Bush Turns Up the Heat on NASA
January 28, 2006 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Bush administration tries to silence NASA's chief climate expert James Hansen from granting interviews about global warming. Meanwhile, a new study by Australian researchers confirms that global sea levels are rising, and may make island nations like Tuvalu and the Maldives uninhabitable by the end of the century. [via RawStory]
posted by digaman (39 comments total)
Apparently it was public statements like this that wrankled the White House:

The Earth's climate is nearing, but has not passed, a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid climate change with far-ranging undesirable consequences. These include not only the loss of the Arctic as we know it, with all that implies for wildlife and indigenous peoples, but losses on a much vaster scale due to rising seas...

...With warming of two to three degrees, the new sea level will include not only most of the ice from Greenland and West Antarctica, but a portion of East Antarctica, raising the sea level by twenty-five meters, or eighty feet. Within a century, coastal dwellers will be faced with irregular flooding associated with storms. They will have to continually rebuild above a transient water level.

This grim scenario can be halted if the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is slowed in the first quarter of this century.

—From Hansen's presentation to the American Geophysical Union, December 6, 2005
posted by digaman at 4:23 PM on January 28, 2006

g*ddamn does sh*t like this really p*ss me off.

what the hell is wrong with republican bush supporters - it's their childrens world that is going to be really really f*cked up
posted by specialk420 at 4:32 PM on January 28, 2006

I'm jaded, but this blew even my mind -- from the primary link:

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."

posted by digaman at 4:35 PM on January 28, 2006

Global warming will not exist until it's safely too late and no-one ahs to do anything about it. Should be pretty soon now...
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on January 28, 2006

Or, y'know, the Rapture.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on January 28, 2006

puking as usual.
posted by tarantula at 4:41 PM on January 28, 2006

I'm sorry -- does anyone think it's not too late? Seriously?

Even on the zero chance that it's not precipitated by human activity, would there be any way at all to do something that would predictably alter its course? I mean, if there's a way to make the earth's climate just stay stagnant for the first time in all of the world's history, let me know, but the whole "wait until it's too late" thing just seems silly to me. It's too late already, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop destroying the planet!
posted by JekPorkins at 4:42 PM on January 28, 2006

does anyone think it's not too late? Seriously?

Well, ironically, as Hansen's quote above indicates, he believes there's still time to avert disaster. But apparently even admitting that disaster is inevitable if we do nothing is too radical for this administration.
posted by digaman at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2006

How about global campaign on simple energy conservation - starting with our pedaler in chief - or one g*ddamn word from these people about conservation and efficiency?
posted by specialk420 at 4:47 PM on January 28, 2006

The suggestion that it could ever possibly be too late is taboo, because mention something like that and you get 50 asshat neocons jumping down your throat saying that you're some silly doomsday guy.

On last night's McLaughlin Group, Eleanor's "prediction" was that Al Gore's appearance in a new global warming movie was going to make a big impression. Tony's response: "that guy thinks the world is going to end in 2 years!"
posted by rxrfrx at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2006

specialK420 says: or one g*ddamn word from these people about conservation and efficiency?

First, I am not a Bush supporter, and I think he's not helping the environment one bit. Now for the part you won't like, but you asked for:

From Bush's 2003 State of the Union:

"I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home."

From Bush's 12/5/2005 speech:

"We made a pretty good start with an energy bill I signed this summer. It encourages conservation, and that makes sense. One way to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy is to use less of it."

From a March 2005 speech:

"If you want to become less dependant on foreign sources of energy, we've got to be better conservers of energy. The more we conserve, the less we use; and the less we use, the less dependent we are on foreign sources of energy."

Sure, he's lying and all that. But I'd say that's the "one ___ word from these people about conservation and efficiency" you're looking for. You can google more yourself.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:02 PM on January 28, 2006

I still don't see what the big deal is. I mean, I love the beach and I can't wait until it's warm all the time.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2006

A little context on that lip-service, Jek:

Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

Q So Americans should go on consuming as much more energy than any other citizens in any other countries of the world, as long as they want?

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, the President believes that the American people are very wise and that, given the right incentives, they will know how and they will make their own right determinations about how much they can conserve, just as the President announced last week that the federal government, as part of its consumership in California will reduce energy needs -- for example, the Department of Defense facilities in California, by 10 percent. He believes the American people, too, will make the right decisions about conservation and the program he will announce shortly will also include a series of conservation items.


Granted, that was 2001.
posted by digaman at 5:19 PM on January 28, 2006

digaman: hey, he asked for one word, not 'one honest word.'

I believe it's important in political discourse to only attack your opponent when the attack is accurate and correct. Accusing Bush of not even uttering a single word about conservation and efficiency is not honest, and diminishes the effectiveness of legitimate criticism. And even if lying is an effective way to hurt your political opponents, I don't think it's ethical.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:23 PM on January 28, 2006

SS: I know you're joking, but my parents aren't being cheeky when they tell me how delighted they are that this is the mildest winter they and the rest of northern Indiana has ever seen.
posted by billysumday at 5:23 PM on January 28, 2006

Jek, your point is well taken, but I must say, it has a hell of a fine point on it in this case.
posted by digaman at 5:39 PM on January 28, 2006

Everyone relax. The Rapture will be here any day now; there's no point in worrying about your silly old "environment." (pats head)
posted by futility closet at 6:32 PM on January 28, 2006

I wonder if our kids or their kids won't eventually put all these "neocon asshats" up against the wall and shoot them point blank in the stamper. Large scale revolutions have certainly happened as the result of far lesser problems than this.
posted by muppetboy at 6:58 PM on January 28, 2006

What do you want the US to do? Kyoto is like pissing in the wind. Even if Kyoto is completely implemented by all countries it will only save 0.07c by 2050.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 7:12 PM on January 28, 2006

Hrm. Record snowfall in Japan. Record high temperatures in North Dakota. 2005 was the warmest year in many decades. Wildfires in the midwest. Massive flooding in California.

Problem is, the typical Bush supporter is going to blame this on teh gays & pro-choice voters. They'll just say that it's God's wrath and we all need to pray harder.

And nothing will be solved.
posted by drstein at 7:20 PM on January 28, 2006

This is not meant as a facious question, but what is the motivation for denying the global warming is occuring?

It would seem to me that trying to find ways of countering global energy and simultaneously maintaining our way of life would, in fact, create a huge industry and would push our society forward in the same way that the space race did back in the day. Even the oil companies could stand to profit from it, since they have the kind of money to toss behind this kind of research - making the transition from "oil companies" to "energy companies."

So, anyhow, what is the fear about addressing it?
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:07 PM on January 28, 2006

So, anyhow, what is the fear about addressing it?

Laziness, admission of guilt, and a very real (for millions of Americans) desire to bring about the prosephies of Revelations.
posted by billysumday at 8:52 PM on January 28, 2006

I don't know the answer to that, Joey Michaels, but three possibilities come to mind:

One, that acknowledging global warming will result in conservation and reduction of use, even if that's not official White House policy; and oil providers don't like that possibility.

Two, a similar explanation: that even if a giant industry is created, it's not necessarily the same industry as the current giant industry. That is, the people who have money and power now might not be the same people who have money and power then — even if the overall result is beneficial to the economy, it might not be beneficial to the particular people who have the President's ear.

Three, and I think this one is most likely: the White House's PR people divide opinions and approaches not into beneficial and harmful, but into "us" and "them". Anything that smacks of environmentalism is a "lefty" thought, and therefore it is the enemy. Admitting an "enemy thought" into the camp would weaken their position. Maintaining a united front is more important than truth, honor, or the good of the country.
posted by hattifattener at 8:53 PM on January 28, 2006

So, anyhow, what is the fear about addressing it?

I believe the standard "global warming doesn't matter" theory is as follows:
1) doing something now would cause a short-term economic slowdown
2) the short-term is the only term that matters, because maybe some sort of magic will happen (new energy sources developed independantly, scientists might all be wrong, earth could be destroyed by meteor, etc)

I'm simplifying slightly, but not by much. It's right in line with the type of short-term view that's endemic to wall street these days.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:59 PM on January 28, 2006

I still think one of the biggest issues with global warming, and other environmental discussions is the mis-framing of the issue.

Environmentalism isn't about saving the earth; it's about creating a sustainable human culture. The earth will be just fine.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:02 PM on January 28, 2006

Beautiful, I Love Tacos.
posted by digaman at 9:08 PM on January 28, 2006

Kudos, Tacos. In debates, I've tried to explain this, and always erred on the side of wordiness. You've neatly simplified it.

I just wanted to say, "Kudos, tacos." That is all.
posted by brundlefly at 10:34 PM on January 28, 2006

Too many commas.

/annoying self-correction
posted by brundlefly at 10:35 PM on January 28, 2006

--what is the motivation for denying that global warming is occurring?

It seems to be mostly Exxon. Other oil companies (e.g. BP, Shell) have decided to try to become energy companies, exactly as you said. The various astroturf global-warming-denial outfits appear to be mostly Exxon-funded. And of course Exxon was a major donor to Bush's $40 million inaugural.
posted by russilwvong at 11:39 PM on January 28, 2006

Thanks for all of the responses.

So, basically, it is political, but it is conceivable, according to russilwvong's links, that it is a political decision based on the influence of the only oil company that doesn't "get" it.

Sort of fascinating to imagine that a single corporation really could, ultimately, be behind the end of human culture.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:01 AM on January 29, 2006

BTW - by "imagine" I don't mean that global warming isn't happening - I mean "imagine" as in "picture in my head" in this case.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:02 AM on January 29, 2006

WaPo has an article on the "tipping point" issue of global warming today.

And Bush and his followers? If this goes down as many prominent scientitsts are saying it will, they should each get their own little desert island, replete with a bottle in the sand. Let's see how far they get before they drown or Jeebus rescues them.
posted by bardic at 9:42 AM on January 29, 2006

But - Clinton was bad and stuff.
posted by 2sheets at 12:12 PM on January 29, 2006

Also, global warming is the bandwagon, and you get to be smug and superior if you're above all that, with the strength to cut your own lone path of Truth against all odds and the arrogant ivory tower conspiracy and their legions of useful idiots.

Just like Holocaust denial and Evolution denial, climate change denial makes you feel good. It makes you special.

Everyone needs to feel special.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:26 PM on February 6, 2006

Gregory Benford of UC Irvine says we might be able to reflect sunlight away with clouds, thereby offsetting global warming. Isn't that a nice idea?
posted by skryche at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2006

Tacos, you missed:

kudos, tacos, kudos. it is fun to say.
posted by Miles Long at 1:40 PM on February 7, 2006

skryche: one of the conspiracy theories about so-called chemtrails is that they are used to increase Earth's albedo, in a secret attempt to offset the effects of global warming.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2006

Call for Openness at NASA Adds to Reports of Pressure
Published: February 16, 2006

Top political appointees in the NASA press office exerted strong pressure during the 2004 presidential campaign to cut the flow of news releases on glaciers, climate, pollution and other earth sciences, public affairs officers at the agency say.
posted by Otis at 8:29 AM on February 16, 2006

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