Volume 11, Number 27: 25 June 2008
On 23 June of this year (2008), James E. Hansen --Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- unleashed a tirade that was truly "beyond the pale" ... even for him.
He said, among other things, that "climate is nearing dangerous tipping points," that if CO2 emissions follow a business-as-usual scenario, "sea level rise of at least two meters is likely this century," that "polar and alpine species will be pushed off the planet," that "ocean life dependent on carbonate shells and skeletons is threatened by dissolution," and that "we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb." And he says that his conclusions "have a certainty exceeding 99 percent."
Well if they do, Hansen certainly didn't reach them via the scientific method; for there is likely no other scientist on earth that would give any credence at all to such an extreme claim, especially as it pertains to such a complex subject. And perhaps that is why U.S. House of Representatives member Ed Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts) is reported by Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein (23 June 2008) to have said "we recognize him as a climate prophet."
But why stop there? With a certainty exceeding 99%, Hansen may as well be recognized as a fledgling God.
Hansen's policy prescriptions for the planet are equally extreme and absolute: "we must draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide to preserve the planet we know," "we must demand a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants," a carbon tax "is essential," and "CEOs of fossil energy companies ... should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature."
But why even bother with trials? ... especially when we have an oracle whose views have "a certainty exceeding 99%" of being correct. Let's just rush out and see how fast we all can carry out his will.
Or perhaps we should actually examine Hansen's rantings just a bit. We have done so in some detail in one of the three major reports we have posted on our website: Carbon Dioxide and Global Change: Separating Scientific Fact from Personal Opinion, which carries the subtitle "A critique of the 26 April 2007 testimony of James E. Hansen made to the Select Committee of Energy Independence and Global Warming of the United States House of Representatives entitled 'Dangerous Human-Made Interference with Climate'." Our report is lengthy, but the complexity of the subject demands much more than the curt contentious claims and dogmatic demands decreed by our "climate prophet."
In addition, we would call your attention to the new DVD we have recently released -- Carbon Dioxide and the "Climate Crisis" - Reality or Illusion? -- which presents the thoughts (and words) of many climate scientists who do not subscribe to the Gore-Hansen religion.
Truly, there is no place in science for the hubris displayed by Hansen in his recent rantings. In such crucial policy matters as where we should get the energy that sustains our way of life -- intimations of the tiniest impacts of which may be seen today in the form of exorbitant gas, oil and food prices (and in a world that has not warmed over the past decade) -- we must carefully test the predictions of climate models against a vast assemblage of real-world physical, chemical and biological data. To do anything less, and especially to bow down to this most recent and outrageous diatribe of Hansen, is to abandon all rationality and disavow our God-given ability to think for ourselves and make our own decisions.
Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso