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[greenyes] Administration Approach to Climate Change Scientists


NYTIMES


October 26, 2004
THE ENVIRONMENT
NASA Expert Criticizes Bush on Global Warming Policy
By ANDREW C. REVKIN

top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on
global warming plans to criticize the administration's approach to the issue
in a lecture at the University of Iowa tonight and say that a senior
administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous
consequences of rising temperatures.

The expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for
Space Studies in Manhattan, expects to say that the Bush administration has
ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless
prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks
and tailpipes.

Many academic scientists, including dozens of Nobel laureates, have been
criticizing the administration over its handling of climate change and other
complex scientific issues. But Dr. Hansen, first in an interview with The
New York Times a week ago and again in his planned lecture today, is the
only leading scientist to speak out so publicly while still in the employ of
the government.

In the talk, Dr. Hansen, who describes himself as "moderately conservative,
middle-of-the-road" and registered in Pennsylvania as an independent, plans
to say that he will vote for Senator John Kerry, while also criticizing some
of Mr. Kerry's positions, particularly his pledge to keep nuclear waste out
of Nevada.

He will acknowledge that one of the accolades he has received for his work
on climate change is a $250,000 Heinz Award, given in 2001 by a foundation
run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, Mr. Kerry's wife. The awards are given to people
who advance causes promoted by Senator John Heinz, the Pennsylvania
Republican who was Mrs. Heinz Kerry's first husband.

But in an interview yesterday, Dr. Hansen said he was confident that the
award had had "no impact on my evaluation of the climate problem or on my
political leanings."

In a draft of the talk, a copy of which Dr. Hansen provided to The Times
yesterday, he wrote that President Bush's climate policy, which puts off
consideration of binding cuts in such emissions until 2012, was likely to be
too little too late.

Actions to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions "are not only feasible but make
sense for other reasons, including our economic well-being and national
security," Dr. Hansen wrote. "Delay of another decade, I argue, is a
colossal risk."

In the speech, Dr. Hansen also says that last year, after he gave a
presentation on the dangers of human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate
shifts to Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator, "the administrator
interrupted me; he told me that I should not talk about dangerous
anthropogenic interference, because we do not know enough or have enough
evidence for what would constitute dangerous anthropogenic interference."

After conferring with Mr. O'Keefe, Glenn Mahone, the administrator's
spokesman, said Mr. O'Keefe had a completely different recollection of the
meeting. "To say the least, Sean is certain that he did not admonish or even
suggest that there be a throttling back of research efforts" by Dr. Hansen
or his team, Mr. Mahone said.

Dr. Franco Einaudi, director of the NASA Earth Sciences Directorate at the
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Dr. Hansen's supervisor,
said he was at the meeting between Dr. Hansen and Mr. O'Keefe. Dr. Einaudi
confirmed that Mr. O'Keefe had interrupted the presentation to say that
these were "delicate issues" and there was a lot of uncertainty about them.
But, he added: "Whether it is obvious to take that as an order or not is a
question of judgment. Personally, I did not take it as an order."

Dr. John H. Marburger III, the science adviser to the president, said he was
not privy to any exchanges between Dr. Hansen and the administrator of NASA.
But he denied that the White House was playing down the risks posed by
climate change.

"President Bush has long recognized the serious implications of climate
change, the role of human activity, and our responsibility to reduce
emissions,'' Dr. Marburger said in an e-mailed statement. "He has put
forward a series of policy initiatives including a commitment to reduce the
greenhouse gas intensity of our economy.''

"..."

_________________________
Peter Anderson, President
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Madison, WI 53705-4964
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