Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

If we pretend it isn't happening, maybe it won't happen

If you haven't followed global warming stories for the last fifteen years or so, you might not know James Hansen. He's basically the single most important scientist studying the problem, the one brought the issue to the public with his 1988 testimony before Congress. He also works for NASA, which means, by extension, that he works for the President, at least under Bush's warped view that the entire federal government is his personal fiefdom. So it should be no surprise, I guess, that the Bush's little toadies have been trying to shut him up.

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.


As I said, this should come as no surprise. As Chris Mooney has argued fairly comprehensively, the modern Republican party has a definite pattern of ignoring or distorting inconvenient scientific facts. But it's worth remembering that this was not always the case. James Hansen has been at NASA since the 1960s, under five Republican presidents; this is the first to try to quiet him. He first testified to Congress about global warming when Reagan was in office. (And as we saw earlier this week, past EPA chiefs even under Republicans used to have less of a problem facing reality.)

Today it is 52 degrees, in New York in January. This is not normal. But god forbid we actually put any time, effort, or money into figuring out what to do about it before the consequences become totally catastrophic. No, let's spend our official time and effort suppressing politically inconvenient truths.

I hereby issue the following standing bet of $10: just as those who opposed the war in Iraq continue to be marginalized in debate even though most people now recognize it was a mistake, so those who have been warning about global warming all along will be shunted aside as unserious and impractical when the problem finally gets bad enough to force our collective attention. Kind of the premature anti-fascist problem. Any takers?

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5 Comments:

  • At 11:58 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Wait, what's the bet? That critics of global warming (oh excuse me, climate change) will be marginalized in the debate? Well, I guess it depends what you mean by "the debate." If it's a debate involving rational, informed people, then I'd take your bet. If it's a debate involving right wing nutjobs, then tree-hugging whiners have already been marginalized.

    As an aside, I am genuinely perplexed whenever I see MSM pundits say things that I (and millions of other progressives) said verbatim in 2001 about Bush, terrorism, war, etc. as if they are fresh, novel insights that are only now relevant.

    Gee, military intervention in Iraq has only aggravated global jihadist movements and strengthened fundamentalism in Iran? No one was saying that in 2001, certainly not any of the countless articles and messages being forwarded among progressives as soon as Bush first described his imperialist plans.

     
  • At 12:59 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, and isn't the 50 degree January weather not attributable to global warming? My understanding was that global warming's effects are more long term, and that the recent temperature increases are part of the natural variation. A coincidence. I'm not being facetious, I'm actually curious if I understand it correctly.

     
  • At 1:56 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Global warming's effects are long term, but essentially they force changes in weather patterns. It's not that the warmth right now equals the amount the globe has warmed, it's that the increase in heat energy in the global weather system is giving us lots of really freaky weather.

     
  • At 12:33 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Oh, and to clarify: "the debate" means the debate in such public forums as seem to matter, especially on TV. In other words, neither right-wing nutjobs nor rational, sane people. TV idiots.

     
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