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Prophecy fulfilled: Democracy stalls climate sacrifice

Bob Tippee

A prominent prophet of climate doom appears, after all, to be prophetic.

No, James Hansen of the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies hasn't been proven right about a perilously warming Earth. For that to happen, something will have to change a temperature record that shows no warming trend in the past decade.

Where Hansen has been validated is in a recent jeremiad about political responses to his warnings of climatic catastrophe.

"The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," he told The Guardian of London. "Peaceful demonstrations," he said, might be in order.

Hansen, of course, is the scientist on call to Nobel Propagandist Al Gore. In fact, he was the voice of science allowed to be heard in the 1988 Senate hearing chaired by Gore that started the global warming panic.

Now governments are on the verge of sacrificing their countries' economies to warming precautions that may have negligible effect on global average temperature. And Hansen's complaining about democracy?

Well, this is the celebrity scientist, easily NASA's most recognizable official, who once fussed about having been muzzled by an administration unwilling to let him set economic policy.

He's the scientist who, according to John Theon, a former supervisor, "embarrassed NASA" with his fearful forecasts.

And he's the scientist who declared in congressional testimony last year that chief executives of fossil energy companies who question his theories "should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature."

Now the crisis is democracy itself.

Sure enough, American democracy hasn't quite prostrated itself to let a ruinously expensive climate program pass into effect without question.

The Senate on Apr. 1 defeated a move that would have let a simple majority pass the cap-and-trade system favored by the Obama administration and congressional leadership.

Apparently, there are senators who want to think twice about jettisoning whatever hope remains for American prosperity in deference to questionable fears about the climate.

Some of them might even think alarmism is wobbling off its axle and wonder what that says about its scientific assertions.

For anyone repulsed by dissent, to be sure, democracy can be a big problem.

(Online Apr. 3, 2009; author's e-mail:

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