Republican War on Science

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This page was just started Feb 4 2006 and needs more work. I felt compelled to write about the the Republican war on science by comparing Jim Hansen and George Deutsch. If other people start adding more examples the current content should probably be moved to it's own page and linked from here.

James E. Hansen is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). GISS is NASA's most important research institute for the study of global climate change. Jim Hansen received his received his Ph.D in Physics in 1967 from University of Iowa. Since 1967 Dr. Hansen has published 103 scientific papers on atmospheric science and global climate change.

The NY Times reported on January 29, 2006 that, "the Bush administration has tried to stop Jim Hansen from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming."

The NYT reported that:

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry. But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

and ...

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions. After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Who were the officials at NASA headquarters?

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute. Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

George C. Deutsch is was one of three NASA National Public Affairs Officers.

Subject Location Point of Contact Phone
Science HQ Dwayne Brown (202) 358-1726
Science HQ Erica Hupp (202) 358-1237
Science HQ George Deutsch (202) 358-1324

The request was from producers at On Point, Tom Ashbrook's current events talk show. The request was generated in November. On February 03, 2006 Jim Hansen finally appeared on the On Point radio show titled NASA and Global Warming. There is a summary at the previous link as well as links to Windows and Real streaming audio however the show is also available via podcast and here is a direct link to the 18.5MB mp3 file.

On February 4, 2006 the NYT reported that NASA's administrator Michael D. Griffin has sent a memo to all 19,000 NASA employees that states: "It is not the job of public-affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff." George C. Deutsch's background and role are further described in this article.

George Deutsch is a 24 year old political appointee (appointed by President Bush) working as a public affairs officer at NASA. He was a 2003 graduate of the journalism program at Texas A&M. Here is more from the NY Times article: The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements. In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang. The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

On July 24, 2003 George C. Deutsch wrote an oped column published in the Battalion, a student newspaper at Texas A&M titled "Lies behind the curtain, 'Truth' anti-tobacco campaign misleads consumers about industry practice". In the column George is defending the tobacco companies from he considers spurious an inaccurate negative representations made by an anti-tobacco campaign called Truth (warning, site requires Flash 8). Here is how George concludes:

Well, if millions of dollars are being spent defaming an industry, people should know who the major players in the industry are and what offenses each company has committed. "Truth" gives no such information in its ads or on its Web site. Instead, it takes obscure tobacco industry documents and outdated practices and manipulates the facts so that it seems as if all tobacco companies operate this way. This is unacceptable from a group that supposedly prides itself on candor and honesty. In reality, tobacco companies aren't trying to mislead anybody; they admit they're trying to sell cigarettes. They do not brainwash people into liking their products. Besides, smokers themselves cannot be left out of the equation, as they choose to smoke . A needless indictment of the tobacco industry will not change this. Peoples' decisions are their own to make. The big tobacco companies that "truth" so openly demonizes have long been taking steps to educate the public about the risks of smoking. In just one example, Altria -- formerly Philip Morris -- has spent 2003 distancing itself from past industry practices by encouraging people to quit smoking in its advertisements and offering valuable smoking prevention links on its Web site. In reality, there is only one group that openly lies about the tobacco industry: "truth."

On Feb 4, 2006 the blogger World O' Crap published a piece with links to three other columns written by George C. Deutsch for the Battalion where Deutsch defends Scott Peterson by claiming that Satanists could have killed Laci Peterson, backs up Cheny's claim that there were strong ties between Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime and al-Qaida, and states that any idea that Rumsfeld encouraged torture is absurd.

So we have Jim Hansen, an eminent scientist in his 60s who is one of the nations leading scientific experts on global climate change being warned of "dire consequences" when he speaks about the implications of his research by George Deutsch, a 24 year old journalism major and political appointee with no evident background in science or logic.

George C. Deutsch was forced to resign from NASA after Nick Anthis reported on his blog, The Scientific Activist, his discovery that Deutsch had lied on his resume, and that Deutsch had not graduated from Texas A&M University. Nick was in a good position to dig up this fact being a May 2005 graduate of Texas A&M, president of the student Democratic club, and an opinion columnist for the student newspaper.

Contents

Investigations

Inspectors general at NASA and NOAA have begun an investigation into whether the Bush administration has suppressed government scientists' research on global warming. (Source: IGs Probe Allegations On Global Warming Data by Julie Eilperin, Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2006, p.A15)

United States Geological Survey

In December 2006, Mark D. Myers, the new director of the USGS, enacted new rules that require political review of any scientific communications outside the agency. (Source: New controls on publishing research worry US government geological unit's scientists (AP))

Fish and Wildlife Service

"Internal memorandums circulated in the Alaskan division of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service appear to require government biologists or other employees traveling in countries around the Arctic not to discuss climate change, polar bears or sea ice if they are not designated to do so." - New York Times, March 8, 2007, (Bush muzzles more scientists on warming)

Commerce Department Gag Order

  • According to a new rule (issued on March 29, 2007), scientists at NOAA, the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service must obtain agency pre-approval to speak or write, whether on or off-duty, concerning any scientific topic deemed "of official interest." (Source: CLIMATE AND OCEAN SCIENTISTS PUT UNDER NEW SPEECH RESTRAINTS)
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