We know that whether it is about restricting stem cell research, or pushing non-science into science classrooms, or ignoring data on climate change, or cutting budgets for student aid even as tuition has skyrocketed, the Bush administation has, to put it mildly, not been friendly to science.
We also know that they have not responded well to whistleblowers or anyone else who writes a story that contradicts their philosophy, and they or their attack dogs try to punish or at least muzzle the messenger (hence in July of 2003, ABC journalist Jeffrey Kofman wrote an article critical of the administration's handling of Iraq, and within 24 hours that story was buried under an avalanche of smears about Kofman, who most Americans had never even heard of before, being a 'gay Canadian' journalist.)
So it should not come as any surprise that these two trends have come together in the matter of James E. Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist.
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Of course the administration, like people who still claim that the moon landings were a piece of fiction filmed in a Hollywood production studio, continues to question global warming (despite the fact that the only scientists who agree with this position either have questionable qualifications, or they are drawing their paycheck or have close financial ties to industries who are desperate to spit in the face of reality to avoid having to make a change.) And industry as a matter of fact has figured it out as well, with the shipping company OMNITrax spending serious money to improve port facilities and railroad access to the sleepy little port of Churchill, Manitoba, in anticipation of when melting of the Arctic icepack will open up a shorter shipping route between Asia and eastern North America.
So, when someone like Mr. Hansen comes out of the woodwork and says something they don't like, their response is not to consider if a guy who has looked at NASA climatological data since 1967 might know a few things, but instead to shut him up.