Category — Hansen, James
“You don’t want [California's] system with caps, where you have trading, you have derivatives, you have markets that then collapse and don’t actually reduce emissions much. That’s been tried in Europe, and it didn’t do much.”
- James Hansen, quoted in David Baker, “James Hansen Blasts Cap-and-Trade,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 5, 2012.
“Cap-and-trade’s complexity provides a breeding ground for special interests…. Why do those special interests deserve it anyhow?”
- James Hansen, “The People vs. Cap-and-Tax,” New York City, January 12, 2010.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has long attracted criticism as the progenitor of modern climate alarmism. In recent years, Hansen has been prone to hyperbolic statements against fossil fuels, ignoring the moral imperative for abundant, affordable, and reliable mass energies (called progressive energy by Alex Epstein). Hansen has also engaged in civil disobedience for his wrong-headed cause.
Hansen’s alarmism, and its policy corollary of government-engineered energy transformation, is deeply troubled by three factors as documented by fellow climate scientist Chip Knappenberger:
- Global temperatures are not rising in tandem with greenhouse gas emissions (think global lukewarming);
- Hansen’s “climate dice” can be unloaded; and
- A carbon tax (Hansen’s alternative to cap-and-trade) is climatically useless.
Can James Hansen acknowledge the mere possibility of a benign or even positive human influence on climate? Such would be the beginning of an exit strategy, a soft landing, from what continues to shape up to be a Grand False Alarm. Hansen’s reconsideration, in fact, can begin with his own views of the 1990s on the complexity of his subject matter (see Appendix A).
Three Great Moments
But there is another side to the mad scientist that has interjected realism into the decarbonization debate. Three are mentioned here. [Read more →]
December 21, 2012 5 Comments
“Today’s temperature ‘extremes’ are simply yesterday’s extremes warmed up a bit, partly from the heat-island effect. But they are not new events…. Hansen’s push on weather extremes is another case where the level of alarm is disproportionate to the level of impact.”
Today’s temperature “extremes” are simply yesterday’s extremes warmed up a bit, partly from the heat-island effect. But they are not new events where none existed prior.
This distinction is neither subtle nor unimportant. When it comes to temperatures, yesterday’s extremes warmed up offer less of a surprise (and hence a greater ease of adaptability) than if a new crop of extreme events suddenly sprung up out of nowhere to catch us unprepared.
But such a distinction is not made prominently evident in the latest work by NASA’s James Hansen—and even less so in the accompanying media coverage (including that instigated by Hansen himself). Instead, the general audience is left with the distinct impression that anthropogenic global warming (as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based energy production) is leading to the occurrence of new extreme weather events when and where such weather events would not otherwise have occurred. For instance, in a Washington Post op-ed written by Hansen to accompany the release of his paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hansen writes:
Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.
The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.
But this impression is untrue. These events and others like them, almost certainly would have occurred on their own (i.e., naturally). Climate change may have added a pinch of additional heat, but it almost certainly did not create these events out of thin air (see here for example). [Read more →]
September 24, 2012 17 Comments
Yesteryear’s climate extremes are today’s climate normals. Yet we are largely oblivious and better off. A hundred years from now the same will be true. Ho hum….
But not everyone thinks this way. Take NASA’s James Hansen for example.
Hansen has recently published a prominent paper (in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS) and placed a prominent op-ed (in the Washington Post) that are aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the impacts of climate change, both now and in the future. In a rather candid admission for a scientific paper (and one which in most cases would have resulted in an immediate rejection), Hansen (and co-authors) proclaim that “…we were motivated in this research by an objective to expose effects of human-made global warming as soon as possible…” To drive the point home further, Hansen’s op-ed was headlined “Climate change is here — and worse than we thought.”
What Hansen wants us to know, is that as temperatures increase, temperatures at the high end of the scale that were once statistically very rare (i.e., extreme) will become considerably less rare.
I agree completely.
However, Hansen is of the opinion that once this knowledge becomes widely known and associated with human greenhouse gas emissions (one of the many ways that human activity can alter the climate), that the majority of people will hasten to support actions (legislative, regulative) aimed at curtailing such emissions.
I completely disagree. [Read more →]
August 23, 2012 20 Comments
“Hansen’s most recent editorial has received sharp criticism for the over-reach of his claims about climate science. But what the media isn’t covering is an unprecedented call for an environmental trade war with America’s largest trading partner. Let’s hope they catch up to that aspect of the story.”
In a recent editorial assault on Canada’s oil-sands, climate activist extraordinaire James Hansen (NASA) has basically declared war on Canada’s economy (not to mention our own). Hansen wrote:
Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
He goes on to suggest that the U.S. actually take actions against the interests of our neighbors to the north:
President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
This is truly astonishing: a high ranking official at NASA has taken to the pages of the New York Times to lobby the President of the United States to physically embargo Canada’s oil, and impose economic sanctions against Canada to force them to eschew tar-sand development and export. [Read more →]
May 16, 2012 19 Comments
Dear James Hansen: Climate Non-Alarmists Are Intellectually Grounded & Well Intentioned (Sir, are you suffering from a ‘fatal conceit’?)
“The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change.”
- James Hansen, “Climate Forcings in the Industrial Era,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 1998, p. 12753.
“In view of the immense power of natural weather and climate fluctuations and the great buffering capacity of the Earth, especially the ocean, it is easy to be skeptical about whether small anthropogenic changes of atmospheric composition can have important practical impacts.”
- James Hansen et al., “How Sensitive Is the World’s Climate?,” National Geographic Research & Exploration, 9(2): 1993, p. 157.
“Climate is always changing. Climate would fluctuate without any change of climate forcings. The chaotic aspect of climate is an innate characteristic of the coupled fundamental equations describing climate system dynamics.”
- James Hansen et al., “How Sensitive Is the World’s Climate?,” National Geographic Research & Exploration, 9(2): 1993, p. 143.
James Hansen has been at the forefront of the alarmist wing of climate scientists regarding the human influence on global climate from 1988 until today. But at least earlier in his career he showed some humility in the face of the enormous complexity of his subject–and the limitations of his own mind. The above three quotations from the 1990s indicate as much. (1)
Humility is out. This NASA scientist has taken a ‘Greenpeace’ approach to the environment. He KNOWS both the problem and the answer to the problem, bringing to mind F. A. Hayek’s warnings about intellectuals who claim to know social problems so well that WE (the world) must adapt their coercive solutions. Beware of what Hayek called The Fatal Conceit.
Dr. James Hansen’s latest communication, Cowards in Our Democracies: Part 1 (January 27, 2012), (parsed in red below) is interspersed by my comments (in green). My critique will continue with Hansen’s just published Part II in the near future. [Read more →]
February 1, 2012 3 Comments
“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
Climate and energy alarmists war with reality. And now and again, the incentives line up for a particular alarmist to blow the whistle on some aspect of the governmental ‘cure’ to their problem. The incendiary Joe Romm, for example, trots out free-market-type arguments against carbon sequestration and nuclear (both too expensive).
Hansen on Cap-and-Trade
NASA scientist and uber-climate-alarmist James Hansen informed the climate policy debate in 2009/2010 with his blistering criticism of CO2 cap-and-trade. “The truth is, the climate course set by Waxman-Markey is a disaster course,” he said. “It is an exceedingly inefficient way to get a small reduction of emissions. It is less than worthless….”
Joe Romm complained against Hansen’s “needlessly (and pointlessly) provocative attacks” as being “filled with right-wing and left-wing myths — and very little understanding of the basics of either this bill or cap-and-trade systems.” But California’s rethink of a state-level cap-and-trade program suggests that Hansen’s concerns of a highly political approach to mitigating carbon-dioxide emissions was on the mark.
Regarding international climate-change action, Hansen also called out
The fraudulence of the Copenhagen [Summit] approach – ‘goals’ for emission reductions, ‘offsets’ that render even iron-clad goals almost meaningless, an ineffectual ‘cap-and-trade’ mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics-as-usual.
And now Renewables ….
Most recently, Hansen turned his attention to just what wind and solar in particular could do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reverse out the human influence on climate.
Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit (Hansen, WG3 and Green Kool-aid) has analyzed Hansen in the context of the IPCC’s amateurish pro-renewables report; I simply reproduce significant parts of the Hansen’s July 29, 2011, critique.
James Hansen on Renewable Energy
There is a consensus that renewable energies need to be part of the solution to the energy security and climate matters. But we must be realistic about their contribution. So now let’s look at the progress of renewable energies after several years of strong government incentives.
Renewable sources [in 2009] provide 10.7% of the electric energy. But … almost two-thirds of this is hydroelectric. Wind has grown to almost 17% of the renewable energy, so it is approaching 1.8% of U.S. electricity. Solar power is only 0.2% of the renewable portion or 0.02% of electricity.
[Globally] … in 2008 … renewable energies provide 19% of electricity, but most of the renewable energy is hydroelectric. Wind provides 1% of global electricity and solar energy less than 0.1%….
Renewables may be small, but they are growing rapidly, exponentially, right? [Data] reveals that growth of electricity in the past two decades in the U.S. has been mainly from fossil fuels…. [Read more →]
August 22, 2011 5 Comments
“If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
- Paul Ehrlich, quoted in Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 35.
“As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”
- Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1986, p. 274.
In the name of science, Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, and James Hansen (et al.) have made doom-and-gloom predictions about business-as-usual in an attempt to shock humanity into immediate legislative action and lifestyle changes.
It did not work. The elapsed predictions have failed to come to pass. Little wonder that new installments of climate alarmism, such as Juliet Eilperin’s ”25% of Wild Mammal Species Face Extinction: Global Assessment Paints ‘Bleak Picture,’ Scientists Say, and Figure of Those at Risk Could Be Higher” in the Washington Post (October 7), don’t register with voters.
Worsening their predicament, the perpetrators will not renounce their specious predictions. They remain the smartest guys in the room–versus all of us commoners, we the hundreds of millions of market-failure-ites.
Here are the Big Three: 1) the dean of modern alarmism, Paul Ehrlich; 2) Al Gore’s influential climate scientist James Hansen; and 3) Obama’s “dream ‘green’ team” member John Holdren.
Let’s start with Dr. Holdren.
Holdren’s Billion Deaths
It was Ehrlich who outed his protege on what is perhaps the most outlandish prediction of forthcoming doom of all: one billion potential deaths by 2020. That is about ten years and one in seven of us. Are you scared? [Read more →]
November 1, 2010 48 Comments
(Book Review) James Hansen’s “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” (alarmism on steroids)
Many scientists are concerned about the future and continue to study various aspects of our environment, including the climate. But, for Dr. James Hansen there is no doubt. Our world is headed for disaster unless we take immediate and drastic action to control greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2).
You have to give the man credit: He actually believes what he preaches. He shows pictures of his wonderful grandchildren and his concern for them is certainly evident. There is only one problem with what he shares: There is little evidence to support what he says.
Take this example:
Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril. The urgency of the situation crystallized only in the past few years. We now have clear evidence of the crisis, provided by increasingly detailed information about how Earth responded to perturbing forces during its history (very sensitively, with some lag caused by the inertia of massive oceans) and by observations of changes that are beginning to occur around the globe in response to ongoing climate change. The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought. (Emphasis Added P. IX)
Now, the one thing that Dr. Hansen is not going to share with us is the “clear evidence” of a coming crisis. In fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Dr. Hansen may understand some scientific principles but he seems to lack any common sense. He talks about plants becoming extinct because they cannot migrate because cities and farms are in the way. Yet, any person who has ever planted a garden knows that seeds find a way of getting where they want to go.
Dr. Hansen, along with a number of other climate change alarmists (like Al Gore), believes that man is the chief cause of global warming, and that warming is generally harmful. In fact more people die from cold than die from heat. Not only that but increasing levels of carbon dioxide are generally beneficial to plants, enabling them to survive with less water. [Read more →]
August 20, 2010 42 Comments
“Washington appears intent on choosing a [cap-and-trade] path defined by corporate greed. Unless the public gets engaged, the present Administration may jam down the public’s throat just such an approach, which, it can be shown, is not a solution at all.”
“Cap-and-trade’s complexity provides a breeding ground for special interests…. [T]ry reading the Waxman-Markey 2,000-page bill to figure out who would get the money! Why do those special interests deserve it anyhow?”
- James Hansen, “The People vs. Cap-and-Tax,” paper delivered to the Chairperson of the Carbon Trading Summit, New York City, January 12, 2010.
James Hansen is losing patience. He is upset at the Obama Administration and its advisors, such as John Holdren (read his futile letters). Hansen is mad at the New York Times; after all, he got suckered by their editors and by Paul Krugman regarding his pre-Copenhagen opinion-page editorial.
All this and more is in Dr. Hansen’s latest 3,600-word attack–reproduced in its entirety below–on the political establishment in what is a widening civil war on the Left regarding climate policy.
Temperature trends, climategate, and Copenhagen are major problems for climate alarmism/neo-Malthusianism in theory and practice. But add to this ‘perfect storm’ the problem of Enronesque climate policy. What is the party in power to do?
Some Hard Questions for Dr. Hansen
It is fair to ask some hard questions to the father of climate alarmism in the United States. Hansen said years ago that we had to quickly and fundamentally reverse the world’s energy mix to avoid his modeled doom. That is not going to happen. Is it time for him, both as a scientist and a layperson, to rethink the whole issue and reverse course? If climate stabilization is indeed a futile crusade, James Hansen should be part of the solution rather than continue to be part of the problem.
Here are some questions I have for Dr. Hansen that could help him get on track. I invite readers to add questions in the comments to this post.
- Climate science and the empirical record of temperature and climate change are more unsettled than ever. You once even admitted that “The prospects for having a modest climate change impact instead of a disastrous one are quite good, I think.” Will you show humility by constructing a non-alarmist scenario within the error bars of ‘settled’ and ‘unsettled’ science as an alternative scenario?
- In your very public criticisms of cap-and-trade, you do not bring up Enron. Yet Enron is the father company of the U.S.-side push of cap-and-trade, and Enron-ex Jim Rogers brought the Ken Lay political model of climate alarmism/cap-and-trade to the electricity sector.
- You speak below of “a clean energy future.”Why not talk about Enron’s quest to become the world’s leading renewable company and the fact that Enron’s very first crime involved its wind subsidiary? (Hint: government-dependent energy investments, not only cap-and-trade, enable the “corporate greed” you lament.
- You forthrightly state that “fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy.” Will you explore what is really the more important fact: that fossil energies used to firm up intermittent energies such as wind and solar create inefficiencies and incremental emissions compared to a grid without intermittent resources? (Hint: wind and solar are not major CO2 mitgators.)
- You were very articulate on the David Letterman Show. Why not debate an intellectual opponent? Or why not recommend that a Richard Lindzen spend a few minutes with Letterman to explain why we are not doomed? After all, as you once said: “Climate is complex. People have different opinions about the extent to which humans are causing climate change.”
- You have powerfully spoken against the political waste of the climate-policy debate. Can you weigh the fact of “government failure” against “market failure” in your analysis of what the government can really be expected to do to address the alleged problem?
- Is it time for you to shift from a mitigation to a adaptation strategy for dealing with future climate change, as Robert Murphy has argued? Your ten-years-or-else alarm of 2006 (“We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions”) is rapidly running its course.
January 17, 2010 7 Comments
“The fraudulence of the Copenhagen approach – ‘goals’ for emission reductions, ‘offsets’ that render even iron-clad goals almost meaningless, an ineffectual ‘cap-and-trade’ mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics-as-usual.”
- James Hansen, “Never-Give-Up Fighting Spirit,” November 30, 2009
There is a civil war on the Left against cap-and-trade as the centerpiece of a U.S. climate bill. Among the leading critics is NASA scientist and Al Gore mentor James Hansen, who reiterated his opposition in Sunday’s The Observer with Copenhagen’s climate summit in mind:
“Cap and trade with offsets … is astoundingly ineffective. Global emissions rose rapidly in response to Kyoto, as expected, because fossil fuels remained the cheapest energy.
Cap and trade is an inefficient compromise, paying off numerous special interests. It must be replaced with an honest approach, raising the price of carbon emissions and leaving the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground.”
Hansen also stated earlier this month:
“Cap-and-trade is a hidden regressive tax, benefiting the select few who have managed to get themselves written into the 2000-page bill…. Think revolving door between the government and Wall Street. Think revolving door between Congress and lobbyists.”
Hansen’s earlier criticisms of HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey climate bill), apply to the current Senate companion, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009 (Kerry-Boxer climate bill).
Hansen’s bottom line on Waxman-Markey was as follows:
“The truth is, the climate course set by Waxman-Markey is a disaster course. It is an exceedingly inefficient way to get a small reduction of emissions. It is less than worthless….”
-James Hansen, “Strategies to Address Global Warming,” July 13, 2009.
During debate on the original version of HR 2454, Hansen complained:
“Governments are retreating to feckless ‘cap-and-trade,’ a minor tweak to business-as-usual….
“Why is this cap-and-trade temple of doom worshipped? The 648-page cap-and-trade monstrosity that is being foisted on the U.S. Congress provides the answer. Not a single Congressperson has read it. They don’t need to – they just need to add more paragraphs to support their own special interests. By the way, the Congress people do not write most of those paragraphs—they are ‘suggested’ by people in alligator shoes.”
November 30, 2009 13 Comments