So who is John S Theon?

The usual denialists (e.g. The Register) are excited because some guy they never heard of before has joined Inhofe’s merry band, writing:

“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made.”

M. J. Murphy has some information about Theon. It seems that Inhofe’s claim that Theon was Hansen’s supervisor is completely untrue:

Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation…

Read the last bit closely. Being “in effect” Hansen’s supervisor is here contrasted with being “in reality” Hansen’s supervisor–being the guy who gives Hansen his annual performance appraisal, in other words–which, frankly, does linguistic violence to the term.

Gavin Schmidt writes:

Dr. Theon appears to have retired from NASA in 1994, some 15 years ago. Until yesterday I had never heard of him (despite working with and for NASA for the last 13 years). His insights into both modelling and publicity appear to date from then, rather than any recent events. He was not Hansen’s ‘boss’ (the director of GISS reports to the director of GSFC, who reports to the NASA Administrator). His “some scientists” quote is simply a smear – which scientists? where? what did they do? what data? what manipulation? This kind of thing plays well with Inhofe et al because it appears to add something to the ‘debate’, but in actual fact there is nothing here. Just vague, unsubstantiated accusations.

And Joe Romm finds some more misrepresentations in Inhofe’s press release:

The Morano post blares:

NYT’s Revkin chides Hansen for promoting sea level claims that are not ‘even physically possible’

But let’s go the link and see what Revkin actually wrote. …

Sea level is a case in point. Jim’s views are clearly at the upper boundary of what many glaciologists and oceanographers together see as realistic, or even physically possible, in a warming world.

Whether you agree with Revkin or Hansen on the science, Revkin never asserted that Hansen promoted sea level claims that were not even physically possible.


  1. #1 tom crowley
    April 27, 2010

    I spent some time at NASA/Greenbelt in the 1980’s – it is my understanding that John Theon was at NASA headquarters at that time. that does not make his present attitudes correct, but neither does it mean he was completely out of the loop, or just loopy. unless there is direct evidence to the contrary I think one must assume that he had some level of credibility to arrive at the position of a senior NASA administrator.

    these broad-brush condemnations of anyone who “disses” some climate person don’t seem very helpful to me. in fact they sound pretty arrogant, and I am writing this as someone who has written about and discussed the reality of global warming.

    tom crowley

  2. #2 frank
    April 27, 2010

    > unless there is direct evidence to the contrary

    There was plenty of evidence given on this thread. You ignored all of it.

    > I am writing this as someone who has written about and discussed the reality of global warming.

    This sort of concern trolling is getting old, you know.

  3. #3 Robert Leather
    August 10, 2010

    “denialists”? Your story has all the makings and tropes of a hit piece. Please stick to the scientific facts and don’t mix in politics.

  4. #4 Wow
    August 10, 2010

    denialist is a correct and non-political trope.

    If someone denies all the masses of evidence and evinces NO skepticism of counter claims against climate change, then denial is the ACTUAL DEFINITIONAL TERM.

    Learn your native language, Rob.

  5. #5 Rudy B
    July 1, 2011

    It may come as no surprise to anyone that Theon’s stuff is published by that bastion of BS – the heartland institute

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