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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 masher2 (blog) on 9/26/2007 3:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
> "DailyTech != POLITICS"

This particular article is about the politicization of science. While I see your point, I feel that an activist's proxy use of a NASA scientist to achieve his political goals is relevant. The story isn't a political attack on anyone; it's merely pointing out how politics have, in this case, influenced the professional actions of a top NASA scientist.

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.


RE: A Couple Criticisms
By Ratwar on 9/26/2007 7:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
I think that it is a very bias and politically motivated article on the politicization of science as it only looks at one side of the story. The Anti-Global Warming scientists have plenty of funding skeletons in their pocket too.


RE: A Couple Criticisms
By TomZ on 9/26/2007 8:09:30 PM , Rating: 2
Please enlighten us about the same... Though I doubt you'll find any as juicy as Hansen. I mean, director of a NASA division in charge of climate modeling "on the take" (I'm exaggerating of course) - that's pretty good.


RE: A Couple Criticisms
By Ratwar on 9/26/2007 9:04:38 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I will admit, it would be hard to find one bigger, but I can find plenty... Once you start looking into funding of research, things get depressing very quickly...

The Marshall Institute- $170,000 in 2004 from Exxon Mobile. Institutes's stated goal, "The Marshall Institute seeks to counter this trend by providing policymakers with rigorous, clearly written and unbiased technical analyses on a range of public policy issues. Through briefings to the press, publication programs, speaking tours and public forums, the Institute seeks to preserve the integrity of science and promote scientific literacy." (http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/corporat...

Heartland Institute- $500,000+ from Exxon since 1998. $100,000 in 2004, $20,000 specifically for climate change. "Heartland's mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies."

(http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?...
(http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/corporat...

Science & Environmental Policy Project- $20,000 from Exxon.
Mission: "The Science & Environmental Policy Project was founded in 1990 by atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer on the premise that sound, credible science must form the basis for health and environmental decisions that affect millions of people and cost tens of billions of dollars every year. A non-profit, 501(c)3 educational group, its mission was to clarify the diverse problems facing the planet and, where necessary, arrive at effective, cost-conscious solutions.

(http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?...


RE: A Couple Criticisms
By Ringold on 9/27/2007 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 3
Am I the only one that, based on your description, thinks Exxon should add another zero to their donation to the Heartland Institute?

Limited govenrment intervention in citizens lives, better schools, more paying jobs, individual economic liberty and prosperity for America! Oh! The shame!


RE: A Couple Criticisms
By TomZ on 9/27/2007 3:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
No, you're not the only one. But obviously they benefit greatly from less regulation, and I don't fully trust companies to police themselves, and so I wouldn't want to take that to any kind of extreme.


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