Last night in his State of the Union address, President Bush claimed that warrantless eavesdropping was necessary in order to "connect the dots" and prevent terrorist attacks. This claim has already been challenged by the LA Times, among others, but (irony alert!) yesterday a climatologist used the same concept to explain why the administration wants him to shut up. Chris Mooney posted the conversation between James Hansen and meteorologist Miles O’Brien, which aired on CNN:
HANSEN: No, I — that’s the point. It’s not too late to stop and avoid the worst consequences. But we would need to get on the scenario in which we slow down the rate of growth of greenhouse gases, get that to flatten out. And before the middle of the century, we’re going to have to be producing less and less carbon dioxide than we are now.
M. O’BRIEN: And that’s not the way we’re going right now?
HANSEN: That’s not the way we’re going now.
M. O’BRIEN: Now, you have been told to be careful about what you say.
Why don’t you explain what you heard from public affairs people at NASA in particular about the comments you made?
HANSEN: Well, they were very unhappy about my presentation in December at the American Geophysical Union.
M. O’BRIEN: Why?
HANSEN: Well, I think because I’m connecting the dots, all the way from emissions to the future consequences and it’s — and it has — and I look at alternative scenarios, if we continue on this path or if we take other paths. And that is getting too close to policy, I guess.
M. O’BRIEN: Well, but there really isn’t much of a scientific debate anymore. So when you talk among scientific peers, there is tremendous agreement that global warming is real and it is hastened by human action or inaction.
M. O’BRIEN: So really what this is, is about politics, isn’t it?
HANSEN: Well, yes. I think there’s a big issue here, and that is the fact that the agencies, the public affairs offices at the agencies are staffed by political appointees. And that is affecting the ability to communicate with the public. So, for example — and it’s not just true in NASA.
In NOAH, for example, the hurricanes last summer, there becomes an agency perspective rather — and you’re not free to speak your own ideas. You have to follow that perspective.
M. O’BRIEN: So, in other words, if a scientist at NOAH said these storms are stronger, perhaps by virtue of the fact that the climate is changing, global warming…
M. O’BRIEN: … the administration will say no, you can’t say that.
HANSEN: Yes (ph).