NASA’s chief climate scientist is in hot water with colleagues and at least one lawmaker after calling on citizens to engage in civil disobedience at what is being billed as the largest public protest of global warming ever in the United States.
In a video on capitolclimateaction.org, Dr. James Hansen is seen urging Americans to “take a stand on global warming” during the March 2 protest at the Capitol Power Plant in Southeast Washington, D.C.
“We need to send a message to Congress and the president that we want them to take the actions that are needed to preserve climate for young people and future generations and all life on the planet,” says Hansen, who has likened coal-fired power plants to “factories of death” and claims he was muzzled by the Bush administration when he warned of drastic climate changes.
“What has become clear from the science is that we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without creating a very different planet. The only practical way to solve the problem is to phase out the biggest source of carbon — and that’s coal.”
But critics say Hansen’s latest call to action blurs the line between astronomer and activist and may violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from participating in partisan political activity.
“Oh my goodness,” one of Hansen’s former supervisors, Dr. John Theon, told FOXNews.com when informed of the video. “I’m not surprised … The fact that Jim Hansen has gone off the deep end here is sad because he’s a good fellow.”
Theon, a former senior NASA atmospheric scientist, rebuked Hansen last month in a letter to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, saying Hansen had violated NASA’s official position on climate forecasting without sufficient evidence and embarrassed the agency by airing his claims before Congress in 1988.
“Why he has not been fired I do not understand,” Theon said. “As a civil servant, you can’t participate in calling for a public demonstration. You may be able to participate as a private citizen, but when you go on the Internet and call for people to break the law, that’s a problem.”