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Hansen in the New York Times

Filed under: — gavin @ 29 January 2006

The more astute of you may have noticed the headline NYT story this weekend on Jim Hansen’s ongoing tussles with the (politically appointed) public affairs people at NASA HQ (Jim is my immediate boss so you need to read this with that in mind!). Most of the recent fuss has been about the GISS analysis of surface air temperatures (GISTEMP), which used to routinely be made available as soon as the analysis was done (usually a week or so after the end of any particular month). This data was generally released with little or no fuss (and no press releases) except for the end of year summary. However, as it started to become clearer that 2005 was a contender for warmest year, journalists and others started paying direct attention to the raw figures and writing stories that were bypassing public affairs. For instance, Juliet Eilperin’s October story in WaPo (discussed here and here) was one of the stories that they were most definitely not happy with (as alluded to in today’s WaPo). No follow-up media requests to interview relevant scientists were approved.

It should be made absolutely clear that scientists at GISS (including Jim Hansen, David Rind, Drew Shindell, myself and others) have at all times treated media interviews with the utmost professionalism and have never (to my knowledge) used them to make inappropriate or personal statements that could cause embarassment to the federal government or NASA. On the contrary, we have received multiple compliments for our ability to explain the issues succinctly and avoid common pitfalls (such as confusing weather events and climate for instance). There is therefore no basis for assuming that this would be any different with regards to the 2005 temperatures – and indeed interviews related to the official press release last week (i.e. this story) confirm that pattern. Thus restrictions on media contacts seem a little puzzling to say the least.

The latest round of tension apparently started after Hansen’s presentation at AGU in December (the full presentation and notes are available here). This was a keynote address which was by all accounts very well recieved by the scientists present and garnered some press in the following days. In it, Hansen re-iterated a number of his usual themes (the history of anthropogenic forcings, the match of model results to the observed trends, the importance of the ocean heat content metric as a check on the planetary heat imbalance etc.). He also suggested that there was maybe only another 10 year window of opportunity to tackle rising growth rates of carbon dioxide before the planet would be committed to a ‘dangerous’ anthropogenic climate change. His slides give the reasoning behind this, but basically it is predicated on avoiding a global mean temperature rise that could cause significant portions of the ice sheets to start to melt, based partly on an analogy with the temperatures at the Eemian (the last interglacial ~100,000 years ago).

So does his conclusion that rising emissions are probably not a good thing constitute ‘policy advocacy’ that could step over the line? Not in any substantive sense, given that this has been agreed to all signatories to the FCCC (including the US) and is supported by the National Academies of Science from all G8 countries. This is along the lines of an overall policy goal (like improving education levels, or keeping the population healthy) and is very different from advocating for any particular policy designed to achieve those ends. Some commentators agree with this distinction, others don’t, but it’s a distinction that is clearly understood by most scientists in the field.

In summary, the apparent desire of some to limit the flow of climate information is probably counterproductive and will likely only succeed in alienating the scientists who are at the base of NASA’s mission and generating bad publicity. It is rather ironic that the department responsible for exposing NASA’s science to the public may be reducing NASA scientists’ exposure to them instead.

Update (Jan 30 6pm): Rep. Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee has weighed in.

Update (Feb 4): Hansen is interviewed at length on NPR’s “On point”.

105 Responses to “Hansen in the New York Times”

  1. 51
    Eachran says:

    I like the use of the word “indignant” in post 50.

    It just happens to be Dario Fo’s prospectus, “indignation” for political change in Italy. Whether you agree with the man’s politics or not it says a lot that one can still feel indignation about society’s issues.

    Perhaps we need more.

  2. 52
    Leonard Evens says:

    About politics.

    Of course, every human activity has a political dimension, and the study of climate, because it may have policy consequences, is not an exception. But that doesn’t mean that the science, and conclusions drawn from it, can’t stand on their own. If a scientist working for the goernment believes that something is likely to happen, it is his duty to let the public know about it. On the other hand, I don’t think attitudes towards climate change and what should be done about it can be characterized as a Republican/Democrat issue. It is true that some powerful Republicans have allied themselves with the contrarian point of view to a greater or lesser degree. But several Republican senators have accepted the consensus position on climate change and see a need to do something about it. McCain is the primary example, but there are others, and Sherwood Boehlert, Chair of the House Science Committee, has the same view. Boehlert also challenged Inhofe in the Mann “investigation” affair. Several Republican governors, particularly in the Northeast, don’t differ from Democrats on this issue. While most Democrats are more inclined to support efforts to control emissions, some important parts of the Democratic coalition, e.g., elements of organized labor, are not so inclined. It is unfortunate that the current Bush, unlike his father, is toward the extreme end of the spectrum on this issue, but note that even he, in his first campaign supported relatively aggressive efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. It was only after he was elected that he changed his mind. to many of us, that was no surprise.

    About anonymous comments.

    I think it would be better if everyone were identified. It certainly helps me decide how much credence to put in an argument. For example, if a solar physicist expresses some contrary views, I will take that more seriously than if someone with no real bona-fides in climate studies, goes through an elaborate analysis with references and all that. Since I can’t become an expert in the details of the science myself, I tend to respect those who have subjected thair ideas to peer review rather than holding forth endlessly about this or that at a website.

    Finally, I find it highly implausible that a congressional operative who follows was unaware that Hansen had said he would vote for Kerry. It was widely reported, and it is the business of political operatives to know such things, particularly when they concern matters they have an interest in. It should also be noted that if Hansen prefers McCain, that makes him rather conservative in the specturm of American politics. McCain has differered from many of his colleagues on some important issues, but he is still rather conservative overall. Without further information, I would assume that Hansen tends to be conservative, in the American context, but made an exception in the last election because of his concern about climate change.

  3. 53
    per says:

    Are we talking about Jim Hansen, whose forecasts have a track record ?
    This Jim Hansen ?


    [Response: Odd that you should bring up a decade-old slander which even Michaels has dismissed as ‘old news’. If you’d like the actual facts, try reading – gavin]

  4. 54
    Hank Roberts says:

    RE IP addresses, I linked a newspaper yesterday. Below a primary source, Wikipedia’s Request For Comment — by users of Congressional IPs.

  5. 55
    Coby says:

    Re #53

    Thanks for that, per. More clearly than any logical rebuttal ever could, that shows the weakness of the slurs against Hansen’s scientific credibility and the hypocrisy of those making insinuations about his integrity.

    Almost 18 yrs ago, Dr Hansen presents us with three possible projections of the future depending on fossil fuel emissions, one very pessimistic, one very optimistic and one middle of the road and most likely. Eight years ago, Patrick Michaels fraudulently presents only the most extreme scenario pretending it was the only one trying to show how wrong Hansen was even though he was right on the money. Today, the intervening 18 years have gone remarkably close to what was predicted by the middle of the road scenario.

    And perhaps even more remarkably, today that same fraud is still pushed by people who should know better.

  6. 56
    Steve Novak says:

    Lest anyone think the topic of the present administration suppressing information from its scientists is new, please read the statements by the Union of Concerned Scientists issued in 2004

  7. 57
    JohnLopresti says:

    Try this link if you are looking for the NYT article and are a frequent visitor to the NYT site the NYT Revkin article.
    I am glad this matter came to light at RC here. The WaPo version was bland compared to the NYT, and had less refined scientific content.
    Our local paper published the WaPo article although the paper is owned by NYT.
    For several weeks I have tried some of the December 2005 AGU meeting links still online to locate the presentations about permafrost melt as a source of methane GHG; it was reported locally that discussion was a vibrant one, possibly proportionally as meaningful as Hansen’s talk and slides.

    Also I wonder if RC has discussed another GW topic which was in our local paper here regarding ocean floor methane hydrates which, the story goes, could provide fuel to the world for centuries if someone could mine them without releasing GHGs, a technology not yet developed; the article depicts deposits located 15 miles from LA under a shipping lane 2,600′ deep, a volcano byproduct.

  8. 58
    per says:

    Dear Gavin
    I really don’t see where there is a “slander” in Michaels’ piece. Perhaps you could enlighten me ?

    I read your link to Hansen’s pdf. On the face of what Hansen says, he presented three simulations, which “bracket likely possibilities”. These three possibilities suggest a rise in temperature from 1990 to 2000 of ~0 to 0.3 C, versus an observed decrease of ~0.1C. Perhaps there is somewhere in the pdf where Hansen describes his scenario A as completely unrealistic, that he does not rely on it, and that it is not a prediction ?
    Also, while we are on the subject, I find it difficult to see how the observed data allow us to discriminate between his scenarios B and C, yet Hansen only emphasises the similarity to scenario B. I wonder why ?
    I think I am addressing a substantive issue here. If your prediction is simply that temperature can go up, down or stay the same, what value is your prediction ?

  9. 59
    Leonard Evens says:

    With respect to Comment #58,

    Since you are anonymous, I can’t tell how seriously to take anything you say. But the internal evidence in your last comment doesn’t speak well for your analysis. You decided for some odd reason to compare an earlier local maximum (1990) to a later local minimum (2000) in a time series which clearly has a lot of internal variation. I presume the readers of realclimate are relatively sophisticated about such matters. Did you really expect anyone to take such an argument seriously? Also, note that since Michaels testified in 1998 about Hansen’s testimony in 1988, it is unlikely that he was attempting such a transparent scam.

  10. 60

    It is clever than Hansen decided to use his met. station dataset to compare with his 1988 predictions (see the link in Gavin’s response to #53). Yet, when Hansen describes the record setting year of 2005 in his NASA GISS posting, he focuses on their land+ocean dataset (see My point here is not that 2005 wasn’t a record setter in the GISS met. station dataset, but that the (apparently) preferred of the two datasets for capturing the global average temperature is the GISS land+ocean dataset. If the land+ocean temperature departures are superimposed on Hansen’s 1988 predictions, then Scenario C (the low end scenario) is the closest to the observations (note that 2005 was 0.15C cooler in the GISS land+ocean data than in the met. stations dataset). Curious that in his response to Crichton/Michaels Hansen chose the warmer, yet less representative of his two datasets. Admittedly, he does make reference to this in a footnote in the Crichton/Michaels response, but that has much less impact than a visual. Further, in the footnote, he tries to justify using the met. station data by claiming that the CRU record warms at a greater rate than even his met. station dataset, but a quick check of the warming rate from the CRU data from 1960-2005 shows it to match quite closely to the GISS land+ocean data which warms about 0.15C less than the GISS met. station data from 1960-2005.

    So, it seems like Hansen was being curiously selective in the use of data in his Crichton/Michaels response. It doesn’t cut it to say that the met. station data was used because that is the data that was used in the original 1988 publication, even though he has developed a more representative dataset since then.

    So, perhaps #55 should be a bit careful in throwing around the word “fraud.”

    [Response: The ‘fraud’ was Michaels’ as you are well aware. -gavin]

  11. 61
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 58, 53

    You seem to be assuming that Hansen made a set of three arbitrary temperature predictions, then cherry picked the one that turned out to be right. This is wrong. He made a set of predictions contingent on GHG concentrations and volcanism, and now discusses Scenario B because its forcing turned out to be closest to reality (as expected at the outset). So he made a resonable guess about future forcings and the model gave the right temperature trajectory as a result.

    Michaels’ slander is to compare the temperature from Scenario A to reality, deliberately ignoring the fact that its forcing was not the most realistic. Scenario A was clearly described as “on the high side of reality” due to high GHGs and low volcanism. Scenario A was a prediction of what would have happened if high forcing had materialized – but it didn’t.

    Similarly, there’s no need to discriminate between B and C by temperature data, because we know that the forcing in C is lower than reality. If C had higher temperatures than B for some reason, there might be cause for worry, but it’s clear that, after the volcanic transient, they diverge in the expected manner.

  12. 62
    Pat Neuman says:

    Commerce Department tells National Weather Service media contacts must be pre-approved
    Larisa Alexandrovna

    The Department of Commerce has issued a blanket media policy to employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), requiring that all requests for contact from national media be first approved by the Department, RAW STORY has learned.

    According to a leaked Sept. 29 email memo sent out to NOAA staff, including employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) — both of which are under the Department of Commerce — employees must collect information from reporters and forward it to the Department.

    Originally published on Tuesday October 4, 2005.

    Link found in a posted this AM at:

  13. 63
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #47, thanks, Eachran. I do think personal & business solutions can greatly reduce our GHGs, but we need a lot more leadership from the top. Pres. Bush didn’t even mention GW in his speech last night, and though he spoke of alt. energy (which tends to cost more), he didn’t mention anything about energy/resource efficiency & conservation (which saves us money).

    If people would just listen to me & other regular people, that would be great, but I can’t get anyone to to anything. We need a JFK-50 mile hike type of campaign, with the Pres. continually cheerleading us on. My heart is also sick that Kerry didn’t mention much about GW (not that I heard, anyway). I figure, win or lose, the best strategy is to be honest with people & encourage them to do right.

    I know the top gov people are paid for & owned by oil & coal, but really energy/resource efficiency & conservation is very good for all other businesses, as well as households. In econ terms, its getting closer to the productions possibility frontier.

    I’m thinking a great ticket in the next election would be Gore-McCain or McCain-Gore (hope you guys are out there reading this). They are not afraid to speak out on GW, & they’d appeal to both parties.

  14. 64
    per says:

    I thought there was a policy here about ad hominem abuse, yet people seem to be throwing words around like “slander”, “fraud”, with insufficient justification. Perhaps it is better to cut out the abuse ?

    Re: #59,61
    Hansen made a set of three predictions, “to bracket likely possibilities”. He also says that one scenario (B) is “most likely”; this isn’t particularly helpful, since we don’t know how much more likely it is than A or C. If scenario A wasn’t realistic, he should have said so.

    I chose the years 90-2000 just because they were a decade, and not because of the min/max. I accept the numbers are noisy, but any suitable averaging method is going to show that the observations are much closer to B/C, than A.

    I remain unconvinced that we “know the forcings”, like it has been handed down to us by God. We have hypotheses about what the forcings are, and how they relate to temperature; but that is not perfect knowledge. If you are going on record as saying that scenario C is completely unlikely, then you are being more clear than the good dr hansen. That will also be a testable hypothesis.

    [Response: Scenario C had constant concentrations of GHGs from 2000. I think that can be ruled out by simple observation. -gavin]

  15. 65
    Almuth Ernsting says:

    Re: 25:
    I am always surprised that some people seem to be equating action against GW with socialism. Traditional socialism never even spoke about living within the planet’s limits. Of course there are socialists who are coming round to the idea of taking strong action to curb GW, but then so do people of many political and religious persuasions, who simply share a wish to preserve a pleasant life for themselves, their children and other people.

    I think you might want to have a look here:,12374,1506672,00.html about the former CEO of Shell urging action on climate change.

    Or here:,,1494083,00.html
    about 13 UK companies, including BP, HSCB and major utility companies uring much stronger action than at present.

    Would you accuse those companies of political bias and wanting enforced poverty?

    Re: politics and science
    If my family were about to be killed by a volcanic eruption and scientists knew that there was a very high risk of this, I would expect them to make sure I knew, too, so that I could evacuate. I would not expect them to only leak the information to politicians who then decided whether on a cost-benefit analysis it was worth the money evacuating us. Drawing parallels with the climate-politics debate, perhaps some politicians might decide that, since there was still a chance of the volcano not killing people, it would be better and cheapest to keep quiet, spend the money elsewhere, and clear up the debris afterwards if it did erupt. And they would accuse those scientists who felt morally obliged to go to the press of playing politics. Well, of course they wouldn’t, not if it was a volcano…

    Almuth Ernsting

  16. 66
    Anonymous Coward says:

    I would like to return the topic of conversation back the to concepts raised in comments# 33, 36, 38 & 41 relating to the impact of Arctic sea ice on global climate. I also agree with the poster that the effect of such a large reduction in the polar albedo would be greater than previously thought. In particular the increased arctic summer temperatures would hasten glacial loss in Greenland & associated sea level rise. The reduction in temperatures referred to by gavin in 38 are unlikely to occur naturally for many tens of millenia if future Milankovitch forcings are to be believed, so we are locked into what this future climate may entail. My real question here is whether in the global climate models, simulations have been run which include no summer arctic ice and what they look like, and if enough forcing is given to the effect of high latitude ice since this seems to be a driving force particularly in the succession of ice ages.

  17. 67
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 64

    The terms fraud and slander have been directed at Michaels’ 98 article. Slander is perhaps inappropriate as it implies defamation of an individual and Michaels is defaming Hansen’s model results. Fraud isn’t quite right either, as it implies pursuit of private gain. Perhaps Harry Frankfurt could suggest an appropriate term.

    Michaels can only be exonerated if he can demonstrate a good reason to selectively show only the highest of Hansen’s scenarios. I doubt this is possible. If the scenarios were random realizations (e.g. from a distribution of uncertain sensitivities or individual runs from an ensemble) then he should have used all three. Same goes if the relationship between the scenario and actual forcings were truly unknown. The only justification for selectively using Scenario A would be a known best correspondence between its inputs and reality – which is not the case here. So I have to conclude that Michaels’ work represents some combination of gross error, sloppiness, and deliberate deception.

    The real situation is actually worse than that, because the forcings are not completely unknown. They may not be handed down to us by God but key components – like the GHGs and volcanism Hansen used in his scenarios – are known with sufficient accuracy over the last decade to easily distinguish among A, B, and C. Hansen freely admits that the close agreement between B and reality is partly fortuitous, because the 1988 model had high climate sensitivity. Presumably the agreement persists partly because of offsetting uncertain forcing (aerosols) and partly because we’re assessing small signals amid natural variability.

    Neither forcing uncertainty nor natural variability provides a valid reason to selectively focus on Scenario A, or even to regard the scenarios as equally likely. To say that we don’t know how much more likely [B] is than A or C is in effect to say that we don’t know the shape of the distribution of uncertain forcings. However, we do know that the well-measured components of forcing were closest to B, so you’d have to invoke some auxiliary hypothesis to imagine that A and C aren’t somewhere in the tails.

    If scenario A wasn’t realistic, he should have said so. Apparently he did say so: “Scenario A was described as “on the high side of reality”, because it assumed rapid exponential growth of greenhouse gases and it assumed that there would be no large volcanoes (which inject small particles into the stratosphere and cool the Earth) during the next half century. Scenario C was described as “a more drastic curtailment of emissions than has generally been imagined”, specifically greenhouse gases were assumed to stop increasing after 2000. The intermediate Scenario B was described as “the most plausible”. Scenario B had continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions at a moderate rate and it sprinkled three large volcanoes in the 50-year period after 1988, one of them in the 1990s.” I don’t have the ’88 journal article to verify, but whether Hansen specified his subjective probability distribution for forcings a priori has no bearing on ex post evaluation of the modeled relationship between forcing and temperature.

  18. 68
    per says:

    Re: 67

    If scenario A wasn’t realistic, he should have said so. Apparently he did say so: “Scenario A was described as “on the high side of reality,…
    It was also a prediction “to bracket likely possibilities”. You may know what “on the high side of reality” means, but it seems very imprecise language to me. It seems that we are now going back and cherry-picking interpretations of what he said in 1988; and that goes very much against the spirit of what you are trying to do by making a prediction.

    Likewise, I am very unimpressed by relating the prediction of temperature to forcings, because, by definition, you only know the forcings after the event. After the event, you don’t need to know the forcings to tell you what the temperature was; it kind of defeats the purpose of making a prediction. At the moment, you are telling me that we are in scenario B territory, but there is no difference in prediction for scenario B and C in current temperature. You cannot actually tell if the forcings are lower than you think, and to me, it looks as if these “predictions” have very low predictivity associtated with them.

  19. 69
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 60

    So, it seems like Hansen was being curiously selective in the use of data in his Crichton/Michaels response. It doesn’t cut it to say that the met. station data was used because that is the data that was used in the original 1988 publication, even though he has developed a more representative dataset since then.

    It seems perfectly reasonable for Hansen to use the same temperature series used in 1988 to update the figure. The purpose of the exercise was to point out Crichton’s uncritical acceptance of the error in Michaels’ critique of Hansen’s ’88 testimony (comparing the high-forcing Scenario A to reality, erasing curves B and C). Any of the temperature series would illustrate that point perfectly well. Hansen makes no claim to have made a perfect forecast, and explicitly points out that “such close agreement is fortuitous”. To correctly evaluate the ’88 model, you’d need to go back and rerun it with actual forcings, e.g. Pinatubo in place of a hypothetical 1995 eruption, and see what happens. Then it would make sense to use GISStemp for comparison, but it still wouldn’t make sense to obsess on 0.1K differences due to uncertain forcings and natural variability. It would be interesting to compare Hansen’s forecast with a skeptical no-AGW hypothesis from 1988, if a suitably quantifiable one could be found.

  20. 70
    Dano says:

    RE 67:

    Scenarios are projections, which are management tools containing feedback loops for adaptive management techniques. Predictivity is for predictions. These are projections.

    Mixing these things up is a common mistake.

    One uses indicators in projections for assessment, whereby, say, when 410 ppmv CO2 is reached one would expect X temp. You then look at temp data and see where you are. If you’re higher, what went wrong and adapt your management. If you’re lower you look at other stuff.

    I’m sure you know this already, just a reminder…



  21. 71
    per says:

    presumably if projections are completely wrong, they have minimal predicivity ?
    I am confused; I thought this was science, not business studies. However, I see we are at the cutting edge of applying business practices here :)

  22. 72
    Dano says:

    I’d have thunk you have far too much education to be confused…er…per.

    But as you know, projections were used because of the large range of future uncertainty associated with tryin’ t’ figger out human behavior. See, because of uncertainty, it is best to project rather than predict, as resource managers use indicators to adaptively manage. That was the driver.

    Because future trends in fossil fuel use and other human activities are uncertain, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has developed a set of scenarios for how the 21st century may evolve. These scenarios consider a wide range of possibilities for changes in population, economic growth, technological development, improvements in energy efficiency, and the like. The two primary climate scenarios used in this Assessment are based on one mid-range emissions scenario for the future that assumes no major changes in policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

    But this is all so confusing, per: you surely know this already, why the confusion in your posts? It seems as if there is some sort of sowing of confusion between describing the management and the science…naaah. Couldn’t be.



  23. 73
    Anonymous says:

    For a little humor on this otherwise very serios subject Nick Anderson (Louisville Courrier Journal) has pretty much summed up the issue between Jim Hansen and the NASA Public Affairs Office in a recent political cartoon.
    See Image dated 1/31/06

  24. 74
    jimmy walter says:

    In regards to the KT Impact, there is a dispute from some volcano experts that the KT extinction and ice ages were not caused by an impact but by vulcanism. None the less, even if not all, many of the other ice ages were acompanied by CO2 increases without impacts or mankind. Many experts today say we are entering an ice age, even if there is a warm up period preceeding. Just look at the ice age timing charts and co2 timing charts to see this has happened before.

    As far as the water heating at the surface faster, that would be expected if the source was volcanic as well.

    The biggest inbalance in the CO2 concept is that the heating of the water in total from whatever source has released far more co2 than mankind has created. If so and the system is now vicious cycling, that is the heating water is producing more co2 and water vapor which is causing more heating, then cutting human emissions is mute.

  25. 75
    Hank Roberts says:

    Who told you all that?

  26. 76
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 74

    The biggest inbalance in the CO2 concept is that the heating of the water in total from whatever source has released far more co2 than mankind has created.
    If that were the case it should show up fairly obviously in measurements of surface fluxes & concentrations, isotope ratios, etc. Are there any citations that point to this?

  27. 77
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 68

    You seem to have adopted a fatalist view that leaves no room for any sort of value to prediction. Would you be unimpressed by a model that relates the trajectory of an aircraft to the position of its control surfaces, because we don’t know which way the pilot will move the stick? Would you be unimpressed by a model that relates the point of impact of a projectile to the angle of its launcher, because after we conduct the experiment we know the point of impact anyway?

    Your argument hinges on the idea that forcing is wholly unknown and thus of no utility in predicting temperature, even with a perfect model of climate response to forcing. I think you will find little sympathy for the idea that forcings are so uncertain that the contribution of well-measured components like CO2, for which the trajectory is fairly predictable on decadal time scales, is lost in the noise – yet somehow we have failed to observe any source of the noise. There’s some uncertainty in the forcings – we don’t know when the next volcanic eruption will be, there’s some debate about solar, aerosols are not fully understood, etc. But the overall momentum is clear – anthro forcings are going up, and there are no known reasons to expect large trends in other forcings.

    It is reasonable to say that using a climate model to estimate forcings based on a decade of data yields little information. But that is not what Hansen was doing, and it is irrelevant because we do know the actual evolution of the forcings Hansen used (unless you think that a 10km3 volcanic eruption somehow went unnoticed). We are not cherry-picking because we can go back to the ’88 journal article and compare its forcing scenario to reality. The fact that his model fit the data does not prove the model, as he clearly stated, but remember that it was Michaels who brought the topic up in the first place by pretending that poor fit of the wrong forcing scenario somehow refuted the model.

  28. 78
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 25

    I’m no fan of bureaucracy or dictatorship, but I’m turned off by the usual libertarian response to commons problems: denying that the problem exists, or pretending that technology growth will solve it forever. There are economic instruments more consistent with free choice (e.g. demand revealing auctions), but they still require institutions to implement, and have higher transaction costs than simple carbon taxes. It’s not black and white that a friend of the environment is an enemy of freedom.

  29. 79

    Imminent Danger
    NASA’s Chief Climate Scientist, Jim Hansen, turned down more than 100 requests for interviews this week in the wake of a front page

  30. 80
    jimmy walter says:

    “The top ten feet of the ocean contain as much heat as the entire atmosphere. It makes sense that the atmosphere will follow the ocean’s lead.” K Trenberth, NCAR, Boulder.

    As water temperature rises, its ability to hold gases decreases, not increases. All the studies show an increase in ocean temperatures at all depths, the low ones being perhaps the most important since they are the coldest and therefore have the ability to contain more CO2 and lose more as temperature rises. There are mitigating factors including what is saturation or relative saturation such that an increase in temperature will release how much? But it is basic science that hotter water contains less gas.

    Moreover, CO2 is bubbling up in many places

    There have been no mass/heat/gas equation and qualitative research presented on the amounts takihg into account ocean depth and temperature, just claims as to cause of rising acidity. The fact that the ocean acidity is increasing does not ipso facto mean the source of all of the carbon dioxide is human. It could be and is both. But the amount of human co2 produced is miniscule compared to that produced naturally. There are many scientists who agree.

  31. 81
    jimmy walter says:

    Earthquake activity certainly seems to be rising, and therefore volcanic activity. if you look at the significant earthquakes list from USGS you will see that the number of significant earthquakes going back for the previous years starting in 2005 were
    2005 55
    2004 48
    2003 70
    2002 45
    2001 8
    2000 6
    1999 13
    1998 10
    1997 3
    1977 4

    The last year is 1977 and before that the pattern is less than 3 in any one year back to the beginning of record keeping.

    While one can claim that the records earlier where incomplete due to fewer reporting stations, etc., The dramatic increase in significant earthquakes since 1997 is undeniable. Since earthquake and volcanic activity go hand in hand and most volcanic activity is undersea and virtually undetectable, earthquake activity is detectable undersea so we can logically conclude that undersea volcanic activity is rising proportionately. There are numerous news articles on undersea volcanos being discovered.

  32. 82
    Hank Roberts says:

    You rely on the USGS numbers for counting earthquakes, but tell us they’re wrong about their explanation? Hm?

    If you add more traffic cops, you get more traffic tickets written — that’s my analogy for how the USGS explains the count going up year after year. More seismographs in use.

    Who explained it to you differently? If it was explained to you as coming from a scientific source, by whom? — source, please? There are a lot of geologists involved in climate science one way or another. Maybe you can get your source to comment, if it’s from someone’s scientific work. At least we should be able to look up the article. Where?

    If your source is religious, well, bless your heart.

  33. 83
    Coby says:

    I listened to Dr Hansen on two NPR radio podcasts, he does very well. One caller made a good point about preaching to the converted on NPR, though arrived at an overly pessimistic conclusion for my tastes. But it brought to my mind the idea of Fox News interviewing Dr James Hansen. Kind of a strange spectacle that would be, but these are the people that need to hear the message, if it isn’t “no spin zone”d into total gibberish first…

    Perhaps, rather than demotion or even dismissal, this is the punishment that awaits Dr Hansen for daring to take his knowledge directly to the public!

  34. 84
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #81: Oh, dear me, not the Oregon petition again (i.e., your linke to! You do realize, I hope, that it is now 8 years old, most of what wasn’t wrong in that paper at the time has since been shown to be wrong (e.g., the temperature trend in the lower troposphere from the satellite data), and that the signatures to that petition were solicited in a spam-like fashion using very deceptive techniques and with no attempt to make sure that those who signed on had any knowledge whatsoever in the field. (See item #2 here for a quick rundown of the story by physicist Bob Park.)

  35. 85
    Joel Shore says:

    The reference in my last comment should be to comment #80.

  36. 86
    Hank Roberts says:

    “the agency’s administrator, Michael D. Griffin, issued a sharply worded statement yesterday calling for “scientific openness” throughout the agency.”

    “‘It is not the job of public-affairs officers,’ Dr. Griffin wrote in an e-mail message to the agency’s 19,000 employees, ‘to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.'”
    … [Last October]
    “… George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word ‘theory’ after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.”

    “… Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office … was an intern in the “war room” of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign….he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen’s public statements.”

    “‘The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,'” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, ‘It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.'”

    “It continued: ‘This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.'” ….
    See the NYT for the full text; these are my excerpts.

    Framing science as a “debate” with only two sides is indeed a religious issue. This is not even journalism.

  37. 87
    George Chami says:

    Dear Sir, I wonder if the one of the indirect effect of aerosols are warmer summers and colder winters, I could like to suggest that these particles could switch it’s action from cooling effect to warming effect in certain threshold of temperature and moisture. In warm and relatively dry weather they are not surrounded by water droplets so they absorb heat from the sun and directly increase the air temperature causing warmer summer, while in cold weather they are surrounded by water droplets forming brighter clouds and reflect the sunshine to space causing colder winters. I think that this â??switch effect” could partially explain the increase in the number and violence of hurricanes, as the particles are “switched-on” for heat in one area and “switch-off” in a another nearby area causing greater contrast in air temperature and increase the likelihood of violent shifting air.

  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 87
    George, your idea reminds me of something I read in this article:

    “We define the efficacy of a climate forcing as the global mean temperature change per unit forcing produced by the forcing agent relative to [CO2 in the same model]. We introduced the efficacy concept and terminology at a workshop on air pollution as a climate forcing [Hansen, 2002] because it was realized that the climate effect of pollutants such as soot and ozone was complex, depending especially on their spatial distribution ….”

    So there’s your location making a difference. And further down:

    “The GISS model includes the effect of humidity on sulfate, nitrate and OC aerosol sizes [Schmidt et al., 2005; Lacis,, which substantially increases the aerosol optical depths and radiative forcings.”

    So there’s your humidity difference — the experts here can probably point you toward how to find more about the modeling, and about what’s been found in field work looking at this stuff.

    I recal NASA is right now flying a high elevation jet in parallel with a satellite, over Costa Rica, looking for info about how the real atmosphere behaves in the tropics where the lower (troposphere) gets boiled up into the upper (stratosphere), driving the circulation of air. It’s apparently very little known yet, and the sampling-and-satellite-lookdown at the same time should be full of surprises.


    Oh, and on another point entirely:

    NASA PR dude Deutsch didn’t graduate from Texas A&M. Nick Anthis, a Texas A&M grad (now a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford) checked up.

  39. 89
    Mark A. York says:

    George Deutsch a lapdog from Texas A&M is the sanitizer at NASA. Here’s a sampling of his previous work.

  40. 90
    Hank Roberts says:

    More related news and comment in this article:
    The NOAA & the White House
    by DarkSyde
    Fri Feb 10, 2006

    In the comments below that article is a two-step way to read the primary source story — start with this link:

    Once there click on the search result in Google News:

    NOAA’s Flood
    New Republic, D.C. – Feb 9, 2006

    Clicking THAT gets the TNR article

    Briefly, NOAA scientists have been having problems similar to those at NASA, going back several years.

  41. 91
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 90. NOAA NWS failed to approve the paper: “Earlier in the Year Snowmelt Runoff and Increasing Dewpoints for Rivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota”* September 11, 2003

    * Also given as a poster presentation given on the paper at a NWS Climate Prediction Center / Desert Research Center conference in Reno, NV in Oct 2003, on personal time.

  42. 92
    Hank Roberts says:

    From the comments in that Daily Kos thread about NOAA, this:

    “… A few months ago I attended a “brown bag” lunch at the library where they had a distinguished professor from U MD who had written a book on the history of research into global warming. Attending this lecture were a group of college students …. they expressed their amazement to me that in their welcoming breakfast from Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, he had actually said to them “Oh, you know of course that there is no definitive proof that global warming exists.”

  43. 93
    Pat Neuman says:

    Testimony of James R. Mahoney, Ph.D. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
    Before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Global Climate Change and Impacts
    Hearing on Global Climate Change Policy and Budget Review
    20 July 2005

  44. 94
    Pat Neuman says:

    How successul has CCSP been in integrating research from NASA on climate change?

    Excerpts from the 20 July 2005 Testimony (93.) which include the word “NASA” follow.

    The Climate Change Science Program integrates federal research on global change and climate change, as sponsored by thirteen federal agencies (the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of State, the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Smithsonian Institution), and with liaisons in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental Quality, the National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget.

    NOAA Implements an Operational Critical Climate Forecast System: In August 2004, a global ocean and atmosphere coupled Climate Forecast System (CFS) became operational at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction of the National Weather Service. The Climate Forecast System is a fully coupled model representing the interactions between the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. These interactions are critical for determining climate on seasonal time scales. This implementation is a recent example of a successful transition of research into operations through long-term, ongoing collaborative efforts by NOAA scientists, other Federal Agencies (NASA, NSF), and the university research community.

    NOAA Provides Weather and Climate Products to the FEWS Network: The International Weather and Climate Monitoring Project at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is an extension of an earlier USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) program that originally covered only Sub-Sahelian Africa. The project has now grown to encompass all of Africa, Afghanistan, Central America and the Caribbean, the Mekong River Basin, and much of southern Asia. Work is underway to create a global weather and climate monitoring program to address any international region where humanitarian support is needed. The goal of the program is to provide weather and climate related information to users within USAID as well as international partner organizations, such that a greater level of humanitarian assistance may be offered. The goal is only accomplished through constant interaction with our partner groups such as the USGS, NASA, USAID, private sector contractors and local African organizations. A more thorough and accurate analysis of conditions is possible via these collaborations.

  45. 95
    Peter Lee says:

    I can’t help wondering if creeping Crichtonism has something to do with Dr. Hansen’s difficulties. I found it rather interesting that distortion of some of Hansen’s findings are featured in State of Fear. Crichton is apparently the preferred pseudo-scientist for people in the Bush administration and in Congress seeking to evade and ignore disturbing climate change evidence. Is it coincidence that, now that Crichton is a legitimizing oracle for global warming skeptics who wish to believe that scientists are engaged in duplicitous alarmism, that Mr. Deutsch, a loyal Bush foot soldier, felt he has a mission to stifle Dr. Hansen’s public comments?

    Perhaps the most disturbing subtext of this whole mess is the politicization of debate, not only in the injection of misleading comments into the threads here such as the attempt to discredit Dr. Hansen as a partisan Kerry voter. By “politicization”, I mean the fact that any debate can be politicized by making a political attack on a scientists whose views are inconvenient, even if the target has not made any statements that can be seized upon as partisan. Only unfounded assertions of bias are necessary. Once the political attack has been made, any public statements by the target in defense of his or her findings can be declared “political” and the entire debate is tainted.

    From what I can see of Dr. Hansen’s public remarks, he is to be commended for his restraint in limiting the dispute to his right to present his conclusions and not giving his enemies grist for their mill. Given the Bush administration’s indefatigable and unscrupulous pursuit of those whose views and conclusions embarrass it, I would not be surprised if a whispering campaign against Dr. Hansen’s qualifications and integrity intensified after this public setback.

  46. 96
    Pat Neuman says:

    re 94. … “The Climate Change Science Program integrates federal research on global change and climate change, as sponsored by thirteen federal agencies” …

    How do people at RC who are involved with ANY of the “thirteen federal agencies” feel about the success (or lack of) which CSSP has had in it’s “integrating research on global change and climate change” with the agency or agencies?

  47. 97
    Stephen Berg says:


    “NOAA’s Flood
    by John B. Judis
    Post date: 02.11.06
    Issue date: 02.20.06”

    “On November 29, top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to sum up this year’s disastrous hurricane season. The first question from a reporter was one the press had been asking since Hurricane Katrina reached land three months before: ‘I was wondering if one of you can talk about what extent, if any, global warming may have played in the storms this year?’ Noaa’s chief hurricane forecast scientist, Gerry Bell, stepped forward to answer. Bell denied that ‘greenhouse warming’ had any effect on the hurricanes. The hurricanes, he insisted, were merely part of ‘the 20- to 30-year cycles that we’ve seen since 1950.'”

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    >97 is a link for subscribers; but see
    >90 and follow those links to see the article if 97 doesn’t work for you.

  49. 99
    Steve Sadlov says:

    For all the hysteria on this thread about reputed “interference” by “Dubya et al” I find it interesting that from my own point of view as a real, apolitical, skeptic, George W. Bush has actually fallen, hook line and sinker for at least some of the claims made in “Earth In Balance.” Where he ought to be making the US more energy independent via demonstrated-effective-for-economies-of-scale coal, nuclear and veg-oil power, he instead has fallen, much like another of his ilk, Arnie, for the “hydrogen-solar-wind-ethanol” Ecotopian chimera.

    Long term, the Earth is cooling and will continue to cool, eventually to absolute zero. We must either find a way to restart real progress (including 100% defeat of all neo-Luddites) and get off this rock, or we shall freeze along with it. I do not write these last words lightly and write them with a basis in the geological record from the last 4 Billion Years. Any rational examination of paleoclimate on this scale demonstrates the long, and inescapable, trend of cooling that we cannot defeat, either unintentionally or by design.

  50. 100
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 99

    Not really. First, one of the major technology pushes under the current administration is clean coal. Second, two of the major sources pursued for hydrogen are coal and nuclear. Third, ethanol is hardly a darling of the environmental movement; it’s more a favorite of the corn belt and automakers who get CAFE credits for ethanol-capable vehicles that will seldom see ethanol at the pump. Fourth, wind and solar are hardly at the forefront of current support.

    Since the cooling is excruciatingly slow, we’d be prudent to try to avoid short term crises while we wait for technology to get us off this rock; I don’t see how some of our more profligate uses of energy further the goal of species survival.