be just way too dangerous. He would become a global warming martyr, and that is what he wants." Hansen sees himself as "this global warming guy fighting the big mean Republican bureaucracy," Deutsch added.

NASA established new media guidelines for its employees in March, but in retrospect, Brown acknowledged that miscommunication from all sides contributed to the Hansen controversy. "I regret that this played itself out. But the agency has always been open, will be open."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife. In addition, he has acted as a consultant to former Democratic Vice President Al Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming." Hansen, who also complained about censorship during the administration of President George H. W. Bush in 1989, previously acknowledged that he supported the "emphasis on extreme scenarios" regarding climate change models in order to drive the public's attention to the issue.

Several phone calls to Hansen's office seeking comment were not returned. But Hansen in February referred to Deutsch as "only a bit player" in the controversy surrounding the Bush administration's alleged censoring of science.


Climate and socio-political culture

Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

There are interesting developments in the climate warming war. Channel 4 news on 13 April reported a systematic suppression of renewables in favour of nuclear at the core of Government, with overt support just "a pretense." They certainly fooled me, with Wales wasted with windmills and Scotland exposed to pollution with pylons to transport windpower. And Sir David King now says a 3 degree temperature rise is "inevitable." As inevitable perhaps as his predisposition to utter alarmist statements unsupported by science or evidence, but sure of coverage by a gullible media?

Meanwhile UK media bias is more endemic than bird flu. In an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the National Post [copied to the Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of Natural Resources] sixty scientists call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming. I was happy to sign myself; there were few other Brits. Philip Stott complains justifiably

Except for the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail, the silence in the UK has been deafening .. there has been nothing from the Guardian, from the Independent, nor, sadly, even from yhe Times, and certainly not from the BBC. Yet, there can be no excuses. For one, I personally alerted relevant correspondents at The Guardian, at The Times, and at the BBC about the story.

And, just imagine the headlines if 60 senior scientists had written to encourage the new Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to act at once on 'global warming' and to support vigorously the Kyoto Protocol. The story would have been everywhere.

Richard Lindzen in a trenchant critique on reported climate science says [12 April]

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

He details the failure of formerly reputable science journals to publish papers which do not support the IPCC consensus. The loss of respect for science research will be hard to regain. The cost to society misled into mistaken energy policy will be crippling, as cheap energy is linked to economic growth. But I doubt that a propensity to exaggerate alarm is driven solely by funds and fondness for fame. The scientists I meet in Cambridge are all verdant green and mostly impeccable. They are not driven by money or they would not be here.

There is a deeper and more dangerous mood in society, and society produces the science it deserves. Most of my colleagues have no faith in markets, hate big business, multilaterals, executive reward, privatization, international trade - the whole panoply of capitalism. I daresay the same applies to schoolteachers and most government employees. And not all Guardian and Independent readers are social workers. Many are intelligentsia, PC executives and grand bourgeois in the shires. Were scientists to turn pure overnight another peg would be found in Europe on which to hang hatred of America and capitalism.


Canada's new environment minister, Rona Ambrose, declared the Kyoto accord's pollution targets unattainable yesterday as the country's own emissions continue to head in the wrong direction. Ambrose said the country's rising output of global-warming greenhouse gases is approaching 30% more than the 1990 benchmark identified in the international agreement ratified under the former Liberal government. "My departmental officials and the department officials from Natural Resources have indicated that it is impossible -- impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto target," she said after question period.

Ambrose said the Conservative government will continue talking with other countries about reducing emissions, but said they, too, are coming to the conclusion that Kyoto can't be achieved. The Conservatives have vowed to create a made-in-Canada solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than abide by the accord. "The next step is to start to talk about action and solutions long term."

Calgary Sun, 8 April 2006


A journalist agonizes:

In dramatic fashion - "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," read the cover line - a Time magazine story last week pronounced the debate on global warming over: ''Environmentalists and lawmakers spent years shouting at one another . . . but in the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended." Worse, the magazine declared, environmental catastrophe is already upon us. Cyclones pound Australia, ''drought-fueled blazes" ravage Indonesia, and ''the sodden wreckage of New Orleans continues to molder while the waters of the Atlantic gather themselves for a new hurricane season." When disasters ''hit this hard and come this fast-when the emergency becomes commonplace-something has gone grievously wrong. That something is global warming."

Unfortunately, there's one small problem with the claim that environmentalists and lawmakers, at long last, have come together on the once-divisive issue of global warming: They're still yelling at each other. Senator James Inhofe enraged greenies in 2003 by terming global warming a "hoax," a statement he has not retracted, while last summer the Republican chairman of the House energy committee demanded an accounting of the data and funding sources of three top climate scientists-implying their studies were cooked. As if to prove the point that Americans aren't on the same page, all manner of conservative pundits mocked the Time piece: George Will said we should be less worried about big oil and big coal than "big crusading journalism."

Yet in ignoring the likes of Inhofe and Will -and by shunning the small number of scientists who depart from the conventional view on warming- Time did exactly what many scientists have been begging journalists to do: It eschewed on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand reporting and threw its institutional weight behind the view of most scientists. "The Time magazine statement is a fair representation of the vast consensus of the scientific community," writes Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, in an e-mail.

As it happens, more and more environmentalists and climate scientists have been making the point that "objective" journalists are doing as much as anyone (except maybe Hummer enthusiasts) to forestall action on global warming. And journalists are struggling to figure out whether that's a fair charge.

Al Gore, for instance, includes some trenchant journalism criticism in his forthcoming documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." Gore cites work by the UC-San Diego science historian Naomi Oreskes, who examined 928 abstracts of peer-reviewed articles on global warming published from 1993 to 2003. Oreskes found that precisely none of those articles questioned either that global warming exists or that humans contribute to it. Nevertheless, Gore laments, most news stories about global warming quote a skeptic.

And on the website - a resource for journalists and the public run by several prominent climate researchers- Penn State's Mann has argued that given how few dissenters there are among scientists on the global warming question, it makes as much sense to quote one of them as it would to grant "the Flat Earth Society an equal say with NASA in the design of a new space satellite." also lays out the views its contributors say make up the foundation of modern climate science: First, the globe has warmed by 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years (0.3 degrees Fahrenheit per decade over the past three decades). Second, people are causing "at least the majority of this" increase. Third, the trend will continue if we keep pumping out greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. Fourth, it's a problem and we should do something about it. (These are also more or less the positions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists created to summarize work in that field; the National Academy of Sciences; and the American Geophysical Union.)

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Time's sciences editor, said the magazine listened to the arguments of people like Gore and Mann in deciding how to present its case. A Time/ABC News/Stanford University poll, he points out, found that 64 percent of Americans believe there is, among scientists, a lot of disagreement on this issue. Journalists share some of the blame for that, Elmer-DeWitt thinks. "We are all trained to tell both 'sides,"' he says.

Those who defend the consensus view imply (or say outright) that anyone who departs from it is either a shill or a crank. But making things a bit dicey for us journalists who want to report the story in a nonideological way is the fact that a few evidently honest scientists still buck the consensus.

One is Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. He accepts the view that temperatures, and the carbon dioxide gas presence in the atmosphere, have risen. But he argues that correlation is not causation, and in a paper delivered at Yale last fall, he made the case that most climatologists "fail to note that there are many sources of climate change, and that profound climate change occurred many times both before and after man appeared on the earth." The "signal to noise" ratio is too low for us to know how big a role human-driven change plays in the recent warming trend, he thinks, and he finds no cause for alarm.

Of course, to some, I have just done humanity a disservice by quoting Lindzen. (I admit that's possible.) Indeed, science editors at different publications split on the question of how much space to give to such views. Scientific American seems to give especially short shrift to them; in an interview, editor John Rennie referred to dissenters as "denialists" and said that to give them even one paragraph in a 10-paragraph article would be to exaggerate their importance.

Others, like Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science, offer more wiggle room. "There ought to be some effort to report where the majority opinion lies," he says, "but certainly the guys who have a different view ought not to be ignored completely." Lindzen, he adds, "is a smart guy: He ought to be pressed with hard questions and listened to."

Yet citing both the consensus and the outlier critics can still sow confusion, as Discover magazine learned last fall. In the September issue, Discover ran one feature that opened by stating, "few scientists of any political persuasion question the reality of human-induced global warming." In a separate interview, a senior meteorologist at Colorado State, William Gray, noted that he was "skeptical as hell." Several readers wrote in to ask what they were supposed to make of the contradiction-or they charged Discover with exaggerating the degree of consensus. (The editor replied that Gray was part of a tiny minority.)

Time didn't quote any dissenters. That may be defensible, but the magazine then hurt its credibility by lumping together global warming trends (on which there is near-unanimous scientific consensus), human contributions to those trends (very high consensus), and the implications of these trends (much more of an open field). Last month, in dueling articles in Science, for example, researchers fought over whether global warming has led to an increase in the number of intense cyclones worldwide. Time skipped the debate and let readers think we've doomed ourselves to be hammered by more and more Katrinas.

In the end, the consensus that Time invokes seems like too much to hope for-on almost any subject. Which is a depressing thought, if the apocalyptic scenarios are right. For as the global-warming dissenters stick to their guns, vested interests sow confusion, and journalists try to figure out how to write about it all, the mercury rises. And as Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton geoscientist, told Science last month: ''This is not an experiment you get to run twice."

The Boston Globe, 9 April 2006


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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