Why should we believe anything James Hansen says?

Climate activist (source: PA)

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.

The ABC does much the same, including rehashing the Richard Muller “conversion” non-story, just in case you missed it the first time (unlikely if you rely on ABC for your news).

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.

Greenhouse gases 'largely to blame' for ocean warming

Alarmist Broadcasting Corporation

Instead of reporting the problems with its last alarmist story, namely the fact that bloggers have once again found holes in a supposedly “peer-reviewed” paper propping up the consensus, the ABC just moves on and runs another:

A new US-led study, featuring research by Tasmanian scientists, has concluded that warming ocean temperatures over the past 50 years are largely a man-made phenomenon.

Researchers from America, India, Japan and Australia say the study is the most comprehensive look at how the oceans have warmed.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, examined a dozen different models used to project climate change, and compared them with observations of ocean warming over the past 50 years.

It found natural variations accounted for about 10 per cent of rising temperatures, but man-made greenhouse gases were the major cause. (source)

Authors supporting “the Cause” include Aussie John Church and Ben Santer. Need I say more?

Judith Curry gets technical about it here, and ocean temperature records in general were pretty rough before the ARGO era, but concludes that the latest paper will no doubt win out in AR5. Why? Because it’s the “right answer”, according to the consensus. Politics and activism win out over impartial science every time.

Quote of the Day: 'Gergis has lost all critical distance from her research'

I like to think that ACM played a small part in this story, as commentators are beginning to look closely at Joelle Gergis’ climate activism and how it invariably taints her research.

Commenter Baldrick first located Gergis’ blog here, which revealed her past climate activism, and we preserved it here and here on Webcitation so that if it ever got posted down the memory hole, it would still be available.

Guess what? That’s exactly what happened, and Gergis’ blog was “disappeared“…

Recall that Gergis, on her blog, wrote:

As a climate scientist, I am hopeful that we will finally see real action on climate change. According to COSMOS, [former Australian PM Kevin] Rudd is expected to receive a “rock star’s welcome” to the world stage at crucial U.N. climate change talks in Bali next month. He will be hailed for agreeing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement aimed at curbing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Up to 140 world environment ministers will attend the conference. It is hoped the meeting will bring vital breakthroughs in the effort to achieve a new climate agreement. It is expected to deliver a road map to show how to keep the planet’s temperature from rising more than two degrees

And now, Fritz Varenholt, author of The Cold Sun spells out the obvious conflict:

By mixing activism and science, Joelle Gergis has apparently lost all critical distance [from her] research results, which invariably leads to such errors. A science open to results is impossible with that attitude. This is not only true for Gergis. Inconvenient results are suppressed, interpretations constantly distorted in one direction, and alternatives are ignored or swept aside. Gergis’s refusal to admit to errors and to have a fruitful dialogue with opposing views can only be explained by her ideological fixation(source)

Well said indeed. Read my post Are climate scientists a self-selecting set of climate activists? here.

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