Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), a member of the House Science Committee who recently claimed that Earth's best feature was that "if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out," is glad that top NASA climate scientist James Hansen has retired. With him gone, Stockman told the Houston Chronicle on Thursday, there might be more room for those who, like the congressman, deny man-made climate change.
“I hope they investigate other causes and not be myopic about it,” Stockman told the Chronicle of his hopes for future NASA climate research. Earlier in the interview the congressman suggested that Hansen's data had been skewed by his belief that anthropogenic climate change was real, an insistence that Stockman claimed may have been influenced by financial support from environmentalists.
While Stockman sits on the House Science Committee, he, like many Republican members, is resistant to studies that show climate change to be a function of human activity. He called global warming a "new fad thing" in 2009, encouraging people to reject new studies on the issue because "we like our lifestyles." That same year, he also spoke at a conference for climate change skeptics in Denmark on behalf of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a group that funds studies that aid the cause of climate change denial.
A pioneer of climate science, Hansen testified before Congress in 1988 and announced that the planet was beginning to feel the effects of man-made global warming. He's been a vocal activist and avid researcher on the subject since. While the congressman may be happy to see the climate scientist leave NASA, Hansen plans to intensify his efforts to combat climate change.
As The New York Times reported this week:
At the same time, retirement will allow Dr. Hansen to press his cause in court. He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.
“As a government employee, you can’t testify against the government,” he said in an interview.
Hansen has already begun to take the fight to a Washington establishment that appears in no hurry to address what he has long warned is the threat of burning fossil fuels. On Thursday, he penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times encouraging President Barack Obama not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In February, Hansen was arrested after protesting the planned Keystone pipeline outside the White House.