Sunday, January 29, 2006

Doing Science the Emperor's Way...

...or else.

The Emperor in Chief and his minions have since the beginning of the regime made it a point to keep a short leash on federal scientists and on federal scientific funding. A lot of ink has been spilled over his clamping down on stem cell research because it is based on what the Imperial thought-police consider immoral considerations. The latest evidence of this anti-scientificalism was reported in today's NY Times.

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.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

...Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."

Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead.

"Communicating with the public seems to be essential," he said, "because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."

...The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

...After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.
[Emphasis added]

Science is supposed to be about facts, rigorously and honestly pursued without regard to political or religious or economic considerations. This is not to say that scientists don't work within the framework of ethical considerations, however. Peer review has always worked to keep scientists from going off the deep end. Evidence of successful review came most recently as the 'astounding breakthrough' in stem cell research by a South Korean scientist was shot down as a clear fraud.

That is not what is going on in this case. The government is assiduously trying to muffle and mute a scientist who is coming out with facts and hypotheses that will shape and shake the planet for years and who is deeply respected by his peers. Dr. Hansen's findings indicate that unless we back off from carbon dioxide polluting energy sources, the climate changes we are seeing will increase. That is bad news for the current energy producers: the petroleum, natural gas, and coal companies, and because those companies are 'friends' of George and of Dick, Dr. Hanson has been told to shut the hell up or there would be "dire consequences."

Swell, the whole world can be irrevocably changed for the worse so that those economic powerhouses can have a pretty bottom line.

Someone needs to tell His Imperial Highness that while he is entitled to his own opinions, he is not entitled to his own facts.


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