Bush administration's global warming policy faulted by NASA expert

Discussion of dangers discouraged, he says

October 26, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming plans to criticize the administration's approach to the issue in a lecture at the University of Iowa tonight and say that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures.

The expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, expects to say that the Bush administration has ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes.

In the talk, Hansen, who describes himself as "moderately conservative, middle-of-the-road" and registered in Pennsylvania as an independent, plans to say that he will vote for Sen. John Kerry, while also criticizing some of Kerry's positions, particularly his pledge to keep nuclear waste out of Nevada.

He will acknowledge that one of the accolades he has received for his work on climate change is a $250,000 Heinz Award, given in 2001 by a foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife.

In a draft of the talk, a copy of which Hansen provided to The New York Times yesterday, he wrote that President Bush's climate policy, which puts off consideration of binding cuts in such emissions until 2012, was likely to be too little too late.

In the speech, Hansen also says that last year, after he gave a presentation on the dangers of human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate shifts to Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator, "the administrator interrupted me; he told me that I should not talk about dangerous anthropogenic interference, because we do not know enough or have enough evidence for what would constitute dangerous anthropogenic interference."

After conferring with O'Keefe, Glenn Mahone, the administrator's spokesman, said O'Keefe had a different recollection of the meeting. "To say the least, Sean is certain that he did not admonish or even suggest that there be a throttling back of research efforts" by Hansen or his team, Mahone said.

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