Friday, March 31, 2006

Trust everyone, but cut the cards.....Peter Finley Dunne, speaking as Mr. Dooley

The dust up about how science is being, well, shall we say selected at NASA, NOAA and EPA might be dying down, OTOH, it might not. Roger Pielke Jr. thinks it is dying down and has posted:

Eli, you're sharing dated materials. Both NASA and NOAA obviously have had some problems. I am sure they will continue to do have issues on the PR front, but Jim Hansen has gone back to work satisfied with NASA's response, and since Lautenbacher's statement, no one in NOAA I have spoken to has complained. Those earlier news articles will be online forever, but reality will move on.
When I expressed my doubts, he came back with...

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 18:11:54 -0500
From: James Hansen
Subject: "Political Inclinations" and "Back to Science"

To be removed from Hansen's e-mail distribution list, respond to sender with "Remove" as the subject.

"Political Inclinations"
Following statement was placed on my web site in response to journalist requests and (moderate number of) e-mails/letters from the public (not colleagues).

"Back to Science"

Dear Colleague,
Last December, following a talk on global warming that I gave at the AGU meeting, NASA Public Affairs attempted to place rigid constraints on my ability to communicate with the media and the public. When I objected publicly to their proposed constraints, and ignored them, I received several offers of pro bono counsel. I accepted advice from the Government Accountability Project (GAP), headed by Louis Clark. I especially appreciate the practical, insightful guidance of GAP Legal Director Tom Devine with regard to my legal rights of free speech and how to protect myself in exercising them. I urge anybody with similar concerns to contact GAP.

The situation in NASA regarding free speech (albeit not science funding) is promising. There is no doubt that Administrator Griffin recognized the problem, fully supports openness and free speech, and intends to have supportive rules and procedures. If implementation by Public Affairs differs from that spirit, you will hear about it.

NOAA’s Admiral Lautenbacher also expressed support for openness. I am unaware of whether actions are being taken to insure free speech in NOAA. It will be interesting to query NOAA colleagues to see if there is still selective use of government ‘minders’ to monitor interactions with the media on topics such as global warming. The situation in EPA, where double-speak (“sound science”, “clear skies”, …) has achieved a level that would make George Orwell envious, is much bleaker, based on the impression that I receive from limited discussion with colleagues there. The battle to achieve open communication between government scientists and their employer, the public, is far from won.

Nevertheless, I agree with the opinion of colleagues that the focus should be on discussing solutions to global warming. Unless some new event demands it, I am not going to participate further in “whistle-blower”
activities. In particular, I decline the generous offer of GAP and Rick Piltz to share in a whistle-blower award and ceremony in April. I think that it would be most useful and effective for the spotlight to shine brightly on Rick Piltz and EPA, where the rubber meets the road.

My personal aim is to get back to science research full time, especially on quantifying options for dealing with global warming. Sincere apologies for overdue book reviews, workshop reports, and science manuscripts. As of now, I am working on these.

Best regards, Jim Hansen

Which, I assume was sent to Roger as part of a mailing list distribution. Fair enough. Eli, however, is a long time fan of Mr. Dooley, whose establishment was not far from GISS, so, mechanical bunny that he is he goes and reads to find what (Hint: certainly not something that Roger implies)?

(If you are short of time, read the first and last two paragraphs, the conclusion is:
The constraints placed on scientists, preventing them from informing the public about their concerns, is much worse in places such as the National Institutes Health and the Environmental Protection Agency than it is in NASA. My quotation on 20 April 2006 Freedom Forum calendar, "In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been controlled as it is now”, is accurate. )
This statement (available at responds to journalist requests and to several criticisms from the public (not scientific colleagues). I infer from the criticisms that the writers accept as true charges made by a former NASA Public Affairs employee. Specifically, the Washington Post quoted George C. Deutsch as “I quickly learned one thing: Dr. Hansen and his supporters have a very partisan agenda and ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party. Anyone perceived to be a Republican, a Bush supporter or a Christian is singled out and labeled a threat to their views. I encourage anyone interested in this story to consider the other side, to consider Dr. Hansen’s true motivations and to consider the dangerous implications of only hearing out one side of the global warming debate.”

These claims are nonsense. Political inclinations should have no impact on science analyses, but in any case the above description of my inclinations is inaccurate. I can be accurately described as moderately conservative. I am registered to vote (in Pennsylvania) as an Independent. In the 1980s I met politicians of both parties in the course of testifying to the United States Senate and House of Representatives. My favorite politician then, as I indicated to friends, was Senator John Heinz, a Pennsylvania Republican, who I hoped would one day run for President. I may have been biased by the fact that he called me at home to tell me that he had intervened with John Sununu (head of President George H. Bush’s staff) on my behalf (I have a 17 May 1989 letter from Heinz describing those interactions) after I complained about alterations of my Senate testimony by the Bush Administration.

However, my rationalization for supporting Senator Heinz was his balanced support for the environment in the context of strong economic development. At his request I participated in his “Town Hall” meeting in Philadelphia on the topic of global warming and economic development.

In my “Iowa talk” (available at above website) I indicated that my favorite for President in 2004 would have been John McCain, but he was not on the ballot. I appreciated the priority he gave to both decreasing the power of “special interests” in politics (campaign finance reform) and global warming, in addition to the fact that he calls a spade a spade and is an American hero. I indicated that I would vote for John Kerry because he recognized the global warming problem and he said that he would work with industry leaders to address it, but I also noted that I had reservations about Kerry (citing his appeal to Nevada voters to have no nuclear waste disposal there).

As for “ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party”, early in the first Clinton/Gore term I was invited to and attended in the White House a “breakfast with the Vice President” (along with Joyce Penner and Bob Charlson), which was my only meeting with Gore during his eight years in the White House. In the middle of the Clinton/Gore administration, after publication of an Op-Ed in the New York Times (by Greg Easterbrook, I believe) that Vice President Gore objected to, it was suggested to me (via an intermediary) that I write an Op-Ed article to dispute the published Op-Ed article. I declined to do that. My next interaction with Vice President Gore was in January 2006 in a meeting at his request to discuss current understanding of global warming. In this meeting he apologized (I presumed it was in regard to the request for an Op-Ed article), said that he would like me to be on a board overseeing a campaign to alert Americans to the dangers of global warming, and asked if I would critically review his slide/PowerPoint global warming presentation. I did not agree to be on the board, but I subsequently (February 6) reviewed and offered scientific comments on his presentation.

I have great respect for Vice President Gore and his dedication to communicating the importance of global warming. He has a better understanding of the science of global warming than any politician that I have met, and I urge citizens to pay attention to his presentation, which I understand will come out in the form of a movie. Even if you don’t agree with Vice President Gore’s politics, you should pay attention to his climate message. He knows what he is talking about.

To the best of my recollection, I have twice contributed financially to election campaigns (probably $1000 in each case). The first was to the 1992 Clinton/Gore presidential campaign. The second was also to the Democratic ticket in one of the last two elections, either to Gore/Lieberman or Kerry/Edwards, I don’t remember which. I could probably find out by digging through cancelled checks,
but I don’t think that it matters.

In summary, I do not have close political ties to a political party. I believe that Republicans and Democrats alike must abhor the partisanship that now infects the operation of technical government agencies. The constraints placed on scientists, preventing them from informing the public about their concerns, is much worse in places such as the National Institutes Health and the Environmental Protection Agency than it is in NASA. My quotation on 20 April 2006 Freedom Forum calendar, “In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been controlled as it is now”, is accurate. For the good of the people, it makes no sense that political appointees are put into the agencies to control the flow of information to the public. It is hard enough to communicate science to the public as it is, without adding a requirement to get through a political filter. We would all be better off if a law were passed limiting Public Affairs appointments to nonpartisan professionals. As for religion, I was baptized and raised as a Reorganized Latter Day Saint. Our long-time Sunday school teacher, Sarah Goeser, would be disappointed by the fact that I married a (Dutch) Catholic. By pure coincidence, both of our children married into strong Catholic families (Galileo, forgive them!).

I will not respond further to personal attacks.

James E. Hansen
February, 2006
This is a VERY strong statement of dissatisfaction.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The final word on models....

Science snark is a fine art. Seldom has there been a better example than this from Thomas Knutson

Michaels et al. (2005, hereafter MKL) recall the question of Ellsaesser: “Should we trust models or observations?” In reply we note that if we had observations of the future, we obviously would trust them more than models, but unfortunately observations of the future are not available at this time.

Compare and contrast.....

What George Bush says today about energy policy

It is in our interests that we use technologies that will not only clean the air, but make us less dependent on oil. That's what I said in my State of the Union the other day. I said, look -- and I know it came as quite a shock to -- for people to hear a Texan stand up and say, we've got a national problem, we're addicted to oil. But I meant what I said.

Being addicted to oil is a problem for our economy. In a global economy, when burgeoning economies like India and China use more fossil fuels, it affects the price of gasoline here in America. In a world in which sometimes people have got the oil we need, or don't like us -- it's kind of a undiplomatic way of putting it -- it means we've got a national security issue.

And what Jimmy Carter said 26 years ago

Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.

It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren.

We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress. Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.

The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.

Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy

And, of course, you remember the response of our hero Ronald Reagan....

To mix two truisms this once again shows that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it, first as tragedy then as farce. We are in stage two. Connolley and Mooney spot the farce, but don't remember the history. Thom Hartman does. Ron Bailey has his head stuck in the sand.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jerry Mahlman goes upside the heads of Conrad Lautenbacher and William Gray

As many are aware, Jim Hansen has stirred up quite a dust storm about political censoring of scientists and science in the US. Although Hansen concentrated on NASA, where he works, the issue has also been raised in relationship to NOAA, and in particular NOAA's official stance on the linkage of increased hurricane intensity to anthropic climate change. In an excellent new blog, Rich Piltz prints the response of Jerry Mahlman. After flat out calling the director of NOAA, Conrad Lautenbacher, a stone liar, Mahlman takes on the hurricane crowd, including Bill Gray:

It is encouraging that some NOAA managers have had the wisdom to back away from the current NOAA Adminstration’s attempts to support the very naive arguments from the hurricane forecasting community who asserted that, somehow, there is essentially no connection between the well-documented increasing warmth of the upper ocean temperatures (in all three major equatorial ocean basins) and
intensity of hurricanes.
Perhaps the kindest comment on this is that the NOAA leadership had essentially no experience with the exceptional, and globally accepted, relationship between increased equatorial temperatures and tropical cyclone intensity increases, a result pioneered by NOAA. Thanks to the exceptional courage of Thomas Knutson, a very respected NOAA climate and hurricane scientist, the ideologically driven distortion of the truth about the relationship between hurricane intensity increases and warming ocean temperatures has been thoroughly refuted.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

It's a really thin bench over there at Denial Central....

I've been wondering for quite some time why you see the same "scientists" on the denial side for every science related issue: tobacco, climate change, ozone, cancer, acid rain, whatever. There are some easy answers, money, fame, attention, and you know some of the easy answers make sense, but there is also something deeper that needs to be thought about. I know scientists in senior positions who are politically far, far to the right of George Bush, but they are very straight on their science. I can disagree with their science, and we talk about the scientific reasons for their opinions and mine. They go where the facts are on science and I do too. I know some scientists whose politics are on the left, in senior positions who let their politics creep into their science or at least the policy related parts of it, but they confine their science to their own areas, and don't try to be polymaths (the big exception would be Noam Chomsky). In any case, this needs more thought and research.

Recently I started to get into the issue in comments on Prometheus. Steve Hemphill played interlocutor. I said that Singer, Seitz and Lindzen, were for reasons I didn't much understand, into both tobacco and climate denial and pointed to the tobacco document depository, the trove of documents uncovered in litigation about how the tobacco industry suppressed information about the health effects of their products and used public relations campaigns to confuse the issue. It was trivial to show that Frederick Seitz was a key player, but Steve Hemphill keeps trying to play nyah, nyah and wanted evidence that Fred Singer was also involved (The poster hank on Prometheus showed that Lindzen is one of those who denies the ill effects of environmental tobacco smoke). I spent some time last night going through the tobacco documents and came upon this interesting set which definitively illuminates the astroturf industry at its most effective

S. Fred Singer played a key role in their attempts to deny the harm from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)

A FAX to Bill Orzechowski, Chief Economist of the Tobacco Institute from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) with S. Fred Singer’s resume. Notation in the margin is a note to Sam, probably Samuel D. Chilcote, Jr, President of the Tobacco Institute, from W. Woodson probably Walter Woodson, Vice President-Public Affairs of the Tobacco Institute. It says (about Singer)
Here is the man who will handle the EPA/ETS (illegible) work Brennon wants for us on the “social costs". Very impressive resume. I think the project is worth the 20K we discussed. Agree?.

Brennon is probably Brennon Dawson (Moran?), assistant to the president of the Tobacco Institute.
The $20K is handed over and acknowledged in a letter from Ceasar Conda, Executive Director of the AdTI to Walter Woodson
On behalf of the directors of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, I would like to thank the Tobacco Institute for its grant of $20,000 to support our research and education projects. IRS regulations require us to inform you in writing that we received your tax deductible $20,000.00 donation (check # 016214) today.
This was not the only source of tobacco funding for AdTI so we are not talking about a mere $20K
Pg 83: "TI's chief economist works closely with leading figures at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI). Some member companies support the organization. Opinions expressed and promoted by AdTI frequently support industry arguments on economic and other matters."
The product was a report from AdTI
DRAFT ONLY The EPA and the Science of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Introduction by S. Fred Singer and Kent Jeffreys

Found in Walter Woodson’s files - Executive Committee Mailings & Meetings 5/94-- 12/94, which, if you think that the Alexis de Tocquville Institution was an independent think tank, was an odd place to find it, but as we have seen, it is much more likely that this report was a bought and paid for piece of astroturf.

And, of course, the public announcement of the AdTI "independent" scientific study by two members of the US Congress, John Mica (R) and Peter Geren (D). Singer has gone from Author in the draft to Principal Reviewer in the final document. This has mislead a number of people on both sides of the divide as to how central Singer was to the project. The disinfopedia gets it more or less right
For example, from the anti-smoking side
In 1994 Cesar Conda was executive director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution listed as "Senior Staff and Contributing Associates" on a Lorillard Tobacco Company paid-for publication titled "Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy" by author Kent Jeffreys. [1] Principal Reviewer was listed as S. Fred Singer, and to give this propagandistic tract a sheen of scientific appearance, a loaded gang of "experts" from assorted tobacco-funded front organizations with impressive names was listed: SEPP, Hoover Institution, John M. Olin Center for Policy, George Mason University.