Abandoning All Claims to Serious Public Debate

By June 23, 2008General

If you fancy yourself the brave teller of truth, the apotheosis of science, a bringer of insight available only to a Ph.D., it might get frustrating when people say, “No, I disagree with you.”

But when out of frustration you start to call people criminals, you’ve lost claim to be taken seriously. At that point…fanaticism.

NASA scientist James Hansen, speaking at a political event at the House of Representatives on Monday, one orchestrated by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA):

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children. Humanity would be impoverished by ravages of continually shifting shorelines and intensification of regional climate extremes. Loss of countless species would leave a more desolate planet.

You know, Hansen, maybe you’re wrong.

And you may also be encouraging the less balanced in the world to do something really fanatical and really criminal.

P.S. Odd in the NYT blog post, as if the reporter was trying to ingratiate himself: “The remark was not tossed off and is much more fully fleshed out in the written statement. (With his permission, I’ve added added the statement to the bottom of this post).”

Why would the reporter ask permission? Hansen’s a public figure making a statement at a public event. Would one ask permission from the CEO of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal?

P.P.S. More from Walter Olson at Point of Law.

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