NASA Scientist Censured Over Greenhouse Gas Comments

Houston, TX - NASA's chief climate scientist James Hansen was quoted by Good Morning America last month as saying that industry was to blame for the record high temperatures last year due to greenhouse gas emissions and that if we did not do something about it the problem was going to get worse. Hansen said he received phone calls from NASA officials following the television news program's show in which they told him not to release such comments without prior approval, that Washington did not appreciate it.

"One threat was relayed to me that there would be 'dire consequences - not specified,'" Hansen told members of the press. Hansen gave a speech last month saying, "We're getting very close to a tipping point in the climate system. If we don't get off our 'business as usual' scenario and begin to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we're going to get big climate changes."

The Bush administration has insisted that industries can curb greenhouse gases voluntarily but Hansen said that just won't work, and he is not the first scientist in the nation to say that they were pressured to keep quite, even change research results, suggesting that the problem was not as bad as they have been saying.

Said Hansen, "When 'Good Morning America' released our data showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year on record, I got calls that they were very unhappy." NASA today issued a statement, saying its policies are similar to those of any other federal agency, corporation or news organization in requiring any NASA employee to coordinate any statements with the Office of Public Affairs. No exceptions.

But perhaps the rising cost of oil will help the government change its tune toward alternative energy sources that lower the production of greenhouse gases and perhaps follow in Iceland's example to eliminate the use of gasoline-powered vehicles altogether. Iceland wants to make a full conversion and plans to modify its cars, buses and trucks to run on renewable energy, with no dependence on oil.

In the capital, Reykjavik, they are already testing three hydrogen-powered electric buses. And the country draws on boiling water from deep volcanic lakes, pumping the hot water up into huge storage tanks where it is used to heat homes. Its glacial rivers provide all of the hydroelectric power needed to generate electricity, but the United States does not have such resources in plentiful supply to practically adapt their use.

In California the state has approved an aggressive $3 billion plan to convert many office buildings and homes into solar power collection stations to help cut back on petroleum use for energy generation. The move will also create jobs, Governor Schwarzenegger says and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Hopefully, other states will follow California's lead in adapting solar power as well as wind generation stations and that hydrogen fuel cell technology will pick up in development pace and the lagging auto industry move to produce hydrogen-powered vehicles before it's too late. Hansen says NASA's stated mission includes protecting the planet, and he will continue to speak out, despite recent warnings being publicized.