Ward Churchill could tell NASA's James Hansen what it is like when your work goes under a microscope. Churchill ended up losing his job over the academic misconduct that was uncovered. The intemperate response Hansen has displayed toward his critics begs for an explanation.. Will the global warming game be over if the scrutiny goes too deep?
Last week, Hansen, NASA's lead scientist on global warming, penned a rather strange ad hominem attack against critics that questioned the validity of his work in the wake of corrections prompted by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit http://www.climateaudit.org/ Under most circumstances, it is inappropriate for a Federal Agency Administrator to pen such a highly policitical polemic, although Hansen has a long history of doing just that. Rather than respond with a proper full acknowledgement of his error and a promise to uncover other potential flaws which may be lurking in his data and analyis, his technical explanation is interspersed with swipes at his critics, whom he sees involved in a sinister conspiracy to discredit the impeccable science he claims to represent. He accuses Fox News and The Washington Times of "going bananas" over the "flaw" in the computer program. The Times and Fox have run a single editorial and a story on the correction respectively, this can hardly be characterized as going bananas. In fact, as we have amply documented on this website, the media has actively downplayed this story especially compared to how they hyped the original findings in 2005 and 2006. Either Hansen has poor powers of observation or he is being disingenuous.
Hansen does reveal a very interesting nugget that Congress and the NASA administrator are now involved in this matter. This may explain why Hansen felt compelled to write his screed. Midway through it, I half expected him descend into a Nixonian lament, "you won't have Hansen to kick around anymore."
Putting his delusions out there for all to see Hansen writes,
"The real deal is this: the ‘royalty' controlling the court, the ones with the power, the ones with the ability to make a difference, with the ability to change our course, the ones who will live in infamy if we pass the tipping points, are the captains of industry, CEOs in fossil fuel companies such as EXXON/Mobil, automobile manufacturers, utilities, all of the leaders who have placed short-term profit above the fate of the planet and the well-being of our children."
Hansen improbably claims to be a conservative
"...I come from a moderately conservative state, and I consider myself a moderate conservative in most ways. "
Drawing on the "evangelical environmentalist" template, Hansen claims bewilderment why "conservatives (that) should be the first ones standing up for preserving Creation, and for the rights of the young and the unborn" have allowed themselves to be taken in by the "royalty." He even throws in tedious misuse of an obscure legal term "usufruct," a genuine embarrassment for a man posing as an authority on anything.
When a freelance investigator finds serious flaws in the work of prominent scientists receiving hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayer-funded research, there is a great cause for concern. Undoubtedly, this incident will trigger an avalanche of investigators taking a closer look at the work of these researchers. Just as Ward Churchill's inflammatory remarks put his work under a microscope, Hansen and NASA should expect the same in the days ahead. There is a conspicuous lack of transparency in his methodology and data. He will come under pressure to release everything so that other researchers can have at it.
Hansen is 66 years old; don't be surprised if his retirement is announced shortly.
NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin's recent comments regarding global warming are heartening:
"Nowhere in NASA's authorization, which of course governs what we do, is there anything at all telling us that we should take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another. We study global climate change, that is in our authorization, we think we do it rather well. I'm proud of that, but NASA is not an agency chartered to, quote, battle climate change."
Professor Hansen would do well to read this. He is authorized to study climate change, not battle it.