Speak No Evil
However, the ideologues of the current administration apparently aren’t very persuasive, or at least not enough to keep NASA science superstar James Hansen from informing the public about the dangers of global warming.
They must find what he’s saying pretty persuasive, though, because they sure are trying hard to shut him up. The New York Times reports:
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.
Hansen is up against something big, but luckily those trying to censor him don't seem very good at it. Here’s my favorite example:
In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.
Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.
But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal."
To be fair, NASA as an institution seems to be handling this in an alright manner so far, especially by allowing McCarthy, quoted above, to be interviewed by The New York Times. Hopefully this is just a case of a few bad seeds. If so, and if NASA is truly committed to the science and able to function with an acceptable amount of independence, it should be able to remove these administration lackeys—the only appropriate response here.
If not, then it’s really time to get worried about the state of science in the U.S.