Conservative group sues NASA for climate scientist’s records

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Joe Romm, who writes the climate change blog housed at the liberal Center for American Progress, said Horner’s group is seeking to distract attention from climate change. 

“The goal of organizations like Horner’s is to spread disinformation and, like the magician, to make sure you don’t focus on what’s really going on, the state of the science, which continues to get stronger and more alarming,” Romm said, citing an effort to “discredit individual scientists.”

Hansen has for decades spoken of the dangers of global warming. “He has been right for longer on this subject maybe than anyone else,” Romm said.

The lawsuit notes Hansen’s receipt of environmental awards — such as the $100,000 Sophie prize last year — as well as speaking fees, and seeks to compel information about whether he received waivers for the outside work.

“Under federal statutes and NASA rules, employees may not privately benefit from their public office,” Horner said in a statement. “Outside income must be disclosed, certain activities avoided, and permission must be applied for before engaging in permissible outside employment or activities.”

Hansen and a NASA spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The American Tradition Institute has also sought correspondence and other information related to another prominent climate scientist, Michael Mann, from when he was at the University of Virginia.

Mann, now with Pennsylvania State University, is well-known for creating the “hockey stick” chart that reconstructs temperatures over the past millennium and shows a sharp uptick in the 20th century.

He is among the researchers whose emails with other scientists were made public with the hacking of messages in late 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in the United Kingdom.

Climate skeptics have alleged the messages revealed efforts to squelch information that undercuts evidence of human-induced climate change. But multiple probes have found that the CRU-linked researchers did not try to manipulate or suppress data.