Saturday, March 22, 2008

The late Claire Patterson, Dr. James Hansen and the Need for more Scientific Heroes across the Globe

The late Claire Patterson, Dr. James Hansen and the Need for more Scientific Heroes across the Globe

By Kevin Stoda


Clair C. Patterson likely saves the world twice in the 20th Century and most folks don’t know who he was. Patterson was the scientist who fought big business in America and political allies in the 1950s and 1960s and proved that lead poisoning in the atmosphere stemmed primarily from auto fumes, i.e. Ethel or leaded gasoline.

By the 1950s Patterson had noted through his research that people on planet earth were already suffering and dying from increased atmospheric lead poisoning starting in the 1920s when the Ethel (lead) was first added regularly to fuels to reduce knocks.

Lead in U.S. gasoline was banned in the 1970s thanks to Clair Patterson’s tireless campaigning. The subsequent banning of lead in fuels in other countries around the globe in the following year and decades has saved untold thousands of lives--and possibly helped millions to avoid suffering unnecessarily due to man-made lead in the atmosphere.

In fighting for the health of millions, the brilliant scientist Patterson, who discovered the age of the earth in the 1950s, was one of the first to study glaciers to interpret climate change in the 20th century.

Interestingly, Clair Patterson’s other research also led scientists to warn of the global dangers of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were also banned in the U.S. 1970s and subsequently around the world starting in the mid 1980s. CFCs were identified as the primary culprit behind the depletion of the Ozone in the world’s atmosphere.

Until the 1970s refrigeration technologies & related industries around the planet earth had been expanding the usage of CFCs for decades.


AFTER BEING SAVED TWICE—WHAT NOW?


With the passing of Clair Patterson at the end of the last millennium, our planet has needed new scientific heroes.

One of the more important modern heroes, i.e. walking in the footsteps of the forgotten Clair Patterson, has been Dr. James Hansen. Dr. Hansen first spoke to Congress in 1987 about the threat of global warming to our’ and future generations here on earth.

According to the report and interviews on Democracy Now this past Friday, called “Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming”, http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/21/censoring_science_inside_the_political_attack

Dr. Hansen’s reports for the U.S. science agencies have been censored many times in the past two decades. For example, this occurred around 1990 under the George Herbert Walker Bush administration and then again in this very decade through the antics and weak cover-ups of scientific facts and data analyses by the current George W. Bush administration.

Despite his battles with both NASA, Karl Rove, and others in the Bush administrations who have tried to shut him up, Dr. Hansen has time and again made his voice and the finding of the research from the Goddard Instituted public and well-circulated.

For example, a NASA report last spring 2007 clearly stated the findings of empirical studies and modeling trumpeting the concern for the adverse role that man-made climate change was having on atmospheric warming: “NASA and Columbia University Earth Institute research finds that human-made greenhouse gases have brought the Earth's climate close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous consequences for the planet.”


WILL SCIENTIFIC HEROES WIN OUT—OR BAD POLITICAL SPIN?


In short, despite 7-8 years of trying to squelch the facts, the light of truth is shining from NASA and other scientific communities around the world, global warming is a worse threat than ever.

Not since man-made CFCs and man-made lead products threatened the globe through the 1980s has the world faced a greater threat.

Yet, the disinformation campaign that oil companies and Republican bigwigs have been producing in the U.S. leads me still to find that BBC, CNN, and other discussion lists are still filled with ill-informed naysayers.

They claim the sky is NOT FALLING!!!!

No, propaganda wimp!! They aren’t falling, the skies are getting HOT, HOT, HOTTER!!!!

Just check out the glaciers on every continent warming up at this important website:
http://www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org/pages/glaciers.html

This year-old NASA fact-sheet shows temperatures rising in the eastern part of the continental USA by 10 degrees in about 7 decades!
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20070509/

Moreover, NASA finds that storms are furthered to get more volatile as the planet heats up: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20070830/

Meanwhile, as glaciers turn into wetlands, it is possible that are future will not include a planet that is able (or willing) to absorb the increasing heat and heat related problems that man has had a hand in creating: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/matthews_02/


CENSORSHIP OF CLIMATE SCIENCE ISN’T ISOLATED CASE


According to a National Coalition Against Censorship report on science in America, http://ncac.org/science/20070312%7EUSA%7ENew_Report_Discusses_Censorship_Of_Science.cfm
Censorship from the government has been occurring on many fronts.

Referring to a recent administrative attack on research related to wildlife in the U.S. said Jay Dyckman, Director of The Knowledge Project at NCAC, stated, “This directive is a violation of scientists’ free speech rights…[and although] the government has the right to require its scientists to clarify that their opinions do not represent official government positions, but it cannot suppress information scientists produce simply because that information does not conform to the Administration’s policy goals.”

On the other hand, worse (in some cases) than direct censorship in science may be the domain of self-censorship promoted by those receiving funds and not desiring to turn-off donors, leadership of various sort, or potential donors & supports by failing to fully reveal findings or to provide adequate details on research in fairly open manners.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0210_050210_censorship.html

National Geographic reported a survey in 2005 about the fact that “surprisingly, the results showed that scientists feel most affected by informal constraints.”
The researchers found: “Such constraints include the threat of social sanction. Scientists may stay away from research not because it's illegal, but because it breaches an unspoken rule about what is appropriate to study and what is not.”
On the other hand, I can certainly think of many scientists in military related research projects who don’t perceive any social sanctions among their peer groups to stop them from continuing.

The National Geographic article did report that research related to sex is frequently the most taboo and both federal funding and private funding have been limiting modern day Kinseys’ research in this field for decades.


WHO WILL BE THE NEXT OR NEW SCIENTIFIC HEROES?


The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has put out a scorching report on the world wide decline of glaciers due to suddenly rising global temperatures.

The report is entitled: “Going, Going, Gone. Climate Change and Global Glacier Decline!”
http://assets.panda.org/downloads/glacierspaper.pdf
Only now are major political and economic thinkers beginning to push to get China and India, Indonesia, et. al to join the West in the worldwide concern and common interpretation of facts revealing the reality of climate change.

For example, some economists, like Paul Krugman, notice that CLIMATE CHANGE is the issue of the 21st century.

Krugman wrote recently in an article called “Dealing with the Dragon”:
“Last, but most important, is the issue of climate change, which will eventually be recognized as the most crucial problem facing America and the world — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives. Why is climate change a China issue? Well, China is already, by some estimates, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And as with oil demand, China plays a disproportionate role in emissions growth. In fact, between 2000 and 2005 China accounted for more than half the increase in the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide.

Krugman continues, “What this means is that any attempt to mitigate global warming will be woefully inadequate unless it includes China. Indeed, back in 2001, when he reneged on his campaign promise to limit greenhouse gas emissions, President Bush cited the fact that the Kyoto treaty didn’t include China and India as an excuse for doing nothing. But the real problem is how to make China part of the solution.”
Basically, the linkage will have to come from the scientists and technological experts in India, China, the USA, and other parts of the globe.

These scientists, engineers, and developmental policy experts will have to be able to come up with not only climate models that are accepted by more and more of the remaining badly informed skeptics world-wide, but they will have to be able to offer technological and policy solutions to the problems of both man-made global warming and natural global warming.

Let us not only pray for such heroes and intellectual leaders to step forward!
Scientists most step forward of their own accord and stand up for what the atmospheric changes are telling all informed peoples to do now.

Simply put, this third major attack on our atmosphere in less than 50 years, i.e. global warming, requires many more Clair C. Pattersons and Dr. James Hansens across the planet who stand up to governments, boards of directors of firms & universities, and screwy think tanks—and tell the truth over and over until no naysayers are left in the room!!!

Self-censorship cannot be allowed a place in this discussion.




NOTES

Biographical Memoirs: Clair C. Patterson, http://www.nap.edu/html/biomems/cpatterson.html

“Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming”, http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/21/censoring_science_inside_the_political_attack

Krugman, Paul, “Dealing with the Dragon”, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/04/opinion/04krugman.html

“Political Science: A Report on Science & Censorship”, http://ncac.org/science/political_science.pdf

“Research Finds That Earth's Climate is Approaching 'Dangerous' Point” http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20070530/

“Speaking of Public Health: Lead Pollution”, http://leisureguy.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/speaking-of-public-health-lead-pollution/

World View on Global Warming, http://www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org/pages/glaciers.html

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