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?