January 30, 2006

Hansen Revisited

Filed under: Climate Politics

We’ve been getting a bunch of hits from people searching on “James Hansen” since the New York Times and Washington Post have both run articles in which Hansen claimed he was being censored by the Administration.

So, to make everyone’s life a bit easier (and since there is really not much new here), we’ve provided the links below to a couple of particularly poignant World Climate Report articles in which we covered Hansen’s political activities, his recent findings, and his philosophy on the reporting on the global warming issue. If you want more stories like these, we invite you to use our “Search” feature located in the righthand sidebar to search recent articles or go here to search our back issues (e.g., enter, say, “Hansen” for best results!).

Blowing Your Own Whistle

Summary: Prominent scientist James Hansen criticizes President Bush’s climate change policy, despite the fact that the policy is in part based on Hansen’s own findings.

This is unheard of: A prominent scientist in the pay of the federal government attacks the President in a crucial state (Iowa) one week before the election. Not just any prominent scientist, either, but James Hansen, recipient of $250,000 in pocket change from the Heinz Foundation, run by Mrs. John Kerry. Don’t worry, though, he said he was speaking as a private citizen because he paid his own way. With Mrs. Kerry’s money, we might add, in his family nest egg.
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James Hansen Increasingly Insensitive

Summary: It seems that the longer NASA scientist Jim Hansen studies the climate, the more insensitive he, or should we say, his interpretation of the climate, becomes.
Climate “sensitivity” is the change in surface temperature expected for each additional Watt of energy that is re-radiated onto the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere by slight changes in the greenhouse effect. The main cause of these changes in the greenhouse effect, of course, is the increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.
You would think that it would be big news when Hansen—the guy who started all this mess with his incendiary 1988 congressional testimony—lowers his estimate for the sensitivity to two-thirds of the value he used back then.

After all, he does get a lot of ink. That’s what happened in October, 2004, when he traveled to hotly contested and environmentally sensitive Iowa the weekend before the election, and publicly berated his Boss’ global warming policy. Talk about insensitive!
Hansen’s most recent figure, just published in Sciencexpress, is that the surface temperature ultimately changes 0.67˚C per Watt per square meter (W/m2). In 1988 he said it was a full degree, and in 2001 he lowered it to 0.75.

The lower the climate sensitivity, the less that the global temperature will rise in the future (given the same amount atmospheric carbon dioxide) and the lower the threat of catastrophic climate change.
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Observations Not Models

Summary: Urging caution regarding “implausible” and “unduly pessimistic” IPCC climate scenarios, NASA’s Hansen opts for observations to guide his forecasts of a 0.75ºC temperature rise by the year 2050.

NASA’s James Hansen, who is widely credited as being the “father of global warming” recently wrote that the climate change scenarios put forth in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR) “may be unduly pessimistic,” and that the IPCC extreme scenarios are “implausible.” In fact, he argues, the observed trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations for the past several years fall below all IPCC scenarios, so consequently future temperature rise will most like be about 0.75ºC during the next 50 years.
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Is soot, not CO2, to blame for the loss of Arctic ice?

Summary: There are three primary tools that global warming alarmists use in their arguments that anthropogenic enhancements to the world’s naturally occurring greenhouse effect are causing the climate to behave as it never has before and this will ultimately be catastrophic. They are 1) the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction for the past 1,000 years, which purports to show that left to its own devices, the global average temperature changes very little, yet it jumps at the slightest provocation from mankind; 2) the IPCC 21st century temperature projections which show a range of possible warming by century’s end that spans 1.4 to 5.8ºC (of course, the alarmist attention is given to the high end projection); and 3) the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been steadily declining for the past several decades and will be entirely gone in the summertime in the next 50 years as a result of rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. With the latest publication by NASA scientists Dorothy Koch and James Hansen, the final of these arguments now joins the first two in being soundly repudiated.
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AAAS “all-stars” lead biased discussion

Summary: On June 15, 2004, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) convened what they described as an “all-star” panel of U.S. climate scientists to discuss climate change. Never before has such a biased look at the issue been put together by a group that supposedly represents the purest ideals of science.
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Joint Statement of the G8 National Academies: A Non Sequitur

Summary: On June 7, 2005, a joint statement on climate change was issued by the national science academies of the G8 countries (the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan, and the United States) along with China, India and Brazil. The statement emphasized two primary points, 1) that climate change (as caused by human-induced alterations of the composition of the atmosphere) is real, and 2) something needs to be done about it.

As has been the case in the climate change debate for years, the second point simply does not follow from the first.
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