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Remembering the Old James Hansen (give him some credit)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 12, 2009

I have previously posted on NASA scientist and leading climate alarmist James Hansen as a “scientist behaving strangely.” His mixing of politics and science–controversial science at that–has raised eyebrows among friend and foe.

But then there is the old, more moderate Jim Hansen. Below, I offer some quotations for the historical record. There are undoubtedly other quotations that can be added–and should be in the “comments” section, whether by Hansen or by colleagues of Hansen.

Perhaps Dr. Hansen can say that his thinking has evolved toward greater alarm. But if so, with temperatures little or no higher today than when he wrote a decade or more ago, the question must be asked: why has his alarm gone up rather than down?

Hansen on a “modest” anthropogenic climate impact

” The prospects for having a modest climate change impact instead of a disastrous one are quite good, I think.”

– James Hansen, quoted in Andrew Revkin, “Study Proposes New Strategy to Stem Global Warming,” New York Times, August 19, 2000, p. A12.

Hansen on “skepticism” in science

“Skepticism thus plays an essential role in scientific research, and, far from trying to silence skeptics, science invites their contributions. So, too, the global warming debate benefits from traditional scientific skepticism.”

– James Hansen, “The Global Warming Debate,” http;//www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/ gwdebate, January 17, 1999, p. 1.

Hansen on Mixing Politics and Science 

“Injection of environmental and political perspectives in midstream of the science discussion cannot help the process of inquiry. I believe that persons with relevant scientific expertise should concentrate, with pride, on cool objective analysis, providing information to the public and decision-makers when it is found, but leaving the moral implications for later common consideration, or at most for summary inferential discussion.”

– James Hansen, 1998: book review of Sir John Houghton’s Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Journal of Atmospheric  Chemistry, 30, 409-412, at 410.

Jerry North on Hansen’s Concern about Gore’s  Exaggeration

“I am also a great admirer of [James] Hansen. In my last conversation with him, he told me of a book review he just did on a book by Houghton (editor of IPCC Report). He said he blasted the book because it was too ideological. He said some people seem to have a ‘religious’ attachment to global warming like ‘Al Gore.’ He says this is not the way science is done.”

– Gerald R. North to Rob Bradley, email communication, May 4, 1998.

Hansen on Richard Lindzen

“While I don’t agree with Dick Lindzen’s viewpoint on climate change, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences with outstanding accomplishments to his credit (and incidentally, an intellectual and a very effective debater).”

– James Hansen to Gerald North (cc: Rob Bradley), email communication, May 18, 1998.

[Note: Hansen’s statement is germane to this post by Joseph Romm critical of Lindzen at Climate Progress]


  1. Dan Melton  

    Perhaps Sorus’ money has made Hansen a more enthusiastic supporter of the AGW screed?


  2. Andy  

    All this attention to Carbon Dioxide is pure poppycock. It is only a trace element in the atmosphere. Gore, scientificantly speaking, is an abject idiot. The major Greenhouse Gas blanket is water vapor, providing 70-90% of the total Greenhouse Gas in the atmosphere. Gore never mentions it nor does anyone else. Why? The public is constantly misled by dire predictions of an unknown future. He and his followers are like festering pimples on the azz of mankind. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get any major media, including FNS, Fox News Service, to bring it up for discussion.


  3. Noblesse Oblige  

    Cognitive dissonance a la Leon Festinger. People invested in a belief become more shrill in that belief in the face of disconfirmation.


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    […] his alarmist science (he has shown signs of open-mindedness before) […]


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