On Monday, NASA scientist James Hansen commemorated the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking testimony declaring that “the greenhouse effect is here” by again speaking on Capitol Hill. Though he reiterated much of what he’s said many times before about climate change, Hansen sparked controversy when he said that if CEOs of fossil fuel companies “don’t change their tactics they’re guilty of crimes against humanity and nature.”
In an article for National Review Online today, Cato Institute Senior Fellow and prominent climate change skeptic Patrick J. Michaels attacks “Inquisitor Hansen” and accuses him of “terrorizing the American people.” Pivoting off of Hansen’s CEO comment, Michaels also explicitly accuses Hansen of breaking federal law:
Speaking of crimes, what about the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from electioneering? In the hotly contested state of Iowa, on October 26, 2004, Hansen gave a public speech in which he stated that “John Kerry has a far better grasp than President Bush on the important issues that we face.” Kerry lost Iowa by a mere 10,000 votes.
Michaels’s claim is flagrantly false. The Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government, specifically allows federal employees to “express opinions about candidates and issues” and even “make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections.”
But Hansen’s speech wasn’t even a campaign speech. It was a lecture on “Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference.” In fact, after Hansen gave the speech in which he did acknowledge he would vote for Kerry, he specifically told the AP that he was “speaking as a private citizen” and that he had “paid his own way for the Iowa appearance.”
In 2006, the state of Virginia sent a letter to Michaels asking him to stop referring to himself as the “state climatologist” because it isn’t a legitimate state position.