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James Hansen speaks?and maybe says too much

Little did I know what a treat I was getting at last week?s linkurl:conference;http://www.socres.org/polsci/agenda.htm at the New School in New York called "Politics & Science: How their interplay results in public policy." On the second day, attendees heard a meticulous synopsis of the scientific data to support the trend of global warming, presented by James Hansen, the now-beleaguered NASA climate scientist who has accused the U.S. government of suppressing his findings. Hansen ? w

By | February 13, 2006

Little did I know what a treat I was getting at last week?s linkurl:conference;http://www.socres.org/polsci/agenda.htm at the New School in New York called "Politics & Science: How their interplay results in public policy." On the second day, attendees heard a meticulous synopsis of the scientific data to support the trend of global warming, presented by James Hansen, the now-beleaguered NASA climate scientist who has accused the U.S. government of suppressing his findings. Hansen ? whose name was added after I received my conference program -- began his 30-minute presentation by asserting that he was not speaking for NASA or the U.S. government. He then calmly showed figure after figure demonstrating that humans are causing warming at a rate that is "near a point of no return." Specifically, if the situation does not change, by 2050 the earth could enter a feedback loop that creates massive changes, he argued, disrupting the ecology in perhaps irrecoverable ways. He added that his research also suggests that global warming has played a role in the intensification of recent hurricanes, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has taken the opposite stance, claiming that hurricanes are not affected by global warming. Hansen noted that his colleagues at NOAA have told him that they work under a worse media policy than NASA scientists, and NOAA scientists cannot speak to a reporter unless a media representative is on the line. "It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," he said, then disappeared moments after his panel concluded. However, in a subsequent round table discussion, David Goldston, the chief of staff of the House committee on science, took Hansen to task for making such an extreme comparison between the US and these nefarious regimes. Goldston said he normally defends the NASA scientist, but using inflammatory language keeps the debate about global warming polarized, running the risk of alienating people in "the middle." The conference raised many questions about scientists? responsibilities in political debates. In this instance, is Goldston right? Scientists often let their research speak for itself. But when working in certain areas, such as stem cells and climate change, it seems that the data are not enough. And it may, in fact, be scientists? responsibility to watch how they describe their findings and experience in order to get their voices heard.
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Avatar of: Barbara Spraktes

Barbara Spraktes

Posts: 1

June 6, 2006

I'm afraid I agree with Hansen on this one. If the data speaks for itself, and yet the scientist is severely censored from reporting on it by the Government, then the scientist has a right to complain of censorship. Comparing the censorship to that of other regimes is, while distasteful to some, a valid way of getting the point across. Just how much are we willing to put up with before putting our foot down?

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