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GISS's James Hansen  (Source: NASA)
New issues swirl around controversial NASA branch

NASA's primary climate monitoring agency is the Goddard Institute of Space Studies.  Operating out of a small office at Columbia University, GISS is run by Dr. James Hansen. Official NASA climate statements come through GISS ... which means they must get by  Hansen.  Many other scientists and agencies make climate predictions, but Hansen's top the list for scare  factor, predicting consequences considerably more dire than his colleagues.

Hansen specializes in climate "modeling" -- attempting to predict future events based on computer simulations. In 1971, Hansen wrote his first climate model, which showed the world was about to experience severe global cooling. NASA colleagues used it to warn the world that immediate action was needed to prevent catastrophe.

Most research papers are rather dry reading, written to be as unemotional as possible. Not so with Hansen's reports, whose works scream alarmism even in their titles: "Climate Catastrophe," "Can We Defuse the Global Warming Time Bomb," and "The Threat to the Planet." Hansen was most recently in the news when an amateur blogger discovered an error in his climate data, a mistake Hansen later discounted as unimportant to the "big picture" of compelling public action on climate change.

But who is James Hansen? Is he an impartial researcher seeking scientific truth? Or a political activist with an axe to grind?

In 2006, Hansen accused the Bush Administration of attempting to censor him. The issue stemmed from an email sent by a 23-year old NASA public affairs intern. It warned Hansen over repeated violations of NASA's official press policy, which requires the agency be notified prior to interviews. Hansen claimed he was being "silenced," despite delivering over 1,400 interviews in recent years, including 15 the very month he made the claim.  While he admits to violating the NASA press policy, Hansen states he had a "constitutional right" to grant interviews.  Hansen then began a barrage of public appearances on TV, radio and in lecture halls decrying the politicization of climate science.

Turns out he was right. Science was being politicized. By him.

A report revealed just this week, shows the 'Open Society Institute'  funded Hansen to the tune of $720,000, carefully orchestrating his entire media campaign. OSI, a political group which spent $74 million in 2006 to "shape public policy," is funded by billionaire George Soros, the largest backer of Kerry's 2004 Presidential Campaign. Soros, who once declared that "removing Bush from office was the "central focus" of his life, has also given tens of millions of dollars to MoveOn.Org and other political action groups.

Certainly Soros has a right to spend his own money. But NASA officials have a responsibility to accurate, unbiased, nonpartisan science. For Hansen to secretly receive a large check from Soros, then begin making unsubstantiated claims about administrative influence on climate science is more than suspicious -- it's a clear conflict of interest. 

But the issues don't stop here.  Hansen received an earlier $250,000 grant from the Heinz Foundation, an organization run by Kerry's wife, which he followed by publicly endorsing Kerry.  Hansen also acted as a paid consultant to Gore during the making of his global-warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth," and even personally promoted the film during an NYC event.

After the the GISS data error was revealed, Hansen finally agreed to make public the method he uses to generate "official"  temperature records from the actual readings. That process has been revealed to be thousands of lines of source code, containing hundreds of arbitrary "bias" adjustments to individual sites, tossing out many readings entirely, and raising (or lowering) the actual values for others, sometimes by several degrees.  Many areas with weak or no rising temperature trends are therefore given, after adjustment, a much sharper trend.  A full audit of the Hansen code is currently underway, but it seems clear that Hansen has more explaining to do.

George Deutsch, the NASA intern who resigned over the censorship fallout, said he was initially warned about Hansen when starting the job, "People said ... you gotta watch that guy. He is a loose cannon; he is kind of crazy. He is difficult to work with; he is an alarmist; he exaggerates.'" 

Hansen's office did not return a request from DailyTech for an interview for this article.

Update: Hansen has denied receiving direct funding from OSI.  Investors Business Daily is standing behind the story, claiming the funding first passed through the Government Accountability Project, which then used it to package Hansen for the media.

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RE: A Couple Criticisms
By JasonMick on 9/26/2007 2:38:32 PM , Rating: 1
Bush has nothing to do with Hansen's factual accuracy. Stay on point.

And take a look at #3.
If you are referring to the Heinz contribution, $250,000 in terms of a research contribution is hardly a "fat check". I was working under a professor at Oakland University (hardly a huge college), which had several million in contributions just from DARPA.

You are grasping at straws.

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By TomZ on 9/26/2007 3:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
$250K might not be a lot for Oakland University, but it might be for Hansen and/or GISS (not sure who exactly received the funds - I assume GISS). Your comparison is invalid.

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By onelittleindian on 9/26/2007 3:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
$250,000 in terms of a research contribution is hardly a "fat check".
When Exxon tried to give a climate researcher a $10K check, everyone said it was a huge amount and forced them to retract the offer. Now 25X more is "no big deal"? Talk about a double standard!

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By Ratwar on 9/26/2007 7:39:53 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I mean, $250,000 is chicken feed compared to what Exxon dishes out! ($2.32 million)

Note: I'm sure certain Global Warming advocates receive plenty of bias funding as well. I'm just trying to demonstrate that bias funding is hardly a one sided deal.

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By masher2 on 9/26/2007 7:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
From you own link, one of the funded organizations was The Acton Institute. From their mission statement:
The Institute organises seminars for religious leaders, academics and business leaders which aim to link economics and religion. It publishes books, journals, and opinion about related issues
Are you seriously trying to compare funding an organization like this with funding a government research scientist?

The Congress of Racial Equality and the Competive Enterprise Institute. Off all the various groups funded, only one seems to have anything directly to do with global warming, and even your own link doesn't claim any researchers were directly funded.

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By tcsenter on 9/27/2007 6:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
Are you seriously trying to compare funding an organization like this with funding a government research scientist?
lol! It is amazing, isn't it?

A corporation gives nearly $1 million to several privately-funded advocacy groups or organizations and the global warming zealots chant "follow the money".

Soro's foundation gives about the same amount to one scientist who heads the government's CLIMATE RESEARCH AGENCY (i.e. funded by tax payers), and the left casually dismisses it as 'no big deal, the government doesn't pay much and he has a family to support, it doesn't influence his research.'

Hell, the left chants "follow the money" when an eminently-qualified scientist received corporate money 10 years ago pursuant to some work performed 10 years ago, even where there has been absolutely no funding or connection since (e.g. Fred Singer), or when a scientist merely is affiliated with an organization or group that has received corporate funding at some point in time.

But the left cutting a huge check directly to a leading GOVERNMENT scientist while he holds a position of public trust?

'No big deal, it doesn't influence his research.' lol!

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By pliny on 9/26/2007 10:29:35 PM , Rating: 3
The $250,000 presumably refers to his 2001 Heinz Foundation award It wasn't research funding.

RE: A Couple Criticisms
By porkpie on 9/27/2007 9:35:26 AM , Rating: 3
So that $250K went right into Hansen's personal pocket, rather than the GISS budget? That's even worse.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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