UPDATE [1.35pm AEST]: Pat Michaels writes “[Hansen's] hypothesis is a complete and abject failure.” and quotes from the paper itself, which states:
“we were motivated in this research by an objective to expose effects of human-made global warming as soon as possible…”
So there you have it. From the horse’s mouth.
The lamestream media has pounced upon James Hansen’s latest announcement, blaming “global warming” for recent heat waves. This article, from the UK Telegraph is as good an example as any, illustrated as it is with a flattering portrait of the great man:
Recent heat waves can only be attributed to climate change, a top US scientist has warned.
James Hansen, who cautioned of the dangers of climate change as long ago as 1988, said the deadly European heat wave of 2003, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and the catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year could all be linked to climate change.
He predicted the same would also be true of the hot summer the US is currently experiencing.
Dr Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, reached his conclusions after he and his colleagues analysed the past 60 years of global temperatures.
Writing in The Washington Post, he said: “Our analysis shows that for the extreme hot weather of the recent past there is virtually no explanation other than climate change. (source)
The Telegraph doesn’t bother to look for any alternative viewpoint, merely parroting what Hansen says with no critical questioning or thought. It’s left to the blogosphere to provide that.
But in any case, why should we believe anything Hansen says in the first place? This is a person whose activism has completely swamped any vestige of impartial scientific enquiry, even going so far as to get himself arrested four times at environmental demonstrations. How can Hansen be relied upon to provide unbiased scientific conclusions in such circumstances?
What would happen if Hansen were to be confronted with evidence that challenges his entrenched position? Would he come out publicly and say it or simply post it down the memory hole because it doesn’t fit the agenda? You decide.
Even some of Hansen’s colleagues are sick of his surrender to activism (and kudos to the New York Times for actually bothering to seek an alternative perspective):
Martin P. Hoerling, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studies the causes of weather extremes, said he shared Dr. Hansen’s general concern about global warming. But he has in the past criticized Dr. Hansen for, in his view, exaggerating the connection between global warming and specific weather extremes. In an interview, he said he felt that Dr. Hansen had done so again.
Dr. Hoerling has published research suggesting that the 2010 Russian heat wave was largely a consequence of natural climate variability, and a forthcoming study he carried out on the Texas drought of 2011 also says natural factors were the main cause.
Dr. Hoerling contended that Dr. Hansen’s new paper confuses drought, caused primarily by a lack of rainfall, with heat waves.
“This isn’t a serious science paper,” Dr. Hoerling said. “It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title. Perception is not a science.” (source)
In reality, I suppose we should be glad that Hansen is out there making this kind of noise. Every exaggerated claim gradually chips away at the credibility of The Cause. And the eagerness with which the mainstream media regurgitated the story with barely a second thought (with notable exceptions) shows how out of touch they are with reality.