Top NASA Climate Scientist `censored` January 29, 2006 3:04 AM
TOP NASA CLIMATE SCIENTIST `CENSORED`
Sunday January 29, 2006
The American space programme's leading climate scientist has accused the White House of trying to gag him after he called last month for urgent cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming, writes Ned Temko
James Hansen, director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is reported in today's New York Times as saying that officials at Nasa headquarters ordered staff to review his forthcoming lectures, papers and media interviews. He said he intended to ignore the restrictions.
Dean Acosta, Nasa's deputy assistant administrator for public affairs, denied that there had been any specific effort to silence Hansen. 'That's not the way we operate here at Nasa,' he was quoted as saying.
But Acosta said Hansen was subject to the same restrictions as other Nasa employees who might be seen as representing official agency policy. He said scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements could be made only by official spokesmen.
The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Bush administration officials have instead emphasised the need to develop and disseminate new, cleaner technologies as a way of curbing emissions.
Hansen, 63, a physicist who has been at Nasa for nearly 30 years, is in charge of efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Manhattan.
Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat of emissions from burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels.
He fell out of favour with the Bush administration after a speech on the eve of the 2004 presidential election in which he claimed government scientists were being muzzled and announced he planned to vote for the Democratic party challenger, Senator John Kerry.
Hansen was quoted in the New York Times as saying that nothing in his career had equalled the pressure that has been brought on him since December. 'He's not trying to create a war over this,' said Larry Travis, Hansen's deputy, 'but [he] feels very strongly that this is an obligation we have as federal scientists - to inform the public.
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