A letter from climate scientist James Hansen

James Hansen of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies issued a letter (the second this week) in response to the correction of temperatures that was recently done as a result of the work by Steve McIntyre illustrating problems with temperature data processing for the US record sets.

I provide the letter (PDF) link here http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/realdeal.16aug20074.pdf without any comment of my own, except to say that it is in fact from Hansen and published on his web page which you can see here: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

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August 17, 2007 10:03 pm

Wow. Hansen sounds like a kook.
He reminds me of some of the Green party folk that I come into contact with at political 3-rd party get togethers. They wear a tin-foil hat when it comes to big industry, but simultaneously feel that well-intentioned politicians and bureaucrats can do no wrong. After a few minutes listening to their rant with a smile I just have to say “well, good luck with that”.

August 17, 2007 11:45 pm

Hansen presents two temperature history graphs, one for the US, one for the globe. But the y-axes are different, with the effect that the global development is made to look much more dramatic than the US. This is an elementary trick that one can use in visualizing statistics, if you want to fool an ignorant audience. The people at GISS have apparently read all about “How to lie with statistics”.

David Walton
August 18, 2007 1:07 am

Is this climate science or an episode of “Star Wars”?
James Hansen should heretofore be known as “Doctor Doom”.
There will be more than a few climate scientists surprised to discover that they are little more than minions of the Lords of the Dark Side.
So there you have it, the “two sides” of the argument. The Saviors of Creation led by Doctor Doom versus the Planet Destroyers who are little more than denier dupes in the employ of the evil Captains of Industry.

August 18, 2007 4:50 am

“”….make a Federal Case…..””What goes around, comes around.Alarmism should not be part of the Scientific Method.We are from the government and we are here to help.

Michael Smith
August 18, 2007 5:14 am

I love the way Hansen closes:
Criticisms, as always, are welcome.
NASA administrator Michael Griffen made the perfectly reasonable point that we have no right to arbitrarily select an optimum temperature for the globe and force it down everyone’s throat. Hansen’s immediate reaction was to attack Griffin by calling him “ignorant”. That’s Hansen’s idea of “welcoming criticism”.

August 18, 2007 5:34 am

Anthony, Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate the honesty.

August 18, 2007 6:55 am

My biggest beef is the lack of headlines retracting all those other headlines, as Steven Milloy points out. The initial numbers generated so much doom and gloom mongering it wasn’t even funny. Now that we find there’s nothing catastrophic going on (as we knew anyway) there’s not a peep except on the blogs and internet newspapers.
And this is the man Bush “silenced”. Another failed mission by the president.

Evan Jones
August 18, 2007 7:43 am

Well, I went to the JH page. Here are his existing recommended links, which I post without comment (although I could come up of a few if pressed.)
–Re-Energize Iowa: An Opportunity to Lead the Nation in Stewardship of the Earth and Creation
–How Can We Avert Dangerous Climate Change?
–Global Warming: The Threat to the Planet
–Dangerous Human-Made Interference with Climate (370 kB PDF).
–“Political Interference with Science: Global Warming”, Part II”
–Special interests are the one big obstacle Global Warming: Connecting the Dots from Causes to Solutions
–Communicating Dangers and Opportunities in Global Warming
–The Threat to the Planet: How Can We Avoid Dangerous Human-Made Climate
–Change? Swiftboating, Stealth Budgeting, and Unitary Executives.
–The Threat to the Planet: Actions Required to Avert Dangerous Climate Change
–The Case for Action by the State of California to Mitigate Climate Change
–Global Warming: Is There Still Time to Avoid Disastrous Human-Made Climate Change?
–Statement of Political Inclinations
–Can We Still Avoid Dangerous Human-Made Climate Change? A Presentation at the New School’s Social Research Conference
–Is There Still Time to Avoid “Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference” with Global Climate? A Tribute to Charles David Keeling
–On the Road to Climate Stability: The Parable of the Secretary
–Global Temperatures in 2005
–Michael Crichton’s “Scientific Method”
–Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference: A Discussion of Humanity’s Faustian Climate Bargain and the Payments Coming Due
–Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb

August 18, 2007 8:30 am

Michael Smith,
Your right, the Tuvalu Islands are really looking forward to another few degrees and we in The West would be arrogant to deny it to them.

August 18, 2007 10:17 am

Bit OT here but can’t post on CA
While I was examining GISS data on Canada and Australia I found signifigant jumps in trends when they converted to primarily ASOS in the 1990’s. I had assumed this was airport UHI, but maybe it’s a HO-83 problem. I can’t find metadata for artic or Austrailian stations.
Someone might also want to check Antarctic metadata since abnormally low wind speeds have resulted in abnormally high temps.

Steve Moore
August 18, 2007 10:54 am

Even more revealing is to note where some of those were published: “The Nation”, “WorldWatch”, “The New York Times Review of Books” — prestigious scientific journals all.
It’s surprising “The Plain Truth” isn’t there.

Retired Spook
August 18, 2007 11:10 am

I always have to chuckle when I read statements like this:

How big an error did this flaw cause? That is shown by the before and after results in Figure 1. The effect on the global temperature record is invisible. The effect on U.S. average temperature is about 0.15°C beginning in 2000. Does this change have any affect whatsoever on the global warming issue? Certainly not, as discussed below. (emphasis – mine)
Short of completely dismantling the energy structure of the entire civilized world in the next 8-1/2 years, I submit that nothing that those who share Hansen’s views are suggesting will “have any affect whatsoever on the global warming issue”. My bet is, in 8-1/2 years, we’ll look back on this debate the same way we do the “population bomb” and Y2K. I’ll also bet that, at that time, there will still be Jim Hansens who will say, “there’s still time to act if only you’ll give us more money and do as we say”. Odds are, though, that the kook Left will have moved on to another “cause” by then.

August 18, 2007 11:33 am

From Department of Commerce “Product Improvement Inmplementation Plan”
“TSL HO83/1088 will remain installed on ASOS to provide the site’s temperature data”

August 18, 2007 2:02 pm

Michael Smith,
Your right, the Tuvalu Islands are really looking forward to another few degrees and we in The West would be arrogant to deny it to them.
Posted by: bigcitylib

There are just a few things wrong with that.
First. CO2 warming is a feedback from sunshine re radiated from land masses.
Second. Even over land masses the signal from CO2 warming would only effect the nighttime low.
Third. Water vapor, which is sure to be hanging around an island, ensures that any GHG effect to be had in the middle of the ocean has been long ago saturated. The people of Tuvalu adapted to the GHG effect the minute they arrived on the island, because it has been in effect there forever.

August 18, 2007 2:03 pm

We really need to develop a response to this letter.
Take this cretin down a peg.

August 18, 2007 2:11 pm

He says that 2% of the earth’s surface area (btw, that’s including oceans, it’s 8% of the land area) doesn’t matter, but ask him about the hockey stick, and a tiny area in California (where the bristlecone proxies were taken) is an impeccable representative of the entire world. Hmmm…

August 18, 2007 2:59 pm

I couln’t finish reading that polemic piece of trash. Calling Hansen a scientist tarnished the term. He says .15 deg is no big deal yet .01 deg (the amount 1998 exceeded 1934) was a big deal when 1998 was listed as the warmest year in the US. All hail the Chuch of Hansen! Damnation is yours if you dare disagree.

August 18, 2007 6:26 pm

Fanafuti png
Here is the history of Tuvalu temperature station Fanafuti. It just happens to cover 1931 to the present. They appeared to have the same problem with heat in the 30s that we did. How cool is that?

August 18, 2007 6:43 pm

Personally I don’t think the size of the error is a big deal but how long it went on for is. With full disclosure it might have been picked up a lot earlier.

Kevin P.
August 18, 2007 8:43 pm

Wow. Hansen’s letter reads a like a parody. I can’t believe he wrote that. Scientist indeed!

Hans Kelp
August 19, 2007 3:24 am

As a middleaged Dane who has considered American scienticians to be almost second to none because of my readings about Richard Feynman among others, I must confess that after having read James Hansens letter it has resulted in a feeling of disappointment and mistrust inside of me. I do not think a scientist in James Hansen´s position ( actually not at all) should write a letter in which he accuses people of being “contrairans” and that they are just trying to “deceive” others into believing something not strictly in line with his own thinking. After all, its James Hansen´s own handling of the situation altogether that I feel make the media go crazy. The only thing a “contrarian” ( Steve McIntyre ) has done so far is to politely call their attention to a failure of their own programming which finally has resulted
in a rearranging of the warmest years in the lower 48 states of the U.S.A.
As one could say that there now must be a resulting slight decline in temperatures overall in the U.S.A, James Hansen´s letter should instead display a kind of sigh of relief and joy now that the correction shows his misgivings about the warming to be basicly baseless. I´m afraid that such a letter severely hurts Jim Hansen´s standing in the future.

Hoi Polloi
August 19, 2007 7:51 am

Lies, damn lies and statistics…

August 19, 2007 8:36 am

The Real Deal: Usufruct & the Gorilla Deconstructed
(first draft)
Para #1
The vast right wing conspiracy is beating me senseless over my stubborn refusal to hand over my (potentially deeply flawed) data dinking and subsequent analysis of temperature data using a slight oversight made just lately.
Para #2
We fixed our errors of late. We’ve ‘splained things before and wish these folks would give up trying to fathom our Oracular pronouncements and just move along.
Para #3
This is no big deal and we should all just move along. Look at my heavily biased graphical presentation that proves we should just move along.
Para #4
D@/\/\ /\/ these folks who just won’t move along! Just because we have all sorts of past press releases that are intended to incite the common folks, doesn’t mean the VRWC has a right to try using our time tested methods. It’s not fair.
Para #5
These bozos are lying and also want to steal my childen’s inheritance. They are minions of the Devil himself.
Para #6
As proof, they haven’t supplied any properly biased graphical demonstrations as I have. They have created a mass hysteria in the media opposite to that that I’ve carefully cultivated lo these many years. They’re making my previous press releases look bad.
Para #7
Journalists are dumb and sheep like. We need to keep driving them in the same direction rahter than try to confuse them with where we are taking them.
Para #8
We were right before we were wrong, but now we’re right. So we’ve been right all along.
Para #9
This stuff is hard and we work real hard, just like Clinton and W and Tony Blair.
Para #10 & 11
We’re much smarter than you, but sometimes we can’t figure out when it was REALLY hot, but it’s been hot alot. And it’s gonna get hotter, you just wait and see. You’ll be sorry.
Para #12
Look at these precise plots of spurious data. Our mistake not only made no difference, we’ve been right all along.
Para #13 & 14
WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! We’ve said it before and it is STILL TRUE!
Para #15 & #16
I discovered a new word that is rarely used these days and, when peppered throughout this and future publications, will show that not only that I am a rocket scientist because I work at a place named for a famous rocket scientist, but also that I’m a man of letters.Quit trying to steal my children’s inheritance, you jokers, minions of the Devil.
Para #17 through #20
Not only am I a rocket scientist and Man of Letters, but I’m likley also the savior of mankind. Though I’m only a high priest (and head of the seminary – Al Gore’s the Pope) of this Church, I can tell you that if the Devil is not stopped by our political will, you’ll all burn in HE-Double-Hockey-Stick pdq.
Para #21 though the end
Yo’all are a bunch of heretic non-believers. We have similar backgrounds and I’d welcome you into the Church. If you continue to support the Devil, you’ll all have to be sequestered. Dat Debil be a trickster, and you must repent his ways. The end is neigh! Give up your physical, emotional and philosophical baggage and come down here to be SAVED!

August 19, 2007 7:36 pm

As I understnd the usual govenrment rules for publishing a statement on maters of your agencies competence, you clear it with the Public Affairs Office. Normally they publish it on Governemt letterhead and/or website.

Evan Jones
August 19, 2007 8:59 pm

Well, it’s about fifth of the warming.
But Dr. Hansen is ignoring the glaring fact of the noncompliant surface stations.
That’s what brought the Y2K error to light. (You probably know that or you wouldn’t be here.) That’s the other shoe that is about to drop.
Not only that, but the foreign stations are beginning to come under scrutiny, right here, right now.
The Y2K adjustment is merely a related tip of what may be a much smaller iceberg.
That is what Dr. Hansen is not mentioning. But surely he must know this is not the end of it.

August 20, 2007 9:27 am

Yes…and it was a minute mathematical error that wrecked a very expensive Mars probe. Hank is correct regarding public statements made by NASA employees…how this guy hasn’t been fired is a mystery.

Retired Spook
August 20, 2007 12:44 pm

Well said, Evan. I’d be especially interested in seeing Dr. Hansen’s data/algorithims, etc. showing how he adjusted for such things as car exhaust, jet exhaust, AC exhaust, burn barrels, BBQ grills and seas of ashpalt under and adjacent to monitoring stations. I’m not holding my breath.

August 20, 2007 2:56 pm

> […] how this guy hasn’t been fired is a mystery.
Maybe he’s a useful idiot.

August 20, 2007 4:42 pm

It’s beginning to take shape … First they hide the data behind the hockey stock fraud, then they try and hide the site locations of the USHCN, then they won’t release the software that compiles the data from the USHCN stations, then they call the ones who question ….
I see a trend and it doesn’t point to the argument is settled. I would think that if the data and the pointed to results were solid, sharing would be what they would want, but hiding and obfuscating points to …

August 21, 2007 4:03 am

In his artice “Scientific reticence and sea level rise” (2007) Hansen writes that while he was being questioned by a lawyer from the auto industry, he had to concede that he is no glaciologist. And to boot, he also had to admit that he doesn’t know a single glaciologist who would agree that sea level was likely to rise more than a meter this century in the (unlikely) business as usual –scenario.
“Name one”, asked the lawyer. “I could not, instantly”, Hansen remembers. Now, one would expect that he names the names later in the article – but no, he mostly quotes himself, and spins into philosophical musings about the “reticence” of everybody else. This must be somewhat embarrassing for the scientists at GISS. Or maybe not?

Retired Spook
August 21, 2007 4:53 am

Maybe he’s a useful idiot.
Anon, I question the “useful” part.

August 21, 2007 5:54 am

Okay, I am confused.
Anthony and others, are you saying that the data is skewed and the Earth is not warming?
Or that the data is skewed so humans are not the cause?
I understand your problem with the data but I am trying to see how this fits into a larger argument.

Frank K.
August 21, 2007 6:16 am

For those who haven’t seen this, take a look at the following link:
The “Lights Out” letter is now, apparently, NASA’s official position paper on the USHCN temperature corrections. Unbelievable!!

Frank K.
August 21, 2007 6:21 am

Correction – the “discussion” document is the infamous “A Light On Upstairs?”…

Evan Jones
August 21, 2007 7:24 am

This is funny. I was “home” on Consimworld (the wargaming blog from whence I hail), and in one of the personal blogs thereon, the GW discussion came up and I mentioned the surface stations, their violations and the need to address the raw data. And that it was imperative that the surface stations be photographed, inspected and rated.
So get this:
He went on about how expensive such a project would be and if I would be in favor a raising taxes to see it done!
I then had the pleasure of pointing out it ws an all-volunteer effort, and occurring as we sat there. (So maybe I’ll try to sign him on: he lives in Seattle and that station still needs a look-see!)

August 21, 2007 1:13 pm

From the Hansen letters:
“It is also a biblical paradigm that the Earth, Creation, is an intergenerational commons, the fruits and benefits of which should be accessible to every member of every generation.
Shouldn’t then, the data and results of one member’s research be available to all members of every generation?
Hansen, give us the data, so that we can see what you do, so that we may all believe like you do.

August 21, 2007 3:18 pm

Let Hansen take this simple true or false test.
1)Validation by desired result is acceptable.
2)A test with non-falsifiable bias is still valid.
3)A good scientist should not have to endure attacks on his work.
If he or anybody else answers true to ANY of these questions they are not scientists. They are political hacks.

Retired Spook
August 21, 2007 5:24 pm

Hansen, give us the data, so that we can see what you do, so that we may all believe like you do.
Henry, kinda gives new meaning to the term, “leap of faith”, doesn’t it?

Steve Moore
August 21, 2007 6:21 pm

Bravo, Henry, for pointing that out.
I guess Hansen would be then hoist on his own petard (I rarely get the chance to use that!).

August 22, 2007 12:36 pm

Caveat – I am not a Bushbot, and in fact, have had a litany of issues with the man’s policy points over the past 6 plus years …. with that out of the way…. Hansen clearly suffers from not only Bush Derangement Syndrome, but also Fox Derangement Syndrome and Washington Times Derangement Syndrome. In fact, he suffers from “Anyone Who Does Not Agree With My Very Narrow Version of Reality” Derangement Syndrome. Sad. Yet another corner of NASA, fraught with severe issues. It’s a big personal let down for me, I was a wide eyed kid who built a Tester’s Apollo 11 model …. that along with many other childhood idealisms has bitten the dust …. part of growing old is the series of losses and disappointment with one’s fellow Man, that one experiences with every passing year.

Evan Jones
August 23, 2007 7:58 am

“I’d be especially interested in seeing Dr. Hansen’s data/algorithims, etc. showing how he adjusted for such things as car exhaust, jet exhaust, AC exhaust, burn barrels, BBQ grills and seas of ashpalt under and adjacent to monitoring stations. I’m not holding my breath.”
What I’m beginning to think is that they adjusted good data of the compliant stations upward to match the bad data of the noncompliant stations.
With heavier overall upward adjustments to the post 1980 era
So, yes, it looks to me as if they adjusted the data ass backwards–two different ways.

August 24, 2007 6:03 pm

I had read excerpts but not the entire letter. This is completely unacceptable coming, as it does, from a senior civil servant. In the private sector this would in all likelihood result in a firing for cause.

Michael Smith
August 25, 2007 3:39 pm

bigcitylib said:
Michael Smith,
Your right, the Tuvalu Islands are really looking forward to another few degrees and we in The West would be arrogant to deny it to them.
You are committing the fallacy of begging the question. You simply assume the truth of a premise that is part of your “proof” — namely, you assume as proven that temperatures are going to rise a few more degrees, that Greenland’s and Antartica’s ice will melt causing the seas to rise and flood places like Tuvalu — and then, having assumed the truth of this scenario without proof, you offer its consequences as a reason why we do, indeed, have the right to select an arbitrary temperature and force it one everyone else. That’s utterly fallacious and proves nothing.
The scenario you assume to be true is what the controversy is all about. Do you expect us to simply forget that? Who, exactly, do you hope to persuade with such lame tactics?

August 26, 2007 4:25 pm

Some people have fun trying to decide if the real data were being hidden by the government scientists (a dog bites man story). I have much more fun using data to do a regression – in this case, to project temperatures in the future, say, in 2050. The bottom line is that US temps in 2050 are projected to be about the same as in 1995-2005. Yawn. I put the details on the blog:

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