viernes, marzo 28, 2008

What the Government Doesn't Want You To Know About Global Warming

Famed NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen tells the depressing story of government censorship of years of impeccable research.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Dr. James Hansen is widely regarded as the leading climate change scientist in the country. It was his testimony to a Senate committee in 1988 that first brought the threat of global warming to the world's attention. For the past quarter of a century he has headed the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA's premiere climate research center.
Just over a year ago, Dr. Hansen went public with a charge that made headlines around the world, that the Bush administration had been trying to silence his warnings about the urgent need to address climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: You may have heard Dr. James Hansen mentioned before on Democracy Now! His name has been cited by many guests on the show.
JOHN PASSACANTANDO: This government, at the behest of its oil company contributors, has been told not to put out information about global warming, not to allow the scientists to talk about their expertise with the press, about the connection between global warming and hurricanes. That happened at NOAA. There's been pressure on Dr. James Hansen at NASA.
PAUL EHRLICH: I think it's true that attitudes have changed slightly in the White House, because they now see a political issue, but they have worked very, very hard to suppress the science on global warming. For instance, they sent some junior jerk to try and keep Jim Hansen, who's one of our very top climate scientists, from saying what he thought.
CHRIS MOONEY: Apparently, a NASA aide was instructed to interfere with Hansen's ability to do press interviews. Actually, this completely backfired, because Hansen is not someone to be told to be quiet. And so, he just went to the media anyway, and it ended up exploding.
TIM FLANNERY: Can you imagine what it would be like for one of the world's leading scientists, who is revered by everyone, to have this pipsqueak who lied about his credentials controlling what he tells the public? Just appalling. And, you know, the countries around the world would -- I don't know what they'd pay to have the advice of a Jim Hansen. It's the sort of stuff we all desperately need. And here, in a country that actually pays him a salary and allows him to do his work, he is silenced. I mean, I honestly cannot see the sense of that. I can't see who benefits.
AMY GOODMAN: That last speaker was acclaimed Australian scientist and writer Tim Flannery. Well, today, Dr. James Hansen himself joins us in our firehouse studio. His story of how the Bush administration tried to silence his warnings on climate change is detailed in a new book. It's called Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming. It's written by author Mark Bowen. He joins us from a studio in Watertown, Massachusetts.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Dr. Hansen, 1988, talk about the significance of that time.
DR. JAMES HANSEN: Well, I think it had become clear that the climate was changing and that human-made greenhouse gases were a reason for the long-term trend in the climate. And I just wanted to draw that to the attention of the public, because we really need to do something before the climate change becomes large, just because of the inertia of the system. If we wait until the climate change is large, then it's too late to stop it from happening.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what did you do twenty years ago?
DR. JAMES HANSEN: Well, I just reported that the world at that time was getting warmer, and I expected 1988 to be the warmest year in the period of instrumental record, which it did turn out to be, and that humans were primarily the reason for this long-term warming trend.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, that was twenty years ago, and while the Bush administration has gotten a lot of attention for its failure to heed any kinds of warnings, there was another administration before that, the Clinton administration, as well. And I think Bowen talks in the book about some problems that you had with Al Gore and -- could you talk about how the Clinton administration reacted to some of the warnings you raised?
DR. JAMES HANSEN: Well, my concern is general with both Republican and Democratic administrations. They both feel that they can control what scientists say to the public. So their offices of public affairs in the science agencies are headed, in general, by political appointees, and they review the press releases before they go out. So, it doesn't really make sense in a democracy. The public should be honestly informed. And then, of course, the publications are allowed to make the decisions, and they don't have to follow exactly what the science says. There are other considerations that they have. But they shouldn't influence what is presented, the scientific evidence. And I object to that, regardless of which administration is in power.
AMY GOODMAN: So, before we go on to the Bush administration, where you did have the most trouble, can you talk about what happened during the Clinton years and how you were able to express or not your research?
To read the complete article HERE.

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