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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: Facts about Hansen
By pliny on 9/27/2007 11:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
We don't have a link to the Post article, they may have got it wrong. We do have a link to Rasool's actual paper (mangled above, but it's here http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/173... ) and his actual words were
quote:
An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.
That is a big increase that he is hypothesizing (not predicting).

Hansen's program was used for only Mie scattering, a minor part of the work. If it had been major, he would have been an author, not just acknowledged in a footnote. Hansen himself has described his contribution here http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/distro_Grandfather_7... He was in a space science section and did no climate work until 1976; the Mie scatterig program had been written for Venus.


RE: Facts about Hansen
By porkpie on 9/27/2007 11:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're still only linking to the abstract, who knows what the full version says?

And you're still missing the main point. Most people don't read research papers, they read NEWSPAPERS. A journalist interviewed Rasool and reported he claimed an Ice Age is coming. That's what counts. Not what he wrote in a journal.

Hell, even research papers today don't predict catastrophic global warming. That doesn't stop the media from claiming they do does it? Or writing stories saying the entire human race is at risk. You'll find that claim all over the news and the web, but you'll NEVER find a research paper to come out and say that.

quote:
himself has described his contribution here
So today, after its been proven wrong, he comes back and says his "minor" contribution was misused. And you're surprised? Why didn't he step forward then?


RE: Facts about Hansen
By pliny on 9/27/2007 11:35:49 AM , Rating: 2
Hansen doesn't say that its been proven wrong, or that his "minor" contribution was misused. He says
quote:
At Steve’s 60th birthday celebration I argued that the Rasool and Schneider paper was a useful scientific paper, an example of hypothesis testing, in the spirit of good science.
He just says it is their paper, not his.


RE: Facts about Hansen
By pliny on 9/27/2007 11:46:32 AM , Rating: 2
We only have the IBD account of what the Post said. But there is no mention there of an interview with Rasool - they make it sound as if the Post was working from the Science article.


RE: Facts about Hansen
By kenji4life on 9/28/2007 12:23:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And you're still missing the main point. Most people don't read research papers, they read NEWSPAPERS. A journalist interviewed Rasool and reported he claimed an Ice Age is coming. That's what counts. Not what he wrote in a journal.


Seems to me that your beef here is with:
1. Most people
2. Newspaper journalists

Just because Hansen contributed, in some minor way to a hypothetical paper, which was then taken out of proportion by a newspaper wanting big headlines to sell papers (big surprise there), and then years later was somehow dragged up to bash Hensen does not mean that he has been writing alarmist papers since 1971. The only thing you've just proven is that the media is irresponsible and "most people" are stupid. This doesn't look like anything new to me.


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