Guardian Headline – "Leading climate scientist: 'democratic process isn't working'"

Even the very liberal UK Guardian picked up on this. What next Jim, the Constitution? NASA, please fire this man. (h/t to Barbara)

Prof James Hansen

Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

From the UK Guardian:

Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said.

James Hansen, a climate modeller with Nasa, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. “The democratic process doesn’t quite seem to be working,” he said.

Speaking on the eve of joining a protest against the headquarters of power firm E.ON in Coventry, Hansen said: “The first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash.

“The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I’m not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we’re running out of time.”

Hansen said he was taking part in the Coventry demonstration tomorrow because he wants a worldwide moratorium on new coal power stations. E.ON wants to build such a station at Kingsnorth in Kent, an application that energy and the climate change minister Ed Miliband recently delayed. “I think that peaceful actions that attempt to draw society’s attention to the issue are not inappropriate,” Hansen said.

He added that a scientific meeting in Copenhagen last week had made clear the “urgency of the science and the inaction taken by governments”.

Read the entire story in the UK Guardian


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When they make a movie about this man, I can only see Tim Conway as the lead.

He is right: “democratic process isn´t working¨…Only an extreme democracy could allow such a guy to be free.


“The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I’m not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we’re running out of time.”
Oh, and also future votes are talking louder than past votes, but yeah, “corporate greed,” “big oil,” blah, blah, blah…

Pearland Aggie


Nat McQueen

Its becoming quite clear that Hansen WANTS to be fired to solidify his position among the AGW crowd as a victim and martyr for his cause.

Dorf on Global Warming. I can see it!

Robert Wood

Jim Hansen clearly isn’t working. Isn’t he supposed to sweating over hot global climate models, not galivanting around the world trying to stir up insurrection?


He should have been fired long ago, but now has full support from the carbon taxers. Anthony has done the QA that NASA should have been doing. NASA has and will continue to ignore their responsibility of properly siting and measuring the temperatures in the US and then uses the manipulated data to further a political agenda. Increased bogus taxes and no energy policy, a combination for economic failure.


Is no one interested in enforcing the Hatch Act anymore?


Typical 60’s hippy attitude. Demonstrate, protest, make enough noise, and people will drop what they’re doing to see what’s going on. From the same generation that actually think they stopped the Vietnam war by protesting on the street and spitting on Vets.
Even if his alarmism was right or justified, this is shameful and pathetic behavior from someone with NASA attached to his name.

Luis Dias

I really resent the call to “fire” a man for his own convictions. He is not in any sentence calling for an end to democracy, so this is a misleading, obnoxious, evil post.
Remember, mr. Watts, when you want censorship done to a man for simply say what he thinks, if you would like to have the same treatment.
There’s a reason for the first ammendment, you know. And it protects both unreasonable calls to peaceful actions by mr Hansen and your ridiculous calls for censorship of other people.
Shame on you.
REPLY: Luis, sir you are out of line. I made no call for censorship. That is a fabrication on your part. Hansen as scientist and government employee bound by the Hatch act is overstepping his bounds of employment. The issue is the terms of his employment, not free speech. As a US taxpayer it is my right to make this call for his dismissal. When a US government employee suggests that protests against the government he is employed by should be commenced because “the democratic process isn’t working” it becomes an issue of conflict of interest. I’m not ashamed to do so, nor do I care for your opinion that I should be. In fact you have inspired me to take my complaint to the next level. I urge others to do so as well. – Anthony


We really don’t want him fired. The last thing we want is Hansen with time on his hands and without anyone to curb his enthusiasms (even if only in principle). If he gets flung out of his present job, he will have no trouble finding sponsors and he may well end up making a far better living as a lobbyist. You think Gore has a high profile? Gore’s just the wam-up act (pun intended).

pablo an ex pat

Err, “warm-up” act, that is.

Richard deSousa

Democratic process isn’t working?? Hansen’s is cherry picking again. He probably hasn’t seen the latest polls in the US which indicates the global warming crisis has taken a back seat to the economic crisis.

A different William

“the democratic process doesn’t seem to be working” just means “you plebians aren’t agreeing with me”

Tim Conway, perhaps, William, but I’m seeing shades of the late Don Knotts in the fist shaking…


I just wonder about the legal ramifications regarding a US government employee who interferes with the internal governmental functions of a friendly foreign power?
OT – the Royal Society for Protection of Birds today announced that they are withdrawing their objections to wind farms after a new study found their impact on wildlife was less than expected.
There’s a reversal of stance for you. I wonder how much Green pressure was put on them.
“This sparrow isn’t dead, it’s just sleeping.”
“YEs it is, it was hit by a wind generator blade.”
“Naaa, it’s just concussed.”


Why is it that when a minority doesn’t get their own way, they think that the democratic process is broken? And instead of conducting some critical thinking to understand why they’re in the minority, they assume the majority is either stupid or delusional and must be coerced to their way of thinking.

Bill Marsh

It passes my understanding that this guy isn’t fired. I’m a federal employee and if I went to China and suggested civil disobedience was the way to go to help the Falon Gong, I’d be fired so fast (as well as arrested by the Chinese) it would make my head spin. Yet, Dr. Hansen can travel to England and advocate civil disobedience and suggest that the British form of government ‘isn’t working’ and continue to draw a paycheck from the taxpayer.


Snark on: Can US gov’t employees be fired? Only private sector employees can be fired; not to mention harassed and embarrassed by our executive and legislative branches.


I am baffled by the profound misunderstanding of “the democratic process”. Does Dr. Hansen honestly believe if his policies for curbing carbon emissions were up for a national referendum (assuming such referendums even existed in the United States) that any of them would pass using the one person one vote? What of the people who own the power stations, and work there, as well as the myriad of other industries? Do those people get one vote too or do they not count as they are the enemy?
I am also horrified at Dr. Hansen’s outright rejection of our representative democracy. But sadly, that is the thread that seems to bind all environmental movements. It isn’t about “saving the planet” as much as it is about total and absolute power. We can see that in his statements above. Since the government won’t surrender power to him, Dr. Hansen appeals to the mob. He has therefore become a street thug with a press pass and that is a very dangerous combination.

Johnny Honda

He added that a scientific meeting in Copenhagen last week had made clear the “urgency of the science and the inaction taken by governments”.
You all should follow the link to the “key messages”. There you can read things like:
“societal transformation”
“reducing inertia in social and economic systems” (=removing democratic systems)
“enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government” (=dictatorship)
What does this all have to do with science??

UK John

The Professor is probably blinded by self belief and self interest, he has gone a little bit OTT for me! Democracy means defending the rights of all of us to live as we want to.
But maybe we are blinded by cynicism and mistrust?


Forget about AGW for a moment. Is there any serious person who thinks that the democratic process in the US works the way a democratic process should?


So, the democratic process isn’t working?……
very funny considering the Scientific Method hasn’t been working in his lab either….

Perhaps we are the ones who do not understand his deep philosophy, we are behaving like heretics and we must be redeemed…Let us postrate before his august master, lord of the dark side, let us obbey his luciferian orders!!
He want us to diminish our numbers, kill our females in order to not procreate more infidels like us.


The Guardian didn’t cover the Coventry protests because apparently almost no one showed up. The same thing happened with the DC protest by Power Shift. The Guardian hyped it up with several articles, saying it was going to be the biggest act of civil disobedience ever against climate change. Hardly anyone showed up so the Guardian didn’t run a main article on it (just a pitiful blog post which got little attention). They just act like “Let’s not draw attention to what a failure these protests are!”
If one reads the comments for the Hansen article, it is clear that a lot of people simply distrust him.
The same is true for George Monbiot who goes on his egomaniacal benders twice a day and each time readers berate him for either bullying small time companies or skeptics or set him straight about all the facts that he misrepresents. He is twice as manipulative and five times as obvious as his apostle Suzanne Goldenberg.

Luis Dias

Your reply is even more shameful. The inherent totalitarian tone of it is disgraceful.
Tell me. If a teacher of a school resents the politics of the national government, shouldn’t he be able to protest peacefully against it?
Specially if you have been promised something in an election and you feel cheated?
Do you not see the evil of your rationale? Just because he has a public funded job, and even if you are legally entitled to call for his resignation, still, you should be ashamed of asking for his head because he makes public his views!
The only way you would be right would be if he was the one responsible to put in practice the policies he advocates and felt he had not the political backup to do them. In that case, he would have to resign.
Not in any other. And I am terribly sorry that you are unable to understand the basic point of this. Finally, I don’t mind being “out of line” if that means defending the first amendment. It resents me that I would even have to, in a contrarian blog as yours, that depends on it.

I’ve added a poll, let’s see if others agree with my “shameful” suggestion. I’m sure we’ll see you run around now to the other blogs and announce this poll and the need to influence it. I know the MO. It’s called “the democratic process”. Keep smiling Luis, life is too short to be angry all the time. – Anthony

Gary from Chicagoland

As Hansen states, “but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I’m not surprised that people are getting frustrated.” So now he knows how climate change theorists feel, no grant money if AGW is not advocated. The scientific method is working, real data is now rising to the surface and money, politics and power is stepping aside.


Andrew, the migratory patterns of birds is always changing and adapting. This fact we learned at about 8 years old in primary school seems to have been abandoned to those who wish to believe that two plus two equals five.

Bob Wood

Be interesting to see if his demonstrators will have to bundle up with heavy clothing to keep warm from “global warming” like all the other demonstrations so far.

John Egan

Lighten up!
The guy is still recovering from the frostbite he got in Washington earlier this month.

Oliver Ramsay

Don’t fire him! He’s doing more good for the Deniers than for the Warmers by undermining the mystique of the scientist, noble and pure, aloof from the vulgar preoccupations of mundane life.


The Guardian environment pages have attacks on all sorts of things two that featured recently :
1 Aga Cookers bad for the environment.
2 Beards good for the environment.
3 Those pesky white middle class males
Even if the debates degenerate to a juvenile level they still allow posts although they sometimes pull posts, but in general the site allows both sides of the argument. Wheareas Real Climate will not engage in a debate.
Should Mr Hansen be sacked? I think that is up to the americans but I cannot see a public servant in the uk being allowed such largesse to campaign politically.
The more important reason he should be sacked is if it can be shown that he has manipulated the temperature record?

John Laidlaw

To be accurate, true democracy would mean an end to lobbying, and the removal of any elected official who is anything less than completely impartial. In other words, only the voice of the majority would make all decisions. I sincerely doubt Dr. Hansen would like that, as he believes he is right (as is his right).
One further point; what exactly is a citizen of the USA doing questioning the democratic process in a foreign country? That’s the equivalent of Prime Minister Brown instructing President Obama on the subject. I don’t think that would get very far…


Tim Conway?
Lucia sees a different similarity with
Democracy actually is working quite well in it’s usual bumbling way, monied interests notwithstanding. It gets subverted by the autocrats who use governmental powers to push an agenda. That’s where the failure is – the unelected bureaucrats and judges with axes to grind.


The last post should have said three things not two?


NASA is giving Hansen their implicit support by not firing or censoring him. I don’t suppose Hansen advocates the replacement of coal fired plants with nuclear plants? That would be a good idea. I haven’t been able to find what he proposes as an alternative. I sure hope it’s not that windmill and solar panel nonsense that currently supplies 1% of our energy needs and which the Obama administration proposes to double to 2% by spending untold $ billions!

Luis Dias

Mr Watts, don’t pretend you “know me” when you clearly don’t.
I’m an independent thinker and I disregard both “hoi pollois” as the one you’re about to have in your poll, and any “tactics” that may bring other “sheep” to say otherwise. It’s fortuitous and meaningless.
Even if 99.99% of the population were against the first amendment, I’d never agree.
And you shouldn’t too. I won’t develop further why. It would be too condescending and patronizing to do so.

David Ball

What he is doing is taking his viewpoint out of the scientific arena and into the political arena. This will allow him to use his manipulated data without having to defend his scientific position. Very clever indeed. In the guise of “saving the earth”, he is distracting us all from what should be the main focus, is his theory falsifiable? Wouldn’t it be great if this subject wasn’t so political? Dr. Hansen is one of the many reasons it has become more politics than science.

Gillespie Robertson

Luis, I think you should read carefully what was first said by Anthony in reply to your post . You seem to have completely misunderstood it and your angry reaction to a rational comment is rather sad. I’m sure he values the first amendment as much as you, nor did he advocate censorship, nor was there anything obnoxious about what he said. He simply pointed out correctly and in very measured language that Mr. Hansen’s actions and statements are inappropriate for a senior government employee in terms of his employment. As a private citizen he may say what he wants. Many impartial observers of the AGW debate including myself think that he deserves to be fired for extreme attitudes (“death trains” full of the coal which has doe so much to benfit human kind) and inappropriate public behaviour. We also value the polite language and open-minded attitude of this site, with which your own outburst is in very clear contrast.

John Galt

When it comes to evaluating AGW, we always need to look to the evidence. I present Dr. Hansen as evidence ‘Exhibit A’ that AGW is a political movement, not a scientific one.
I must echo the idea that firing Hansen will backfire. Imagine his claims of ‘censorship’ if he is fired! He will also have more time on his hands political activism.
No, the best way to handle Hansen is to remind people of outrageous statements he makes and how his models have zero predictive value. Call on Hansen back up his claims with actual data. Demand Hansen release all his government work and make it publicly available. Make him justify the adjustments and data manipulations he uses to create the GISS temperature anomaly estimates.
BTW: Does Hansen’s GISS work fall under the Freedom of Information Act? Can the government be compelled to release Hansen’s emails and other communication, journal entries, working notes, etc.?

Luis Dias

PS: I’d even add one more thing. I’d rather have a dr Hansen in his job knowing his bias than having a snob unbiased emotionless facade guy pretending to not having a bias in this story at all.
If you knew of him distorting figures and facts in his job, then you’d have a case. If you had evidence that his bias is influencing his data, you’d have a case.
But this isn’t such.
Last, you’re not to tell me when to be angry or not. That is my call. [REPLY: You are correct on that point, feel free to be angry all you wish, might want to look at some of the GISS graphs here]

George Bruce

Luis, I suggest you actually read the First Amendment. Then you should spend sufficient time studying the cases and comments until you understand it. In your case, it might take a while. Only after that should you venture forth to lecture others on “free speech.”


The poll says it all… clearly not working. Imagine the audacity of people who would terminate employment for a violation of the terms of employment.
And Luis Dias, I take GREAT OFFENSE at teachers who “exercise their free speech”… by indoctrinating their classes with crap. Teachers are supposed to follow a curriculum, not wander outside of it with their own interests, beliefs, and prejudices.
I couldn’t care less what Hansen’s views are, or what “free speech” he wants to exercise. This isn’t even remotely close to a “free speech” issue. It’s about ABUSING HIS POSITION, using the good name of NASA to add weight to his personal opinions, and the implication that the US Government endorses his views and activities by allowing him to continue both being an activist and holding his position.
Save the “free speech” tirade for something that really matters. For now, this guy is a loose cannon that must be stopped before he does any MORE damage.

Democracy bestows upon all individuals the right to have their say and provides for the will of the majority to prevail.


Fortunately for us democracy (including lobbying) is working except for one glaring example of judicial legislating when the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant and the EPA must either prove it is not or regulate it.

Ron de Haan

From where the article was discussed earlier:
Friday, 20 Mar 09, politics
“James Hansen thinks “the democratic process isn’t working” — because it is working, and his viewpoint has failed to persuade a majority. Now he will rationalize his way to thuggery — people’s democracy, one might call it, to be administered ultimately by the commissars of a People’s Republic, where the views of James Hansen will be accorded proper respect.
Expect a similar evolution among the more passionate advocates of Barack Obama. When their Messiah is blocked by bickering in his own party, they will announce the failure of democracy, then they will try to destroy democracy in order to save it. When the O-bots come to your door, mock them as modern day missionaries for Gaia-worshipping freaks. They hate religion, and the accusation will drive them nuts.
If we mock them, they will fail. They have no real sense of humor or proportion. Did you hear Obama’s quip about the “special Olympics?” That’s liberal humor — sneering at the disadvantaged. If a conservative said such a thing, imagine the outcry! But liberals mean well, we are told, and they prove it by spending other people’s money, so they get a free pass.
Mock the buffoons, Hansen and Gore; mock the popinjay, Barack Obama. Laugh; don’t weep. This too will pass”.

Pamela Gray

My hunch is that as with weather pattern variation, level heads will prevail. Exactly what in the Hatch Act is his behavior violating? It seems a good opportunity to discuss this act.