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AGU meeting: Jim Hansen bites back

American Geophysical Union meeting, San Francisco –

Turns out that Jim Hansen, the outspoken NASA climatologist, didn’t attend John Marburger’s talk on Monday night, in which Marburger (who is President Bush’s science advisor), called accusations of censoring US climate scientists ‘ignorant’.

Hansen, who has long gone public with his thoughts about the problems of human-caused global warming, has said in the past that NASA public-affairs people censored his public speeches and media interviews to play down the risks of climate change. On Monday, Marburger charged that such accusations were baseless, saying that he personally had tracked down each claim and found it to be wanting. Marburger didn’t mention Hansen by name, but the subtext was clear to everyone in the audience.

Asked for his response today, Hansen simply pointed to a new book called Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming. (I haven’t read it and thus can’t recommend it, but here is a link so you can see at least what it looks like.) According to Hansen, it details a systematic effort to suppress climate scientists such as himself.

Asked if he had ever spoken to Marburger about the issue of censorship, Hansen said simply: “Not about this.”

Hansen isn’t just confining his criticisms to US leadership, though. He’s got a draft letter in the works to UK prime minister Gordon Brown and the German chancellor Angela Merkel, criticising the planned construction of coal-fired power plants in their countries.

Asked today why he was focusing on these leaders when China is constructing a coal-fired power plant at the rate of nearly one per week, Hansen said he feels that the developed world needs to take responsibility, as it has been the source of the majority of carbon dioxide emissions up until this point.

Cross-posted from Alex Witze on In the Field


  1. Report this comment

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. said:

    Support for the good science of Dr. James Hansen is vital.

    We are in danger of losing the exquisite value of one of God’s gifts to humanity: the carefully and skillfully developed scientific evidence on climate change.

    Is it possible that the standard for determining what is real and true in our culture today is this: whatsoever is widely shared, consensually validated and judged to be ecomonically expedient, politically convenient, socially agreeable and religiously tolerated is true and real?

    At least to me, it seems that good science is being ignored and silence allowed to prevail when reasonable and sensible evidence comes into conflict with what culture prescribes as real and true. Perhaps science does present culture with evidence of inconvenient truths.

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.

    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

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    david hill said:

    Other than the fact that the Bali Summit provided nothing other than to agree to agree to further climate talks (and that’s all that it was), it provided absolutely no change in stopping the constantly increasing global pollution and the life-threatening build up of carbon dioxide. Climate change added to the world’s emerging and dire problems (population explosion and its sustainability, famine and food shortage, energy resource depletion and increased energy demands, cyclic pandemics, global pollution and carbon dioxide saturation, dwindling water shortages for life etc, etc, etc), put together are immense. Indeed together, they are a recipe of nightmarish proportions that has never been seen before by humankind. But the greatest threat to human stability is the fact that people in high places do not realize that the time-span for solving these huge global problems has a finite period of time also. The writing is now on the wall I would say for all to see if they will only look and where humanity has to react without delay, but where, reaction to global problems takes decades to solve. Therefore the lead-time that we have now is the only thing that we have in our favour. Leave it for another 20-years and we shall not have the necessary lead-time to do anything about the really ‘big’ problems. This is what we really have to get over to our leaders, politicians and multinational industrialists, for it will affect them as much as it will affect you and me. Indeed, if they do not change quickly there self-preservation and vested interest thinking, we shall all end up with problems that are just unsolvable due to the time-served requirement to solve them and where time will literally run out on us all.

    For only by people in high places realizing our dilemmas quickly now will be able to confront them and have enough time to solve them. It is no use therefore in pussy footing around until it is too late. For hesitancy and delay today is the greatest threat to the survival of humankind and where if we do not come to our senses quickly, in fifty-years time, the world will have become very similar to most probably how we can picture in our minds, a world very much like hell itself.

    Dr David Hill

    World Innovation Foundation

    Bern. Switzerland

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    Al Fin said:

    In Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, and Hitlers Germany, scientists who presented findings that the great leaders didnt’ like, were taken out and shot.

    James Hansen, speaking out on every television talk show known to man, clearly does not understand what “suppression of unpopular science” truly means.

    Rather like a clown, I should say.

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    JSleeper said:

    I will repeat here what I said in another post.

    China is now the biggest emitter of CO2, having surpassed the United States in 2006. Our emissions in the US actually dropped 1.5% that year. China’s CO2 emissions have doubled within the last decade.

    If this is truly everybody’s problem, then everybody—including China—will have to make changes to their energy infrastructure.

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    Penguin Eight said:

    Those of us without doctorates or automobiles or coal-fired plants for that matter are grateful to brave and outspoken human scientists like Jim Hansen who recognize the threat to us all.

    It is very disappointing to penguins around the world that after so much talk at Bali, the best you humans can come up with is an “agreement” for a “new framework” for two more years of talk.

    Meanwhile during the Bali conference, we learned from new studies that 4 species of penguin are in great peril, the Arctic ice is melting far faster than any of your scientists predicted, carbon dioxide levels are the highest in 650,000 years and that our coral reefs are in danger.

    While humans talk, walruses and polar bears and penguins and far too many other species die.

    Enough talk. It is time for serious and comprehensive action. Save our Ice. Save the Earth. Save our Home.

    Penguin Eight

    Penguins United

  6. Report this comment

    Bob K said:

    Penguin Eight,

    Precisely how many species of Penguins live in the Arctic?

    Just a month ago the Antarctic ice cover was announced at a record level.

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    Eli Rabett said:

    Of course the US and Europe own a large chunk of the chinese and indian emissions, with the energy being used to manufacture goods for their markets.

    However this points out a major problem with various cap and whatever proposals, that they a) do nothing to encourage the footdraggers and b) are subject to offshoring, which is why Eli prefers Eli Rabett’s Simple Plan to Save the World

    Nations wishing to make major progress on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions should introduce emission taxes on all products. These taxes should be levied on imports as well as domestic goods at the point of sale, and should displace other taxes, such as VAT, sales taxes, and payroll (e.g. social security, health care) in such a way that tax revenues are constant, and distributed equitably.

    These should be introduced as an Emissions Added Levy (avoiding the bad jokes). EAL would be imposed on sale for emissions added in the preceding step and inherent to the consumption of the product, as would be the case for heating oil and gasoline. Manufacturers would pay the EAL on electricity they bought, and incorporate this and the levy on emissions they created into the price of the product they sell.

    Imports from countries that do not have an EAL would have the full EAL imposed at the time of import. The base rate would be generic EALs based on worst previous practices in the countries that do have EALs, which would be reduced on presenting proof that the actual emissions were lower.

    All countries with EAL systems would reserve a portion (say 5%) for assisting developing countries with adaptations (why not use acclimations?) and mitigating programs.

    By basing the levy on emissions rather than carbon all greenhouse gases stand on a common level, sequestration is strongly encouraged as well as such simple things as capturing methane from oil wells and garbage dumps (that gets built into the cost of disposal). The multipliers would come from CO2 equivalents on a 10 year basis.

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    mick said:

    It may be true that China is the world’s largest pollution pruducer today but to put pressure on the country is utterly useless.

    The only way to combat climate change is to use science to create new energy production means.

    It is ironic that anti-nucleur protesters have caused much of this pollution by opposing nucleur power which now seems the only safe way forward for our planet.

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    Gray Ghost Engineer said:

    It is totally ridiculous to make any decision re global warming from a world-wide,land-based, temperature measurement system so polluted with Urban Heat Island problems. The real question is: Why, with such a world-crucial question, has no serious effort been made to install a proper temperature measurement recording system world wide? There has certainly been adequate time and technology to accomplish that! I consider the current system extremely questionable! There is adequate documentation of this inexcusably polluted and potentially misleading system.

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