Boiling Oceans and Burning Reputations with James Hansen

Guest post by James Padgett

If the average person was asked to describe the runaway greenhouse effect, and given a bit of prep time, how would they do it? Most people would type it into their favorite search engine which would lead them to the Wikipedia article on the subject. They would read through it, try to memorize the basics, understand the fundamentals and then prepare a summary for their audience.

But how would a climate scientist do it? Specifically, how would the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies describe it? I expect he would rely on his past work, his models of Venus’ atmosphere, which he jerry-rigged to apply to Earth (yes, I learned about that from Wikipedia). Most assuredly he would cite the latest peer-reviewed work on the subject.

Right?  Let’s take a look:

“…it gets warmer and warmer then the oceans begin to evaporate and water vapor is a very strong green house gas, even more powerful than carbon dioxide. So you can get to a situation where, it just, the oceans will begin to boil and the planet becomes, uhh, so hot that the ocean ends up in the atmosphere, and that happened to Venus…” (1)

Now compare James Hansen’s words with this passage:

“increasing the temperature and consequently increasing the evaporation of the ocean, leading eventually to the situation in which the oceans boiled, and all of the water vapor entered the atmosphere

That certainly looks rather similar now doesn’t it? That second passage is from Wikipedia’s article on the runaway greenhouse effect – in the Venus section.

Of course, if Mr. Hansen had read down to the section about the Earth, then he would’ve noticed this:

“Potential runaway greenhouse effects on Earth may involve the carbon cycle, but unlike Venus will not involve boiling of the oceans.”

I know many schools and teachers will fail students who use Wikipedia as their source, but what does NASA do with employees that scare people by misquoting Wikipedia with the authority and prestige of their agency?

In any case, I look forward to the IPCC naming Wikipedia as a lead author and NASA using Wikipedia as a lead engineer. Well, that isn’t entirely fair, NASA depends on real flight, while the IPCC relies on “when pigs fly.”

Cheers,

James Padgett

References:

Origin of the Passage on Wikipedia – Apparently written by NASA employee and sci-fi writer Geoffrey Landis

Full Video of Hansen’s interview

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97 thoughts on “Boiling Oceans and Burning Reputations with James Hansen

  1. As I recall, George Bush was given sheer hell for trying to control this idiot. Should have fired him.

  2. …..And I read, you can add this to the text: “The real survivors on Earth will
    be the Penguins, because they can breed on the rocks of the Antarctis by
    holding their eggs between the legs….
    and I remember some time ago that they were honored with a festival: Rock
    for the Penguins ….so its time for us to die out….the trilobites suffered it before….
    Cheers JS

  3. One shouldn’t try to muzzle old Jimmy. His effusive mumbling is mightily efficient at rendering him useless, all on its own. Is there any dross in the public record about the Penguin Summer Cruise? I notice a peculiar absence of any stories on the subject….perhaps the realization of the reversal of the Austral seasons?

  4. When I was a government employee, one arrest would have resulted in a suspension, and two would have resulted in dismissal. How many times has this guy been arrested? Why is he still a government employee?

  5. Having done an admittedly brief rummage on the topic of water on Venus a little while ago, my personal impression was that the science available regarding whether there ever was much more water on Venus than at present is mostly vague, largely unsupported speculation. The papers I found took data from quite brief satellite missions and attempted to apply the dubious science of paleoclimate proxy reconstructions, without of course any actual proxy variable, to try to justify wonderfully imaginative narratives of events which would have occurred long before humans even existed. Modern science hasn’t been able to provide a reasonably certain version of what was happening on this planet even a millennium ago, yet Mr. Hansen et al are sure they know what happened on a far distant planet possibly as far back as the birth of the solar system. Me, I’m not so sure.

  6. The irritating part of this entire scam is that it’s creating a lot of paranoid ‘preppers’ and the attendant ‘prepper’ industry to supply them with whatever their doomsday fantasy demands. There are even TV shows that pander to this insanity – Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Bunkers, etc. It’s like a giant Carny sideshow.

  7. I have a similar concern about all the claims regarding the icecaps and glaciers “melting”.

    We’re talking about ice at 40 degrees below freezing.

    We’re talking about air temperatures rising a few tenths of a degree.

    We’re NOT talking about “melting” in this conversation.

    Set aside that ice at 39 to 35 degrees below freezing isn’t going to melt. We’re talking about how much heat can be extracted from AIR to provide heat-of-fusion to solid WATER.

    Not much.

    You want to talk about the increased probability of sublimation from warmer winds? Fine.

    But let’s not pretend sea level will rise, polar bears will drown, and penguins will evolve flight due to “Melting”.

  8. I couldn’t help but notice that creepy Jim-bo Hansen scarcely blinks during his video

    They say that frequent blinking is a sign of evasion/prevarication

    In this case, IN-frequent blinking while knowingly telling a lie must be a sing of pathology

    And then there’s that stupid floppy hat – - – I rest my case

  9. Venus,.. did you know that over the “equivalent pressure range” as Earth’s atmosphere, Venus’s atmospheric temperature is very close to 1.176x that of Earth (in K deg). This is EXACTLY what it should be if the distance from the sun was the ONLY DRIVER of global atmospheric temperature.
    Yet Venus has 96.5% CO2 in its atmosphere, and Earth has 0.04%. !

    hmmm !!!

  10. The more I hear Hansen’s end of the world scenario repeated,
    the more I think the guy handcuffing him needs to be wearing a white coat.

  11. “increasing the temperature and consequently increasing the evaporation of the ocean, leading eventually to the situation in which the oceans boiled, and all of the water vapor entered the atmosphere”

    Very scary and untestable. From the Wikipedia article ‘Runaway greenhouse effect.
    How did it start ?

    early Venus may have had a global ocean

    What happened then ?

    As the brightness of the early Sun increased, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increased, increasing the temperature and consequently increasing the
    evaporation of the ocean, leading eventually to the situation in which the oceans boiled, and all of the water vapor entered the atmosphere. On Venus today there is little water vapor in the atmosphere. If water vapor did contribute to the warmth of Venus at one time, this water is thought to have escaped to space.

    Our evidence is slipping away……

    Venus is sufficiently strongly heated by the Sun that water vapor can rise much higher in the atmosphere and be split into hydrogen and oxygen by ultraviolet light

    almost gone……

    The hydrogen can then escape from the atmosphere and the oxygen recombines.

    Bingo ! perfect scenario, scare the pants off people and get rid of the evidence.

  12. Hansen MUST be fired by the next President. Mere retirement is not enough for this jerk.

  13. It may be that Wiki was taking from the muppet, but same/same.

    I wonder if science will ever quit using the term greenhouse gases as if they are all basically the same? H2O covers most of the IR spectrum…. all else, very narrow bands of little note.

  14. It is indeed a sad day when scientists become political activists, worse propagandists, or even worse, money whores.

    WTF happened to science for science?

    What happened to the pursuit of knowledge? Not for the knowledge that fit a preconceived notion?

    How can anyone believe anything these money-grubbing, special-interest-funded, scientific whores ever have to say?

  15. The only thing “boiling away” is Dr. Hansen’s reputation.

    As the title of the book reads, “Men are from Mars, Hansen is from Venus”; or something to that effect…

  16. GEEZ you people are rank amateurs when you quote Hansen misquoting Wiki etc.
    In Australia we have a Chief Climate change Commissioner appointed by our idiot govt who doesn’t need to quote anyone else because he really can dream up the most barking mad clueless nonsense all by himself. His name is Tim Flannery and in this interview he says GAIA ( the planet) will one day grow a brain and like ants it seems only some of us will be allowed to reproduce and others will just be workers etc etc.
    Remember this specimen is the head man sent around OZ to explain AGW???? True I’m not lying, but anyway just watch this classic, it’s all there, the mad stare, the moronic smile, in fact the true blue totalitarian numbskull. Adolf, Mao, Stalin, PolPot, Lenin would all be so proud of our Timmy. But please after you’ve finished laughing say a little prayer for we poor Aussies and our economy when we introduce the co2 tax.

  17. Call me a sceptic if you like, but isn’t Venus just a tad closer to the Sun than we are? And doesn’t the Sun’s radiation footprint vary according to inverse square of distance (at least from memory of school-day physics), so with Venus about 67 Million Miles versus Earth’s 93 Million Miles – that’s about 72%.

    Inverse square logic using my pocket calculator yields 92% more heat reaching Venus than Earth – ie nearly twice as much heat input

    Now why is it hotter there?

    Someone please correct my schoolboy physics – or give me a grant !!!

  18. Sorry about broken link in my post @ 9:01pm.

    Copy the url into your header bar, then click on Google search. The first link takes you to the paper. Any other way simply takes you to the adsabs main page. Weird.

  19. @Daniel H Yes, the video was shown before, but not how he seemingly paraphrased wikipedia in his answer. There were two wikipedia quotes, one was shown before, but more importantly I also showed the one that uncannily tracked his spiel on the runaway greenhouse effect.

    @GeologyJim IIRC Liars will often not blink while they are telling a lie and then rapidly blink right after telling a whopper. I’m going off memory here.

  20. This guy must have some naughty pictures/video of someone in a high place. He has violated so many laws with his extra income it isn’t even funny anymore. I can’t even give a federally employed engineer a pen without him getting into trouble yet this guy can take well over a million.

  21. Are the alarmist’s arguments getting dumber every day?

    I was arguing with him about a statement he made and he offered this link, headline and text as proof of rising belief in AGW:
    62 Percent of Americans Believe in Global Warming

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/62-Percent-of-Americans-Believe-in-Global-Warming-255803.shtml

    “62 percent of poll respondents believe the scientific consensus”

    But when one goes to the story and clicks on the poll the question that got 62% YES was this:

    “Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past 4 decades?”

    After being caught the alarmist then moved to some silly point about the difference between “earth warming” and “global warming.”

    The true poll question would be answered yes by nearly every skeptic. I’m surpised only 62% answered YES to “Has it warmed over the last 4 decades.”

  22. @Andi Crockroft atmospheric pressure on Venus is 92 times that of Earth or there about, so it’s a giant pressure cooker, also it’s day is 243 days long, and it’s axial tilt is 178 degrees. Add to that retrograde rotation, you have a planet that’s not Earth’s twin.

  23. I thought Venus receives far less sunlight than Earth, and that it’s the thick layer of sulfuric acid clouds that is the main greenhouse driver there.

  24. IMHO James Hansen is unhinged so I could not resist mocking him here:

    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/unified-theory-of-climate/

    Even so, I do agree with one of Hansen’s scary scenarios. He says that if the oceans should boil there is no way to return to a cooler Earth. I agree with this statement because the mass of the oceans is so great that the surface pressure would be 320 bars or roughly four times that of Venus. This would guarantee temperatures much higher than on Venus.

    It is generally believed that Earth’s surface constisted of molten rock shortly after its formation 4.5 billion years ago and again when the collision that formed the moon ocurred. If Earth’s water was present at either of those times this planet would have a steam atmosphere. As that is not the case I surmise that our water arrived after the planet had time to cool down somewhat.

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/06/12/venusian-mysteries/#comment-3240

  25. It seems more likely that some lame WP zealot is quoting Hansen than the other way around.
    Similarity does not prove causality.

    WP has history. If you want to show Hansen picked his info from WP , dig through the edit history and find out when “boiled” got into this text. Then compare the data with when Hansen first said this.

    Hansen is a rather befuddled old man now and I really think this quote was just a slip of the tongue in a live interview and he meant “evaporate”. (There is hesitation in his speech just before this.) Clearly a planet’s ocean could not literally boil.

    Without clearer proof it is pretty stupid and unfair to suggest this proves Hansen got this idea from WP.

    I’m surprised Anthony chose to post such a specious claim without more proof.

  26. gallopingcamel says:
    March 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    “IMHO James Hansen is unhinged so I could not resist mocking him here:

    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/unified-theory-of-climate/

    Even so, I do agree with one of Hansen’s scary scenarios. He says that if the oceans should boil there is no way to return to a cooler Earth. I agree with this statement because the mass of the oceans is so great that the surface pressure would be 320 bars or roughly four times that of Venus. This would guarantee temperatures much higher than on Venus.”

    But that situation isn’t stable. The higher layers of the atmosphere would constantly precipitate water out; while this precipitation falls, it would boil away again in the lower, hotter layers. Result: The fastest biggest heat engine ever, resulting in a very fast transport of heat upwards by convection. And what can water vapor do very well? Right: Emit IR to space, resulting in enormous radiative cooling.

    The tendency of that system would be to become cooler, not warmer.

  27. @curiousgeorge: not ALL of the disaster-prepping is a waste of time and money. I’m thinking not of climate armageddon or something, but of much more mundane catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes, unseasonal weather causing week-long power outages,… all of which HAVE happened in the USA in recent memory.

  28. I haven’t read all the comments above, so maybe someone have already said this. But I need to get it out of my system. The notion of a runaway greenhouse effect is just that, a notion. There is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever that Venus was ever our twin. She is very different from our world, and has always been. The only similarity is shape and size. The early astronomers and skywatchers fell for the romantic notion of the Erath having its celestial twin, and from there has come a variety of stories based on this notion. The runaway greenhouse is one of them.
    For all the facts we have about Venus, there is absolutely nothing to indicate there ever was an ocean or any mechanism needed to start the runaway greenhouse effect. The most probable explanation, also based on the exuberance of examples throughout the known universe (i.e. our own solar system), is that Venus has always been such an inhospitable place compared to our own habitat.

  29. Sadly Edinburgh Science Festival awarded Hansen a medal.
    “The Edinburgh Medal is given annually to a person of great distinction in science and technology whose professional achievements have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.
    Well just to confirm you can’t believe everything you read, the Edinburgh Science Festival Committee has awarded the the 2012 Edinburgh Medal to James Hansen.”

    Not that everyone in Edinburgh thought it was a good idea!

    http://climateedinburgh.blogspot.com/2012/03/more-on-hansen-award.html

  30. If the oceans end up in the atmosphere I would suggest you build an ark because what goes up comes back down!

  31. Anything Is Possible

    Your link to Hansen’s 1967 paper is illuminating, if only because 45 years ago he was arguing that aerosols cause WARMING on Venus, now he’s arguing that the exact opposite on Earth…

    it just goes to prove that in CAGW science, anything is possible :-)

  32. I don’t want to worry you but the atmosphere out side my house is full of water vapour. Visibility is down to 50 yards!

  33. good article,It is indeed a sad day when scientists become political activists, worse propagandists, or even worse, money whores.

  34. Personally James if I were a life member of Big Climate I’d give up completely on the science and the Green politics, (not to mention impersonating Board members) and appeal to their artistic nature-

    http://www.metrogallery.com.au/exhibitions/exhibition/52

    The burning question of your times James- “When words and science fail, could art hold the answer to tackling climate change?”
    (hat tip to Tim Blair for the link)

  35. I am sure he said “Population will stabilise at 8 million as against 10 or 12 million”.

  36. AndyG55 says:
    March 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm
    Venus,.. did you know that over the “equivalent pressure range” as Earth’s atmosphere, Venus’s atmospheric temperature is very close to 1.176x that of Earth (in K deg). This is EXACTLY what it should be if the distance from the sun was the ONLY DRIVER of global atmospheric temperature.
    Yet Venus has 96.5% CO2 in its atmosphere, and Earth has 0.04%. !
    hmmm !!!

    Well pointed out! isn’t CO2 a reactive gas? i.e. it responds to either heat or cold, heating up or cooling down, implying that it does not drive anything but simply reacts to external influences like heat & cold? Mars has around the same amount of CO2 as Venus’ atmosphere, it is farther away from the Sun by half an AU, & a darn sight colder to boot with an ave surface temp of about -65°C or so. Yet Mars still receives oodles of sunlight! Not sure how to do the direct maths, but does that fit too? Anybody?

  37. Correction of reply at 3.04 am.
    I am sure Tim Flannery said on the video that “population will stabilise at 8 million as against 9 or 10 million”.

  38. P. Solar says: March 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm
    “Without clearer proof it is pretty stupid and unfair to suggest this proves Hansen got this idea from WP.”

    Quite so. Of course Hansen did not get it from WP. Here he is in a live interview, Nov 2009, saying:
    “A runaway greenhouse effect means once the planet gets warmer and warmer, then the oceans begin to evaporate. And water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas, even more powerful than carbon dioxide. So you can get to a situation where it just — the oceans will begin to boil, and the planet becomes so hot that the ocean ends up in the atmosphere. And that happened to Venus. “

    And no, he wasn’t quoting WP from memory. It was a long interview.

  39. Gras Albert

    Oh funny, I think I clicked something wrong and ended up with a 1967 paper from Carl Sagan about Venus temperature.

  40. The claim that GHGs directly thermalise all absorbed IR ‘photons’** has never been proved experimentally and there is good physics showing why it is impossible***.

    **The 1859 Tyndall and the modern ‘bottle’ experiments are constant volume so measure the rise in temperature from constrained increase in pressure as well as any increase in temperature from thermalisation. Slacken the bottle top and the temperature rise is lower.

    ***GHGs cannot transfer quantised vibrational energy to non GHGs because of ‘quantum exclusion’; the vibration is a resonance phenomenon. There is a natural pathway to thermalise by another GHG molecule if they collide in exactly the right way so the energy is shared as increased kinetic energy thus allowing the extra internal energy to leave in a single jump.

    However, there is a time delay for it to happen and the principle of Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium means that the more likely process is for the same quantum to be emitted by another GHG molecule, restoring LTE. This is called scattering and it increases optical path length. The ‘bottle’ experiment probably picks this up by extra heating at the bottle walls. Also, Cp for CO2 rises strongly from 250 – 350 K so part of the extra energy is increased absorptivity.

    Extending the logic, most if not all GHG warming in the atmosphere is probably at heterogeneous interfaces, cloud droplets and bare aerosols, with the GHGs in the gas acting as a heat transfer medium operating at near the speed of light.

    It’s time that the correct IR physics was adopted by the IPCC.

  41. Kelvin Vaughan says: I don’t want to worry you but the atmosphere out side my house is full of water vapour. Visibility is down to 50 yards!

    I think you’ll find water vapour is transparent. Maybe your root is on fire ?

  42. Hanson does not say what stops runaway green house and how someone may reverse green house on Venus. Geoffrey Landis does cover these in several publications. Plants cycle the CO2 out of the atmoshphere and Corals and other calcium shelled organisms store it perminantly as reefs, chalk, and limestone. If we could introduce organisms that did this into venuses upper atmosphere we could terraform the planet in about 300 years. The catch is they need to be flying plants or corals. Landis suggests airship based coloines flying at 50 km high, just above the nice sulfuric acid clouds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_Venus#Aerostat_habitats_and_floating_cities

    A population of essentiall self replicating airships with plants in most would do the job. It wont happen in the 21st century but someone will have a go.
    In other words Hansen is again ignoring the reason the earth is habitable. Natural negative feed back systems. We have life and that generates soluds phases of Carbon: wood and carbonates. Life also generates dimethyle sulphide the major cloud seeding agent.
    The rest is just Lovelock’s daisy world. Its funny that the greens were so much into Gaia Hypothesis in the 1970′s and 80′s but now have totally discarded its key idea. Homeostasis via biologically moderated negative feed backs.

  43. Perhaps someone here would join me in applying for a grant:

    “Meeting our future energy needs through energy extraction from a boiling ocean”

    or something similar?

  44. J. Philip Peterson says:
    March 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    “The new president should fire all the global warming kooks in the EPA, NASA, Energy Dept., ETC.”

    This is a good time to remind all U.S. citizens to please VOTE appropriately in November so we can clean house at these government agencies…

    Hansen, by the way, is no longer a scientist but in fact is just another eco-advocate.. Just read any of his journal papers – most are laced with inappropriate political language and commentary that apparently doesn’t seem to bother the reviewers at these journals.

  45. C’mon folks…….give Jimmmy a break – he’s taken the path of righteousness and will save our world from certain catastrophe! That’s why he wears a funny hat – everyone knows that charismatic super hero Doctors of climate science and of archeaology wear floppy hats! Don’t they?

  46. @ New Class Traitor says:
    March 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

    @curiousgeorge: not ALL of the disaster-prepping is a waste of time and money. I’m thinking not of climate armageddon or something, but of much more mundane catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes, unseasonal weather causing week-long power outages,… all of which HAVE happened in the USA in recent memory.
    ===========================================================

    I’m quite aware that there are rational reasons to be reasonably prepared for common events. I live in Tornado country and have had more than one pass within 1/2 mile of my house. What I’m referring to is the paranoia that is associated with the TV shows I mentioned, and people like Al Gore, Hansen and others (both in and out of gov’t ) who prey upon, and feed, the irrational fears of individuals and a susceptible public.

  47. P. Solar said “I think you’ll find water vapour is transparent”

    Well it most certainly is not. Steam is transparent and people commonly refer to water vapour as steam. P.solar, please boil your kettle. Now the transparent area of about 10mm immediately above the kettle spout is the steam and for godsakes don’t put your finger in it. The opaque gas billowing above is the water vapour. Can you see through it ? No, you can’t

  48. GeneDoc says:

    His TED talk is laughable. 400K atomic bombs per day?

    What is laughable about this? His exact statement is that the amount of energy absorbed due to a power imbalance of 0.6 W/m^2 over the surface of the Earth each day is equal to the energy from exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. It is a simple exercise to verify that this is correct.

    To calculate the energy absorbed in a day over the surface of the Earth:
    Energy = (0.6 W/m^2) * (5.1 x 10^14 m^2) * (86000 sec / day) = 2.6 x 10^19 Joules

    The energy released by the Hiroshima bomb is 50 to 63 x 10^12 J (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_yield )

    If you divide the first number by the second, you get ~400,000 – 500,000 Hiroshima bombs. So, Hansen took the low end of that range.

  49. Hansen better have word with the chaps at the IPCC.

    May, 2004
    IPCC Expert Meeting on The Science to Address UNFCCC Article 2 including Key Vulnerabilities
    Thresholds of type II might be those that are linked directly to the key intrinsic processes of the climate system itself (often non-linear) and might be related to maintaining stability of those processes or some of the elements of the climate system discussed earlier. Some thresholds that all would consider dangerous have no support in the literature as having a non-negligible chance of occurring. For instance, a “runaway greenhouse effect”—analogous to Venus–appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities. So our focus will be on those events that the literature suggests have a non-negligible chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities.

    http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29352/m1/90/

  50. “The irritating part of this entire scam is that it’s creating a lot of paranoid ‘preppers’ and the attendant ‘prepper’ industry to supply them with whatever their doomsday fantasy demands. ”

    Huh?

    You do realize that these “preppers” have been around for a really long time, right? And that very few of them are preparing for a global climactic holocaust, right? Mostly, they’re preparing for things like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and civil disturbances. As a side benefit, they end up prepared for things like unemployment — having a few months of food on hand makes it easier to pay the bills.

    Those TV shows you mentioned were (gasp!) intentionally edited to be as insulting as possible to the people shown.

  51. @ New Class Traitor says:
    March 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

    @curiousgeorge: not ALL of the disaster-prepping is a waste of time and money. I’m thinking not of climate armageddon or something, but of much more mundane catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes, unseasonal weather causing week-long power outages,… all of which HAVE happened in the USA in recent memory.

    Very little, however, of the ‘mitigation’ or pre-adaptation spending on putative global warming has any value whatsoever in the event of other disasters. And it is all very contra-survival in the (far more likely) event of global cooling. As much of the UK and Europe recently discovered/experienced.

    King of the Hill is, of course, the “necessarily skyrocketing energy prices”. That’s outright deliberately murderous.

  52. James Padgett says:

    I know many schools and teachers will fail students who use Wikipedia as their source, but what does NASA do with employees that scare people by misquoting Wikipedia with the authority and prestige of their agency?

    This whole post is pretty much of a train wreck. You have provided no evidence that Hansen was using Wikipedia as a source. The similarities between what Hansen said and what Wikipedia said are the expected similarities one would have for two different sources describing the same basic phenomenon. They are not anywhere close to word-for-word.

    Hansen has his own reasons for believing that a runaway greenhouse effect is possible on Earth. At the moment, this is definitely a minority view among scientists (as Jimbo has noted by quoting the IPCC) and Hansen has not, to my knowledge, explicitly spelled out his reasoning on this in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. So, it remains an opinion that I think one is right to be very skeptical of.

    However, it is quite ridiculous to claim that he used Wikipedia as his authority and misquoted it in doing so when you have no real evidence of any sort to back up that claim.

  53. NewClassTraitor on @CuriousGeorge.
    @curiousgeorge: not ALL of the disaster-prepping is a waste of time and money. I’m thinking not of climate armageddon or something, but of much more mundane catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes, unseasonal weather causing week-long power outages,… all of which HAVE happened in the USA in recent memory.

    Disaster prepping is not a waste of time and money. The disaster to watch for is not an angry earth however, but a global green government looking to reduce the human footprint on this planet. Greens have already managed to wipe 50,000,000 from the planet with the ban on DDT. What will the death toll be with their ban (regulation/ration schemes) on affordable and plentiful energy sources?

    Tyranny never rests and it always kills in huge numbers.

    Beware the Green Reaper.

  54. Michael W says:
    March 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    When I was a government employee, one arrest would have resulted in a suspension, and two would have resulted in dismissal. How many times has this guy been arrested? Why is he still a government employee?
    ______________________
    As seems appropriate I am going to use WIKI as a source (snicker)

    From Quigley’s one-volume history of the twentieth century entitled “Tragedy and Hope” (1966}

    “….There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the Radical right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other group, and frequently does so. I know of the operation of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s, to examine its papers and secret records…..

    ….It was this group of people, whose wealth and influence so exceeded their experience and understanding, who provided much of the framework of influence which the Communist sympathizers and fellow travelers took over in the United States in the 1930s. It must be recognized that the power of these energetic Left wingers exercised was never their own power or Communist power but was ultimately the power of the international financial coterie…..

    ….The Eighty-third Congress set up in 1953 a Special Reece Committee to investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations. It soon became clear that people of immense wealth would be unhappy if the investigation went too far and that the “most respected” newspapers in the country, closely allied with these men of wealth, would not get excited enough about any revelations to make the publicity worthwhile. An interesting report showing the Left-wing associations of interlocking nexus of tax-exempt foundations was issued in 1954 rather quietly. Four years later, the Reece Committee’s general counsel, Rene A Wormser, wrote a shocked, but not shocking, book on the subject called “Foundations: Their Power and Influence”.

    ….The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole….. The apex of the system was the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the worlds’ central banks which were themselves private corporations. The growth of financial capitalism made possible a centralization of world economic control and use of this power for the direct benefit of financiers and the indirect injury of all other economic groups….” Tragedy and Hope 1966 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carroll_Quigley

    None of us here should be surpised there is a major “Money Influence” element to our politics. See JoNova’s Website ~ Climate Coup — The Politics: How the regulating class is using bogus claims about climate change to entrench and extend their economic privileges and political control.
    Guest Post: Dr David M.W. Evans http://joannenova.com.au/2012/03/climate-coup-the-politics/#comment-1014902

  55. Here’s more on the floppy hat theme!

    Q. What do Jim Hansen & Indiana Jones have in common?
    A. They both wear floppy hats!

    Q. What do Phil Jones & Indiana Jones have in common?
    A They share the same surname!

    Q.What do they all have in common?
    A They all portray characters pseudo scientists, saving the world from fictional catastrophe!

  56. Markon says:

    Greens have already managed to wipe 50,000,000 from the planet with the ban on DDT.

    This is a complete falsehood. For one thing, DDT was never banned globally. It was banned in the U.S. where malaria was eradicated.

    Secondly, one can’t blame the malaria deaths on countries choosing not to use DDT or even being discouraged from using DDT. In fact, in many places DDT became ineffective against mosquitoes for exactly the sort of reasons that Rachel Carson warned about: Its indiscriminate use in agriculture caused the mosquitoes to develop resistance to it in a textbook example of evolution in action. In India, for example, it is documented in a Nature article that the number of malarial cases skyrocketed at a time when DDT use there was very high and increasing.

    There are many reasons why malaria has not been eradicated. To blame these deaths on some supposed worldwide ban on DDT that never existed is a complete fiction. And, to ignore the fact that it was the indiscriminate outdoor use of DDT in agriculture that led both to the largest environmental concerns and very real problems with mosquitoes developing resistance is just to engage in ideological propaganda.

  57. @Joel Shore “They are not anywhere close to word-for-word.”

    I disagree. They are extremely similar – an almost exact paraphrase.

    In my references you’ll note where it originally shows up in wikipedia. It is long before his speech. The references in wikipedia for that text do not refer to Hansen at all.

    Perhaps Hansen used that exact phrasing prior to wikipedia. I just haven’t found it.

    Perhaps both he and wikipedia used the same source – that seems highly implausible, but if true you still have the problem of appropriating another source’s words and passing them off as your own.

    Use Occam’s razor.

  58. Joel

    Laughable due to the “over the top” nature of the scaremongering. I don’t doubt the math. But what does it mean in context? Sure sounds terrible! What’s the total number of Hiroshima bombs’ worth of energy received by Earth every day? And what is the delta due to this “power imbalance”? Let’s see, solar constant is around 1360 W/m2… Less than 0.05%? Or maybe we should use the 1/4 value to represent what reaches Earth? So 4x more: 0.2%? So we typically set off 200 million or so Hiroshima bombs a day? What’s another half million?

    And the trillion dollar question still remains: Can we measure it? If not why not? Is it a tragedy that we can’t? Gosh, half a million Hiroshima bombs! Surely we can measure that!

    It’s theater, not science, and I try to laugh so I’m not completely disgusted by it.

  59. I think James Hansen should be the first American shot to Venus so he can personally verify his theories in situ.

  60. Is there any evidence that Venus ever had oceans? And there is way way way more CO2 (96.5%) in the atmosphere than water vapor (20 ppm). The atmosphere on Venus is simply in no way comparable to any conceivable atmosphere on Earth.

  61. AndyG55 says:
    March 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm
    “Venus,.. did you know that over the “equivalent pressure range” as Earth’s atmosphere, Venus’s atmospheric temperature is very close to 1.176x that of Earth (in K deg). This is EXACTLY what it should be if the distance from the sun was the ONLY DRIVER of global atmospheric temperature.
    Yet Venus has 96.5% CO2 in its atmosphere, and Earth has 0.04%. !

    hmmm !!!”

    More than likely the most important properties related to temperature are gravitational force (controlled by the mass of the planet) and distance from the sun (insolation). The other players probably have a much lesser effect. Water would be third on my list of important climate drivers.

  62. James Paggett says:

    I disagree. They are extremely similar – an almost exact paraphrase.

    Perhaps both he and wikipedia used the same source – that seems highly implausible, but if true you still have the problem of appropriating another source’s words and passing them off as your own.

    You are not using Occam’s razor. You are just being ridiculous. How is one possibly supposed to describe the phenomenon of a runaway greenhouse effect due to water vapor feedback without using several words in common? By your standard, one would conclude that every physics textbook has “appropriat[ed] another source’s words” on a wide range of topics. In fact, you would find that practically every scientist in the world was a plagiarist.

    I also doubt that one couldn’t find statements from Hansen describing the runaway greenhouse effect with many of the same words or phrases that predate the Wikipedia, but frankly it is not worth my time to check this because you argument is so ridiculous on the face of it.

  63. Hmm, this is all a bit odd. First, the insinuations of plagiarism aren’t plausible; there really aren’t all that many ways to say the same obvious thing. Second, that wiki article can’t be regarded as definitive. About the only decent bit of it – which I largely wrote – is the intro:

    “A runaway greenhouse effect is not a clearly defined term, but is understood to mean an event analogous to that which is believed to have happened in the early history of Venus, where positive feedback increased the strength of its greenhouse effect until its oceans boiled away.[1][2] The term is not generally used by the IPCC, which in one of its few mentions says a “runaway greenhouse effect” — analogous to Venus – appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic [human] activities.[3]
    Other, less catastrophic events, may loosely be called a “runaway greenhouse”. It has been hypothesised that such may have occurred at the Permian-Triassic extinction event.[4][5] Terrestrial climatologists often use the term ‘abrupt’, rather than ‘runaway’, when describing such scenarios.[6]”

    Here is a diff for your “ref”, though confusingly, its a different article.

  64. “In his ” Storms of My Grandchildren ” he [Hansen] says oil shale mining will result in runaway greenhouse on Earth.” (Wiki, Earth) Decidedly, anything goes for this guy.

  65. GeneDoc says:

    Laughable due to the “over the top” nature of the scaremongering. I don’t doubt the math. But what does it mean in context?

    Well, his whole point was that 0.6 W/m^2 may sound really tiny but while the imbalance might seem rather small, there is actually a lot of energy involved. It is rather providing a sort of counter-context to the intuition one might have of how one could possibly be worried about such a small amount of intensity (W/m^2). So, it is another way of looking at it.

    His statement is completely factually correct. You seem just not to like it because it goes against what you want people to believe, which is that such an imbalance couldn’t possibly have important effects, a notion that most of the scientific community would disagree with you on.

  66. @Joel

    The banning of DDT was wider than just the USA. Many countries were pressured to ban it and finally South Africa did so. After one year the resurgence of Malaria was significant and DDT was reintroduced because nothing else was as effective. This is still the case.

    DDT has been used for malarial spraying programmes in Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa and other SADC countries since the 1950′s. It is still effective which is why it is still used. It is only because of spraying DDT in the lowveld of Swaziland that the area was opened to cattle and sugarcane 50 years ago. Malaria remains endemic in Mozambique because the low level spraying was ended. Travellers from Mozambique continuously carry malaria into all the neighbouring countries as a result. The Swaziland and Kruger Park lowveld receive malarial doses, so to speak, each summer as the mosquitoes travel upstream from Mozambique. They are frozen out each winter.

  67. >Peter Crawford says:
    >>P. Solar said “I think you’ll find water vapour is transparent”

    >…The opaque gas billowing above is the water vapour.

    Actually that is fog, composed of water droplets which scatter light very effectively if they are larger than 0.1 microns. Water vapour is a gas composed of H2O molecules which are far too small to scatter light. Thus it is transparent as far as our eyes are concerned.

    In the IR band, water vapour looks like a haze.

    The reason the steam above the kettle mouth is transparent is that it is water in the form of a hot, uncondensed vapour.

  68. Can someone tell me if the earth’s atmospheric water vapor has increased appreciably in the last 10 to 15 years? If it has, then maybe that explains why sea levels haven’t risen as predicted by the CAGW models – the water is all in the atmosphere. I’m just being facetious, unless there is a lucrative grant available to research the problem. Then I’m deadly serious.

  69. DirkH said, March 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm
    “But that situation isn’t stable. The higher layers of the atmosphere would constantly precipitate water out; while this precipitation falls, it would boil away again in the lower, hotter layers. Result: The fastest biggest heat engine ever, resulting in a very fast transport of heat upwards by convection. And what can water vapor do very well? Right: Emit IR to space, resulting in enormous radiative cooling. The tendency of that system would be to become cooler, not warmer.”

    It does not work like that. The TOA (Top of the Atmosphere) would have clouds similar to today but with 100% cover. Working down through the troposphere temperatures would increase as they do now. Below the ice crystal clouds there would be “regular” clouds that precipitate rain. We call that kind of rain “Virga” because it evaporates before it reaches the ground.

    The atmospheric pressure would be ~320 times what it is today so the temperature at the current sea level would be ~780 degrees Centigrade.

  70. Larry in Texas says:
    March 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hansen MUST be fired by the next President. Mere retirement is not enough for this jerk.

    I’m may be wrong, but I don’t think the President has such power. I am certain that he shouldn’t have such power.

  71. TomB says:

    I’m may be wrong, but I don’t think the President has such power. I am certain that he shouldn’t have such power.

    Indeed. There are very good reasons why civil service employees are protected from the whims of the politicians and political appointees at the top of the executive branch.

  72. Joel,

    I’m amazed by your ability to read my thoughts. I believe that you used the term “ideological propaganda” somewhere in this thread. I find Dr. Hansen’s use of atomic bomb equivalents (without context) to fall into that category–using frightening images to influence people’s thoughts about how terrible atmospheric CO2 is. I understand the explanation that he’s trying to put the amount of energy into a unit that people might more easily comprehend. But he didn’t choose puppy dog equivalents (or a simple fraction of a percent of the total insolation). He chose to show images of his cute grandchildren juxtaposed with mushroom clouds. That’s manipulative. I find it amusing and irresponsible, but sadly predictable from someone with a message (and a book) to sell. Others are terrified. It seems to work. He received a standing ovation at TED.

    My point about effects is this: If you can predict it, but can’t measure it, how do you know it exists? An example: Why have we spent so much effort and so many resources to observe a Higgs boson? Isn’t it enough to predict it? I have yet to be convinced by empirical data. Others have faith in predictions. How hard is that to understand? Why is it ideological? Why does Hansen need “ideological propaganda” to make his point? Could it be that the data are inadequate?

  73. @Joel Shore “How is one possibly supposed to describe the phenomenon of a runaway greenhouse effect due to water vapor feedback without using several words in common?”

    Well, if one didn’t read the wikipedia article on the subject and simply described it according to their expertise/POV then they might say something along the lines of:

    “First temperatures increase due to the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide. This, in turn, has several effects such as causing permafrost to melt, releasing methane and increasing the rate of evaporation which adds more water vapor to the atmosphere.

    This additional heating can melt glaciers and snow, reducing the albedo of the earth, and perhaps even heat oceans to the extent that the methane clathrates release their methane into our atmosphere at an exponential rate.

    This combination of effects, and others, could cause a “runaway greenhouse effect” as each forcing exacerbates the previous forcings in an ever increasing cycle until a new equilibrium is reached.”

    Of course, if one were describing the effect based exactly on what one read on wikipedia (misinterpreted) then it would sound very similar to what Hansen said – like boiling oceans that end up in entirely in the atmosphere.

    “I also doubt that one couldn’t find statements from Hansen describing the runaway greenhouse effect with many of the same words or phrases that predate the Wikipedia”

    You can’t find the exact words, meaning and order of the words both wikipedia and Hansen used, but you “doubt” he simply got his definition from wikipedia? You should go by the available evidence – not your assumptions of the existence of evidence.

    @wmconnolley “Here is a diff for your “ref”, though confusingly, its a different article.”

    That’s essentially the same link I have in the references. It is a different article because the text was initially in the greenhouse effect article and you later moved that text into the runaway greenhouse effect article.

    I was simply showing the earliest reference of the text on wikipedia.

  74. James Hansen’s loony radicalism brings NASA/Goddard into serious disrepute. It’s a mystery why he hasn’t been given the boot.

  75. JR says:
    March 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    James Hansen’s loony radicalism brings NASA/Goddard into serious disrepute. It’s a mystery why he hasn’t been given the boot.
    ________________________________
    If I recall correctly his old boss wanted to but he was “Protected”

    …“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation,” Theon, the former Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA Headquarters and former Chief of the Atmospheric Dynamics & Radiation Branch explained. [Note: Here are the results a Google Scholar search on Theon. - Theon's complete written correspondence to EPW reprinted at the end of this report. ] http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=1a5e6e32-802a-23ad-40ed-ecd53cd3d320

  76. From where I sit at the moment the higher the concentration of water vapour goes the cloudier it becomes and the rain begins to fall while the corresponding air and surface temperatures are up to 5 or 6 degrees cooler than a clear March day.

    What the hell is going on here and what have we done to the climate to break it so badly that it acts in the opposite to the predictions ?? More research I suspect !

  77. Gail (2:40 PM): “… he was “Protected”
    Thanks for that. Now it’s a little less of a mystery, but still a mystery. One can appreciate, given the extreme politicization of the issue, that NASA would, like most government agencies around the world, adopt a pro-AGW stance. But still, you’d think they’d see the merits in filling Hansen’s position with someone who isn’t such an embarrassing activist kook.

  78. SAMURAI [March 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm] says:

    “Men are from Mars, Hansen is from Venus”

    noaaprogrammer [March 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm] says:

    “Hansen is as Hansen does.”

    Dang! I wish I thought those up. ROTFLMAO!

    P.S. Anthony and Mods … WordPress changed something again. Getting various messages like “You must be logged in to comment with that email address.” and “That email address is associated with an existing WordPress.com account, please log in to use it.”, while using the same email address as always. I noticed that Goddard’s site has also been on the fritz. Trying a different email address for now.

    [Reply: Contacting WordPress.com Support will help resolve these issues. ~dbs, mod.]

  79. Wonder if the head of NASA realizes that Venus is a couple million miles closer to the big hot ball of light in the sky, and that might have a *little bit* to do with heating up water and such?

  80. Pull My Finger says:

    Wonder if the head of NASA realizes that Venus is a couple million miles closer to the big hot ball of light in the sky, and that might have a *little bit* to do with heating up water and such?

    Indeed, the general thinking in the climate science community is that the Earth is not in any danger of having a true Venus-style water vapor feedback runaway, at least not for a few billion years when the sun gets brighter. Why Hansen feels otherwise is not completely clear, at least in my mind.

    James Padgett says:

    Well, if one didn’t read the wikipedia article on the subject and simply described it according to their expertise/POV then they might say something along the lines of:

    Your way is a little wordy…and might be the way that one would describe it to a more technical audience. It also has the benefit of having read the Wikipedia article so that you could make an explicit attempt not to use any of the language in there. I suppose that people like Hansen should now read through Wikipedia and all other popular sources and purposely avoid using any wording even minutely close, lest it be insinuated that they plagiarized!

    By the way, if you want to see what real plagiarism really looks like, I suggest you look at Wegman’s stuff that was analyzed. You’ll see a huge difference between that and what you are showing here!

  81. @Joel Shore “It also has the benefit of having read the Wikipedia article so that you could make an explicit attempt not to use any of the language in there.”

    I can unequivocally say that I would not have described the runaway greenhouse effect along the lines of “boiling the oceans until they wind up in the atmosphere.”

    The most plausible explanation for someone using such language is that they acquired it from another source. For self-directed research online wikipedia would be the first place a person would be directed which makes the source of such language, most likely, the wikipedia article or its sources.

    You are of course free to disagree with that assessment. I simply think the other alternatives that have been proposed lack evidence, plausibility or both.

  82. Joel Shore says:

    “By the way, if you want to see what real plagiarism really looks like, I suggest you look at Wegman’s stuff…”

    Translation: “Hey, look over there! A kitten!”

    The fact is that Prof Wegman showed unequivocally that Mann’s MBH98.99 statistics were bogus. So let’s talk about a kitten plagiarism charge instead of Mann’s pseudo-science.

  83. - Hansen live – Wednesday 11th April EDINBURGH Science Festival, UK
    - 90 mins – Price: £8 / £6 – Venue: National Museum of Scotland http://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/whats-on/categories/talk/our-climate-future
    ..”Here he is joined by some of the UK’s leading voices, including Professor Pete Smith and Lord Giddens, to discuss the status of the climate change debate and shine a light on current and future challenges.”
    - Guess what’s on photo on the webpage they use to promote the event ?
    - also note not Suitable For Ages below 14
    - You can put in the rest of the irony in yourself

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