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Savonarola Is At NASA Now

Cross-Posted From Climate Skeptic. 

In 1497, Savonarola tried to end the Italian Renaissance in a massive pyre of books and artwork (the Bonfire of the Vanities).  The Renaissance was about inquiry and optimism, neither of which had much appeal to Savonarola, who thought he had all the answers he needed in his apocalyptic vision of man.  For him, how the world worked, and particularly the coming apocalypse, was "settled science" and any questioning of his world view was not only superfluous, it was evil.

Fortunately, while the enlightenment was perhaps delayed (as much by the French King and the Holy Roman Emperor as by Savonarola), it mans questing nature was not to be denied.

But now, the spirit of Savonarola has returned, in the guise of James Hansen, a man who incredibly calls himself a scientist.  Mr. Hansen has decided that he is the secular Savonarola, complete with apocalyptic predictions and a righteousness that allows no dissent:

“James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.”

It will be interesting to see if any champions of free speech on the left can work up the energy to criticize Hansen here.  What we have is a government official threatening prosecution and jail time for Americans who exercise their free speech rights.  GWB, rightly, would never get a pass on this.  Why does Hansen?

Posted on June 23, 2008 at 08:12 AM | Permalink

Comments

If the distinction between W and Hansen is unclear, perhaps the stakes can clarify it:

Not even the strongest advocate of free speech will defend someone's right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater when it's not burning. You could say the energy execs, by funding climate-instability-denial are yelling "no fire" when the planet is about to burn up, increasing public risk. (For the risk management perspective about climate change, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zORv8wwiadQ)

Even the idea that the authors of the constitution meant for corporations like Exxon/Mobil to have (and massively fund) "speech" as an individual would is highly questionable.

As for Exxon/Mobil execs' punishment: I'm not so sure that punishing the retarded, or those with poor impulse control with draconian penalties is really much of a deterrent. On the other hand, the death penalty for some white-collar crimes would really get some attention.

BTW, has anyone noticed that lawyers used to have to have partnerships -- which meant that such law offices were self-regulating? If one lawyer did illegal things, his liability for that was shared by all the other partners, so partners would rein in their less savory associates.

"Conservative" public policy makers have made limited liability LLCs the default organizational type for law offices now, so it's the wild west out there... not that our legal system was such great shakes at any time.

Posted by: Yoshidad | Jun 23, 2008 9:29:21 AM

Hansen is getting a free pass for the same reasons that scientists like PZ Meyers promoted Yoko Ono's injunction against Expelled.

I'm not a fan of ID or what is promoted in Expelled, but the ends do not justify the means (fortunately the case was thrown out for "Fair Use").

With any luck NOVA will be produce a well-craft production along the lines of Judgment Day, but this time to describe the sensationalism surrounding all of these environmental issues. (Yes, of course I burn several acres of rain forest each day and fan the flames with a can of CFCs).

Posted by: Tim Swanson | Jun 23, 2008 10:27:57 AM

Yoshidad writes:

"...the death penalty for some white-collar crimes would really get some attention."

I suppose this is the de facto "attention getter" for the left wing in the US.

Posted by: Rocky Mountain | Jun 23, 2008 11:04:39 AM

Yoshidad writes:

"...the death penalty for some white-collar crimes would really get some attention."

I suppose this is the de facto "attention getter" for the left wing in the US.

Posted by: Rocky Mountain | Jun 23, 2008 11:04:49 AM

Yoshidad writes:

"...the death penalty for some white-collar crimes would really get some attention."

I suppose this is the de facto "attention getter" for the left wing in the US.

Posted by: Rocky Mountain | Jun 23, 2008 11:05:04 AM

Yoshidad writes:

"...the death penalty for some white-collar crimes would really get some attention."

I suppose this is the de facto "attention getter" for the left wing in the US.

Posted by: Rocky Mountain | Jun 23, 2008 11:05:18 AM

"You could say the energy execs, by funding climate-instability-denial are yelling "no fire" when the planet is about to burn up..."

You could say that. But you'd be wrong. No fire. Sorry.

Posted by: vanderleun | Jun 23, 2008 11:18:22 AM

Is this the same Hansen that thinks he's censored? While yelling from the rooftops?

Posted by: rmark | Jun 23, 2008 12:59:28 PM

Yes. The very same...

Posted by: Mike | Jun 23, 2008 1:00:56 PM

OK, vanderleun you don't believe climate change is real, and are reassured the risk is manageable, even in light of this:http://www.youtube.com/user/wonderingmind42 (just a look at the risk management case, not a debate about whether the prospect of climate change is real)

Then what about these? (Kucinich's articles of impeachment) ... from the same crowd that brought Exxon and its biostitute climate change deniers such public prominence. Are you OK with these too?

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX
Imprisoning Children

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders

Posted by: Yoshidad | Jun 23, 2008 1:01:42 PM

It looks Hansen is the one yelling fire in a crowded theater.

http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/06/gret-moments-in.html


Posted by: clouse | Jun 23, 2008 1:31:45 PM

What do the crimes of the Bush administration have to do with Exxon's stance on climate change? Absolutely nothing. Yoshidad, you write cogently at times, but you've outed yourself as a frothing-at-the mouth conspiracy theorist.

Posted by: Josh | Jun 23, 2008 1:38:00 PM

"Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech"

Show of hands. Who feels the symbolic charge? Who even know about the anniversary?

Diagnosis of megalomania? Yep.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins | Jun 23, 2008 2:40:57 PM

Megalomania is the least of his problems:

"Persecutory Delusions, sometimes called Querulant delusions, are when a person believes (wrongly) that they are being picked on, or threatened by someone/something else."

Check!

"Induced Psychosis, sometimes called folie a deux, is when a person shares a delusional belief with someone else. This usually includes a person with a genuine delusional disorder, and someone who is close to the person, and dependent on them, and/or substantially less intelligent."

Check!

...

Posted by: Frederick Davies | Jun 23, 2008 3:44:31 PM

Um, has anyone else noticed that since Hansen's groundbreaking speech global twenty years ago temperatures have dropped?

Posted by: Scott | Jun 23, 2008 10:04:56 PM

Come on, Scott: they don't allow dirty facts to intrude in their beautifully constructed delusions.

Posted by: Frederick Davies | Jun 23, 2008 11:46:43 PM

It is interesting to note that Hansen first worked for a Columbia U scholar who promoted the idea of a coming Ice Age...An Ice Age sparked by changes in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. Hansen developed the computer program which correlated the data...Sound familiar? More here: http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialcontent.asp?secid=1501&status=article&id=275267681833290

Posted by: Scott Wiggins | Jun 24, 2008 2:31:53 PM

Something tells me that Hansen's comparison of Energy Companies to Tobacco Companies will have thousands of class action attorneys energized looking at the prospects of lawsuits. I happen to live in Charleston SC across the river from the Motley Rice Building. The Motley Rice law firm earned itself a billion dollars in legal fees having successfully sued Tobacco companies...Ness Motley even has a two hundred foot yacht parked at the Ashley Marina...And, people still smoke...They just have to pay a lot more to do it as Tobacco Companies pass on their costs...Get it! Scary thought I know...

Posted by: Scott Wiggins | Jun 24, 2008 2:44:55 PM

The difference between the tobacco lobby and the climate control lobby is that the former knew the facts...the latter cannot prove it and is ticked that we have the 'audacity' to ask!

Me thinks Yoshidad is koo koo for koko puffs.

Posted by: JPGR | Jun 25, 2008 7:22:36 PM

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