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In the hot summer of 1988 - while Americans prepared to decide whether Vice President George H.W. Bush or the "Atari Democrat" – Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis – would replace Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified at a congressional hearing that he was convinced the earth’s atmosphere was warming up, that the warming was caused by human activity, and that severe shocks would result. A three-scenario graph accompanying his testimony sent a clarion warning.

The smears and propaganda began almost immediately from contrarians such as Patrick Michaels and a snake-oil salesman named S. Fred Singer. Eventually, it became known that both men (and others) were part of a well-financed campaign on the part of fossil-fuel companies to persuade Americans (and politicians) that global warming was a hoax and that Hansen and other scientists sounding the alarm were fools or worse.

The hearings in June 1988 weren’t the first time Hansen had said trouble was brewing. Nor were they the first time other scientists had publicly spoken of the potential crises warming might cause. But 1988 demarcated two periods. Before then, the science of climate change was tentative and the political opposition was mostly directly toward keeping data from being gathered in the first place, much less analyzed. Afterward, with the science ever more sure and cohesive, a cabal of petro-industrialists paid aggressive liars to attack the science and, sometimes, the scientists. Chief among those in the crosshairs were Hansen and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the research organization set up in that same watershed year by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program.

With the express purpose of casting "doubt on the theory of global warming," front groups with misleading names such as the Global Climate Coalition, the Global Climate Information Project, and the Cooler Heads Project (as well as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Consumer Coalition) spread fabrications while their corporate sponsors paid tens of millions of dollars for public relations campaigns, advertising, and contributions to Democratic and Republican politicians.

These slick propagandists were immensely successful. In the ‘90s, President Bill Clinton – under assault by retrograde ideologues over a wide range of issues – chose to invest only a smidgen of his political capital to deal with a crisis many in the chattering classes still claimed was bogus. Throughout the ‘00s, the propagandists’ comrades-in-avarice have directly controlled the federal machinery, censoring, distorting, threatening and dragging their feet. The professional deniers’ favorite targets, from the IPCC to Hansen to Al Gore, have been repeatedly vindicated. Global warming has become the worst nightmare of the deniers and delayers: a household phrase.

Yet their two-decade-long assault on science and sound policy continues its negative impacts. Key world leaders, even including Mister Bush, say they understand that global warming is a crisis. But their acknowledgement hasn't been transformed into a passionate commitment for what matters: bold action.

Scientific interest in climate change goes back nearly two centuries, but the politics of global warming are only 50 years old.

In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences published its first general report on climatology in which it was noted: "In consuming our fossil fuels at a prodigious rate, our civilization is conducting a grandiose scientific experiment." That metaphor was the invention of Roger Revelle, the Harvard geochemist and oceanographer whose lectures 10 years later would have a lasting impact on a young undergrad named Al Gore.

At the same time NAS was channeling Revelle, Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and an avid advocate for building hundreds of nuclear power plants, warned at the December 1957 meeting of the American Chemical Society that increasing CO2 might someday melt the polar icecaps and flood the world’s coastal regions.

Teller’s remarks and Revelle’s testimony to a congressional committee sparked a Washington Sunday Star article by Phil Yeager and John Stark in January 1958: "Mystery of the Warming World." It was published on page 26 and included the prediction that CO2 warming of the climate might generate "a type of control regulation, law, interstate compact, and international agreement which could scarcely help clashing with some of our cherished notions of free enterprise. Industry, which might blossom in some directions ... would be hamstrung in others. ... Further, in view of the global nature of the problem, ordinary international agreements might prove inadequate for effective regulation." International controls backed up by penalties, the prescient pair wrote, would be "sure to foster great heat and controversy."

Meanwhile, in what would set the standard for later propaganda campaigns, Shell Oil rejected the idea that "our furnaces and motor car engines will have any large effect on the CO2 balance."

Over the next 20 years, climate science slowly took off as data was gathered by new agencies such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, satellite measurements became routine, and computer modeling became more sophisticated.

While much of the public first bumped up against the possibility of abrupt climate shift from the 2004 science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow, scientists meeting at a workshop at MIT in 1970 and an international conference in Stockholm in 1971 revealed to each other that evidence from ice cores and the ancient seabed hinted the atmospheric changes many of them had been speculating would come about gradually might actually happen in a single human life span, or a single generation. At the time, based on limited measurements available to them, the probable change they saw was another ice age.

Although the new findings came at what seemed a propitious moment – a mass movement was focusing attention on all things environmental – progress on the political front dragged. Congress didn’t hold its first hearings exclusively devoted to climate change until 1976. That same year, a Harvard postdoctoral researcher asked Jim Hansen’s help in calculating the greenhouse effect of humanmade gases in the earth's atmosphere.
 
In 1977, the National Academy of Sciences published and widely publicized the work of a panel of experts, "Energy and Climate." Chaired by Revelle, the panel said there was a possibility that average temperatures might climb a dangerous 6° Celsius by 2050. They urged more spending on research.

On the heels of that report, Congress passed the National Climate Act in late 1978 to set up the National Climate Program Office as part of NOAA. A meager budget, a weak mandate and a kind of we-did-our-part attitude from Congress hampered the office from the beginning. Frustrated and worried, geophysicist Wallace Broecker at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatorywrote a letter on April 7, 1980, to Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas.

As physicist-historian Spencer Weart writes:

Declaring that "the CO2 problem is the single most important and the single most complex environmental issue facing the world," and that "the clock is ticking away," Broecker insisted that a better research program was needed. "Otherwise, another decade will slip by, and we will find that we can do little better than repeat the rather wishy-washy image we now have as to what our planet will be like ..."

Bad timing. Into the Oval Office strode Ronald Reagan. Opposed to government regulation in general and hostile to eco-concerns in particular, the new president appointed anti-environmentalists to key posts and began chopping funding for everything from conservation outreach to renewable energy R&D to CO2 studies. A price was to be paid for those going against the grain. Hansen, who by 1981 had been focusing on the subject intensively for four years and was the new chief at Goddard, published with seven colleagues a piece in Science which said:

"The combined warming of carbon dioxide and trace gases should exceed natural temperature variability in the 1980s and cause the mean global temperature to rise above the maximum of the late 1930s."

Next thing you know, The New York Times had put a story on the front page, and the Department of Energy had withdrawn funding it had promised Hansen, compelling him to lay off five Goddard staffers. It was the first round of something Hansen has become all-too-familiar with over nearly three decades: ignore the message, behead the messenger.

All research into the greenhouse effect might have been lost had it not been for Al Gore, by then a three-term Congressman from Tennessee. His hearings in 1981 got some short-lived press attention. As a new Senator, he pushed for new hearings in 1984 that included the testimony of climate scientist Carl Sagan, who, with other scientists, had been looking into "nuclear winter."

Further hearings took place in 1987. Congress passed four bills in which "global warming" was specifically mentioned, including the "Global Climate Protection Act" that required a plan for placing a ceiling on greenhouse gases. Among the issues being studied by early 1988 was a "carbon tax" levied on emissions of CO2.

With record temperatures and massive drought that summer, the public was primed to hear what Hansen had to say. From the scientists’ point of view, it appeared that, finally, they were going to be seriously listened to.

On June 23, Hansen sat before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He later recalled for Audubon’s Robert H. Boyle that he had testified:

"First, that the world was getting warmer on decadal time scales, which I said could be stated with 99 percent confidence. Second, that with a high degree of confidence I believed there was a causal relationship with an increased greenhouse effect. And third, that in our climate model there was a tendency for an increase in the frequency and the severity of heat waves and droughts with global warming." Besieged by the media afterward, he said, "It's time to stop waffling so much and say that the greenhouse effect is here and affecting our climate now."

Accompanying Hansen’s testimony was this graph of three potential scenarios, part of a paper he and his colleagues published soon afterward. Given the uncertainties over the prospects for government regulation and about volcanic eruptions that can mask the effects of greenhouse emissions, the presentation of a spectrum of possibilities was precisely the behavior that should be expected of good scientists. After introducing the three scenarios, Hansen focused on Scenario B, the one he thought most likely. As can be seen, it matches what has actually occurred.

Flak burst around Hansen immediately. Soon, the new Bush Administration was complaining about him to NASA. Some respected scientists challenged the conclusions of his analysis. Hansen refused to shut up. In 1995, the IPCC vindicated him in its Second Assessment Report, which declared "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."

Typical of the barrage of malicious distortion from the various industry-funded "coalitions" initiated after Hansen’s 1988 testimony is that of the CATO Institute’s Patrick Michaels. In testimony to the House Committee on Small Business on July 29, 1998, Michaels intentionally – call that dishonestly – omitted the B and C scenarios so he could say that Hansen had been off by 400%, and, therefore, everyone was right to be skeptical of the entirety of global warming predictions. Michaels’ claim-by-omission would ultimately wind up in Michael Crichton’s novel, State of Fear, which the scientists at RealClimate thoroughly debunked.

Enter the second Bush administration. One of the first of its many anti-environmental moves was to suppress the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. The multi-volume assessment, mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, had taken a decade of study and been published just two months before Mister Bush had taken the oath of office. It had immediately come under attack from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Enterprise Institute. The assessment was not merely shelved like so many other government reports. The White House barred government scientists from using its contents or even referring to it. Future government reports relating to global warming got the administration’s special treatment. For instance, oil industry lobbyist Philip Cooney was made chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Here’s some of his handiwork.

He resigned from the CEQ when his editing efforts were revealed in 2005 and was immediately hired by ExxonMobil.

While industry shills and right-wing ideologues could count on sockpuppets like Sean Hannity and other conduits for global warming denial, to their fury and that of the administration, Hansen continued to refuse to shut up. After a lecture in December 2005 in which he called for immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Goddard’s public affairs staff was ordered "to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists." Officials have repeatedly claimed ever since that they weren’t trying to gag him. Hansen merely points skeptics toward Mark Bowen’s book, Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming.

Last month, Hansen delivered yet another sure-to-be-disputed heads-up. For years, many scientists thought that stabilizing atmospheric carbon to a level of 550 parts per million (vs. the pre-industrial level of 275 ppm) would stave off a global warming disaster. More recently, however, the view has been that 450 ppm is the so-called "tipping point" for when "fast-feedback" effects will lead to runaway warming. But at the San Francisco meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December, Hansen told gathered scientists that he thinks the tipping point may be 350 ppm.

We’re already at 383 ppm.

In the January 5, 2008, issue of New Scientist, in a review of Mark Bowen’s book, Chris Mooney writes of Hansen: "Here's a guy who really just wanted to get back to the hobbit hole of his research, but who was forced by the political situation in which he found himself - and the failures of others to step up and do the job - to march off and confront the dragon."

Hard not to call him a hero for having done so.

This essay couldn’t have been written without extensive cribbing from the analysis and bibliography of Dr. Spencer Weart at his extraordinary Web site The Discovery of Global Warming: A hypertext history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change. Weart is director of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:01 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Teddy Roosevelt (8+ / 0-)

    Spent a career breaking up Standard Oil of New Jersey.  In one fell swoop, Bill Clinton allowed it to be rejoined, approving the merger of Exxon/Mobil.

    Iraq?  Oil?  National interest?  BIG OIL's interest.

    When will they ever learn?

    •  Men oppose one another for two reasons (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Calamity Jean

      The First:  They believe you are wrong, and wish to offer an opposing vision for the benefit of all.

      The Second:  They believe you are right, and wish to hold back the truth from the many, for the benefit of the few.

      Teddy Roosevelt, bold, odd and fair as he was held a great number of opposing views principly for the first reason.

      George Bush, and his coup de etat stakeholders exclusively work for the Second Reason.

      Dr. Hansen and his paradigm shattering work, his completely credible science, and his strangth will eventually wear down those who oppose for the second reason.

      Unfortunately.   It will be much too late for our beloved coastal cities.

      •  Is "completely credible" science enough? (0+ / 0-)

        While completely credible is a stretch, I believe that Hansen has mostly done good science and his alamrs are worth attention.

        I'm bothered by the "left out" science and the bad politics that surround it.

        The problem is this:

        There seems to be significant agreement that it would take something like 1000 years (give or take) to drop CO2 levels to that 350 ppm level he's talking about -- if human beings were to vanish from the earth.

        Human beings aren't going to vanish from the earth any time soon.  India is going to sell millions of $2500 Tatas, China will continue to industrialize and other third world nations will follow.

        Space for forests is likely to decline, not increase.
        Poor countries are not going to stay poor for the sake of rich countries who have cooked the planetary goose.

        The United States has already surrendered its no 1 emitter title to China, with India and Indonesia getting ready to overtake us as well.

        I agree that conservation and renewable energy are great ideas for a lot of reasons, but I sure wish the scientists and politicians would pull their heads out of the sands and start talking about survival as well as mitigation.

        Oh -- and to get real about the costs of actually making a difference, because it's going to take a log more than Priuses, solar panels, and scam carbon credits.

  •  Yes, I'm nostalgic for his Presidency, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, turnover, DBunn

    but Bill Clinton has a lot to answer for.

  •  I was taught in the early seventies... (9+ / 0-)

    in college freshman biology about such, but it made an impression on virtually no one in class.

    Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

    by Dood Abides on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:06:53 PM PST

  •  Dr. Hansen is in Marshalltown, Iowa this week (15+ / 0-)

    Testifying as a private citizen against a huge coal plant Alliant Energy wants to build.

    Dr. James Hansen, noted climate scientist and international voice for global warming solutions, grew up in Denison, Iowa and is testifying for the first time in such a case. Hansen and experts Dr. Neil Harl, Professor Emeritus of Agriculture and Economics at Iowa State University; Tom Sanzillo, former First Deputy Comptroller for the State of New York; and Dr. Kristen Welker-Hood, Director of Environmental and Health Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility, have filed testimony and will appear at the IUB public hearing in January as witnesses for the coalition. Plains Justice attorneys Carrie La Seur of Mount Vernon and Jana Linderman of Cedar Rapids are representing Community Energy Solutions, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Renewable Energy Association and the Iowa chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    link(about half way down)

  •  Thanks for the front page story (8+ / 0-)

    In my opinion, we should strive to have 2-3 front page stories regarding global warming each week, because it's such a highly important story, both on the science aspect and the political aspect.  Cheers!

    •  awareness needs to be heightened somehow (4+ / 0-)

      because the Dem candidates aren't putting it front and center, as they should.  I think global warming is somewhere near the bottom of voters' concerns in polls right now, and that is partly due to candidates' ignoring the issue in their speeches and campaign ads.

      They should be laying out right now some of the steps they will take to fight GHGs and at the same time energize the economy by virtue of the work that needs to occur in the fight.

      Makes all the work Gore has done look somewhat futile, and his decision not to run a mistake.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

      by nailbender on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:23:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And in 1990 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, lotlizard

        the enviro's 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments drove CO2 emissions higher by pushing Western coal.  

        Now 2007 Lieberman-Warner gets enviros high praise, which considers 500ppm the goal by to "avert catastrophic global climate change" by the end of the century, starting sometime next decade.

        As Boxer said to get the bill through her committee, the Dem's are united with the Repugnants to safeguard the role of coal in the energy mix.

      •  its the media that won't present it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, marina

        but grist.org held a debate that they invited every candidate to, only 3 showed - Clinton, ...Obama, and Edwards showed and were good, and detailed solutions.

        •  attending a debate is one thing: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina

          to trumpet your points from that debate, well, did that happen?  Or is there a global warming buzz being put out by one of the Dem leaders of the pack that invites public engagement?

          It's like Hillary's co-sponsorship of the Webb's bill to require prior Congressional consent before attacking Iran: He introduced it last May, she jumped on board in Oct right after the shitstorm Kyl-Lieberman set off, and it sits there somewhere in the "docket" without so much as a whispered plug now and then.

          "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

          by nailbender on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 11:04:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  you would want to follow the energy diaries (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ed in Montana, nailbender, Fabian, marina

            we have covered the various Dem candidates "global warming buzz being put out" as you call it, if you are interested.
            you can watch this very detailed video conversations  if you want to see our candidates "trumpet" as you would have it, their views and plans. I think all 3 are excellent.
            You can also read their detailed policy proposals at each candidates website.

            •  thanks for the link (0+ / 0-)

              have to go to work so I only saw half of it.  It makes my point, actually.  I'm sure Hillary, somewhere in the last half of that video, makes a point about global warming.  That isn't "buzz".  Buzz is when the candidates put the issue (as I said above) front and center, not as an afterthought.  

              To wit: There is an extended discussion there of nuclear power.  If she was as alarmed as she should be about global warming, she could have said something like: "Nuclear power is trumpeted by it's proponents as a solution to global warming, but I disagree.  Until we get the waste issue settled, it is a non-starter and everybody knows this.  We need to aggressively attack global warming by (list here) and quit focusing on nukes which add to proliferation problems and have given us hundreds of toxic waste above ground repositories all across our country."  And then she could have made the conversation about the exciting directions we should be exploring to make ourselves energy independent in the very near future.  That is buzz.  

              Instead she got into the arcana of nuclear siting, regulation and waste minutia, issues that are all peripheral to the big one we are discussing in this thread.

              "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

              by nailbender on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 08:44:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Hanson is a hero for hi courage. And MB, (8+ / 0-)

    excellent job with the time-line and story of why we still haven't begun to address this problem nationally and in a significant way.

    Keep on. The biggest questions are; when will we change direction as a species? and how much damage will we do in the meantime?

  •  Days like today make me wish that Al Gore (13+ / 0-)

    were running for president.

    All research into the greenhouse effect might have been lost had it not been for Al Gore, by then a three-term Congressman from Tennessee.

  •  Duhbya whould have had Hanson gagged (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, DarkSyde, Fabian, jnhobbs

    or he would have him fired.

    We've gone backwards in the last 20 years.

    America woke up with a bad Bush hangover so just looking at the Republicans should make Americans nauseous.

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:15:26 PM PST

  •  The next time someone says they didnt know (8+ / 0-)

    point them to this piece. Even otherwise sensible Democrats often behave as though Climate Change has just been discovered in the last 7 years. And yet somehow I knew about it as a teenager in the early 90's, and clearly, many other people did, or should have, known about it long before then. We will be remembered by future generations as the ones who willfully turned a blind to that which was right in front of our noses. We are no different, in the end, than the Nazi-era German citizens who claimed to "not know" what their government was doing. It was not that they didnt know, but that they didnt want to know. And that's how history will remember us.

    •  Thank you! This cannot be stressed enough. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, marina

      And yet somehow I knew about it as a teenager in the early 90's, and clearly, many other people did, or should have, known about it long before then. We will be remembered by future generations as the ones who willfully turned a blind to that which was right in front of our noses. We are no different, in the end, than the Nazi-era German citizens who claimed to "not know" what their government was doing. It was not that they didnt know, but that they didnt want to know. And that's how history will remember us.

      The Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “kids for kids”): is a world cultural treasure.

      by lotlizard on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 02:56:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Must see movie (13+ / 0-)

    I can't recommend the documentary "Everything's Cool" strongly enough.  It covers much of the denial industry and focuses on the work of Hansen, McKibben, and Gelbspan, in particular.

    I reviewed it on TCoE here.

  •  Yes, I remember it well . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, marina

    It was 98 degrees in Washington on Thursday, June 23, 1988, and climate change was bursting into public consciousness. The Amazon was burning, wildfires raged in the United States, crops in the Midwest were scorched and it was shaping up to be the hottest year on record worldwide. A Senate committee, including Gore, had invited NASA climatologist James Hansen to testify about the greenhouse effect, and the members were not above a little stagecraft. The night before, staffers had opened windows in the hearing room. When Hansen began his testimony, the air conditioning was struggling, and sweat dotted his brow. It was the perfect image for the revelation to come. He was 99 percent sure, Hansen told the panel, that "the greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now."

    or, did a bit of cut and pasting . . .

  •  Thanks, MB for a great timeline (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, lotlizard, A Siegel

    but some were apparently popularising early climate disruption science in the 50's by the looks of this video, from autoblog green a while back, (normally a pretty sensible site...) so... I am not sure what to make of it: seems early!

  •  Hansen and Al Gore are heroes. (6+ / 0-)

    There aren't many heroes in the public eye anymore. Hansen and Gore put science and the well being of the planet ahead of personal interests. They are true heroes.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:20:24 PM PST

  •  Hansen ingored in Massachusetts (5+ / 0-)

    James Hansen has a record to be proud of, but unfortunately he is still being ignored and not only by gobal warming deniers.  On January 2 he wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe calling on Massachusetts to reject a plan to turn an old dirty coal fired power plant (the Somerset Station) into a coal to gas plant.  Haansen called the plan a "tragic mistake." (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/01/02/the_wrong_choice_for_m assachusetts/)  Unfortunately the top environmental officials for Massachusetts prompty rejected Hansen's advice.  Turning this power plant into a coal to natural gas pant will reduce harmful pollutants such as mercury, but will do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  The Conservation Law Foundation estimates that the plan will result in the release of 28,258,770 tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the plant. (http://clf.org/general/internal.asp?id=1040) Officials in the Patrick administration point to other environmental initiatives that they are undertaking but in this case they are extending the life of a coal fired plant without building in carbon capture.

  •  Still remember that testimony (5+ / 0-)

    I remember being utterly surprised when I first saw James Hansen testifying before Congress in 1988 on television, and it was also the first time really being educated about the issue.

    I shouted to my family members, "Hey, I know that guy!" I was a college student on one of those summer programs in 1985 at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (in Manhattan, and boy wasn't that a distracting 10 weeks for a 21 year old from Oklahoma), and Hansen was the guy in charge of us students (though other GISS scientists took far more active roles with our research projects-- my particular project had to do with hydrazine in the Jovian atmosphere, so I didn't do any earth based climate research).

    I don't actually remember Dr. Hansen that well, but that he always seemed very calm and collected. That summer was enough to convince me that I wasn't going to be scientist material, but I'm so glad I got to meet Dr. James Hansen.

    "[Republicans] swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose." --Alan Greenspan

    by lanshark on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:20:31 PM PST

  •  Wish there was a rec button and a tip jar (10+ / 0-)

    for Watchers (lurkers) like me.

    You forced me to type.  Ouch.

  •  When do the liars get publicly shamed? (7+ / 0-)

    We've heard decades of lies and deliberate misinformation funded by ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute.  When people stopped listening to them directly, decades ago, they began heavily subsidizing the American Enterprise Institute and other conservative propaganda factories "think tanks."

    At some point progressives have to start defending scientific objectivity and pushing back against the paid liars.  The tobacco industry long ago put out the blueprint for big corporations to fight inconvenient truths:  their product was doubt, aimed at scientific evidence.  The oil companies are their premiere students.

    I hope Keith Olbermann and the few truthsayers in the big media pick up this torch and start shaming the AEI spokesliars who are paid to encourage government to allow big corporations to destroy the earth.  We should do our part to help.  Thanks for this wonderful historical study, MB.

  •  Someone gave a talk at UCSD about (4+ / 0-)

    this subject at least as long ago as 1988.  My mother had been visiting me, she went to the lecture, and wound up sitting next to the lecturer on the plane going home.

    They talked about the issue, and the lecturer (a woman with a Ph.D.) said that she and her husband had decided not to have children because, she said, "It's already too late."  Too late to change it, stop it, or fix it.

    Obviously, no one was paying much attention to her or to Dr. Hansen or the others who were trying to tell people what was happening.

  •  Unfortunately the chose the wrong phrase..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, va dare

    ...to represent this crisis. People in Oklahoma who were in the cold, freezing without power for several weeks hear "Global Warming" and they scoff. They don't connect the unprecedented and extreme freeze with "Global Warming".  We need to rephrase this to something like "Manmade Climate Catastrophe"...or....

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:23:11 PM PST

  •  I am proud to say that I had... (11+ / 0-)

    my first face-to-face public showdown with Patrick Michaels in 1991 - he gave a lecture at the univ. where I was then an undergraduate. I persisted in asking who funded his 'research' - he kept refusing to answer me directly - until I was asked to leave the lecture hall. I left but not without taking thirty-odd other students with me in protest.

    He was bought and paid for long ago by the coal industry.

    Hansen is an American Hero.

  •  Global warming predicted in 1896 (8+ / 0-)

    by a great Swedish Chemist.

    The prediction of climate change due to human activities began with a prediction made by the Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius, in 1896. Arrhenius took note of the industrial revolution then getting underway and realized that the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere was increasing. Moreover, he believed carbon dioxide concentrations would continue to increase as the world's consumption of fossil fuels, particularly coal, increased ever more rapidly. His understanding of the role of carbon dioxide in heating Earth, even at that early date, led him to predict that if atmospheric carbon dioxide doubled, Earth would become several degrees warmer. However, little attention was paid to what must have been seen to be a rather far-out prediction that had no apparent consequence for people living at that time.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:25:51 PM PST

  •  Awesome diary! (4+ / 0-)

    And some say DKos is turning into Free Republic.

    Get R Done! - Lyndon 'the Cable Guy' Johnson

    by pontechango on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:26:09 PM PST

  •  Put a copy in Bush's in-basket... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana

    This should give him pause as he contemplates his historic role as a real science advocate, the first President to pass stem cell legislation. bah...what an asshole.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mohandas Gandhi

    by ezdidit on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:27:44 PM PST

  •  Where would we be without Al Gore (6+ / 0-)

    From a newsclipping that has been thumbtacked to my wall for over a year, December 15, 2006, "Gore Urges Scientists to fight politics, censorship."  It begins "In an impassioned speech to thousands of scientists gathered in San Francisco on Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore urged researchers to get more involved in politics, and to communicate their 'inconvenient truths' loud enough to overcome an adminisration that may not want to hear them."

    And "He talked about the closure of the library at the Environmental Protection Agency, and subsequent reports of electronic document purging from the EPA website." and "'How did we, as a nation, become so vulnerable to this behavior?'" Gore said. "Where is the outrage (to) censoring science?'"

    We absolutely need to listen to our scientists once again. The time point made in this article, "Bad timing. Into the Oval Office strode Ronald Reagan." did mark a real turn away from environmental concerns. But, it is during the last seven years, that we have had pullbacks from such a variety of rational standards that I think we have been stunned, so we don't react enough with, as Al Gore points out, OUTRAGE!

    Buy local. John Edwards

    by greenapple on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:32:45 PM PST

  •  George C Marshall Institute (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, exNYinTX, Fabian

    is another organization that switched from refuting scientists who were against SDI to refuting Global Warming. (They switched after the cold war ended)

    You cannot stand in front of progress for your country because of your fears, you must stand behind Her in spite of them.

    by coigue on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:39:35 PM PST

  •  these people are guilty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, randallt, Blicero

    With the express purpose of casting "doubt on the theory of global warming," front groups...

    of crimes against humanity  in their mindless, cancerous quest for profit.

    The Corporation is the Cancer upon the Commons.

    Part of the problem, or part of the solution?

    The way I see it, an investor is responsible for the effects of his investment, despite what a bunch of lawyers might say.  You give someone your money to work with, to make you a profit on your money, you are responsible for what that person does with your money. A corporation is a fiction that attempts to deny this truth.

    So you better be damned fucking careful what you put your money into, Mr. Investor.

    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:40:59 PM PST

  •  Man and Nature (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Ed in Montana, zett, Fabian

    There were warnings about this as far back as the end of the 19th Century.  See Man and Nature by George Perkins Marsh.  See The Earth as Modified by Human Action by Ellsworth Huntington.  The idea of Nitrogen fixation goes back to the creation of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, France, and even to the creation of the Cook County Forest Preserve in Chicago "The Lungs of the City".  Unfortunately these theories underestimated what it would take to ameliorate air pollution and global warming, but the theorists certainly recognized the impending problem more than 100 years ago!

  •  From 1958... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, lotlizard

    Frank Capra made some educational films back in the 1950s, and these were distributed to schools.  One of them - "Unchained Goddess" dealt with weather and the atmosphere.  Check out this clip:

    Back in those days there was a lot of uncertainty of course.  The computers were very primitive, and there was much that we didn't yet understand.  My point is that even this far back the notion that it might be a really bad idea to emit all of this crud into the atmosphere, and that this idea was sufficiently mainstream that it was thought worthwhile to mention it to schoolchildren.

  •  I Hope My Grandchildren Will Live to See the Day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, Fabian

    when someone will ask the media why they keep respecting those who were wrong for so long.

    I wouldn't expect so rapid a turnaround on the Iraq war, but maybe on climate change fraud, 50 years would be soon enough.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:41:35 PM PST

  •  I am so sick of the hype of the deniers of ... (4+ / 0-)

    anthropogenic climate change.  This is not even a matter of controversy among most scientists, yet these self-serving hypocrites attack those people who have actually done the science, hoping no doubt that they will somehow escape the results - or at least not be around to see them.  Yes, we all wish it was not so.  It will cause major disruptions to the environment, hastening the extinction of a number of species, as well as damaging the world-wide economy.  Yes  there will be SOME positive results (Icelanders think that it may be good for them), but I fear that these will be much smaller than the results that are going to be bad or even disastrous, such as the flooding of a large number of major cities within a century or two.

    I await real data (as opposed to biased opinion) to disprove these findings.

    Are humans truly Homo sapiens (man the wise) or are they just saps?

    •  Global Warming benefits? (0+ / 0-)

      Yes  there will be SOME positive results (Icelanders think that it may be good for them), but I fear that these will be much smaller than the results that are going to be bad or even disastrous, such as the flooding of a large number of major cities within a century or two.

      If that's really what the Icelanders think, they are severely mistaken.  I just went and looked at a map of Iceland http://www.mapquest.com/... , and the vast majority of their towns, including their capital Reykjavik, are right on the coastline.  When (not if) the sea comes up, they are going to have to replace most of their towns, 'cause the originals will be at least partly underwater.  Sure, it will be a little warmer there, but is the tradeoff worth it?

      Renewable energy brings national security.

      by Calamity Jean on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 09:15:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  MB, if you are interested (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Fabian

    I have an old diary that discusses and links to a talk by science historian Naomi Oreskes about the history of Global Warming Denial.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    You cannot stand in front of progress for your country because of your fears, you must stand behind Her in spite of them.

    by coigue on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 06:50:39 PM PST

  •  Beautifully illustrated. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, randallt, Fabian

    The path to where we are today was not short.  Nor did it lack intelligent voices.  We have been told.  We were warned.  

    My only hope now is that we are currently in such a larger-scale information age that more people have been warned now--that more people will get it.  

    Might still be too late.  But maybe not.

  •  I propose a special carbon tax (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, randallt

    on every dead-ender, industry shill, denier and downright ignoramous who has held up progress for the past twenty years.

    " The Assault On Reason is written like a resume for leading the world." - BalanceSeeker

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 07:04:12 PM PST

  •  Good review (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, randallt, Fabian

    In case you are interested, Michaels now 1) concedes the cherry picking of Hansen's plot was ill-advised (wonder how many times he's been busted for that), and 2) shows that all of the climate models assuming a 1% annual increase in CO2 show a significantly stronger temperature increase than the observations.

    Of course, the actual yoy increase is more like 0.4% so this is exactly the same strawman he pulled with Hansen et al. Subtle, real subtle.

  •  Holy shit! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, randallt, Fabian

    Pardon my expression, but I honestly had no idea that global warming was studied that far back.

    It's no surprise that the politics of suppression continue to this day.

    Whatcha gonna do, Chris Matthews, whatcha gonna do when Barack Obama and John Edwards run wild on you?

    by Brad007 on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 07:17:48 PM PST

  •  Hot listed for life (4+ / 0-)

    This is one of the best summaries I've run across of the history of this part of science. I'm going to keep it handy forever to link back to and pass on.

    Kudos for a sensational piece.

  •  Local propaganda as well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, Fabian

    The Tribune Papershere in WNC are a great example of this at work. Apparently orchestrated, or at least influenced by Bill Steigerwald, or whoever pays him, this weekly publication, on the streets in boxes for all to see, often blares headlines challenging the reality of global warming. It's insidious to say the least.

  •  In early 1992 (8+ / 0-)

    I took a day off from running my small single-person (me) mapping business to drive over to the University of Montana in Missoula to hear a talk on forestry, land-use and global warming by some radical scientist from NASA. The old growth logging wars were in full swing and Bush the Elder was starting to realize that he had a tough re-election campaign on his hands, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

    NASA scientist, James Hansen, compared logging practices in the tropical Amazon to old-growth logging on national and corporate forests in the US's Pacific Northwest. Using satellite images, Dr. Hansen showed that at the time, starving peasants in Brazil had done far less damage to the Amazon's forest compared to the professional foresters (employed by the United States Forest Service and corporate giants like Weyerhauser, Louisiana Pacific and Plum Creek)had done to America's Pacific Northwest forests.

    The satellite images were stunning. Entire national parks such as Olympic, Mt. Rainer and Crater Lake were next to completely surrounded by denuded landscapes, while most of the Amazon remained lush and green.

    Within days, the administration of Bush the Elder went berserk over the talk, and demanded that Hansen not speak to audiences without explicit permission from the Whitehouse. It was the best day off from work that I had taken in years.

    Who will stop this war of lies? Keith Olbermann May 23rd, 2007

    by Ed in Montana on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 07:37:57 PM PST

  •  The Republican War on Science (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Ed in Montana, Fabian

    by Chris Mooney is a real eye opener. No other book has enraged me more at the Republicans than this one. I'd read bits and pieces but this one coalesced to form a coherent picture. If your outrage meter isn't pegged or broken, it will be if you read this book.

    I've just started on Storm World and it's an eye opener too on the politics of global warming. I'm only on the background section but he does an excellent job describing the stormy world of climate and meteorological sciences.

    "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."   —Marvin, The Paranoid Android

    by londubh on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 07:40:00 PM PST

  •  Hansen and Warming (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian

    Isn't this the same Hansen whose models (in 1971) led to the prediction that
    "in the next 50 years" - or by 2021 - fossil-fuel dust injected by man into the atmosphere "could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees," resulting in a buildup of "new glaciers that could eventually cover huge areas."

    •  It wasn't Hansen but a colleague at ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, Fabian

      ...at Goddard, S.I. Rasool, who made this "prediction."  I took note in my essay that scientists in this period, with only a few years of accurate atmospheric carbon measurement in hand, felt that another ice age might be triggered. Since then, extensive data have been gathered that give scientists a better overall picture of climate, both historical and current.  

      "Just remember, boys, this is America. Just because you get more votes doesn't mean you win." - Special Agent Fox Mulder

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 08:26:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ice age (0+ / 0-)

        I recall reading, in the late 1960's, that ice ages occurred about every X million years, and that the world was overdue for the next one.  At the time, nobody knew why the world wasn't freezing up.  

        Now we know.

        Renewable energy brings national security.

        by Calamity Jean on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 09:37:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Atari Democrat? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, Fabian

    Can someone explain what that means?

    Thanks,

    Mike

    •  Sure, it refers to high-tech-boosting ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, willyr, LordMike, Fabian

      ...free-market Democrats of the 1980s - Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart, Mike Dukakis, Al Gore. They were sort of New Democrats before there were New Democrats, and they pushed centrist economic policies along with government subsidies for Silicon Valley-type innovation, free trade and open immigration (the latter two policies alienating them from longtime Democratic allies in the AFL-CIO).

      "Just remember, boys, this is America. Just because you get more votes doesn't mean you win." - Special Agent Fox Mulder

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 10:55:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The new, new economy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Fabian, dotcommodity

    It's hard for me to not look at things these days through the lens of what Naomi Klein refers to as the "disaster capitalist complex." In keeping with that line of thinking could it be that there is not only a free market profit motive to keep consumers juiced up on oil but also an incentive to profit from the inevitable environmental disasters that will flow from its continued use?

    I mean, billions could be made in the private sector during destruction/reconstruction cycles. New industries in survival gear and post-disaster security could emerge. Hell, an entirely new economic system could be built around environmental devastation (at least until all the vegetation dies).

    I need to figure out a way to get in on some of that action. Any ideas?

  •  If only we all didn't have to sink (or swim) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian

    with them

    Global warming has become the worst nightmare of the deniers and delayers: a household phrase

    There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS. Mahatma Gandhi

    by Sacramento Dem on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 10:42:52 PM PST

    •  Are you aware of Fetching Jen? (0+ / 0-)

      She's my pet blogger, a winger I keep an eye to see how things look from the POV of a True Believer.  Since I have no experience with CA or Sacramento politics, I can't judge her take on those topics.

      Here's her blog.

      The Audacity of Ambiguity! The Climate of Change! The Search for Substance!

      by Fabian on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 12:23:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ewww! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        I got to the part where she bragged about calling the Clintons 'Trailer Park Trash' before the press did.

        It's just no fun to say 'I told you so' when then topic is Global Warming/Iraq war/Healthcare/Katrina.

        There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS. Mahatma Gandhi

        by Sacramento Dem on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 01:00:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hero (0+ / 0-)

    He is a real American hero.  I wish he had been part of the Nobel Prize.

  •  Many thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willyr

    for posting this. This is the most important piece of our recent history, the part that will cause our descendants to shake their heads. We can be proud that there were a few like Hansen who were telling the truth, and in the process reminding us that the big brain just might be evolutionarily adaptive after all.

  •  We can't wiat until 2012 election (0+ / 0-)

    We need to start now with a radical paridigm (I hate that word) shift. A total shift away from coal generated electricity, redisign or replace the internal cumbustion engine, upgrade our rail infrastucture, and replace our entire fleet of automobiles. Nothing to it. No lame excuses. We have no choice.

    Drink the good wine now

    by kujo on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 10:18:19 AM PST

  •  An Excellent Overview... (0+ / 0-)

    ... however I have one nitpicky correction, I don't think you should describe Carl Sagan as a climate scientist. He was an Astrophysicist by training and, although his interests ran close to the earth sciences in a number of areas, they weren't the central focus of his research career.

    Regards
    Luke

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