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There's that dang settled science again

08 Nov 2023 | OP ED Watch

According to James Hansen you are a heatstroke-addled fool. Thank you. Thank you very much. As the Guardian shrills, “Global heating is accelerating faster than is currently understood and will result in a key temperature threshold being breached as soon as this decade, according to research led by James Hansen, the US scientist who first alerted the world to the greenhouse effect.” And for bad measure he added “We would be damned fools and bad scientists if we didn’t expect an acceleration of global warming.” Um wait a minute. Didn’t you say it was happening faster than you expected? Which would make you the fool, wouldn’t it? Or are you just opening your mouth and letting the wind blow your tongue around at this point?

Apparently Hansen’s diatribe included “We are beginning to suffer the effect of our Faustian bargain. That is why the rate of global warming is accelerating.” OK. We’ll bite. What was this “Faustian bargain”? Did we sell our souls to the devil in return for knowledge of climate and not get it? Or in return for power over nature we didn’t use? Or didn’t you read the play either?

Ah well. Here’s the latest on the settled science from a new paper with Hansen as lead author, courtesy of the Guardian:

“The Earth’s climate is more sensitive to human-caused changes than scientists have realized until now, meaning that a ‘dangerous’ burst of heating will be unleashed that will push the world to be 1.5C hotter than it was, on average, in pre-industrial times within the 2020s and 2C hotter by 2050, the paper published on Thursday predicts.”

Interesting. Not “was unleashed”, despite 2023 being hotter than scientists expected with their totally reliable models and settled science. Will be. And to quibble, we’ve noted repeatedly that according to alarmists the planet is already 1.1°C warmer that it was “on average, in pre-industrial times”. But only if by “pre-industrial times” they mean in 1850. If you take the average temperature throughout the latest Holocene interglacial, it’s currently colder. And of course if the Urban Heat Island accounts for much of the apparent increase, and natural warming for much of the rest, the actual amount of human-driven warming is trivial.

Never mind. Note instead that Hansen is saying we’ll have a temperature surge of maybe 0.5°C within the 2020s which scientists had not foreseen. Which is also rubbish.

Not the outcome. Though it may be. The claim about science. In fact we’ve been hearing warnings that we will “breach” this vital arbitrary limit in the next few years for years now. And that it would be terrible. Including in, um, the Guardian this spring. Now here we go again:

“This alarming speed-up of global heating, which would mean the world breaches the internationally agreed 1.5C threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement far sooner than expected, risks a world “less tolerable to humanity, with greater climate extremes”, according to the study led by Hansen, the former Nasa scientist who issued a foundational warning about climate change to the US Congress back in the 1980s.”

They’re even recycling the verbiage and calling it bold and new.

Oh, and here’s another blunder:

“Hansen said there is a huge amount of global heating ‘in the pipeline’ because of the continued burning of fossil fuels and Earth being ‘very sensitive’ to the impacts of this – far more sensitive than the best estimates laid out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”

Those “best estimates”, of course, concern ECS or Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, the total absolute amount of warming to be expected from each relative doubling of atmospheric CO2. And as our new series “#ECS in the real world” began cataloguing several weeks ago, the computer models have consistently made estimates of that figure that are higher than real-world data suggest not lower. Often much higher.

Reuters “Sustainable Switch” pretty much swallowed it whole. And the Washington Post also had the story and kicked off with a glowing profile of how “Thirty-five years ago, NASA climate scientist James Hansen stood in front of Congress with a bold declaration: Humans are causing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s changing our climate.” We won’t quibble that Hansen was sitting down, and in front of one Senate committee. Especially as the Post even admits that he seems to have gone off the deep end:

“On Thursday, Hansen and colleagues across the world released a study with another serious, though controversial, finding. Climate change will catapult global temperatures into crisis territory earlier than previously thought, the scientists said, warning that Earth is already nearing average temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial norms. Their alarming prediction – that the pace of Earth’s warming is accelerating – stirred some disagreement within the climate community.”

And here we thought 97% of climate scientists, or world scientists, or 99%, or 900%, agreed totally on everything. Weird.

It is of course true that if you believe that the planet is 1.1°C warmer now than in 1850 and that 1850 is the full meaning of “pre-industrial times” we are nearing temperatures more than 1.5 higher.

It is not a trivial point. The Post yaps on that:

“Since the preindustrial era, Earth has warmed around 1.2 degrees Celsius. But recently, temperatures have spiked beyond that. Some summer months in 2023 have registered global average temperatures 1.5 to 1.6 degrees hotter than the average before the widespread use of fossil fuels.”

These two journalists, and they do have some science background which makes it worse, have no idea whatsoever of the “average” temperature “before the widespread use of fossil fuels”, a phrase that encompasses the entire history of the planet Earth prior to 1776 and was generally some 10°C warmer than today going back to the Cambrian roughly half a billion years ago.

They also have no idea that making sense would be good. They also write: “While 1.5 degrees isn’t a magical tipping point for Earth’s demise, the United Nations has warned of severe and potentially irreversible consequences above that level.” Which admittedly doesn’t have to be “magical” but certainly sounds like a tipping point unless “the United Nations”, whatever they mean by that sloppy phrase (they later refer to the UN’s “most recent landmark climate report” and link to an IPCC publication), also has no idea what it’s babbling about. And they do note that one of Hansen and his colleagues’ concerns is that successful anti-pollution efforts have reduced the level of cooling aerosols in the atmosphere.

Yes well in the wacky world of climate alarmism everything is bad including clean air. (And in the New York Times “Climate Forward” David Gelles relays this claim and also peddles Hansen’s paper without skepticism.) But hang on. If cleaner air is burning up the planet, do the geoengineers want to relax clean air standards to save us all from climate boiling?

Not exactly. As they can do anything better than capitalism, custom or even nature, they can make better pollution too. Thus Hansen agrees that “We will need to cool off Earth to save our coastlines, coastal cities worldwide and lowlands while also addressing the other problems caused by global warming.” And as the Guardian noted:

“To deal with this crisis, Hansen and his colleagues advocate for a global carbon tax as well as, more controversially, efforts to intentionally spray sulphur into the atmosphere in order to deflect heat away from the planet and artificially lower the world’s temperature.”

As our readers know, our opinion of Michael Mann is not generally high. But our policy of credit where due leads us to note here that he has been warning against the hubris and possible unintended consequences of geoengineering for years. And speaking of Mann, the various gyrations in Hansen’s latest piece prompted even him to retort that “I feel that this latest contribution from Jim and his co-authors is at best unconvincing”.

Yeah. You could say that. At best.

2 comments on “There's that dang settled science again”

  1. Maximum Holocene warm peaks soon after the massive ice melt ended, progressively cooler through the Minoan, Roman and Medieval and recent peaks.
    Hansen either has no idea of this or choses to ignore or discount this sound empirical evidence.
    As famous physicist Prof., Richard Feynman stated "Science is the mistrust of the experts". Notably when the foundation for claims of expertise are through the pronouncement of outlandish predictions that fail and, when that happens again and again, are ignored and replaced with new ones. .

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