Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!

The Inquisition Redux

Throughout history few people gain the recognition to become part of humanity’s everyday lexicon, especially if they commit heresy. Indeed, Galileo, whose name rhymes with grade school learning, suffered ridicule at the hands of the world’s highest authorities in the 17th century. But, nowadays Galileo is a hero.

Arguably, Dr. James Hansen is today’s Galileo. The Inquisition still stands tall.

As of January 2015, Dr. Hansen, the world’s foremost climate scientist, says: “We can anticipate that global warming will continue on decadal time scales, because earth is out of energy balance – more energy coming in than going out—as a result of increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide,” James Hansen, et al, Global Temperature in 2014 and 2015, January 16, 2015.

As Hansen discovered while in graduate school, Venus experienced a similar atmospheric complexity like Earth but many, many millennia ago. As a result, today Venus is 860 °F with very thick CO2 atmosphere.

In many respects Dr. Hansen is today’s carbon copy of Galileo. Similar to today, four-hundred years ago science was viciously attacked: “We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo… have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world,” Galileo is Convicted of Heresy, This Day in History: April 12, 1633,

In 1633, Chief Inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzola, who was appointed by Pope Urban VIII, convicted Galileo of heresy and sentenced to house arrest until he died blind at the age of 78.

Zooming ahead 400 years with television replacing scrolls and on March 17, 2006, Dr. James Hansen, America’s most renowned scientist, is interviewed on television’s 60 Minutes by Scott Pelley, who inquires about government censorship of science.

Hansen: “In my more than three decades in the government I’ve never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public, says Hansen. Restrictions like an e-mail Hansen’s institute received from NASA in 2004. ‘There is a new review process,’ the e-mail read. ‘The White House (is) now reviewing all climate related press releases.”

Heavens to Betsy, not only does the Bush/Cheney administration violate the Cradle of Civilization in the Fertile Crescent with bold-faced lies, leading America into a one-sided slaughter of innocent Iraqis, thereby, making Attila the Hun look like a lightweight, the fearsome twosome also took on all of civilization by reverting back to the tried-and-true methodology of Inquisition, censoring scientists, thereby blocking from public view a thorough, scientific understanding of the threat of global warming.

Four hundred years later, the Inquisition continues, as strong as ever.

Essentially, Bush/Cheney became surrogate “Chief Inquisitors for Pope Urban VIII ” by shutting down the world’s foremost climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, as the nation spins backwards.

Contemplating Bush/Cheney’s schtick, i.e., their awful, monstrous, unseemly raison d’être for pretty much everything they did lends a smidgen of credibility to the perpetual 911 conspiracy crowd “inside job” theories, but who knows for sure?

21st Century Galileo [Hansen] Warns Humanity

Dr. James E. Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City from 1981 to 2013, is likely the top climate scientist in the world, having studied under the tutelage of the notable Dr. James Van Allen at the
University of Iowa, where Dr. Hansen was trained in physics and astronomy, achieving highest distinction honors.

Early on, his depth of research/analyses/papers about Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, tipped him off that, similar to the Venus wipeout, global warming threatens Earth. Interestingly enough, it’s believed that billions of years ago its atmosphere was similar to Earth with surface water.

Subsequently, runaway global warming turned Venus into a furnace at 860 °F, even hotter than Mercury, which is actually closer to the sun. Today, Venus’s atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide (CO2). It was Dr. Hansen who directed NASA’s first space probe to Venus, the Pioneer Venus Project.

Meantime, back here on Earth, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is +43% to 400 ppm since the industrial revolution, increasingly becoming civilization’s bête noire.

In 1988 Dr. Hansen famously warned “detection of the greenhouse effect” before a Senate hearing astutely followed by worldwide news networks. The New York Times June 24th, 1988 headline read: “Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate.”

Ever since that Senate hearing, “Dr. James Hansen” has become synonymous with “global warming.”

21st Century Galileo [Hansen] Speaks Out

According to Dr. Hansen’s opening statement in a TEDTalk, Long Beach, California, February 2012: “What do I know that would cause me, a reticent Midwestern scientist, to get myself arrested in front of the White House, protesting, and what would you do, if you knew what I know?”

In 1981 he co-published an article concluding “That earth would likely warm in the 1980s, and warming would exceed the noise level of random weather by the end of the century. We also said that the 21st century would see shifting climate zones, creation of drought-prone regions in North America and Asia, erosion of ice sheets, rising sea levels and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage. All of these impacts have since happened or are well underway” (Hansen).

In 2004 Dr. Hansen gave a talk at the University of Iowa, criticizing the Bush/Cheney administration for supressing science and again in 2005 at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

“In a speech before an audience at the University of Iowa, James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the Bush administration is suppressing evidence of global warming. He says that officials routinely dismiss such evidence on grounds that it is not of sufficient interest to the public. However, studies that suggest less alarming interpretations of climate data are treated more favorably, he says. According to Hansen, officials have also edited reports to downplay the potential effects of global warming. Hansen thinks the administration is trying to keep the public uninformed about the issue,” ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/26/2006.

Those talks led to calls from the White House to NASA headquarters with instructions to restrict Dr. Hansen’s future speeches, who became persona nongrata by forewarning the country of the dangers of fossil fuel usage, like Galileo, telling the truth. History will show that Dr. Hansen is the 21st century’s Galileo. But, back then, Bush/Cheney silenced him, almost.

“I was told that I could not give any talks or speak to the media without prior explicit approval by NASA headquarters. After I informed the NYT about these restrictions, NASA was forced to end the censorship, but there were consequences. I’d been using the first line of the NASA mission statement: ‘To Understand and Protect the Home Planet’ to justify my talks. Soon the first line of the mission statement was deleted. Never to appear again.”

Facts About Energy Imbalance

“Adding CO2 to the atmosphere is like throwing another blanket on the bed. It reduces earth’s heat radiation to space so there is a temporary energy imbalance… the key quantity is earth’s energy imbalance, more is coming in than going out, if so, then more warming is in the pipeline. It will occur without adding any more greenhouse gases,” James Hansen, TEDTalk, February 29, 2012.

In short, once CO2 gets into the atmosphere, it stays, and without adding CO2, temperatures still increase. This is the curse of global warming. Today’s CO2 is tomorrow’s heat, into the distant future. Once triggered, it self-perpetuates. Venus is proof.

Thus, greenhouse gases (GHGs) are like a prodigious immovable object, like a medieval moat, surrounding the planet, preventing solar radiation from bouncing back out into outer space.

Helplessly, Earth’s atmosphere is extraordinarily sensitive to small amounts of fine-tuning caused by relatively small levels of GHGs. Consider this: Dr. Kerry Emanuel, department of Earth Atmospheric & Planetary Science, MIT explains the atmosphere as follows: Earth’s atmosphere is 99% oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), and Argon (AR). This 99% is entirely transparent to solar radiation, meaning 99% of the atmosphere does not impact global warming in the slightest because it is transparent to the radiation. (Source: Professor Kerry Emanuel, What we Know About Climate Change, TEDTalk, 2008).

Withal, it’s the trace gases less than 1% of the atmosphere that determines whether we have a habitable, temperate planet. These GHGs like carbon dioxide (CO2) determine whether temperatures on Earth are Below Zero or above 60 °F. Thus, only a tiny sliver of greenhouse gases keeps people alive. But, beware; Venus is a prime example of greenhouse gases gone berserk.

Consider this: Think what happens in the typical home when the thermostat is turned up by 43% from 70 °F to 100 °F, which is the same identical rate of increase of CO2 into our atmosphere from 280 ppm to 400 ppm or +43%, since the industrial revolution. The house gets really, really hot à la Venus.

We can measure earth’s energy imbalance precisely by measuring heat content in earth’s reservoirs. For example, the Upper Ocean is gaining heat at a rapid rate. And, the land to depths of tens of meters is also warming much more so than ever before.

Earth’s total energy imbalance is about 0.06 of a watt per square meter. When added up over the whole world, the total number is absolutely enormous. It is twenty times greater than all of the energy used by humanity (Hansen).

This is truly a major, significant, frightening energy imbalance, similar in amount to thousands of hydrogen bombs exploding every day, something Venus likely experienced, but here on Earth, humans are expediting, speeding up, accelerating the process, whereas on Venus, it naturally took millions upon millions upon millions of years.

The only way to restore the massive energy imbalance is to take CO2 levels in the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm from 400 ppm. Dreadfully, CO2 emission levels are pointing straight up, not down, as emissions from fossil fuels continue to power capitalism’s industry… to the gallows.

“We are on track to do much more than double CO2, maybe 1,000 ppm by 2100” (Emanuel).

Meanwhile, climate change deniers, many of them Republicans, argue that the sun is the main cause of climate change, but the planet’s energy imbalance already occurred during the deepest solar minimum in the record, when the Sun’s energy reaching earth is its least in recorded history. This dissolves the Republican argument against human-caused global warming.

Consider this: It’s a blessing the sun has been at a minimal. Imagine the consequences if it were at its maximum!

Even with the current weak Solar Cycle 24, which started in 2008: “Yet, there is more energy coming in than going out. This shows that the affect of the sun’s variations on climate change is overwhelmed by increasing greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuel” (Hansen).

Dr. Hansen’s TEDTalk includes a projection for rising sea levels: “What sea level rise can we look forward to? The last time CO2 was 392 ppm, today’s value, sea level was higher by at least 15 meters, 50 feet…. Most estimates are that this century we’ll get at least one meter, or 3.3 feet. I think it will be even more if we continue burning fossil fuels, perhaps 5 meters, or 18 feet.”

Furthermore, unless we stop and reverse CO2, the 21st century will trigger tipping points, a process of out of control self-reinforcing global warming, the end times. Hello Venus.

Fossil Fuel CO2 Guarantees Tipping Points

According to Dr. Hansen, “Instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs to society, our governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels by $400 to $500 billion per year worldwide…. This path, if continued, guarantees we will pass tipping points… Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. That is what we face now.”

Tipping points like an ice-free Arctic triggering massive release of methane (CH4) with concomitant runaway global warming (Venus) or a sudden frenzy of cascading Antarctic ice shelves, like the Larsen B Ice Shelf (2002) 1,250 square miles of ice, splintering, cascading into the ocean within only a few weeks.

All of which assures that the “Bush/Cheney nexus” wins a loser’s game.

As of today, in line with the “Bush/Cheney nexus,” as in monkey see, monkey do, some states within the United States are calling-out any state employee who even goes so far as to speak the words “climate change.”

Inexplicably, this childish policy makes the Inquisition look good.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at

Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat