The Crazies of the Church of Global Warming has a philosophy, “If God deals you bad numbers–fudge them.” Remember when they came out with the announcement that October was the warmest in history and then, “OOPS NEVER MIND.” It was James Hansen The Grand Poobah of warming who is screwed up the numbers. It was actually a quite average month. Ranked 70th in the last 114 years. And it wasn’t the first time Hansen has screwed up his numbers. In 2007 he was forced by other scientists to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s. Then there was that little problem a few months ago when it was discovered that some of the data he used to come up with his global warming science were “made up.`
You see James Hansen will do anything to make his global warming numbers look good, when he made his big global warming announcement 21 years ago he became a star, even though two of his supervisors thought that his research was bogus. The reason he keeps playing with the numbers is to keep his superstar status. You see, like the scientists in the 1970’s who said we were about to fall into an Ice Age, James Hansen simply wrong and his status takes precedence over science:
It’s been more than 20 years since James Hansen first warned America of impending doom. On a hot summer day in June 1988, Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, came to Washington to announce before a Senate committee that “the greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now.”
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The greenhouse effect would have looked obvious enough to anyone watching on television. The senators conducting the hearing, including Al Gore, had turned the committee room into an oven. That day it was a balmy 98 degrees, and as former Colorado senator Timothy Wirth later revealed, the committee members “went in the night before and opened all the windows. And so when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and [high ratings], but it was really hot.”
Hansen has been a star ever since. On the 20th anniversary of his testimony to Congress and still serving in the same role at NASA, Hansen was invited back for an encore performance where he warned that time was running out. He also conducted a media tour that included calling for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies, including ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy, to be put on trial for “high crimes against humanity and nature.”
If you hear the echo of Nuremberg in those trials, it’s because Hansen doesn’t shy away from Holocaust metaphors to make his point. In 2007, Hansen testified before the Iowa Utilities Board not in his capacity as a government employee but “as a private citizen, a resident of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the planet, of life on Earth, including all species.” Hansen told the board that “if we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains–no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.”
More recently, but presumably still in his capacity as a private citizen and defender of the Earth, Hansen wrote an op-ed for the Guardian in which he described coal-fired power plants as “factories of death.” This on the heels of testifying in a British court on behalf of six Greenpeace activists on trial for causing $60,000 in criminal damage to a coal-fired power station in England. The Greenpeace activists had offered climate change as a “lawful excuse” for their actions and with Hansen’s helpful testimony were acquitted of all charges. Less than six months later, Hansen–a federal employee–would call for “the largest display of civil disobedience against global warming in U.S. history” as part of a protest at the Capitol power plant in Washington.
Hansen, by his own count, has conducted more than 1,400 interviews in recent years. Yet Hansen would also insist, in a speech just days before the 2004 presidential election, that the Bush administration had “muzzled” him because of his global warming activism. When asked about this contradiction in 2007, Hansen told Rep. Darrell Issa that “for the sake of the taxpayers, they should be availed of my expertise. I shouldn’t be required to parrot some company line.”
But Hansen has never parroted the company line. As the head of NASA’s Weather and Climate Research Program from 1982 to 1994, John Theon was James Hansen’s supervisor. Theon says that Hansen’s testimony in 1988 was “a huge embarrassment” to NASA, and he remains skeptical of Hansen’s predictions. “I don’t have much faith in the models,” Theon says, pointing to the “huge uncertainty in the role clouds play.” Theon describes Hansen as a “nice, likeable fellow,” but worries “he’s been overcome by his belief–almost religious–that he’s going to save the world.”
William Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, also describes Hansen’s belief in a man-made global-warming catastrophe as “almost religious” and says he “never understood how [Hansen] got such a strong voice” in the debate. Gray’s efforts to predict hurricanes also lead him to question Hansen’s computer models. “He doesn’t have the clouds in right, and he doesn’t have the deep ocean circulation,” Gray says. “It’s a giant scam in my view.”
Yet Hansen has been well rewarded by the scientific community for his efforts, winning the American Meteorological Society’s highest award for atmospheric science earlier this year. Gray says he was “appalled at that,” particularly in light of the fact that Hansen wasn’t even trained as a -meteorologist. Gray distributed a paper describing the choice as a “hijacking” of the AMS: “By presenting Hansen with its highest award, the AMS implies it agrees with his faulty global temperature projections and irresponsible alarmist rhetoric,” Gray wrote.
Indeed, Roy Spencer, who served as the senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Center, puts Hansen “at the extreme end of global warming alarmism.” Spencer doesn’t know of anyone “who thinks it’s a bigger problem than [Hansen] does.” Spencer, a meteorologist by training and a skeptic of man-made global warming, was genuinely muzzled during the Clinton administration. “I would get the message down through the NASA chain [of command] of what I could and couldn’t say in testimony.”
Spencer left NASA with little fuss for a job at the University of Alabama in 2001, but he still seems in awe of Hansen’s ability to do as he pleases. “For many years Hansen got away with going around NASA rules, and they looked the other way because it helped sell Mission to Planet Earth,” the NASA research program studying human effects on climate. Spencer figures that “at some point, someone in the Bush administration said ‘why don’t you start enforcing your rules?’ ”
Gray says that Hansen’s “testimony is not working out” anyway. There’s been a “slight cooling since 2001. . . . They’re scrambling,” he says. And indeed Hansen got caught with his hand in the cookie jar in 2007, when Stephen McIntyre, the man who debunked the infamous “hockey stick” graph showing stable Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures for most of the last millennia before a sharp upturn, found a flaw in Hansen’s numbers. McIntyre analyzed NASA’s temperature records for the last century and found that, contrary to Hansen’s charts, 1998 was not the hottest year on record. That honor belongs to 1934, and five of the ten hottest years on record are now found prior to World War II.
Theon says the same kind of models that now predict runaway warming were predicting runaway cooling prior to 1975, when the popular fear was not melting ice caps but a new ice age, and “not one model predicted the cooling we’ve had since 1998.” Spencer insists “it’s all make believe–if you took one look at the assumptions that go into this, you’d laugh.” But none of that seems to matter too much.
“Gore was in his corner and now the president is in his corner,” Theon says. “They don’t understand what the hell is going on.”