Tags: NASA | Expert | Tells | Alarmists | Cool | Down | Climate

NASA Expert Tells Alarmists to Cool Down Climate Hype

Monday, 24 April 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- NASA scientist James Hansen warned that environmental activists and the media better be more cautious with their rhetoric regarding "global warming."

Hansen, who was responding to a question about the increased media coverage of "global warming" in recent months, issued the warning during a teleconference with a top Democratic congressional staff member, liberal environmental groups and journalists.

"I am a little concerned about this, in the sense that we are still at a point where the natural fluctuations of climate are still large - at least, the natural fluctuations of weather compared to long-term climate change," Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the participants in the April 13 teleconference.

"So we don't want the public to hang their hat on a recent storm, recent hurricanes for example, because those will fluctuate from year to year," he said.

Hansen, who alleged in January that the Bush administration has been suppressing science for political purposes, believes that humans must curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert a climate catastrophe.

Speakers who participated with Hansen during the teleconference called the GOP-controlled Congress "regressive," referred to U.S. scientists and policymakers skeptical of the catastrophic effects of possible temperature changes as "climate loonies," derided free-market think tanks and linked scientists skeptical of "global warming" to the past tobacco industry tactics of manipulating the science on the health effects of cigarette smoke.

The National Environmental Trust hosted the teleconference, which featured Hansen, Phil Schiliro, the Democratic minority chief of staff of the House Government Reform Committee, and Mark Hertsgaard, who wrote a cover story on the environment for an issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine timed to coincide with Earth Day, April 22.

Schiliro, who staffed Congressman Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) investigation and hearings on tobacco industry executives and cigarette smoking, blamed the GOP for the failure to address "global warming" issues.

"There is a deep-seated, regressive view in the House on not dealing with these issues," Schiliro said.

"Point well taken," responded Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust and moderator of the teleconference.

This is not the first time Hansen has aligned himself with officials from the Democratic Party. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife.

In addition, he acted as a consultant earlier this year to former Democratic Vice President Al Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming."

Hansen, who also complained about censorship during the administration of President George H. W. Bush in 1989, previously acknowledged that he supported the "emphasis on extreme scenarios" regarding climate change models in order to drive the public's attention to the issue.

During the teleconference, the lack of perceived scientific consensus by some in the media and government was cited as the reason coverage has failed to inform the American people on the seriousness of "global warming," according to Hertsgaard, who wrote the April 2006 Vanity Fair cover story entitled "While Washington Slept."

"People in the American media in the last six weeks have begun to say 'the debate is over.' [There is] a lot more coverage than we have ever seen of 'global warming;' a lot more pointed coverage than we have ever seen. It is very striking that it is years behind the coverage in Europe," Hertsgaard said.

"People in Europe talked about the 'the climate loonies in the United States.' The Brits do not understand why people pay attention [to skeptics]," he added.

The teleconference was open to the media and fielded questions from New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, CNN, U.S. News & World Report and other media outlets.

Not a single question was posed to the panel during the teleconference challenging the panelists' views on climate change or the politics surrounding it. Some of the media questions even elaborated on the points made by the panel and offered helpful advice on strategy.

During reporter Paul Thacker's question to the panel, he helped them make one of their points regarding how D.C.-based free market think tanks are trying to cloud the "global warming" science. Thacker is associate editor at Environmental Science & Technology.

"Don't forget that Steven Milloy is also the science columnist for Fox News. Give them credit," Thacker said after one panelist attempted to discredit Milloy. Milloy publishes the website www.junkscience.com, which takes a skeptical view of catastrophic climate change.

Thacker then offered his own supportive thoughts to the panelists on the impact of free market think tanks.

"I have often felt that these think tanks are kinda there just to dissuade journalists from covering these issues effectively and to do the sort of 'he said, she said' two-sides quote," Thacker said, referring to the free market think tanks that take a skeptical view of "global warming."

Cybercast News Service was not given the opportunity to ask a question during the teleconference despite having registered for the event. The moderator told panelists that there were no more questions from the media even though Cybercast News Service made repeated attempts to ask a question.

Revkin, the reporter from the New York Times, has previously noted that industry-funded groups want "to dust the discourse with just enough uncertainty and confusion to make the public go 'never mind' and the[n] press snooze," and these efforts "have been extraordinarily effective."

Revkin told the Spring 2006 issue of Society of Environmental Journalists that he hopes his upcoming climate change book, "The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles & Perils at the Top of the World," will educate politicians.

"There might even be some politicians who'll finally have a book on climate change they can understand. I haven't quite given up on grownups yet, but I'm getting close," Revkin said of his book, which is aimed at children 10 years of age and older.

"Basically, my orientation as a reporter and a human being is to focus on avoiding or mitigating irreversible losses where they can be anticipated. Extinction and long-term climate change are the two biggies in the environment arena. And that shows no sign of changing," Revkin said.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley, who has done several high-profile reports for "60 Minutes" on climate change, also agrees that the science of "global warming" is settled.

"There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about 'global warming,'" he said. "The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive," Pelley told the CBS News's PublicEye blog in February.

Pelley's profile of Hansen in a March "60 Minutes" segment failed to note any of Hansen's ties to the Democratic Party or his receipt of a $250,000 from Teresa Heinz Kerry's foundation. In addition, Pelley compared scientists skeptical of human-caused catastrophic climate change to Holocaust deniers.

"If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel," Pelley asked, "am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" he said in a separate interview on March 23 with CBS News's PublicEye blog.

Pelley claims he attempted to find respected scientists who would contradict scientists like Hansen on "global warming" but could not locate any.

"This isn't about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs," Pelley explained. "This is about sound science."

Milloy of www.JunkScience.com blasted Hansen for appearing with Democratic Party officials and environmental groups.

"It's disappointing to see someone who holds himself out to be an unbiased 'scientist' politicize himself by aligning with Democrat Party interests. On the other hand, at least he's publicly acknowledged that he's a 'political' scientist," Milloy, who is also the portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, told Cybercast News Service.

Milloy also said he was glad to see Hansen attempt try to reign in the linkage of recent storm events like Hurricane Katrina to "global warming."

"It's good to see Jim Hansen recognize that the global warmers have gone off the deep-end in terms of climate hysteria. I'm certain, though, that we'll have to remind him of his statement next time he takes his usual dive off that cliff," said Milloy.

Milloy said he was not surprised that many in the news media now believe the debate over climate change is over.

"The 'global warming' lobby hopes to stop all dissent by shutting out, shouting down and intimidating any opposition," Milloy said, noting that Gore has refused the opportunity to debate climate skeptics on this issue.

"The warmers apparently know that their hysteria doesn't hold up to scientific analysis, so silencing the opposition is their primary tactic," Milloy said.

During the April teleconference, Hansen did not back down from his belief that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity are going to have dramatic negative impacts on the earth's climate.

"But the reality to the scientists is that there are many signs now that things are going in the direction expected and at the rates expected and even in some cases" faster than expected, Hansen said.

Copyright 2006,


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WASHINGTON -- NASA scientist James Hansen warned that environmental activists and the media better be more cautious with their rhetoric regarding "global warming." Hansen, who was responding to a question about the increased media coverage of "global warming" in recent...
Monday, 24 April 2006 12:00 AM
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