Calls Mount For Obama To Fire NASA Climate Chief

Published February 23, 2009

By James M. Taylor

Calls are mounting for President Barack Obama to fire James Hansen, the controversial figure in charge of climate studies at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Hansen has a record of allegedly doctoring temperature data to hype his argument that global warming is a crisis. The new calls for his resignation or termination come following his appearance in a video calling for civil disobedience at a protest at a power plant in Washington, DC.

“It is plainly improper for someone on the U.S. government payroll to advocate civil disobedience on behalf of a non-government advocacy group,” said Dan Miller, executive vice president of The Heartland Institute and former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. “As long as a public official is on the public payroll, his first loyalty is to his constituency, not to some outside pressure group calling on people to break the law,” Miller said.

Miller, in addition to serving as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission from 1994 to 1998, was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2005 to honor his long career as founding editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and business editor of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A video featuring Hansen is prominently displayed on the Web site of a group called Capitol Climate Action. In it, Hansen says “please join us” at a protest at a power plant in Washington, DC. The facility burns coal to generate electricity. The Web site calls on people to “surround the plant, disrupting access, and refusing to leave when asked.”

Hansen has become increasingly strident in his condemnation of coal-fired plants, which he has compared to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during World War II. Incredibly, he has even called for Nuremberg-style trials for scientists who disagree with him about the causes and possible consequences of climate change.

Hansen and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) he heads have been accused on several occasions of falsifying data to make global warming appear to be a crisis. In November 2008, Hansen claimed October 2008 was the warmest October on record. In fact, October temperatures were at the long-term average. In late 2007, GISS was caught adding 0.15 degrees Celsius to each year’s U.S. temperature readings, inflating the actual temperature record since 2000.

Hansen’s techniques were recently exposed on the Web site of meteorologist Anthony Watts ( for adjusting raw temperature data to make a long-term cooling trend recorded by a climate monitoring station in New Mexico look like a warming trend. “This example is one of many similar adjustments to the historical climate record that have been found,” Watts says.

“If I did what Jim has done while I was a NASA employee, I would have been drawn and quartered … and then fired,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and author of Climate Confusion, published by Encounter Books in 2008.

“I have been following Jim Hansen’s travails over many years,” said Hans Labohm, a climate policy expert based in The Netherlands. “My impression is that he has been acting like a climate activist rather than a climate scientist. We in Europe tend to regard NASA as a serious scientific organisation. I have always wondered how someone like Jim Hansen could be part of it. As an expert reviewer of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, I believe I express the concerns of many people.”

“Hansen’s questionable and often outrageous use of rhetoric, ploys, and tactics should call his continued employment by the taxpayer into question,” said Chris Horner, author of Red Hot Lies, a new book on global warming from Regnery Publishing.

“It is surprising that he has been allowed to remain in such a sensitive public post,” said Terry Dunleavy, executive vice-chairman of the International Climate Science Coalition. Dunleavy, writing from New Zealand, goes on to say, “I’m not sure which is worse: Hansen’s disrespect for science or his flouting of American public service values.”

“Hansen is primarily responsible for making climate and climate change a political rather than a scientific issue, and for that alone he should be fired, especially since his position as a scientist and a bureaucrat must be apolitical,” said Dr. Timothy Ball, former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. “He has made it so that if you agree with AGW [anthropogenic global warming] you are politically left and if you disagree you are politically right and in my opinion there is no greater indictment of the politicizing of climate science,” Ball added.


Journalists: For contact information for the persons quoted in this media alert, please contact Tammy Nash at 312/377-4000 or [email protected].