Unloading James Hansen’s Climate Dice

Guest post by Chip Knappenberger, originally on Master Resource

“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.”  – Chip Knappenberger

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).

But Hansen pushes this impression with his analogy of “Climate Dice.” The idea is that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have “loaded” the dice towards extreme warmth, so now when Mother Nature rolls the dice for summer weather, there is better chance of rolling a heat wave, or an overall hot summer—events discreet from events that were contained on the unloaded dice.

But Hansen’s hot summers are not new discrete events at all. Instead, they are the naturally occurring hot summers with a few extra degrees added to them. The extra couple of degrees push some summers over an arbitrarily defined threshold temperature above which Hansen classifies them as being “extreme.”

Hansen’s threshold between a “normal” summer and an “extreme” summer has no physical meaning—instead it is rooted in statistics. While certainly some temperature thresholds exist that have physical meaning—like the 32°F, the freezing/melting point of water/ice—none exist in the range of temperatures which characterize summer across much of the globe. Whether or not the average summertime temperature is greater or less than some arbitrary value is of little practical significance.

Washington, D.C. Example

Let’s take the nation’s capital as an example. The mean summer (June through August) temperature in DC during the 30 year “base” period used by Hansen (1951-1980) was 77.0°F. The standard deviation—a statistical measure of the amount of year-to-year variability that exists about the average—was 1.2°F. Statistically, 67% of all values lie within one standard deviation of the mean.

For Washington DC, it means that 2/3rds of summers between 1951 and 1980 should have had an average temperature between 75.8°F and 78.2°F. Again, statistically speaking, 95% of all average summer temperatures should lie within two standard deviations, or between 74.6°F and 79.4°F. And less than one-half of 1% of all summer average temperatures should lie outside three standard deviations from the mean.

Hansen defines an “extreme” summer as one that is hotter than 3 standard deviations above the mean. So, for Washington DC that would mean a summer with an average temperature greater than 80.6°F—a situation that would almost never occur in the climate of 1951-1980 in DC.

Now let’s fast forward to the climate of the most recent 30 years. During the period from 1983-2012, the average summer temperature was 78.0°F—a full degree higher than it was during the base period. And, two summers (2009 and 2010) exceeded 80.6°F (that is, were more than 3 standard deviations above the 1951-1980 average). By Hansen’s reckoning, these were global warming induced climate “extremes.”

But are these hot summers entirely caused by global warming (or rather, climate change)?

If we went back and added 1°F to each summer from 1951 to 1980, one of them would have exceeded three standard deviations, and several others would have been close. In other words, the current climate of DC is pretty similar to the past climate of DC, just warmed up a bit. It is not a completely new climate replete with a different array of extreme events conjured up by human greenhouse gas emissions.

So yes, it is true that summers in DC are hotter than they once were. But local land-use changes (the increased heat-island effect) are largely to blame.

Compared to past climates, more summers now meet Hansen’s arbitrary definition of being “extremely” hot. But climate warming is not responsible for all the heat, instead it just adds some warmth to what would have been a hot summer anyway.

Certainly, the hotter it is in DC, the more air conditioners run and other costs incur as well. And quite possibly, the costs increase in some non-linear fashion (see here for a discussion). But, it is almost certain as well that the costs do not rise anywhere near as swiftly as the tally of events crossing some arbitrary threshold by which to define and “extreme” event.

Hansen’s push on weather extremes is another case where the level of alarm is disproportionate to the level of impact.

Addendum:

John Christy took a further look at the occurrences of weather extremes, as well as how Hansen’s recent analysis does not fairly represent them, in testimony last week before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. It is worth checking out (see here).

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79 thoughts on “Unloading James Hansen’s Climate Dice

  1. It looks like you’re attributing the italicized passages which lead off the article to Hansen, but they are Knappenberger’s. [First & last sentences.]

  2. You quote Hansen quoting himself and saying he is wrong??? Very first paragraph needs to be fixed (sets off alarm bells)

  3. Can we have some Golbull Warming in the UK please next summer, seems it missed us out this summer and what we got was not pleasant !!!!!

  4. So… Hansen describes “extreme” as being 3 standard deviations away from the mean. I guess stuff in that realm would be indicative of something very very wrong, that was in dire need of attention.

    The mean of the rate of Executive decree, is 6.39 decrees/year with a sigma of 39.7. (all Presidents). Does that make the current Presidents rate of decree, at 263 per year, alarming and in dire need of attention? The Z-Score is only 6.48…

  5. Thanks for the post Chip.

    Just to clarify, are you saying Hansen is calculating todays 3sd events based on deviations from the average of a cooler era?

    Like, if we calculated todays Summers vs. the Little Ice Age, we’re all doomed?

    And isn’t that, um, slightly misleading on Hansen’s part?

  6. Chip: The opening quote needs to have a new attribution – Hansen would not state:”Hansen’s push….” The original quote (at Master Resource) has no attribution at all.

  7. A 30 year base period 9only 30 samples in the data set0 would probably not supply a reasonable value for the standard deviation. I would think at least a hundred samples, or even better, a 1000 samples. Then the sigma computed from that data set would give a better indication of the natural variability. In that case, even the so-called 2009, 2010 3-sigma “outliers”, may not even be outliers at all with a more complete data set.

  8. But because the real GHE is thermal emission from the atmosphere reducing surface emissivity in GHG wavelength bands, standard radiative physics known to professional engineers around the World, there can be no CO2-AGW or positive feedback.

  9. The following poem applies well to the work of James (Jack) Hansen.

    from the collection “Space Child’s Mother Goose” by Frederick Winsor and Marian
    Parry (Simon and Schuster, 1956)

    This is the Theory Jack built. This is the Flaw That lay in the Theory Jack built. This is the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Constant K That saved the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K That saved the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Turn of a Plausible Phrase That thickened the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K That saved the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Chaotic Confusion and Bluff That hung on the Turn of a Plausible Phrase That Thickened the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K That saved the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the Cybernetics and Stuff That covered Chaotic Confusion and Bluff That hung on the Turn of a Plausible Phrase That thickened the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K That saved the Summary
    Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built. This is the button to Start the Machine To make with the Cybernetics and Stuff To cover Chaotic Confusion and Bluff That hung on the Turn of a Plausible Phrase That thickened the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K That saved the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory that Jack built.

    This is the Space Child with Brow Serene Who Pushed the Button to Start the Machine That made with the Cybernetics and Stuff Without Confusion, exposing the Bluff That hung on the Turn of a Plausible Phrase And, shredding the Erudite Verbal Haze Cloaking Constant K Wrecked the Summary Based on Mummery Hiding the Flaw And Demolished the Theory that Jack built.

    All the line breaks are removed so the poem fits in a reasonable space.

  10. Would UHI affect Tmin and Tmax individually in the same way as AGW theory? If not then there must be someone out there able to mathematically demonstrate which process is dominating the record temperature periods.

  11. I would be more interested in seeing a comparison with say 1931-1960 using original data rather than the GISS adjusted temperatures. Picking the “cold” period around 1970 is just such an old trick by the “Hansen” types of this world.

  12. Has anyone calculated the contribution to the rise in the Washington DC area oudoor temperature from aircon pumping heat from indoors to outdoors?

  13. If you’ve been living near the “Mistake On The Potomac” for the past sixty-odd years, you’d have witnessed the colossal growth of concrete and the destruction of farmland— all due to the cancerous growth of government.

    The development, urban sprawl and the hordes of immigrants (domestic and foreign) feeding at the government trough have wrecked what was once a pleasant place to live.

    I’d like to ship the lot of ‘em to Pocatello or Couer d’Alene or Ogden. That would solve a big part of the area’s “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” problem.

  14. In my opinion, 30 years is way to short a period to be taking as any kind of definition of normal.
    At an absolute minimum, it should be extended to 60 years to at least cover both halves of the PDO.

  15. Hansen: “there is virtually no explanation other than climate change”

    Argumentum ad ignorantiam. That he has no other explanation does not make his explanation valid.

  16. Right–the opening quotation is from Chip’s post quoting himself, not Hansen.

    - Rob Bradley (MasterResource)

  17. Dr. Christy’s evidence to the House Subcommittee is pretty devastating.
    It would be interesting to have a reaction from the warmist team, and even more interesting to have a proper resume in the MSM.
    Not holding my breath, though.

  18. This is unacceptable. No thinking person would read past the first paragraph which is blatantly wrong and foolish.

  19. Temperature extremes include both the high and the low; so why do we only see discussion about highs?

  20. Hansen cherry picks hot temperature to explain his extreme weather events conveniently ignoring the current hurricanes, tornados, and cold extremes in the UK.

  21. There is a further caveat to add to Hansen’s argument to turn it from being a trivial observation of extreme weather, to be a signal of a coming climate catastrophe that can justify current policy. The extreme weather must be significantly more costly, whether it be purely financial, the cause of human suffering, or endangering the general flora and fauna. My mother comes from the far North of Scotland, where the record highest temperature is less than 77F. A few degrees more would be beneficial.

  22. knots340 says:
    October 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

    absolutely – which is exactly why they ‘pick’ a small base year period – when in reality, many more data points would be needed just to identify the natural variation, let alone any alleged AGW. Of course, we KNOW there is a UHI effect, and we KNOW this has happened increasingly in the modern era, but of course UHI is not AGW! – so only (top quality) rural stations should be used for any meaningful trend analysis.

  23. “there is virtually no explanation other than climate change”

    I really do not see how a change up or down can be “climate change.”

    Climate refers to the air mass or masses typical to a location; it is tropical, or continental or marine, or whatever. Changes in temperature do not make for climate change.

  24. “Hansen’s push on weather extremes is another case where the level of alarm is disproportionate to the level of impact.” – Dr. James Hansen, NASA GISS

    Wishful thinking to suppose that Hansen would undergo such self-analysis. An attribution correction is in order methinks!

  25. “John Garrett says:
    October 1, 2012 at 10:11 am
    If you’ve been living near the “Mistake On The Potomac” for the past sixty-odd years, you’d have witnessed the colossal growth of concrete and the destruction of farmland— all due to the cancerous growth of government.
    The development, urban sprawl and the hordes of immigrants (domestic and foreign) feeding at the government trough have wrecked what was once a pleasant place to live.
    I’d like to ship the lot of ‘em to Pocatello or Couer d’Alene or Ogden. That would solve a big part of the area’s “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” problem.”

    What’s wrong with sending them to the Maldives or Bangladesh? No reason to keep them all for ourselves. Let’s send them where they can see the meters the ocean isn’t rising.

  26. “Hasen told us another Ice Age was coming in 1977, enough said for his credibilty.”

    He said no such thing.

    [Reply: Article corrected. The quote was by Chip Knappenberger, not James Hansen. — mod.]

  27. Bitterly cold winter is over in Johannesburg. It is the peak of the wet end of the summer rainfall region’s 18.7 year drought cycle. Next ‘unprecedented’ drought will be in 2021.

    Remember when a storm would be a ’200 year’ event? That was an implicit recognition that these events occur now and then.

  28. JohnH says:
    Can we have some Golbull Warming in the UK please next summer, seems it missed us out this summer and what we got was not pleasant !!!!!

    I hope I’m wrong, but I have a bad feeling that this coming winter will be far worse up there

    Good luck.

  29. JohnH says:

    October 1, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Can we have some Golbull Warming in the UK please next summer, seems it missed us out this summer and what we got was not pleasant !!!!!

    Did you mean gullable warming?

  30. Betapug says:

    October 1, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Has anyone calculated the contribution to the rise in the Washington DC area outdoor temperature from aircon pumping heat from indoors to outdoors?

    And from traffic and planes.

    In a temperature inversion hot air falls!

    Oh and big cities are now microwave ovens caused by microwave communications.

  31. Chip,
    Your comments regarding the fraction of observations falling within 1, 2 and 3 sd only holds true if the summer time temperatures are normally distributed. Are they? Can you post a link to your data or data source please?

  32. Thomas T. says:
    “Hasen told us another Ice Age was coming in 1977, enough said for his credibilty.”
    He said no such thing.
    ………………………………………………………………..
    Fair enough.
    The scientist was S.I.Rasool, a colleague of Mr. Hansen’s at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Hansen was part of the consensus view that another Ice Age was on the way.

  33. “Hansen was part of the consensus view that another Ice Age was on the way.”

    That is incorrect. If there was a consensus view in the 1970′s, it was global warming, including Hansen. For a review of the 1970s literature see:

    Peterson et al. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89:1325-1337 (2008)

    Particularly Fig. 1, from the Figure Legend: “During the period from 1965 through 1979, our literature survey found 7 cooling, 20 neutral, and 44 warming papers.”

    That is, over 6 fold more papers citing warming.

  34. Thomas T says:

    “…over 6 fold more papers citing warming.”

    Not really. 27 papers cited neutral or cooling, vs 44 citing warming. Anyway, there are literally thousands of climate related papers out now, and probably hundreds more are published every year. Forty four papers over a decade was nothing. Now the big bucks are in the global warming scare, so every author is obliged to have a comment relating to ‘climate change’ if at all possible.

    I got out of the military in the early ’70′s, and I clearly recall the global cooling scare. It was regularly on the TV news, it was in the newspapers, on radio, in magazines; the global cooling false alarm was being sounded everywhere. Scientists were being interviewed and quoted. Maybe one of them talked about global warming, but I never heard it. It was all cooling all the time.

    Maybe you’re too young to remember. But it was the mirror image of today’s global warming scare.

  35. Hansen seems to think his trick with the air-con before giving testimony to congressional committee was quite clever. Why should we believe he is not still engaged in the same kind of deception every time he speaks?

    That’s not a provocative statement, it is a simple, flat, impassionate question. He seems to honestly believe he is part of some crusade where the ends justify the means. Why should be believe anything he says?

    What is more telling is why , well past retirement age, he is allowed to carry on such a deception while waving the NASA banner.

  36. D. Boehm -

    I remember the cooling scare too. It’s interesting that the warming scare is coming from the same people who brought us the cooling scare. It says infinitely more about the sick psychology and venality of scaremongering than it does about climate.

    On another point – we skeptics need to find a way to force the CRL-controlled news media and academic journals to publish information contrary to their ideological claptrap.

    Also, I believe we can get our message across to the public very easily, by pointing out the simple ways to disprove AGW. Any layman can follow a discussion of animal respiration, or an honest graph showing the decline of temperatures since 1998, or showing the non-correlation of CO2 to temperatures. You don’t have to be a degreed scientist or even a college graduate to understand these things and draw the correct conclusions.

  37. commieBob says: “The following poem applies well to the work of James (Jack) Hansen. — from the collection “Space Child’s Mother Goose” by Frederick Winsor and Marian Parry (Simon and Schuster, 1956):

    This is the Theory Jack built…

    Excellent; very apropos. If only we had that button to push…

  38. Would someone care to look at the effects of air conditioning D.C.??

    While the air conditioned building (or car?) is cool on the inside during one of these summers, it is pumping the interior energy to the outside as heat. That would seem a net zero, but for the fact that the AC unit itself is not 100% efficient. Each AC unit then is, as far as the outside atmosphere goes, is a heater, receiving it’s energy from some distant power plant.

    What then is the heat load imposed on D.C. by the air conditioning units, certainly more prevalent now than they were in the ’50′s? Cooler now on the inside, at the expense of warmer now on the outside…. oh, physics.

  39. Chad Wozniak,

    Actually, there is a correlation between ΔT and ΔCO2. But it is the opposite of what the alarmists claim. The chart shows clearly that temperature changes cause CO2 changes. There are no evidence-based charts showing that changes in CO2 cause changes in temperature.

  40. IIRC, Hansen wrote one of the first climate computer models and that model “predicted” global cooling. Are some folks trying to rewrite history?

  41. Actually, I’m working on a paper to properly eviscerate Hansen’s paper.

    As you note, he shows that if it’s a bit warmer on average, it will tend to be a bit warmer. He does this with a wall of text, graphs, and data that obscures what he’s doing so that you might get the impression that things are an order of magnitude worse than it used to be, and that things are more variable than they used to be.

    In the paper, and an online followup, he also pulls tricks regarding his baseline period. Skeptics pointed out to him that the Dustbowl Years were pretty extreme, too, so he rolled the 1920-1950 timeframe into his baseline and said, “See, I still have a point!” The problem is he should have actually treated the 1920-1950 period separately so that he’d be able to distinguish two scenarios: a) the 1951-1980 period is normal, and the 1981-2011 period is more extreme, and b) the 1981-2011 period is normal and the 1951-1980 period is unusually quiescent. Turns out that it’s option b.

  42. My subjective impression was that there was a Pending Ice Age scare in the late 1970′s, it was “driven” by the temperature records, and it was regarded as the kind of science scare mongering as worrying about an asteroid impact or the Yellowstone Volcano.

    There was a fear of CO2-driven warming, but I don’t think it came from the temperature-monitoring people — I think it came from computer model people. I remember being on the Caltech campus in the year 1980 and having a sidewalk conversation with a man doing computer model work, he was very earnest about CO2 warming being the problem, and he was mad at people for not taking nuclear power more seriously.

    I regard nuclear power as a touchstone for a person taking CO2 warming seriously. If CO2 is really that much of a problem, you don’t muck around with photovoltaics and carbon trading, and some First Worlders traipsing to some international conference on a jet, salving their conscience by purchasing a carbon offset by having regiments of Third Worlders lift their water with leg-driven instead of Diesel pumps. Were CO2 taken seriously as an emergency, one would go all out in a crash program to develop nuclear power. And there are people who take CO2 seriously, and they are serious about nuclear power, as was my acquaintance at Caltech some 30 years ago.

    I wish I remembered the man’s name, because the people sounding the alarm on CO2 in 1980 based on computer models may have been a small community. Maybe the bibliographic search engines could turn up who at Caltech was publishing on climate models at that time?

  43. I looked up the original article and found some interesting correlations. He says in the abstract that distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted towards higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. I went looking for it. Unfortunately the paper is laden with pretty worthless illustrations, among them almost thirty multi-colored world maps that can best be described as objects suitable for administering a Rohrschah test. There is also a plethora of graphs plus nine anomaly distributions organized by climatology. The data that I was looking for surely had to be contained in those distributions and by luck it was. I say by luck because he tried various ways of displaying data until he hit upon the idea of normalizing the area under the curves. The graph I found most useful was the one in his Figure 9 that uses climatology from 1951 to 1980. This is a good baseline choice because temperature was pretty much constant during that time. He also shows other baselines that make a jumble of it and are impossible to interpret. Each graph shows data for six decades, color coded so you can distinguish them. The width of each decadal graph is determined by the anomaly distribution during the decade. According to Hansen the anomaly range increases with temperature but his graphs do not show temperature. Even more important is to be able to compare decade-to-decade broadenings as they relate to temperature. On the graph I chose the first three decadal distributions (1951-1961, 1961-1971 and 1971-1981) fall quite accurately on top of each other. This is exactly what I would expect because we know that there was no temperature change then. There was no warming in the fifties, sixties, and seventies and people then were worried about a coming new ice age, not global warming. The next graph up, for 1981-1991 (light blue), is slightly shifted and broadened. In1976 there was that “great Pacific climate change” which is supposed to have raised global temperature stepwise and it is possible that this slight temperature rise may have an influence on that particular anomaly distribution. The next decade is 1991-2001 (dark blue) and shows even more broadening. This decade includes the super El Nino of 1998 which surely raised the overall temperature enough to be the cause of that broader anomaly distribution. And last, but not least, is the decade of 2001-2011 (purple). It is very noticeably broadened, more so than any distribution that preceded it. This clearly correlates with the fact that this was also the record warm first decade of our century. From all this we can say that yes, warmer global temperature does lead to a broader anomaly distribution if these data are correct. But this is history and it tells us nothing about future temperature change. At the present time, there is no warming and there has not been any since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, IPCC AR4 has predicted that greenhouse warming in the twenty-first century will proceed at the rate of 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. We are now in the second decade of this century and there is no sign of this predicted warming. IPCC prediction was made using the greenhouse theory of warming and has turned out to be false. In science, if a theory makes a prediction and the prediction is wrong the theory itself is also considered wrong and must be abandoned. The greenhouse theory of IPCC has made such a wrong prediction and must be abandoned. And with it the hypothesis of anthropogenic greenhouse warming. AGW rest in peace.

  44. highflight56433 says:
    October 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm
    Climate refers to the air mass or masses typical to a location; it is tropical, or continental or marine, or whatever. Changes in temperature do not make for climate change.
    =======
    good point. Has the climate actually changed in Washington DC? Or is it pretty much like it has been for the past 8000 years? Once you get past the hundreds of square miles of pavement and concrete that has replaced the natural vegetation. Not that that would have any effect.

  45. Arno Arrak says:
    October 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm
    IPCC prediction was made using the greenhouse theory of warming and has turned out to be false. In science, if a theory makes a prediction and the prediction is wrong the theory itself is also considered wrong and must be abandoned.
    ==============
    Go into any store and put on the ugliest thing you can find on the rack. The salespeople are trained to tell you how good it makes you look. If they can’t lie with a straight face, they quickly are replaced by someone that can.

    In science, any theory that continues to attract funding is a viable theory and will not be abandoned. it makes not the slightest difference to the people promoting the theory if it is true. They are salesmen, promoters. Dressed up as scientists with a fancy title. Laughing all the way to the bank.

  46. D Böehm says:
    October 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Thomas T says:

    “…over 6 fold more papers citing warming.”

    Not really. 27 papers cited neutral or cooling, vs 44 citing warming.

    Ummm, no, you can’t just lump in the neutral papers with cooling – what justifies that position? If Thomas T had cited the paper and summarized “64 papers cited neutral or warming, whereas only 7 predicted cooling” you would have been all over him for faulty logic. Neutral is neutral, it is neither warming or cooling. And in any case, as computer modelling tools improve, and new methods of analyzing the planet emerge (for example, measurements of ice thickness taken from satellites did not exist in the 70s), the accuracy of scientific research improves. Do you think we knew everything there was to know about the causes of cancer in the 70s? If some of the scientifically held positions in that period were later contravened by subsequent research, does that mean that we should distrust all cancer research being done today?

    You said: Now the big bucks are in the global warming scare, so every author is obliged to have a comment relating to ‘climate change’ if at all possible.

    Specifically how are scientists making big bucks off the global warming scare? I’m working with academics on research (completely unrelated to climate change). The professors I am working with (in Singapore, where I live) are not allowed to supplement their university salary with the grant. All the grant monies must go to either a) graduate student stipends b) research equipment, which becomes the property of the university c) consumables used for the research or d) very limited economy class travel to conferences to present the results of their work. I did some additional searching – the most “lucrative” instance I could find is a researcher who said the grant terms do enable him to be paid during his non teaching months, as long as it is at the same pay rate. So, for example, if he were paid $60K for 9 months of teaching, he could make another $20K for doing research during his unpaid 3 months. That’s decent money but hardly getting rich. Do you have specific examples of climate research scientists getting rich off their grants that you can provide?

  47. Once again, a phrase can be re-worded – “Those who fail to remember past weather extremes are doomed to state that all current weather extremes are unprecedented.”

    So, Hansen’s statement “…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…”

    Yet Marble Bar, Australia, STILL has the world record of most consecutive days of maximum temperatures of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, during a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924.

    Just how long were the deadly European heat wave of 2003 and the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010?

    Hansen again: “…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…”

    RECENT past. 1924 doesn’t matter…

  48. A 1 % chance of an “extreme” hot summer over 30 years? Well, that means in any comparable 30 year period, there would be one outlier in 30% of such 30 year periods, because you expect to have 1 in 100 years. And if it happened twice, well (cringe) that would be expected to happen in 9% of such 30 year periods. So how many summers were cold outliers in the early and late 30 year periods? One? Two? Much ado about nothing, and that’s the point.

  49. Hmm. So to summarise the article, Hansen is wrong to talk about extreme events, because the world is warming, so they aren’t extreme after all – just the new “normal”.

  50. Here’s a link to a WUWT thread on the Russian heat wave, plus an extract from it:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/13/final-words-on-the-russian-heat-wave-from-agu-weather-predictable/

    Although some people may try to ascribe specific extreme weather events to climate change, global warming cannot be held responsible for recent weather events such as the 2010 Russian heat wave. Using climate simulations and a comparison against historical conditions, Dole et al. assess the influence of greenhouse gases, aerosols, anomalous sea surface temperatures, and other potential climate forcings on the likelihood and magnitude of the 2010 Russian heat wave. The authors suggest that the heat wave, which lasted from late June to mid-August and was responsible for thousands of deaths, widespread wild fires, and devastating crop loss, fell well within the bounds of natural climate variability.

    The authors find that none of the tested climate factors showed appreciable ability to predict the extreme temperatures seen throughout the heat wave. Additionally, the researchers’ historical analysis reveals that July temperatures, as well as the temperature variability, for the affected region of western Russia showed no significant trend over the past 130 years. They note that the top 10 hottest July days for the region were distributed randomly across the historical period, although global averages do show clustering in the past 2 decades.

    While the researchers argue that there is no reason to have anticipated the extreme nature of the heat wave from a historical perspective, Matsueda (Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L06801, doi:10.1029/2010GL046557, 2011. See Highlight 5, below.) suggests that many of the details of this particular event could have been predicted using short-term weather forecasting.

    See related press release: http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2011/2011-10.shtml

    Source: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046582, 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046582
    Title: Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave?

  51. “My subjective impression was that there was a Pending Ice Age scare in the late 1970′s, it was “driven” by the temperature records…”

    The “scare” was driven by a Newsweek cover. Newsweek frequently has sensationalist covers, in order to sell copy. Newsweek frequently has sensationalist covers with biblical themes, always good for sales.

    In the scientific literature, on the other hand, there were over 6 times as many papers citing global warming, versus global cooling.

    It is Whack-a-mole all the way down though, because thanks to a Newsweek cover the “1970s global cooling” will live on and on and on…as an internet meme.

  52. Thomas T: Poppycock.

    The ice age scare will live on in the MEMORIES of everyone who was alive in the 70s. You betray your youth when you claim it was just a Newsweek story or parrot the other alarmist claims. Heck, most of the current warmist panic-mongers were the cheerleaders for the cooling scare back then.

    This is the internet age. In the 70s people relied on the media to keep track of science, nobody just wandered off and grabbed a copy of the “scientific literature”. And the media, ALL of the media, was warning us about the coming ice age. The belief made its way into TV shows, movies, books, even the daily comics. The coming ice-age was not some weird far-out-there fringe belief, it was more along the lines of “common knowledge”.

    You betray your lack of knowledge by believing otherwise.

  53. Add up the cost of losses in life and goods as a result of severe cold events verse the cost of losses in life and goods as a result of severe heat events. Then tell us which needs greater attention, not to say they neither is insignificant to those who endure such events. Billions go out in research grants supporting AGW while we see no preemptive spending to off set either cold or warm events. Only after the fact aid. Pretty pathetic.

  54. CodeTech said: Heck, most of the current warmist panic-mongers were the cheerleaders for the cooling scare back then. Let’s see, to be a published scientist in the 70s, someone would have been born in the late 40s or earlier – let’s say 1948 or earlier. So you’re saying that most of the “warmist panic-mongers” as you call them, are 64 or older – and believed in a coming ice age in the 70s. Do you have any data to back that up? By the way, James Hansen did not publish papers in support of a coming ice age in the 70s, so your list will not start with him.

    And as was noted earlier, a study of scientific papers that mentioned climate change found 7 papers predicting global cooling, 20 that predicted little to no temperature change, and 44 that predicted warming. Hardly a landslide of ice age papers – unless you failed remedial math.

  55. “Heck, most of the current warmist panic-mongers were the cheerleaders for the cooling scare back then.”

    You should be able to name some names then.

    I can think of one person that switched opinions, although he is a writer and not a scientist.

    Moreover, the terms “warmist panic-monger” and “cheerleader” are over-the-top caricatures and restrict the pool of candidates to almost nil.

  56. Chris,

    I was born in 1948, and I clearly recall all the non-stop media excitement in the ’70′s over the coming ice age. Scientists were routinely quoted in newspapers and magazines, and interviewed on TV. The ‘coming ice age’ narrative was incessant. There was no talk about global warming. None.

    It was just like today’s wild-eyed arm waving over global warming, except the scare back then was over the coming ice age. And you know what? Both scares are equally baseless. Nothing unprecedented was happening then, and nothing unprecedented is happening now. What we are observing is natural climate variability, and it is all well within past parameters.

    What year were you born, Chris? I suspect it was well after the ice age scare. Because you’re passing on talking points you get from unreliable sources. Those of us who were there know that the ’70′s scare was over global cooling, not global warming. And just like today, scientists were happy to fan the flames.

    Regarding your attempt to claim that alarmist scientists do not benefit from their scaremongering, here is a [partial, incomplete] list of Michael Mann’s grants:

    Development of a Northern Hemisphere Gridded Precipitation Dataset Spanning the Past Half Millennium for Analyzing Interannual and Longer-Term Variability in the Monsoons,
 $250,000

    Quantifying the influence of environmental temperature on transmission of vector-borne diseases, 
$1,884,991

    Toward Improved Projections of the Climate Response to Anthropogenic Forcing: Combining Paleoclimate Proxy and Instrumental Observations with an Earth System Model,
 $541,184

    A Framework for Probabilistic Projections of Energy-Relevant Streamflow Indices,
 $330,000

    AMS Industry/Government Graduate Fellowship,
 $23,000

    Climate Change Collective Learning and Observatory Network in Ghana, $759,928

    Analysis and testing of proxy-based climate reconstructions,
 $459,000

    Constraining the Tropical Pacific’s Role in Low-Frequency Climate Change of the Last Millennium,
 $68,065

    Acquisition of high-performance computing cluster for the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC),
 $100,000

    Decadal Variability in the Tropical Indo-Pacific: Integrating Paleo & Coupled Model Results,
 $102,000

    Reconstruction and Analysis of Patterns of Climate Variability Over the Last One to Two Millennia,
 $315,000

    Remote Observations of Ice Sheet Surface Temperature: Toward Multi-Proxy Reconstruction of Antarctic Climate Variability, 
$133,000

    Paleoclimatic Reconstructions of the Arctic Oscillation, 
$14,400

    Global Multidecadal-to-Century-Scale Oscillations During the Last 1000 years, $20,775

    Resolving the Scale-wise Sensitivities in the Dynamical Coupling Between Climate and the Biosphere,
 $214,700

    Advancing predictive models of marine sediment transport,
 $20,775

    Multiproxy Climate Reconstruction: Extension in Space and Time, and Model/Data Intercomparison,
 $381,647

    Detecting and understanding climatic change,
 $266,235

    $5,884,700 in grants, and that is only a partial list. Note the mosquito vector NGO grant, which was simply payola coming on the heels of the first Climategate email dump. It was given to send a public message of support. Had they wanted a study on mosquito vectors, the proper recipient would be a biologist or an epidemiologist. Instead, the $1.8 million was handed to Mann. And where is that ‘study’ anyway? I can’t find it. Maybe you can. And if you read the Climategate emails you will find our public servants talking about their grants, and conspiring to avoid paying taxes.

    Mann also writes books, providing another income stream. And of course the continuous jaunts to holiday venues like Hawaii, Bali, etc., are paid by his employers and others. You can be certain Michael Mann doesn’t stay in a Motel 6, either.

    Maybe you’re just not doing it right, Chris. But if I were you I would be pretty unhappy about $billions in federal grants being handed out every year for climate ‘studies’. That doesn’t leave much for other areas of science. If you are not in the clique, you lose.

    Thomas T: You want names? You can start with scientists named in this article. Note that it is one article in one magazine out of a decade of scare stories in newspapers, magazines and on TV and radio.

  57. “You can start with scientists named in this article. “

    That is from Newsweek. Newsweek is the popular press, not the scientific literature.

    From the scientific literature, 7 papers predicted global cooling, 20 predicted little to no temperature change, and 44 predicted warming.

    That is, 6 times more papers predicted warming versus cooling.

    “alarmist scientists do not benefit from their scaremongering”

    You have shown that Mann is successful in getting grants, that is true, but you have not shown that he is “alarmist” and “scaremongering”. If you could do this, doubtful, then you would still be stuck with a weak correlation equals causation argument.

  58. Thomas T, you are moving the goal posts. You specifically asked for names. I provided names. Since you are a goal post mover, nothing I post will satisfy you.

    Regarding Michael Mann, he certainly is scaremongering with this:

    That alarming chart has been thoroughly debunked by McIntyre & McKitrick. That it is old news. The IPCC cannot use that chart any more because it has been falsified. Even Nature was forced to run a Correction. And then there is the Tiljander scaremongering. Mann08 used a known corrupted proxy to create yet another scary hokey stick chart. When the Tiljander proxy is removed, the hockey stick shape disappears.

    Now that I have proven that Mann is an alarmist scaremonger, you need to run along to the alarmist blogs you frequent for some new talking points. The ones you used up here were too easy to factually deconstruct.

  59. John Brookes says:
    October 2, 2012 at 1:35 am
    You are an academic and are not able to read? You should ask the Uni for your money back.

  60. “You specifically asked for names.”

    Yes, and you didn’t provide any in support of the argument: “most of the current warmist panic-mongers were the cheerleaders for the cooling scare back then”. No, goalpost moving, none, fact remains that the predominant scientific literature of the 1970s, including Hansen, supported warming.

    “That alarming chart has been thoroughly debunked by McIntyre & McKitrick. ”

    No it wasn’t. It has been validated multiple times. And so your alarmist scaremonger argument goes “poof”.

    “you need to run along to the alarmist blogs you frequent for some new talking points.”

    I must have struck a nerve.

  61. Thomas T,

    First, I said nothing about Hansen. You need to read more carefully.

    I pointed out that both you and Chris are wrong about Michael Mann. Note that the IPCC cannot use Mann’s falsified MBH99 chart any more. And the IPCC LOVED that alarming chart. Now, they are forced to substitute pale imitations in the form of confusing spaghetti graphs, which make the public’s eyes glaze over. They would much prefer to keep using Mann’s original chart. But they can’t. Why? Because it is thoroughly debunked pseudo-science. This is what Mann’s chart looks like with correct data.

    Next, you write: you didn’t provide any in support of the argument: “most of the current warmist panic-mongers were the cheerleaders for the cooling scare back then”.

    How old are you, anyway? Old enough to read? You seem to have a reading comprehension problem. I never wrote what you quoted. Re-read my post above. Click on the link.

    And post your age.

  62. Thomas T,

    I provided names. That is specifically what you asked for. Now you’re moving the goal posts again, and setting up strawman arguments.

    Post your age, puppy.

  63. [Snip. Post using only one screen name. Final warning. — mod.]

    I am posting under Thomas T and…Thomas T.

    You are snipping because of a period?

    -Thomas T (aka Thomas T.)

  64. I provided names.

    No, you linked to a Newsweek article. You did not state which of the names in that article were “cheerleaders for the cooling scare” in the 1970s, but now are “warmist panic-mongers”. Please note that you were responding directly to a statement from a different poster, if you read the thread.

  65. First, I said nothing about Hansen. You need to read more carefully.

    I didn’t imply that you did. The thread discusses Hansen and the 1970s, I was referring to a subject in the thread. Re-read the entire thread and you will realize your error.

    I never wrote what you quoted. Re-read my post above.

    You were responding directly to the quote. Re-read the thread and you will realize your error.

    Regarding the hockey stick graph, it has been validated multiple times since Mann, including peer-reviewed, including removal of the Tiljander proxy, and notably graphs that diminish the medieval warming. You could find them, if you tried. Because you link only to a graph that purportedly “debunks pseudoscience”, without skepticism on your part, you might consider that your skepticism is…selective.

    Post your age, puppy.

    Relax.

  66. McIntyre constructed the correct chart.

    No, McIntyre constructed a chart, but not necessarily the correct one. There are many others that confirm Mann, including peer-reviewed, and with various combinations of proxies. McIntyre gets “audited” too, you could find it if you looked.

    puppy

    Relax.

  67. Thomas T.:

    The “scare” was driven by a Newsweek cover. Newsweek frequently has sensationalist covers, in order to sell copy. Newsweek frequently has sensationalist covers with biblical themes, always good for sales.

    In the first place, this statement is misleading in an elementary way. Journalistic sources like Newsweek do not create such stories out of whole cloth. They may exaggerate, or more often quote selectively, but they do not create their reports de novo. There is always some sort of ‘authoritative’ source.

    Global cooling was first noted in the early 60’s, and by the early 70’s it was definitely a topic on climatology’s agenda. Here’s a typical quote from that time:

    The investigation here reported of some of the gross features of world climate behaviour since 1960 apparently discloses an abrupt return to conditions as they were before the well-known warming of climates in the early twentieth century

    This is from Lamb, Geogr. J., 1966, 132: 183. These studies continued, and by the mid-70’s people were also noting, (i) that past famines in Europe were associated with cold periods (Thoroddsen, cited in Bryson, Science, 1974, 184:753), (ii) that there were increasing pressures on grain supply (Thompson, Science, 1975, 188:535). Since these discussions were appearing in prominent places in the scientific literature, which journalists often monitor, it’s not surprising that this discussion then made its way to the mass media. In addition, the idea of the threat of cooling was discussed in semi-popular books such as Nigel Calder’s The Weather Machine (1974) and Lowell Ponte’s The Cooling (1976). Both works include discussions of the CO2 hypothesis and the possibility of future warming, but they emphasize the idea of continued cooling (e.g. the final chapter of Calder’s book is titled The Threat of Ice).

    So there was a lot more going on around the idea of global cooling than one or two articles in the mass media.

  68. Shouldn’t we focus a bit on the point that, even if the climate dice are loaded the way Hansen proposes, it would mean that extreme cold is expected to decrease to approximately the same extent as extreme heat is increased. There’s lot of research to show that extreme cold is more harmful than extreme heat. So perhaps the dice are loaded in our favor.

  69. You claim that a very significant amount of the last summer’s heat can be attributed to airconditioning as it pumps hot air out of the interiors of buildings.

    This is OK when we consider the temperatures in cities, but I was under the impression (I live in Australia) that high temperatures prevailed all over the USA, in the countryside as well as in the cities. If this is the case then it is unintelligent to make such a fuss about land use and airconditioning use in the cities. There is already enough evidence to show that even hot summers fall within the ranges of natural variability and that very hot summers occurred before man made CO2 was present at any significant level.
    Let’s not make false arguments that are easily defeated; there are sufficient good arguments to convince anyone with an open mind.

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