Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York City, became a darling of the left by claiming that the Bush Administration tried to censor or suppress his personal opinions on global warming public policy questions. (If they did, they did a poor job.) But Dr. Hansen has quite a record of trying to suppress the expression of opposing views. This summer he refused to testify before a House committee hearing on the grounds that the committee had invited a scientist (Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville) who made the mistake of not conforming his views to Dr. Hansen’s. On a television debate broadcast on October 24th, Dr. Hansen complained that one of the five panelists held views that he considers objectionable. He also told the Associated Press in a story published Sept. 24th that “Some of this noise won’t stop until some of these scientists are dead,” referring to scientists skeptical of the claims of global warming alarmism. It is hard not to conclude that underneath his mild Midwestern appearance, Dr. Hansen is an old-fashioned Stalinist at heart. Anyone who disagrees with him must be intimidated into conformity or silence.
It is also worth noting how far out of the mainstream are Dr. Hansen’s own opinions. He recently speculated that sea levels could rise twenty feet per century for the next four centuries. The Third Assessment Report of the U. N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representing the consensus of scientists with expertise in the field, estimates that continued global warming could cause sea levels to rise up to twenty inches in the next century. This is not meant as a criticism. Scientists far outside whatever the consensus of the moment happens to be often turn out to be right. Dr. Hansen should keep that in mind the next time he tries to shut up someone who disagrees with him.