Saluting a Global Warming Hero

While in Washington yesterday to premiere Too Hot Not to Handle, the global warming film I exec-produced (it begins airing April 22 on HBO), I stopped by the Nation Institute's Ridenhour Awards for Truth Telling to help honor Rick Piltz. Piltz is the former NASA employee who resigned in protest after Philip Cooney, the former oil industry hack, altered and significantly weakened the meaning of an arduously researched global warming report Piltz had prepared.

When the story hit the press, Cooney was shown the White House door -- then, in one of the quickest turnarounds in job-seeking history, was hired two days later by ExxonMobil.

By sacrificing his job, Piltz shined a bright light on the administration's epidemic disregard for science. So it was a thrill to see him being recognized for his courage -- and for showing Americans that misinformation can come from the very places designed to protect them.

An hour later, I had tea at my hotel with a couple of government employees also working on climate issues. In low whispers, they told me that it is tougher than ever for them to speak freely. They are not allowed to publicly talk about climate issues without pre-approval, oversight, and someone from the White House listening in on the call.

NASA whistleblower James Hansen, the formerly muzzled scientist, only agreed to return to work after being promised that he can now speak freely. Someone needs to send that memo over to the EPA.