Censoring Science

336 pages
Size: 6-¼” x 9-¼”

Pub Date: 12/27/2007
ISBN: 9780525950141

Cs Paperback Cover

Plume Paperback
Pub date: 12/27/2008
ISBN: 9780452289628

Improved Graph:

Owing to a mix-up during
our hasty production process,
the scales were inadvertently dropped from the vertical
axes of the graph on
page 290 of the first
printing of Censoring Science.
This and a few other minor errors were rectified in the paperback edition.

To view, download, or
print the corrected graph,
please click the image:

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"One sweltering June afternoon in 1988, an understated Iowan named James Hansen turned global warming into an international issue with one sentence. He told a group of reporters in a hearing room, just after testifying to a Senate committee, 'It’s time to stop waffling ... and say that the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate now.'

At first, it seemed that our policy makers got the message. ..."

— from Chapter 1

"Jim Hansen’s science contributions are important and many. Censoring Science focuses on a responsibility that Hansen and all good scientists take seriously—to fully and freely communicate what they discover with the public and its leaders.”
—Dr. Ralph Cicerone, President, United States National Academy of Sciences.

“... brimming with nuggets of scientific gold, broken down and deftly conveyed through specific political contexts with a literary flair for good old-fashioned story-telling I have rarely witnessed this side of Carl Sagan.”
Daily Kos (Full Review)

The most controversial release of the season is Mark Bowen’s Censoring Science. The book is an exploration of NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen’s unfruitful attempts to warn the public about the dangers of global warming. It’s most compelling, though, in its damning expose of the U.S. government’s resistance to meaningful, environmental policy change – and its illogical commitment to muzzling one of the nation’s brightest scientists. Global warming and politics aren’t traditionally sexy topics, but this book’s scandal-filled pages make this expose a real page-turner.
ABCNews.com, Christmas Day, 2007

Reviews of Censoring Science

Publishers Weekly

Kirkus (Starred Review)

An eye-opening account of government efforts to silence the nation’s leading climate scientist.

Hansen, long-time director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, made headlines in early 2006 when he refused to buckle under government pressure to soft-pedal warnings on the dangerous reality of global warming. In this understated but important book, author and physicist Bowen (Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World’s Highest Mountains, 2005) demonstrates how science news makes its way into the media from deep within the labyrinthine space agency. Since the agency’s founding in 1958, reporters have had direct access to NASA scientists. That changed in recent years, writes Bowen, when high-level NASA political appointees began trying to control scientists’ conversations with the media, especially about climate science and global warming. Drawing on interviews, e-mails and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Bowen tells a chilling story of deliberate efforts by senior NASA managers, acting in concert with the Bush White House, to play up uncertainties and minimize dangers regarding global warming. Never made in writing, directives were generally issued orally, and in closed-door meetings, to NASA public-affairs officers, who were asked to act against their own principles and obtain approval from appointees before scientists could speak to the media. Hansen spoke out on 60 Minutes, noting government efforts to restrict his statements on 2005 as the warmest year on record. Bowen details the manipulations; shows how conservative NASA press officer George Deutsch was scapegoated as a rogue trying to control Hansen (while higher-ups declared an open-door media policy); and reveals how the White House “orchestrated” censorship on climate science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and elsewhere. Amid the attack on credible, unbiased science, writes Bowen, Hansen despairs that no real progress is being made on global warming.

A must-read not just for environmentalists but for all politically conscientious readers.

Publishers Weekly

This portrait of NASA climate scientist James Hansen and his decades-long struggle to alert the public about global warming’s perils and potential solutions ranges from deeply disturbing and frightening to inspiring. Disturbing, as Bowen (Thin Ice) gives convincing evidence that the Bush administration did its best to control NASA scientists’ communication with the public in order to undermine belief in global warming and belittle its consequences. According to Bowen, the administration set up ideological political loyalists in positions formerly held by career professionals, gutted NASA’s earth science budget, then denied these actions. Frightening, as Hansen concludes that “climate is significantly more sensitive” than two years ago and that “our choice” may be “not between no change and a significant change, but between a significant change and disaster.” Inspiring, in Bowen’s portrayal of Hansen, who obeys the “Feynman admonition” in both science and policy-”describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be.” Bowen’s in-depth treatments of politics and science, although hard going at times, give his arguments substance. Hansen’s conviction that tools exist right now to mitigate the worst effect-if only we will use them-is surprisingly hopeful.


Publishers Weekly