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Right Stuff: NASA Scientists Weigh In to Undo Hansen Damage with Balance-of-Evidence Summation

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 1, 2013

“We were motivated by the public and political controversy fostered by alarming predictions of impending catastrophic anthropogenic global warming [at] NASA …. Many of us felt these alarming and premature predictions … would eventually damage NASA’s reputation for excellent and objective science and engineering achievement.”

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established in 1990 in order to “assist the nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”  Two reports have been released (2000 and 2009), and a third one is due out this year.

The whole (government) exercise from the beginning has been predictably politicized. The reports are a lawyer’s brief for climate alarmism and policy activism–complete with a call for expanded federal research dollars. But the lack of even-handedness with the physical science, no to mention the scientific method itself, has reached crisis proportions.

Will this change with the third national assessment? The draft 2013 report has received extensive corrective comments. Enter the Right Climate Stuff Research Team. Excerpts from their Anthropogenic Global Warming Science Assessment Report (April 12, 2013) are presented below.


The Right Climate Stuff (TRCS) research team is a group of engineers and scientists, most of whom are retired NASA Johnson Space Center employees, who have successfully worked together on manned space projects since the early days of the Apollo Program.

Although climate science is not one of our technical specialties, the required expertise in physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology, biology, data analysis and interpretation, and complex systems modeling, is similar to our collective academic training and experience gained through our typical 40 -50 years of experience working in our nation’s space program. Our natural interest in the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) controversy led to invitations to guest speakers on the subject at our occasional NASA retiree organization meetings.

Responding to additional interest generated from these guest speakers, our NASA retiree organization hosted two Symposiums on global warming topics during September and October 2011, featuring speakers on either side of the AGW debate. These symposiums generated even more interest in climate science and motivated self-study of the science and related data by some of our colleagues.

In February 2012, we organized TRCS research team to coordinate and share our individual studies of climate science. We were motivated by the public and political controversy fostered by alarming predictions of impending catastrophic anthropogenic global warming by NASA’s current leadership of climate science research at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Many of us felt these alarming and premature predictions of a climate disaster with so little empirical data to support these claims, would eventually damage NASA’s reputation for excellent and objective science and engineering achievement. Some members of our TRCS team, as well as a wider population of NASA retirees, signed two letters sent to the NASA Administrator expressing our concerns about alarming public statements regarding catastrophic AGW by NASA leaders of climate research.

These letters expressed concern that such statements by high NASA officials would be interpreted by the general public as official positions of NASA, and that such statements did not result from a wider NASA internal and external review and scientific debate that our nation has come to expect from official NASA positions on controversial issues.

Call to Action

Because of our past successes, working in a team environment to achieve difficult objectives, our TRCS team were confident that we had or could recruit the requisite expertise in all required scientific disciplines to study published climate research and available significant data to form an independent, objective assessment regarding the alarming and controversial claims of catastrophic AGW.

We invited others with interest and expertise to join our team and to share what they had learned from their previous individual studies of the scientific issues involved. In particular, the Texas State Climatologist, John Nielson-Gammon, agreed to work with us on this project and has been an invaluable resource in recommending peer-reviewed research for us to consider and in helping to moderate our discussions regarding critical reviews of available research papers. He has done an excellent job of defending the main stream climate science viewpoints on the AGW issue, and we are identifying the unsettled scientific issues that require further study and definition.

In addition to our study of peer-reviewed research, we have been fortunate to have several nationally known climate researchers make presentations of their research findings and scientific positions to our group.

As we proceed further with this project, we welcome similar presentations from scientists on both sides of the AGW controversy.

There are many fascinating aspects of climate science and various hypotheses to pursue that might explain what we can observe in the data, and that interest different members of our group to varying degrees. However, we decided that we would focus our initial TRCS team technical investigation on the most pressing question facing our public policy decision-makers,

“To what extent can human-related releases of CO2 into the atmosphere cause earth surface temperature increases that would have harmful effects?”

This is a summary report of what we believe to be true with high confidence at this point in our investigation.

Note: This diversity of opinion would be essentially academic had not many in the climate science community chosen to engage in direct advocacy to influence public policy on a global scale. This advocacy, particularly at the UN level, portends toward massive carbon-tax wealth-transfer payments, which would lower the standard of living in developed economies, and threatens the rise of underdeveloped economies out of poverty, i.e., it can be said with a high assessed confidence that the “cost” portion of the cost-benefit analysis to mitigate CO2 emissions will be excessive, crowding out more productive ways to spend the money.

The legitimacy of the Carbon-based AGW hypothesis is thus rightly subject to public challenge.


With respect to this topic, our bullet point conclusions are:

• Carbon-based AGW science is not settled. This refers only to the Carbon or CO2 role in induced warming.

• Natural processes dominate climate change (although many are poorly understood).

• Non-Carbon-based AGW anthropogenic forcings are significant. These include land use change, Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, black carbon, and aerosols.

• Carbon-based AGW impact appears to be muted. Other sources are not necessarily muted; the impacts of changing solar activity, El Nino/La Nina – southern oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), , black carbon, etc., are observable.

• Empirical evidence for Carbon-based AGW does not support catastrophe.

• The threat of net harmful total global warming, if any, is not immediate and thus does not require swift corrective action.

• The U.S. Government Is Over-Reacting to Concerns About Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Final Thought

Our main objective of determining to what extent CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere can cause detrimental global warming has led us to an objective conclusion that this issue is not settled science.

Unfortunately, the scientific progress on this issue has been corrupted by political and special interest influences that determine where our research dollars get spent. Political influences in government sponsored research have focused climate change research on CO2 rather than a broader range of factors that need better definition.


  1. Harry Dale Huffman  

    This purports to be a sane re-assessment of the relevant evidence. But to put it bluntly, the “political influences” referred to only at the very end of this post are literally insane–determinedly avoiding of reality–and trump any sanguine scientific discussion, even among skeptics, whose expertise and opinions have not so far enabled the mass of them to form their own counter-consensus to climate science’s incompetent one (though many of the most highly visible skeptics are trying to ram the “lukewarm” position upon everyone, just as the consensus academics are ramming the alarmist position upon the still unwary public).

    In other words, this post is really a mealy-mouthed political statement, and as such it is just one face (on the “skeptical” side) of an insane public “dialogue”, or war of ideas–ideas, not reality. The reality is, there are NO climate experts, and no one can presently become one, with inherently tyrannous politics driving the general avoidance of reality.

    The definitive facts are, there is no “greenhouse effect”, of increasing temperature with increasing atmospheric CO2, and the temperature in the atmosphere, at any level, is due to direct absorption of an infrared portion of the incident solar radiation, rather than by the transferral of heat from the solar-warmed surface as all the “experts” currently believe.

    These facts have been known for two and a half years now, but the intellectual climate is too insane for them to be simply, reasonably accepted as such.


  2. rbradley  

    Mr. Huffman:

    You presume to know what your comment claims cannot be known since “there are NO climate experts ….” One would have to be THE expert and believe the science is settled to write your post.


  3. Dr. James H. Rust  

    I read the summary of the Third Report of the U. S. Global Change Research Program and thought it was a gross attempt to scare the public into policies to immediately reduce and then eliminate use of fossil fuels for energy production.

    Many years ago parents would use scary stories to punish their children for misbehaving. I thought this new USGCRP Report could play the modern day role for scarying children. Shame on then.

    James H. Rust, Professor


  4. Gary Novak  

    It’s interesting that the central concern of TRSC is the proportion of AGW which is due to CO2, because the accepted procedure by virtually all climatologists for determining AGW is to apply a three component fudge factor to the question and then move on to the amplified forcing resulting from a claimed increase in water vapor. The fudge factor is derived from previously assumed atmospheric temperature increase since the industrial revolution. In other words, the science being questioned by TRSC has been flushed down a drain through the fudge factor. The significance of the fudge factor is explained in this summary from a web page of mine located at http://nov79.com/gbwm/equations.html:

    “Climatologists are using a three component fudge factor to take care of everything in climatology. They then argue over an amplification effect due to increases in water vapor. The temperature increase caused by human-source CO2 is said to be 0.2°C, while increased water vapor is said to multiply the increase to 0.6°C.

    The fudge factor first showed up in a publication by James Hansen (Hansen et al, 1988: — J. Geophys. Res., 93 (D8), 9341-9364.). Norm Kalmanovitch did an evaluation and criticism of the Hansen publication (http://icecap.us/images/uploads/HANSENMARSCHALLENGE.pdf“) and determined that the source of the fudge factor would have been the claimed increase in CO2 of 100 ppm since the industrial revolution combined with a supposed temperature increase of 0.6°C.

    In other words, the supposed past temperature increase was converted into a fudge factor which would extend into the future. To use the fudge factor is to say the assumptions about the past are correct, and the future will continue to do the same thing. It therefore erases all fluctuations due to natural causes and assumes CO2 is the only factor influencing climatic temperature changes.

    The fudge factor which Hansen used is this: radiative forcing (rf) = 5.35 ln Cx/C. Cx/C is the later carbon level over the previous carbon level, which is usually 2 for the question of doubling CO2. This result shows about 4 W/m² for doubling the amount of CO2 in the air. Hansen then said that this can be converted to a global temperature increase of 0.75°C ±0.25°C for each watt per square meter.

    Besides eliminating all natural effects, such as rebound from the “Little Ice Age,” which Kalmanovitch said would account for 0.5°C of the supposed 0.6°C, the fudge factor ignores such effects as overlap of the CO2 absorption curve with the water vapor curve. Therefore, 15% was later subtracted for this overlap. What? Didn’t the fudge factor include everything? The curves were overlapping during the earlier measurements. Why not take into account the oceans absorbing heat, the arctic ice melting and everything else that goes into climatology.

    Notice that multiplying 4 W/m² times 0.75 yields a temperature increase of 3°C. This amount of temperature increase would not stand up to criticism, so it was later reduced to 1.2°C. To get this number from the fudge factor, the constant would need to be reduced from 5.35 to 2.31. Then the prediction was lowered again to 1°C, which requires a constant of 1.92. When reducing the constant for overlap with water vapor, it becomes 1.63. Why use a fudge factor if it is going to be changed in response to criticisms?

    The fudge factor is still the standard rule for determining radiative forcing, and only the secondary effect of feedback forcing due to increased water vapor is considered to be in question. Climatologists do not usually know where the fudge factor came from. They generally claim it is based on the Stefan-Boltzmann constant. It isn’t. There is nothing in the Stephan-Boltzmann constant that indicates what “greenhouse gasses” do.

    By using the fudge factor for radiative forcing, the whole subject of climatology is being reduced to a three component equation. The ridiculousness of it is shown by the need to continuously alter the result in response to various factors. It’s a form of reductionism which eliminates the complexity of climatology and then adds back adjustments in response to criticism.”


  5. Neil Gundel  

    It’s interesting that the names of these retired scientists and engineers are not publicly listed anywhere. Essentially, they are appealing to authority by listing themselves as retired NASA scientists and engineers, while none of them apparently have ANY credentials in climate science.

    Then their argument is basically that actual NASA climate scientists have not proven conclusively that climate change will be ‘catastrophic’ if we continue the business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, so there is no reason to do anything whatsover to address the risk.

    In effect, they want civilization to adopt the precise mindset that was responsible for the Challenger disaster: Oil profits and existing fossil fuel jobs should persuade us to interpret the climate data in the most optimistic possible way: “All Systems Go”.



    • rbradley  


      With the collapse of climate alarmism all around us–the data on temperature, hurricanes, and sea ice, etc.-and the new IPCC retreat (more will probably be necessary), the old is out and the new is in.

      Regarding the signatories, it was the ‘talented amateurs,’ and not only some pros, that called the alarm a false one thanks to the Internet and a good dose of common sense and connecting the dots.

      I think a lot of folks are going to change their perspective, including the authors of Freakonomics.


  6. Neil Gundel  

    The Freakonomics article was just looking at the reasons for the Challenger disaster – there’s not much happening on that front. I just included that to make the point that the NASA engineers and scientists (who again are mostly anonymous) come from a culture where decisions were made quickly and risks were being brushed aside in order to make launch times.

    That, combined with their lack of relevant experience, undermines their attempt to influence the public’s perception of climate change.

    What IPCC ‘retreat’ are you referring to? As far as I can tell, there has been no significant retreat on any front.


  7. Climate Change Science Not Settled Just Yet | The Absent Minded Philosopher  

    […] Stuff”–comprising scientists of varying backgrounds with many years of experience–formed itself in order to combat the politicized findings shown by proponents of AGW (as well as skeptics, but to a lesser […]


  8. scott hutchinson  

    WOW. It took me 3 years to find this post, sounds like great news for truth, freedom, and realists!


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