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?

  • Yoshidad

    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.

  • http://www.movementarian.com Tim Swanson

    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).

  • Rocky Mountain

    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.

  • Rocky Mountain

    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.

  • Rocky Mountain

    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.

  • Rocky Mountain

    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.

  • http://americandigest.org vanderleun

    "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.

  • rmark

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

  • Mike

    Yes. The very same...

  • Yoshidad

    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

  • clouse

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

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

  • Josh

    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.

  • Bob Hawkins

    "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.

  • Frederick Davies

    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!

    ...

  • Scott

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

  • Frederick Davies

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

  • Scott Wiggins

    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

  • Scott Wiggins

    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...

  • JPGR

    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.