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Reason Foundation

Clouding Up Man-Made Global Warming

Final dispatch from the International Conference on Climate Change in New York

Ronald Bailey
March 11, 2009

March 9, New York—The participants at the final lunch of the International Climate Change Conference in New York were in a celebratory and pugnacious mood. On the one hand, these skeptics feel beleaguered—who would not?—from their antagonists constantly comparing them to Holocaust "deniers" and calling for them to be tried for "high crimes against humanity and nature." On the other hand, they are cheered by recent polls indicating public skepticism of the claims of imminent catastrophe made by climate "alarmists." In a January Pew Research Center poll, global warming came in dead last on a list of issues of concern to Americans. At the luncheon, retired NASA climatologist John Theon rose to lament the fact that he hadn't fired James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an ardent advocate of the idea that man-made global warming is a catastrophe in the making. The audience burst into applause when Theon called Hansen an "embarrassment." In 1988, Hansen launched global warming as a public policy issue in his testimony before a congressional committee. Theon admitted that he actually couldn't have fired Hansen, who had powerful political protectors, most notably then-Senator and later Vice President Al Gore. So had Theon tried to do it, it's much more likely that he himself would have been out on the street rather than Hansen.

Ronald Bailey is Science Correspondent

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