Wow. Here it is only Saturday night and already the weekend’s seen two stellar pieces of reporting on global warming, from two of environmental journalism’s top stars, on page A1 of their respective newspapers.
First up is Andy Revkin’s latest revelation on the Bush administration’s ongoing defensive maneuvers against, uh, reality. In this case, reality was being described by the closest thing climate science has to a wise man: James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Administration officials have — not officially, but clearly, in informal phone calls and memos — let it be known that he needs to shut up about policy responses to global warming.
The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 … 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.”
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.
I have trouble working up umbrage about this stuff any more, it’s so routine. What strikes me most is the absurdly counterproductive politics of it is. Hansen’s going to have 10 times the soapbox now — and they can’t touch him.
Update [2006-1-29 15:26:20 by David Roberts]: More inside details from RealClimate.