Nocera on Keystone
March 5, 2013 at 6:58 am
The usually liberal Times columnist Joe Nocera has a column highly critical of NASA's chief climate scientist James Hansen:
what people hear from Hansen today is not so much his science but his broad, unscientific views on, say, the evils of oil companies… There is, in fact, enormous resentment toward Hansen inside NASA, where many officials feel that their solid, analytical work on climate science is being lost in what many of them describe as "the Hansen sideshow." His activism is not really doing any favors for the science his own subordinates are producing.
It shows all the signs of being a surprising attack by the Times against left-wing orthodoxy. Yet the end of the column shows that Mr. Nocera and Mr. Hansen in the end don't really have a disagreement over principle or goals, but over tactics:
What is particularly depressing is that Hansen has some genuinely important ideas, starting with placing a graduated carbon tax on fossil fuels. Such a tax would undoubtedly do far more to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet than stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.
A carbon tax might be worth getting arrested over. But by allowing himself to be distracted by Keystone, Hansen is hurting the very cause he claims to care so much about.
At the Times even the pro-Keystone pipeline columnists favor a carbon tax! In other words, dissent is possible, but within limits.
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