Celebrity worship

Number of hits returned when Googling news sources for "James Hansen" (head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and perhaps the world's best-known climatologist, who was arrested in front of the White House this week as part of a coordinated climate change campaign) and "Keystone" (XL, the expansion of a continental oil pipeline that will bring Canadian oil sands product to refineries in the southern U.S.): 208

Number of hits returned when Googling news sources for "Daryl Hannah" (Splash and Blade Runner actress) and "Keystone": 659.

(Searches carried out Aug. 31, 2011 at 8:50 a.m.)

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The only cheerful take I have on celebrities and politics is that we expect our actors to be able to show us what we'd feel in unusual circumstances; so maybe we agree that, if we knew as much as they did about an issue, we'd agree with them.

If you were the picture editor of a paper, would you imagine your readers more interested in a photo of a sixty something balding man (Hansen) or a blonde and still attractive fifty one year old former filmstar?

Hansen might be a star in scientific terms, but for most people, Hannah is much more interesting. Its the real world, and we just have to make the best of it.

As a reporter put it this morning, 'the arrest of the actress Daryl Hannah is probably the best thing thatâs happened for opponents of an environmentally questionable pipeline'. At least their reading about it...