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.

Brendan O'Neill on 'extreme weather' hysteria

Brendan O’Neill

You can bet the farm that if there’s some noteworthy weather event (with the emphasis on the term “weather”) somewhere on the planet, there will be a Green nut-job on hand to say it was all caused by man-made global warming.

Usually it’s couched in weasel words, of course, the most common formula being the “consistent with” ploy.

The floods in Queensland were “consistent with” global warming projections. The drought in south-east Australia was “consistent with” global warming projections. The rains that filled the dams and ended the drought in south-east Australia were “consistent with” global warming projections. The Victorian bush fires (that were actually worsened by a variety of non-climate related factors) were “consistent with” global warming projections. The record low temperatures in Canberra last week were “consistent with” global warming projections. My cat getting fleas is “consistent with” global warming projections. My losing a $2 coin down the back of the sofa last Tuesday is “consistent with” global warming projections. [Insert anything you like] is “consistent with” global warming projections.

As has been said countless times on this blog, it is, of course, the classic example of an unfalsifiable hypothesis: ask a greenie to describe the kind of weather events that would not be consistent with global warming, and you’ll get a stony silence. Because anything and everything is “consistent with” some global warming model somewhere. And I’m almost glad the warm-mongers continue to make these nonsensical claims, because every time they do, it moves them further away from proper science and into the realms of astrology.

Brendan O’Neill has a whale of a time exposing the neo-Medieval view of the planet punishing humanity for its sins:

Greens now constantly promote the wild idea that mankind’s irresponsible behaviour is causing “extreme weather”, and that only by being more meek, by radically overhauling our lifestyles, can we hope to tame this weather of mass destruction.

But haven’t we heard this kind of thing before? Yes. From the biblical era to the Middle Ages, the idea that the immorality of man was responsible for enraging nature or God and causing storms and floods was widespread.

So the modern green claim that floods in Britain are a consequence of our wicked over-reliance on fossil fuels, that is of our daring to live industrialised lives, is just a pseudo-scientific updating of the Noah story.

Genesis tells us it was when God saw “the wickedness of man was great” that he decided to “bring a flood of waters upon the earth”.

Today, greens give us a science-tinged version of that morality tale. Mark Lynas, one of Britain’s leading eco-thinkers, says that with all our fossil fuel-using and climate disruption “we have woken Poseidon (God of the Sea) from a thousand-year slumber, and this time his wrath will know no bounds”.

A columnist for The Guardian says recent floods are a kind of punishment for our polluting behaviour. “The turbulent weather we’ve seen is a warning of what lies ahead for us,” she said, unless we can be “cajoled, led, provoked and taxed into changing (our) ways”.

Here, Gaia replaces God as the sender of floods to reprimand man and “change our attitudes”.

Quick, stone another sceptic…


Read it here.

Flying Spaghetti Monster 'cannot be excluded' as driver of Queensland floods


It’s the Holy Grail of alarmism. Even though there is almost no hope of ever doing so, the team are desperate to point to an extreme weather event and say that man-made climate change caused it, or made it worse.

Professor Matthew England (one of Anna Rose’s advisers in ABC’s I Can Change Your Mind about Climate – see here) has another go here, and uses weasel words to hijack a study – unrelated to climate change – to advance The Cause:

Abnormally high ocean temperatures off the coast of northern Australia contributed to the extreme rainfall that flooded three-quarters of Queensland over the summer of 2010-11, scientists report.

A Sydney researcher, Jason Evans, ran a series of climate models and found above average sea surface temperatures throughout December 2010 increased the amount of rainfall across the state by 25 per cent on average.

While the study did not look at the cause of ocean warming in the region, a physical oceanographer, Matthew England, said climate change could not be excluded as a possible driver of this extreme rainfall event.

Matthew England, who was not involved in the study, said ocean temperatures off northern Australia were the highest on record at the time of the Queensland floods.

“While the La Nina event played a big role in this record ocean warmth, so too did the long-term warming trend over the past 50 years,” Professor England, the co-director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, said. (source)

Interfering with SST data now are we?

The study “did not look at the cause of ocean warming”, so the “abnormally high ocean temperatures” may have simply been natural variability at work. But according to England, climate change “could not be excluded”. Similarly, therefore, we cannot exclude the possibility that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was behind it, sneakily raising sea temperatures with his noodly appendage…

Early US tornadoes will 'become the norm as planet warms'


It was only ever a matter of time. Any unusual weather event occurs and there will be some rent-seeking climate scientist, aided and abetted by a willing journalist who will blame it on ‘global warming’.

This shameless opportunism does nothing to convince people of the need to ‘tackle climate change’, it merely makes the scientists and journalists look even more desperate and callous, especially given the tragic loss of life in these events (39 deaths as of today).

This time we have über-alarmist Sharon Begley and Kevin ‘Travesty’ Trenberth:

When at least 80 tornadoes rampaged across the United States, from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, last Friday, it was more than is typically observed during the entire month of March, tracking firm AccuWeather.com reported on Monday.

According to some climate scientists, such earlier-than-normal outbreaks of tornadoes, which typically peak in the spring, will become the norm as the planet warms.

“As spring moves up a week or two, tornado season will start in February instead of waiting for April,” said climatologist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. (source)

Once again, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. Climate change is the unfalsifiable hypothesis – nothing can disprove the alarmists claim that every weather event is being affected by it. It therefore helpfully relegates the theory of catastrophic AGW to the dustbin of astrology and pseudoscience.

On reading the rest of the article, however, the true picture is that scientists really don’t know what effect warming will have on these events. But that doesn’t make a very good headline, does it? And there isn’t really a story there at all, is there?

Activist website targets sceptical US TV weathermen

Forecast the propaganda

This says more about the website’s creators, seeking yet again to demonise and silence anyone who dares question the global warming consensus, than it does about the TV weathermen speaking their opinions. From the site, forecastthefacts.org:

Intense droughts, fierce storms, increased flooding. Scientists have been predicting for years that human-induced climate change would lead to a future of increasingly dangerous extreme weather events. That future is now upon us.

But when most Americans tune into their local weather report, they won’t hear a peep about climate change. Why? Because the majority of TV meteorologists don’t believe in it. That’s right: the professionals most responsible for informing the public about the weather are systematically missing the most important weather story of our lifetime.

With over 1,000 TV meteorologists across the country, the level of denial varies widely. Some TV meteorologists spout outright falsehoods on air–like the idea that the earth is actually cooling, or that global warming is caused by sunspots (not Co2 and other greenhouse gasses.) In other cases, they cover increasingly extreme weather events like droughts, wild fires, flooding, and winter storms, without ever mentioning the scientific consensus that climate change is making these events more likely and more intense. It’s the equivalent of a news anchor reporting on a string of murders without saying that there is a suspect in custody. (source)

LOL! Where’s the evidence that we’re seeing more extreme weather events again?

The front page splash asks:

“Do you believe there is solid evidence the earth is warming?” Yes or No

If yes, then you’re a goody two-shoes. If no, you’re a filthy denier. The question is ridiculous of course, because most climate rationalists, including myself, would answer yes when faced with such simplistic options. But that seems to be the puerile level of the whole exercise, setting up straw men to bravely blow them over. The site’s authors obviously have so little understanding of the real issues that they have demonstrated themselves, on the front page, incapable of even asking a vaguely sensible question about climate change.

One of the site’s partners is the extreme environmental advocacy group 350.org, which believes that there is a mythical level of CO2 below which the planet will be safe:

Three years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2remained above 350 parts per million. Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist [by which I guess they must mean railway engineer Pachauri – Ed] has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster.

Don’t anyone tell them that there were floods, hurricanes, tornados and plenty of other weather-related disasters when CO2 was way below 350ppm. Any organisation associated with transparent nonsense like that has immediately lost any credibility it may have had. Furthermore, Watts Up With That claims to have found alleged shady funding links, and since Watts himself was once a TV weatherman, he lets rip at these cheap tactics (see more here).

And even the Washington Post is embarrassed by the schoolyard bully tactics:

“… a sincere effort to respectfully make science-based arguments and carry on a dialogue sure beats the tactic of denigrating those who disagree with you.” (source)

The warmist desperation grows apace. Maybe you’d like to send them a tip: tips@forecastthefacts.org.

IPCC admits uncertainty in extreme weather link

Yasi - no link to climate change

[I know I’m on a break, but this story was too important not to comment – Ed]. The risk of more frequent extreme weather is one of the most potent scare tactics used by climate alarmists and politicians alike. The Greens are the experts at this kind of moral posturing, with the following being a classic example:

GREENS leader Bob Brown is facing mounting condemnation after calling on coal companies to foot the bill for the Queensland flood recovery.

Senator Brown said coal companies, as major climate change contributors, should pay a 40 per cent resources super profits tax to pay for the clean-up. (source)

Or this:

The Australian Greens say Tropical Cyclone Yasi is a “tragedy of climate change”.

The party was heavily criticised after it linked the Queensland floods to climate change and blamed coal miners.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne says the cyclone is another example of why it is important to cut carbon pollution.

“This is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy of climate change,” she said. (source)

But the Greens don’t care about the facts. They are more interested in pushing their extreme-Left agenda of social change via the Trojan horse of environmentalism, and they will use any tools and tactics they can find to achieve that aim.

The UN is very similar in its response, blaming global warming for increased extreme weather events (naturally to justify its position of advocating urgent action on climate). The Russian heatwave and Pakistani floods were a prime example (see here).

But today we read that a leaked report, astonishingly from the IPCC itself, analysing the link between climate change and extreme weather, has admitted to considerable uncertainties:

WIDELY-HELD assumptions that climate change is responsible for an upsurge in extreme drought, flood and storm events are not supported by a landmark review of the science.

And a clear climate change signal would not be evident for decades because of natural weather variability.

Despite the uncertainties, politicians – including US President Barack Obama in his address to federal parliament yesterday – continue to link major weather events directly to climate change.

Greens leader Bob Brown yesterday highlighted Mr Obama’s climate change comments and said the extreme weather impacts were “not just coming, they are happening”.

But rather than bolster claims of a climate change link, the scientific review prepared by the world’s leading climate scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the level of uncertainty. After a week of debate, the IPCC will tonight release a summary of the report in Kampala, Uganda, as a prelude to the year’s biggest climate change conference, being held in Durban, South Africa.

The full report will not be released for several months but a leaked copy of the draft summary, details of which have been published by the BBC and a French news agency, have provided a good indication of what it found.

While the human and financial toll of extreme weather events has certainly risen, the cause has been mostly due to increased human settlement rather than worse weather.

There is only “low confidence” that tropical cyclones have become more frequent, “limited to medium evidence available” to assess whether climatic factors have changed the frequency of floods, and “low confidence” on a global scale even on whether the frequency has risen or fallen. (source – behind paywall)

They can’t even determine the sign of the effect! You can’t get much more uncertain than that!

Overconfidence in its own results by the IPCC is one of the greatest challenges that must be overcome to sweep away the political spin that clouds the IPCC’s reports. Suppression of uncertainty is one of the main criticisms of later reports (especially 2003 and 2007), so an acknowledgement that uncertainty exists is a positive step. It’s very surprising to see the IPCC apparently reporting the science in a more impartial way than has been seen before. Previously such off-message results would have been twisted and spun to keep the agenda going. But here we have the IPCC publishing material which challenges the agenda.

This story is important for two reasons: firstly, that politicians can no longer continue to parade extreme weather events as evidence of climate change to justify their policies, and secondly, it shows (I hope) a change in the attitude of the IPCC, which appears to be more willing to accept the level of uncertainty in the science of climate change in general.

However, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope – the next main report will no doubt be back to business as usual…

US: no link between floods and climate change

No link to CC

But, but, but… we all know climate change causes more “extreme weather” – Bob Brown said so, it must be true! Unfortunately, a new study in the US has found no link between climate change and floods:

A new study conducted by federal scientists found no evidence that climate change has caused more severe flooding in the United States during the last century.

But [there’s always a “but” – Ed] scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who published their findings in the Hydrologic Sciences Journal Monday, said they will continue to examine the issue, noting that more research is necessary to better understand the relationship between climate change and flooding. [In other words they’ll keep torturing the data until it gives them the result they KNOW is right – Ed]

And where there is a link found, it’s in the wrong direction – oops:

[…] the study was able to identify a clear relationship between flooding and climate change in the southwestern portion of the United States. In that region, floods have become less severe as greenhouse gas emissions have increased, the study says.

It’s all meaningless – another classic case of correlation being interpreted as causation, as usual. And it should be noted that the study focussed on the link between flooding and concentrations of GHGs – meaning the whole thing is based on the flawed assumption that CO2 levels are a direct driver of “climate change”. Since CO2 may only be a very weak climate driver, it’s hardly surprising that there’s no link to flood severity.

Deaths from "extreme weather" at their lowest since 1900

More Gore-bull

Al Gore claims that “global warming” is causing more extreme weather events, because his investments will go south if he fails to keep up the fear. Note the irony that he was speaking at a “low-carbon investment conference”. You really can’t make this stuff up – just follow the money:

“Observations in the real world make it clear that it’s happening now, it’s real, it’s with us,” he said. Failing to take action meant the world would face a catastrophe. [In other words, his bank balance would face a catastrophe – Ed]

He added that nearly every climate scientist actively publishing on the subject now agreed there was a causal link between carbon emissions and the sharp increase in intense and extreme weather events seen across the globe. (source)

Gore cited the Pakistani floods as evidence of this claim. But unfortunately, the official report into the floods found NO LINK to climate change. Read the whole Guardian article – it’s a scream.

And it is strange that deaths from such “extreme weather events” are at their lowest for over a hundred years, even taking into account the greater reporting of such events thanks to better monitoring facilities:

Despite concerns about global warming and a large increase in the number of reported storms and droughts, the world’s death rate from extreme weather events was lower from 2000 to 2010 than it has been in any decade since 1900, according to a new Reason Foundation study. 

The Reason Foundation report chronicles the number of worldwide deaths caused by extreme weather events between 1900 and 2010 and finds global deaths caused by extreme weather events peaked in the decade running from 1920 to 1929, when there were 241 deaths a year per million people in the world. From 1930 to 1939 there were 208 deaths a year per million people. But from 2000 to 2010 there were just 5.4 deaths a year per million people in the world. That’s a 98 percent decline in the weather-related death rate since the 1920s. Extreme weather events were responsible for just .07% of the world’s deaths between 2000 and 2010. (source)

Russian heatwave in 2010 was "primarily natural"

CO2 Science

The moonbat media went to town last year about the Russian heatwave, blaming climate change and using it as a stick to beat us all into taking action on global warming.

However, a paper in Geophysical Research Letters shows that it was far more likely to have been a natural occurrence, finding virtually no change in July temperatures over a period of 130 years. Their conclusion:

“In summary,” to quote Dole et al., “the analysis of the observed 1880-2009 time series shows that no statistically significant long-term change is detected in either the mean or variability of western Russia July temperatures, implying that for this region an anthropogenic climate change signal has yet to emerge above the natural background variability.” Thus, they say their analysis “points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave,” noting that the event “appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event,” adding that there are no indications that “blocking would increase in response to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Read it here.

Climate of extremes

Climate sense

Luboš Motl, writing on his blog The Reference Frame, examines the current fad of blaming extreme weather on climate change, and recent comments by Gavin Schmidt:

There has been a lot of havoc in the media world about two recent papers in Nature whose authors argued that bad rainstorms are caused by humans (Min et al.) and that the British 2000 floods were caused by humans (Pall et al.).

The idea that climate extremes are supposed to get larger is one of the most omni-present manifestations of the climate doomsday religion.

This thesis contradicts pretty much all empirical data as well as theoretical analyses of the climate. The global temperature has probably increased in the last 100 years but the extremes have not. However, many AGW believers, including many of those you could otherwise count as doubters (e.g. the former Czech representative in the IPCC) love to parrot this complete pseudoscientific nonsense.

If you graph the intensity or number of hurricanes; the temperature fluctuations; the total number of extreme temperature events; or many other things that depend on “non-uniformity” and “non-constancy” of the quantities describing the atmosphere, you will see that there’s been no significant global trend in either of them during the last 100 years or so.

All those graphs are noisy – unlike the temperature (following a pink noise curve), all these graphs resemble white noise (because there’s no reason to think that e.g. the annual or monthly amount of precipitation should be a continuous function). But the “signal” never exceeds the “noise” in a statistically significant way.

I have created many such graphs using the WeatherData function in Mathematica. I wonder – if those people really believe that the measures of extremeness are going up, why do they do so? Haven’t they managed to draw a single graph of this type which is almost enough to see that this whole thesis is just plain rubbish?

It seems to me that the honest believers build their opinions on the climate models that suffer from some kind of numerical instability – and they’re not capable to distinguish the climate models from the reality or to see that these effects obviously can’t be happening in the real world. And by the way, they have probably never played with the same model without the CO2 increase to see that the instability is still there.

The idea that all extremes are getting stronger – a basic pillar of the climate doomsday beliefs – is actually so silly that even one of the most famous climate cranks, Gavin Schmidt, has been able to figure our and admit that it’s wrong.

Read it here.

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