Hansen Replies to his Critics Bluntly

hansenpic.jpgLast week, NASA administrator Michael Griffin made some inane comments about climate change on NPR. NASA’s James Hansen rightly called those remarks “ignorant and arrogant.”

Some people told Hansen they thought his remarks were “excessive.” Here is his no-nonsense reply, which links Griffin’s comments and the “massacre” of NASA’s Earth Science budget :

1) Our junior high school English teacher admonished us that ‘ignorant’ was not a derisive word, it means ‘uninformed’, not ‘stupid’. Given that 15 years ago, under George Bush the elder, the United States (and practically all other countries in the world) signed and ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which calls for stabilizing climate, it seems that ‘ignorant’ or ‘uninformed’ is an appropriate adjective for describing his remarks. Not to mention all the research results of NASA, other agencies, the IPCC, etc.

(2) The other word that offended, ‘arrogant’, was an intentional rebound of the adjective Administrator Griffin used for people who suggest that rapidly changing climate is a danger. ‘Arrogant’, it seems to me, fits humans who ignore destruction of other species when that is convenient, fits the well-off people and nations who fail to acknowledge their responsibility for climate change and thus their greater obligation for actions to mitigate climate change, and fits especially well those people who choose to remain ignorant and uninformed.

The significance of the Administrator’s remarks is the insight it provides into the February 2006 massacre of the Earth Science Research and Analysis budget (which funds NASA support of Earth Science research at universities as well as NASA Centers, primarily Goddard Space Flight Center), as discussed [here — a great piece (JR)].

This was done via a stealth budgeting maneuver, a 20 percent reduction in Earth Science R&A funding retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year, inserted at the time NASA delivered a mid-fiscal year operating plan to Congress. By making the reduction retroactive, the about-to-be-released budget for the next year, the one that Congress pays attention to, appeared to show nearly flat funding for Earth Science R&A.

In the same document, the NASA Mission Statement was revised to drop the first line: “to understand and protect the home planet”. The Mission Statement had been developed by a committee with representation from NASA Centers and communication with the NASA troops. In contrast, the changes appeared with the submission of the operating plan, which is a joint product of the Administrator and the White House OMB, to Congress, without consulting or even informing lower levels in the agency.

An interesting question is: was Congress explicitly informed about these changes (Earth Science R&A budget and NASA Mission Statement) when the Administrator presented the spending plan? Is there a record of proceedings that would clarify the matter? Does Congress, despite recent public attention to global warming, really care about the topic, or about the fact that a unitary executive is usurping their constitutional authority?


4 Responses to Hansen Replies to his Critics Bluntly

  1. Rui says:

    James Earl Hansen is most ignorant and arrogant than Michael Griffin. His only a modeler. Of course, one of the cavaets is the capacity of the matematical model to capture the real evolution of the weather all over the globe. Nevertheless, through continual model improvements the daily numerical weather prediction analyses have become very valuable as research tools.

  2. Rafael says:

    the post above, aside from being grammatically challenged attacks Hansen and misrepresents the science.

    Griffin’s arrogance in suggesting it’s ok for us to ignore climate impacts is so far beyond the pale it is a real public service that Hansen does by challenging it so well and tying it to the Bush administration’s many outrages suppressing the science of climate change

  3. Carrick says:

    Since when has anything Hansen said been anything but over the top?

    I’ve been listening to the guy for about 15 years now, and this is a long-standing pattern for him. Anyway, you can’t blame Hansen for character-assasinating people who disagree with his personal views. Because that’s how “climate science” progresses… be a complete a** to anybody who disagrees with you or questions your religiously held beliefs.


  4. John says:


    If you’ve been listening to Hansen for 15 years, then you know that time has proven him right about nearly all his claims — indeed, if you examine his record, he has tended to err on the conservative side of things.

    The nice thing about history, is that there is empirical evidence that establishes what is fact, and what is bloviating.

    You sir, are a proven bloviator. What used to be “over the top” is now the most conservative spin you can possibly put on the science of climate change.

    And Hansen isn’t “character assasinating” people who disagree with HIM; he’s contesting people’s claims when THEY disagree with the facts.

    The reason people like you dislike him so, isn’t that he plays fast and loose with the facts, it’s that he won’t allow apologists and those ignorant of the facts to do so.