Pot, Kettle, James Hansen, censorship, NASA and EPA

Readers may recall this oh so terrible squashing of free speech by the White House limiting NASA public employee Dr. James Hansen’s ability to talk to the media. It seems that the issue has been repeated today, but there’s a twist.

From the Wikipedia entry on James Hansen:

==============================================================

Allegations of censorship

In 2007, Hansen has stated that in 2005 NASA administrators had attempted to influence his public statements about the causes of climate change.[80][81] Hansen said that NASA public relations staff were ordered to review his public statements and interviews after a December 2005 lecture at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. NASA responded that its policies are similar to those of any other federal agency in requiring employees to coordinate all statements with the public affairs office without exception.[82] Two years after Hansen and other agency employees described a pattern of distortion and suppression of climate science by political appointees, the agency’s inspector general found that the NASA Office of Public Affairs had mischaracterized the science of climate change intended for the public.[83]

In June 2006, Hansen appeared on 60 Minutes stating that the George W. Bush White House had edited climate-related press releases reported by federal agencies to make global warming seem less threatening.[84] He also stated that he was unable to speak freely without the backlash of other government officials, and that he had not experienced that level of restrictions on communicating with the public during his career.[84]

===============================================================

Apparently it is only “censorship” if done by a Republican White House, as this story about the EPA today demonstrates oh so clearly:

From E&E Greenwire: http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2013/02/21/2

Agency openness a likely confirmation issue if McCarthy is nominated

John McArdle and Emily Yehle, E&E reporters
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

That effort has required EPA to set some rules when it comes to its scientists’ ability to interact with reporters. EPA funnels all media requests through its Office of Public Affairs — a practice McCarthy defended as necessary to ensure agency employees don’t speak outside their expertise.

I’m sure the same people like CBS’s Scott Pelley, NYT’s Andrew Revkin, Democracy Now, and others who jumped on the censorship bandwagon of that “limit to ensure agency employees must funnel through the press office” will jump right on this new revelation with the EPA.

Brian Angliss, who told us back then how the affair played out might have some new insight on this EPA issue.

h/t to Chris Horner

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39 Responses to Pot, Kettle, James Hansen, censorship, NASA and EPA

  1. Alan Bates says:

    My opinion, for what its worth, is that a Government or employee or an employee of an organisation, has freedom to speak on issues AS A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC.

    When he speaks AS AN EMPLOYEE of any organisation (for example, by using headed notepaper, referring to his position ect.) then he is representing the organisation and should go through the procedures set by the organisation. As far as I can see, James Hansen (NASA employeee) broke these rules. I am staggered he was not disciplined

  2. Laurie Bowen says:

    Am I missing something here . . . this appears to be a skimming site.

    http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/2013/02/21/2

    http://www.eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2013/02/21/1

    would be for public disemination.

  3. Jaye Bass says:

    Nope. Government agencies almost always require a “Public Release” scrub of any data that is pushed out in a public forum beyond the distribution restrictions on the program.

  4. Peter Stroud says:

    I am becoming convinced that Hansen is losing his mind. I can understand how the non scientific Eco warriors get fixated on a campaign and call for such extreme measures. However, a scientist of Hansen’s calibre should, surely, retain some understanding of the scientific method. Unless, of course, he is suffering from some mental disorder.

  5. MikeN says:

    Let’s call it the new McCarthyism.

  6. Jimbo says:

    Imagine for one moment if half of NASA’s employees behave like Hansen – arrested at least 3 times, promoting civil disobedience, making exaggerated claims about runaway warming etc. What would the outside world think of NASA? Rules are necessary in any large organisation to prevent its name being brought into disrepute. Just because he wants to shoot his mouth off does not mean he’s right about CAGW. (He recently admitted the divergence)

    If Hansen wants to speak freely, then he is free to leave NASA and go full time onto the speech circuit. After all, it’s for the grandchildren.

    Here is Dr. James Hansen having his freedom of speech curtailed and promoting his book, talking of the runaway greenhouse effect and the oceans boiling. He thinks Venus is the Earth. The man is a certifiable.

    IPCC
    “Some thresholds that all would consider dangerous have no support in the literature as having a non-negligible chance of occurring. For instance, a “runaway greenhouse effect” —analogous to Venus–appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities…..”

    http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session31/inf3.pdf

  7. John Whitman says:

    Was pressure put on the NASA GISS organization by its leadership (Hansen and others) to prevent the members from publically expressing their private criticism or skepticism of Hansen’s climate science alarmism?

    That kind of pressure on the NASA GISS organization would be unethical and would be bizarrely hypocritical given Hansen’s previous claims he was being targeted by government censors.

    John

  8. john robertson says:

    The sound of crickets? Re the concerned journalists.
    Their logic is simple, if you question the divine wisdom of the cause, you are censoring the parties involved.
    If you are ensuring that the advocates have their talking points in order, it can’t be censorship.

  9. Theo Goodwin says:

    Let the ad hoc rationalizations roll! Cannot wait to hear what Revkin and others have to say.

  10. DesertYote says:

    Hansen’s ravings in 2006 [were] the product of a very delusional mind, black helicopter stuff.

  11. Curt says:

    I recall Dr. Roy Spencer saying that one of the reasons that he left NASA is that as an employee of NASA, he was not free to publicize some of his (skeptical) beliefs on climate. I cannot find a link right now.

  12. Alberta Slim says:

    I second Peter Stroud.
    Hansen is acting like he does have a mental disorder

  13. slabadang says:

    Dont feed the commie propaganda by adapting “McArthyism”
    “MCArtyhism” equals Stalinism/kommunism “light”. In Sovlet they not only confronted oponents for 80 years they systematicly shot or jailed opposition. Its Stalinism we are talkning about and you been fooled and indoktrinataed to tink thats its an American system but its not ,its a very short ugly period as a mirror image to kommunism. Of course left wings dont want to talk about socialist terror during eigty years, they want to talk oout its light version during a short period in USA instead to take you away from the real ugly thing..

  14. Graham says:

    “stating that the George W. Bush White House had edited climate-related press releases reported by federal agencies to make global warming seem less threatening”

    I’m not a fan of Bush, but history has proven him spot on here. Not only has Global Warming been ‘less threatening’, it has been completely non existent.

    If we hadn’t been subjected to half a trillion dollars of propaganda would anyone have really noticed the weather was any different to usual? I think not.

  15. sean.fr says:

    The NASA press office should not vet statements of fact or research. Science has the means of judging that. However, Hansen is not just talking about evidence, he talks about policy, When you lobby for policies and have responsiblity for the processing the of evidence, the evidence is tainted as your objectivity is suspect.
    It is a confiict of interets and his employer is hurt by it.

  16. Mike Doner says:

    I’m sorry, but every time I hear Hansen’s name or see his photo I think of Homer Simpson and this quote.
    “Operator! Give me the number for 911!”

  17. JamesS says:

    Peter Stroud says:
    February 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I am becoming convinced that Hansen is losing his mind. I can understand how the non scientific Eco warriors get fixated on a campaign and call for such extreme measures. However, a scientist of Hansen’s calibre …

    This made me ponder: what, besides global warming alarmism, has Hansen done to be considered a scientist of any calibre? He’s based his entire career on the global warming/climate weirding theme, and beyond that, what else? Has he actually published any seminal papers that advanced more than his personal agenda and pet hypothesis?

  18. James S at 4:06 pm:

    Me too. Totally baseless but I keep thinking: “Why?” There must be more. Or maybe “Follow the money…” Or … ? I am bewildered. I am 66 years old with a conversational family memory that goes back to 1850. I am having a lot of trouble seeing what I am supposed to be so concerned about having worked with people who make less than $100 a year and others who make that much in a few minutes – but the one thing I know, I am darn glad to be living in North America in this century and not back in my great grandparents, grandparents or parents days. Times were much tougher and this weather we are experiencing seems like nothing compared to what they went through. I just don’t get it. Engineering must have left me brain damaged. Unplug me from my computer and I am brain dead. (stolen from comments about Hornet fighter jet pilots at Cold Lake Alberta).

    In must be be hard for people who are born with no sense of humour. /humour off.

  19. Bill Illis says:

    When a scientist’s prognostications are so far off, at what point does someone have to put a sock in it.

    In December 2012, Hansen’s Scenario B forecast was +1.054C while Hadcrut4 on the same comparable basis was +0.269C.

    He needs to admit how wrong he was. And noone should stop him from doing so. And he is very obligated to do this. Everyone should send him an email stating this.

    And in one month, Hansen will be 71. At what point should he retire so that he can spend more time with his grandchildren and keep scaring them instead of the general public with his completely inaccurate forecasts.

  20. RACookPE1978 says:

    JamesS says:
    February 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    This made me ponder: what, besides global warming alarmism, has Hansen done to be considered a scientist of any calibre? He’s based his entire career on the global warming/climate weirding theme, and beyond that, what else? Has he actually published any seminal papers that advanced more than his personal agenda and pet hypothesis?

    Even his earliest papers in the 70’s and early 80’s – those he co-authored under other people’s assumed “guidance” – were found to be “outside” of the other results, and showed “higher than normal” temperatures (for example) when Hansen’s results were compared with other researchers.

  21. Merovign says:

    Didn’t Hansen give something like an average of one interview every other day in 2006 claiming he’d been silenced?

  22. Mike Jonas says:

    JamesS – James Hansen’s early research was centred on Venus, and it would seem that he found in Venus a planet not unlike Earth in earlier times, but which had since got a lot hotter while its greenhouse gases also increased. Putting two and two together he would appear to have concluded that Earth was facing catastrophe. All of his later work would appear to be centred on the latter.

    OK, maybe he no longer has any credibility, and maybe he has gone way beyond the dotted line, but let’s face it, some people thought to be whackos do sometimes turn out to have been right when their hypotheses stand up to testing. There are examples of this all the way from Einstein to Mpemba. It’s the testing that matters, not the individual’s history (and IMHO JH’s efforts have already been tested and failed).

  23. Lance of BC says:

    Mike Jonas says:

    February 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    “James Hansen’s early research was centred on Venus, and it would seem that he found in Venus a planet not unlike Earth in earlier times, but which had since got a lot hotter while its greenhouse gases also increased. Putting two and two together he would appear to have concluded that Earth was facing catastrophe. All of his later work would appear to be centred on the latter”

    Venus and earth comparisons are ridicules being it’s much close to the sun and it’s atmosphere is sulphuric acid and has extreme atmospheric pressure. There’s also the fact Venus takes 243 earth days to turn once on its axis, and it takes almost 225 days to travel once around the Sun, a day on Venus is longer than its year. It’s also the only planet that rotates backwards.
    Doesn’t seem like a logical comparison to me.

    Oh, and hypothesizing that the reason Venus is turning backwards is because it had an impacted a billion years ago from a close encounter/impact with another plant or asteroid seems to be the catch all for everything we don’t understand in our solar system. Be it the formation of our moon to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Hypothesis stacked upon hypotheses, kind of like climate change science.
    I think it’s something less exciting and simple like natural planetary formation/evolution around our sun and our galaxy. Occam’s razor,

  24. richard verney says:

    Lance of BC says:
    February 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    There are significant differences between Earth and Venus, and essentially the only broad similarity is one of size, mass and gravity. It is usual where there are differences that this leads to different results.
    It has always amazed me that people draw a comparison between Earth and the Moon. apart from the diffistance to the sun, almost everything else is different. Why the heck would one expect the Earth and the Moon to display similar temperatures when the Earth is a water world, with very varied and constantly changing albedo, a tilted axis with progression of seasons, constantly changing levels of cloudiness and hence solar insolation received, a vastly different speed of rotation, a magnetic field, an atmosphere (irrespective of its composition) which transports heat through convection etc. etc. Surely the differences are so great that one would expect to see a completely different temperature even if the solar insolation received was the same (which it is not due the varying levels of cloudiness, absorption in the atmosphere and averaging the longer/shorter day leads to a distortion).

  25. johnmarshall says:

    Hansen must be retired he is way over the edge. In fact just let him drop.

  26. MLCross says:

    James Hansen: World’s Loudest Victim of Censorship.

  27. Max™ says:

    Re: Lance of BC

    Uh, the massive impact hypothesis for the moon is testable, and predictive. As are the models explaining Venus rotating backwards from other bodies due to a massive impact(s).

    Occam isn’t used for simplicity, it is used for unneccessary multiplication of entities.

    “Things should be as simple as possible, but only just.” ~Einstein

  28. Bad Andrew says:

    “what, besides global warming alarmism, has Hansen done to be considered a scientist of any calibre?”

    No, no, no. Please don’t confuse yourself. When you are a “great man” like me and Dr. Hansen are, you don’t have to do much of anything other than sit (or stand) around and be great, and *maybe* produce a squiggly line on a chart every once in awhile to show the Climate Collective that you still love them.

    Andrew

  29. _Jim says:

    Mods, pls take note.

    michaelwiseguy says February 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    NASA admits Geo-Engineering … … Jet Contrail Chemicals
    chemtrailsplanet.net

    Really, Michael … at it again?

    You KNOW site policy on this subject … no?

    [good point . . thanks for pointing it out . . mod]

    .

  30. Greg Holmes says:

    Restriction of free speech has landed in the land of the free I see. watching the face of the USA change over the last 10 years or so I am shocked, moves are afoot here also in the UK to restrict free speech, and indeed to have whistleblowers dragged to the courts. But we do not have drones patrolling, not yet anyway.

  31. John Whitman says:

    Greg Holmes says:
    February 22, 2013 at 8:17 am

    – – – – – – – – –

    Greg Holmes,

    Restriction of free speech can only happen in the USA if the media condone it. And, I do not know what they teach now and have taught for the last ~50 years in university journalism schools here in the USA. But, why does it look like many have taught students to condone some level of blocking certain ‘incorrect’ views from getting access to media? And who will do some in-depth and critical reporting on the possibly ugly process of making politically correct sausages (aka journalists) at USA journalism schools? Not journalists, I presume.

    John

  32. 1. Ethics: Where is it written that an employee has free speech on matters connected to his employment? That is truly a bizarre concept. And whether a contractual or ethical obligation, it was only Hansen’s first problem.
    2. Comptetence: Hansen’s second problem was and remains that his model of climate is wrong, and plainly so. It should have been a professional embarrassment, but he fell short of even recognizing it.
    3. Greed: Hansen, like Gore most obviously among others, has made a personal career if not fortune by converting (2) into a political movement at the expense of (1), and at the expense of all tax payers.

  33. numerobis says:

    I’m very much in favour of having scientists completely free to talk about their research and its implications. If this is true about McCarthy’s stance, let’s can her. I’ve had trouble finding confirmation of this news; hopefully it’s either made moot by Obama nominating someone else, or it comes up in confirmation hearings.

    It seems like most commenters here are more in favour of letting partisan hacks present the research results, instead of the scientists themselves. What’s the argument in favour of that? Is it just that you don’t like what this one scientist has to say, and thus you support muzzling all scientists?

  34. _Jim says:

    numerobis says February 22, 2013 at 10:14 am

    It seems like most commenters here are more in favour of letting partisan hacks present the research results, instead of the scientists themselves.

    Have you ever heard of, or are you familiar with the term “white paper”?

    Are you familiar with, or doing you have any passing familiarity with the website ‘realclimate.org’ whose (byline ‘claim’ is: “Climate science from climate scientists“)?

    Does the name or term “Fenton Communications” ring any bells?

    .

  35. _Jim says:

    [good point . . thanks for pointing it out . . mod]

    … but, I see no sanctions invoked; it seems (to my screen view at least) the infracting post above still stands … perhaps a higher-ranking / more-authoritied mod needs to become involved?

    Just following-up …

    [And some things are just worth ignoring. 8<) Mod]

    [Reply: Moved to Trash. — mod.]

    .

  36. Bernie McCune says:

    I was in Santa Fe NM yesterday and got to see a rambling, disjointed presentation by Hansen with a jumble of charts with numerous assumed extreme outcomes. It was not obvious to me that these outcomes were certain and even he, on several occasions admitted that it was yet to be determined what the outcomes would really be. At least a third of the slides discussed political topics and methods for “fixing the CO2 problem”. It was painful to watch, yet most of the approximately 100 people there seemed to be acolytes, there to worship the planet’s saviour.

    Let him speak. From his performance yesterday, I cannot see how he can, in the end, be much of a threat.

  37. bobby b says:

    ” . . . perhaps a higher-ranking / more-authoritied mod needs to become involved?”
    . . .

    Wait, wait, I know this one!
    “Give an example of “superciliousness””
    Do I win?

  38. Random Thoughts says:

    Private organizations don’t censor, they determine what is beneficial to the organization and what is not. Individuals can make the same determination, with the consequence of going elsewhere.
    Governments censor, restricting publication by others.
    The challenge comes when government is employer; it can’t discern and not censor at the same time. Another great reason to keep government small.

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