I’ve been wrestling with this topic for hours now as to how to best present it in this forum. I finally decided to simply just write it as I see it.
It has been an ugly day for law and common sense in the world. Vandalism in the name of ecological causes is now “ok” thanks in part to Dr. James Hansen, of NASA GISS coming to the defense of eco-vandals. See the second story below. Now, encouraged by this “victory” that gives a sanction to eco-vandalism in the UK, how many more shall we see? And if one of these people is injured and kills themselves or others in the process of the next stunt? What then? Who is responsible?
Certainly I want a cleaner world, and better energy resources with focus on the future. But, sanctioning vandalism for these causes is not the way to get there. What do I want from NASA as a taxpayer? Science, solutions, and inspiring ideas turned into reality. I don’t want political activism in the name of science.
After thinking awhile about this, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
1- A NASA scientist siding with vandalism as a “lawful excuse” is an inappropriate abuse of the position. It was a question of law, not of science.
2- Dr. Hansen cannot separate himself from the agency as private citizen in this case, because he was brought in as an “expert witness”. Even if he paid his own way and took personal time, his presence was based on taxpayer funded research.
3- It appears Dr. Hansen has violated the code of ethics posted on the NASA Office of General Council webpage.
From the Goddard Institute for Space Studies web page: GISS is a component laboratory of Goddard Space Flight Center‘s Earth Sciences Division, which is part of GSFC’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate. Thus Hansen falls under these ethics rules.
Specifically, Dr. Hansen’s defense of vandalism in the name of a cause he believes in fails under the NASA Misuse of position rule. If he received compensation of any kind, such as airfare, rooms, board etc. to appear as a NASA expert, he would also be breaking other NASA conduct rules.
4- As keeper of data, specifically the GISTEMP dataset, he has now brought the impartiality of that data into question due to his activism in areas unrelated to scientific research.
Certainly Dr. Hansen has a body of work that is impressive, there is no disputing that. But it is time for Dr. Jim Hansen to go. Thanks to him, GISS as a dataset is no longer impartial. We have potential bias from the gatekeeper of the data that can’t be separated from the data. If he can come to the defense of lawbreakers in the name of his global warming cause, then it is an even easier jump to allow that same bias to creep into scientific data he is responsible for and his conclusions drawn from that data.
If you feel the same way, your recourse is to write to
Michael D. Griffin
c/o NASA Public Communications Office
Washington, DC 20546-0001
(202) 358-0001 (Office)
(202) 358-3469 (Fax)
Or use the online submission form
From the Greenpeace website:
From The Independent, UK
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Thursday, 4 September 2008
The Nasa scientist who first drew attention to global warming 20 years ago appeared in a British court yesterday as a key witness in support of climate change activists charged with damaging a power station.
Professor James Hansen gave evidence at Maidstone Crown Court in the case of six Greenpeace members who scaled a 630ft chimney at the Kingsnorth plant in Hoo, Kent, last October in protest against plans to build new coal-fired units there.
The activists planned to paint the slogan “Gordon Bin It” on the chimney, but only got as far as the Prime Minister’s christian name before they obeyed a High Court injunction ordering them down. They were charged with causing £35,000 of damage – the sum it cost the plant’s owner, E.ON, to scrub off the word “Gordon”.
Greenpeace argues that under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, its activists had a “lawful excuse” to cause the damage because they were seeking to prevent even greater damage being caused to property – such as flooding from rising sea levels and damage to species caused by climate change.
Yesterday, Prof Hansen, who has spoken out against the Bush administration’s stance on global warming, said Britain had a responsibility to take a lead on limiting climate change because it was responsible – owing to its long industrial past – for much of the CO2 already in the atmosphere. Phasing out coal-burning power stations was crucial in tackling global warming, he told the court.
“Somebody needs to stand up and take a leadership role,” Prof Hansen said. “It is an opportunity for the Prime Minister. If we are to avoid disintegration of the ice sheets, minimise species extiction and halt or reverse… climate change there is just time to accomplish it, but it requires an immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power plants that do not capture or sequester CO2.”
Prof Hansen joined the Kingsnorth debate in December when he wrote to Gordon Brown and urged him to drop plans for coal-fired plants that do not capture CO2 emissions. E.ON wants to build two new coal-fired units at the ageing plant. The Government is considering whether to approve the planning application.
Before travelling to Kent, Prof Hansen met the David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, who is thought to be unhappy about the plan for Kingsnorth, which is being promoted by John Hutton, the Business Secretary. Mr Brown will have the final say later this year.