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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Global Warming Science & Policy

Dr. Roy Spencer:
"I have some familiarity with these restrictions on government employees, as they were a major reason I resigned from NASA over four years ago. But back then, the shoe was on the other foot. NASA knew I was not supportive of the popular gloom-and-doom theory of global warming, and before any congressional testimony of mine on the subject, I was 'reminded' that I could speak on the science, but not on policy matters. Well, it turns out that expert witnesses on this contentious subject are almost always asked by a senator or congressman, 'What would you do about policy if you were me?' When the question came, I dutifully dodged it.

I am not sure, but disobeying my superiors would probably have been grounds for dismissal, if they wanted to press the point. In Jim Hansen's case, even if this was theoretically possible, I suspect the political fallout would be enormous, as he as done more than any scientist in the world to impress upon the public's consciousness the potential dangers of global warming.

Hansen is a smart, productive public servant that is on a crusade for what he believes in. I understand why he believes as he does -- but I still disagree with his conclusions, both scientific and policy wise.

For example, Hansen has been able to devise a scientific scenario whereby all warming in recent decades can be attributed to mankind. I believe, however, he has ignored possible natural mechanisms, for instance a change in cloudiness during the same period of time."
How should we evaluate policy alternatives when scientists disagree? In considering this question, I wonder if it is important to take note that scientists are not elected to Congress, nor to the Presidency?

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