Hey Hansen! Where's the Beef !?

In June 1986, Dr. James Hansen made a prediction to an AP newspaper reporter, which was carried in Oxnard, CA, of  a 2 degree temperature rise by 2006. This was two years before, almost to the day before he and Senator Tim Wirth duped a bunch of Washington legislators with stagecraft on a hot June day by turning off the a/c in the hearing room while complaining about global warming and urging the need for “immediate action” (translation: cash).

Like Dr. Hansen’s 20 year sea level prediction, it hasn’t come true. In honor of the 80’s, when a popular TV commercial for a fast food restaurant had inspired a whole nation to say the catch phrase, I ask Dr. James Hansen, regarding your claims of global warming, “Where’s the Beef”?!

Let’s have a look at Exhibit A:  Hansens’ GISTEMP graph, distributed worldwide from the GISS headquarters above Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite Monk’s Restaurant in New York City. Annotations in blue mine.

Source: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/

Exhibit B: The GISS Data, available here. Let’s do the math.

Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index (C)

(Anomaly with Base: 1951-1980)


Year  Annual_Mean 5-year_Mean


 1986      0.13      0.18

 1987      0.28      0.20

 1988      0.33      0.26

 1989      0.21      0.31

 1990      0.36      0.28

 1991      0.35      0.24

 1992      0.13      0.24

 1993      0.14      0.25

 1994      0.24      0.24

 1995      0.39      0.30

 1996      0.30      0.39

 1997      0.41      0.40

 1998      0.58      0.40

 1999      0.33      0.43

 2000      0.35      0.46

 2001      0.48      0.46

 2002      0.56      0.49

 2003      0.55      0.54

 2004      0.48      0.55

 2005      0.62      0.56

 2006      0.55      0.53

Finding the difference: 0.55C – 0.13C = 0.42C

Predicted change 2.0C compared to Actual change 0.42C = Climate Fail

Exhibit C: Where’s the Beef?!

Note: I realize that I could have placed the top prediction at 2.13C, but why pile on? 😉 What’s 0.13C between friends? Besides he said “nearly” and it is near well enough.

Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. The Press-Courier – Google News Archive Search

Big h/t to Steve Goddard at Real-Science for finding this one.

UPDATE: Some commenters suggested Hansen may have given the 2 degree number in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. Another article on the same day suggests he did.

Read article here: http://news.google.com/newspapers

So at 4F we have 2.2 C  If the reporter in the first story took the middle between 2-4F as 3F we have 1.67C or “nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years” as the reporter from Oxnard states.

The 2010 Annual Mean Temperature anomaly from GISS is  0.63 C

So, no matter how you look at it, Hansen’s 1986 prediction has not come true,


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It was a projection not a prediction dont you guys know anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
REPLY: Read the newspaper article, the word is predicted. – Anthony

That Wirth & Hansen can sit, and smugly admit that it was theatre (and nothing else), with impunity, is simply beyond all reason. Of all the arrogance.


Ummm… a few issues here:
1) what units do US newspapers usually use for temperature? Don’t think it’s celcius.
2) this is a report from testimony before the House, not an interview – the testimony itself is part of the public record and so Hansen’s statements can be checked directly
3) the projections are almost certainly a preliminary version of the Hansen et al 1988 paper – and nothing there suggests 1 degC/decade.
Conclusion? a confused journalist on deadline.
REPLY: But remember, the reporter is quoting Dr. Hansen, and he always works in Celsius. But let’s say Hansen is using F, he would say 3.6 degrees F if he meant 2C.
And just two years later, Hansen used degrees C in his predictions presented before congress. Given that the USA is not on the metric system, you’d think he would.

Typically, scientists work in degrees C. I can’t imagine Dr. Hansen would say otherwise.
I don’t doubt the reporter was confused, but I’ve never seen Hansen use degrees F in any paper or prediction without some qualification – Anthony


Yeah, but we know so much more now and the future will be even worse than we originally predicted. /sarcasm

Really? It clearly says in yellow hight lighter “Hansen predicted” not “Hansen projected” or did you just not bother reading the article?

highlighter my bad fat fingers…


Sen. TIMOTHY WIRTH (D-CO), 1987-1993: We knew there was this scientist at NASA, you know, who had really identified the human impact before anybody else had done so and was very certain about it. So we called him up and asked him if he would testify.
DEBORAH AMOS: On Capitol Hill, Sen. Timothy Wirth was one of the few politicians already concerned about global warming, and he was not above using a little stagecraft for Hansen’s testimony.
TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.
DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?
TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.[Shot of witnesses at hearing]
WIRTH: Dr. Hansen, if you’d start us off, we’d appreciate it. The wonderful Jim Hansen was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.[nice shot of a sweaty Hansen]
JAMES HANSEN: [June 1988 Senate hearing] Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe, with a high degree of confidence, a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect.


J Stafford,
I was just getting in early to take the piss out of the warmbots like JPY


“Nearly 2 degrees” suggests 9/5 * 1 °C, or 1.8 °F. We are still well below that, and may be going the other way now.

JPY says:
March 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Ummm… a few issues here:
1) what units do US newspapers usually use for temperature? Don’t think it’s celcius…..
Uhmmm……. so you think 2°F = 0.5°C ? Try again sparky.

David L

The prediction was worse than we thought!
Seriously, does Hansen have a response for this?

Robert M

The worst part of it is that GISS cheated to get the 0.37C. If it hadn’t been for the adjustments and selective dropping of sites that didn’t fit the narrative there would have been much less “warming”. What does it say about your position when you cheat and still lose. Badly.

Howard T. Lewis III

Al ‘D’ Gore, Sir Richard ‘punk rockers don’t like heroine’ Branson and James ‘Lonesome Dove’ Hansen have banded together to convince the queen of England that their trio is needed to save the earth from the ‘global warming’ menace with ‘tax credits’ and all to stem the tide of Britannia liquidation to the highest bidders. Them empires is expensive, and since the queen is slow enough to follow these three meteorkateers with their ‘global warming’ rap, she has chosen them as her ‘global warming’ champions. Unfortunately for us all, a huge industry has cropped up around this fraud and we must babysit the lot of them. Such is the power of the central bank. i weary of the whole barrel full.


Isnt an an increase of 2F only 1.1C.
an increase of 2C is an increase of 3.6F ???? or is my math wrong?

Odd Man Out

Note also that since that testimony not only has the temperature failed to rise 2 degrees by any format but the CAGW lobby has also reduced their 100,000 year comparison to a mere 30 years.
And of that 30 years, only 15 were actually warming.

Richard Patton

That chart that you have there (created by the warmistas undoubtedly) makes it look like the global temperatures have sky rocketed. But then I did the math. According to the figures on the chart the mean global temperature has increased by 0.01% since 1980.
We’re Doomed!!!!! /sarc
Call out the Chicken Littles!

Odd Man Out

I also point out Hansen’s 1988 testimony, very especially the final graph. We are basically tracking his temperatures in Scenario C, except for the inconvenient fact that emissions are as high or higher than Scenario A.


He wants so desperately to live on Venus…

crakar24 says:

It was a projection not a prediction dont you guys know anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think you were being ironic, but for those who think you meant it:
If you make a prediction:
You can be wrong and it will count against your scientific hypothesis, or you can be right and the prediction counts as confirmatory evidence (NB for certain readers: yes I know about Popper).
If you make a projection:
It won’t count against your hypothesis but neither will it count to your credit if it comes true. Your work is unverifiable and we might as well get our science from reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Don Horne

I guess I’m just plain stupid because I don’t know the difference between “projection” and “prediction”. Seems to me that both are trying to tell us what the future is going to be. ?


Anthony, It’s not a quote, it’s a paraphrase, and it is quite possible that the journalist converted something they heard into F from C. However, the figure you show does not support the idea that Hansen was projecting a ~1.1degC rise in twenty years – even scenario A only has ~0.8 deg C increase in 2005 compared to 1985. It is very likely that the journalist saw this figure, saw the anomaly scale, converted the temperature and missed out some ‘up to’ caveat that was almost certainly used in the testimony. But check the testimony – that should be available somewhere.
REPLY: The math still doesn’t work – and then there’s this article from Miami on the same day, where it is now 2-4 degrees.

Here Fahrenheit is used, but taking the middle of 3F for the following decade, we still haven’t reached that level either.
– Anthony

Andrew Harding

Does this not all fit in with the other predictions from the 1980’s such as southern Europe turning into a desert, climate refugees heading away from the tropics, New York and London flooding etc etc etc?
If Hansen were honourable he should resign, his predictions are not only out by 300% but are based on the incorrect premise that man made CO2 is to blame. If CO2 is to blame then the warming would be accelerating, not stopping and certainly not reversing.


Finding the difference: 0.55C – 0.18C = 0.37C
I don’t quite understand where that calc came from (subtract first five year average from the final aunnual average? huh?), but at any rate it is not correct.
The method to calc temp rise over a period is to fit a linear trend to the data, and use the slope of the line X the time period to get the rise. This results in 0.386 C or 0.695 F.
Hansen is still sucking wind on this, but it is important to be correct when pointing it out.
I’m waiting for his next Super El Nino prediction. If he makes it soon, we might get that triple dip La Nina we’ve been dreaming about.

I’m using the column “Annual_Mean”, which is the yearly Annual Mean Temperature for each year.
But I see now, I made a typo I used .18 instead of .13 in the text of the article calc, but it is correct on the graph. Fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out.
– Anthony

Anything is possible

James Hansen correctly predicted the Earth’s 2006 temperature to within 1.45C, that’s an approximate error margin of 1.45/288 which equates to just 0.5%.
That looks pretty darned good to me. Give the man a break!


Umm, given that Hansen leans towards the extreme, the article has been cut-off in mid-sentence (near as I can tell, by looking at the right column).
I would like to see the full article, as it probably contains a host of additional information that was being foisted upon the populace at that time.
REPLY: You must have missed this: Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. The Press-Courier – Google News Archive Search

Theodore White

Let’s clarify a few things on another of Anthony’s excellent posts, like this one ‘Hey Hansen! Where’s the Beef !?’ –
It’s lengthy, but gives the view of a person who was there on the ground, covering climate science and global warming in the late 1980s – years before the AGW mania took off.
I worked as a journalist in the late 1980s in Colorado, home state of Senator Tim Wirth. I had interviewed him several times on other topics. As part of my general assignment beat, I also covered science, climate and weather, regularly at NOAA, NCAR and other federal science agencies headquarted in Colorado.
I clearly remember the tone of articles on global warming during the 1980s. Most of the concern came out of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on the ozone layer. By the way, this was during the new era of climate scientists working with high-grade graphic computer modelling.
The problem with NCAR’s interpretation on the ozone fluctuations were that some, like Hanson, took an immediate ideological tone to explain the ozone shifts – not once mentioning the Sun or the Interplanetary Magnetic Field effect on Earth’s ozone layers. For some reason, there was a resistance to even mentioning the Sun’s effects on earth by these new climate scientists getting jobs at the science agencies. It was odd I thought.
When news editors assigned stories on the climate back then it was usually spurred by press releases out of places like NCAR, NWS, NOAA, etc., which usually featured a talk, lecture, or findings that were sent to the media. Global warming, in the mid-to-late 1980s was not the AGW ideological era that it is today.
In fact, climate scientists were not in any agreement if the earth was ‘warming’ in the 1980s – though it was true. Many scientists would roll their eyes at the mention of ‘global warming’ but many changed their tune in the 1990s just as major federal dollars were being directed to ‘man-made’ global warming’ – which I continue to remind everyone cannot ever happen on Earth due to the laws of thermodynamics. The Earth can never become a greenhouse according to the laws of physics.
But I digress – in short, when I wrote pieces on the climate, I refused to write on the theory that chlorofluorocarbons were the sole cause of worldwide warming because that had never been proved. Now, though there was evidence that the use of aerosols were clearly evident in the upper atmosphere; the data did not support that this was the cause of the fear-mongering on ozone holes which was all the rage in the climate community of the late 1980s and 1990s.
NCAR had modeled on the theory that aerosols were the cause, but not the Sun, which again, I found odd, since the only major source of radiation that can only affect the opening and closings and sizes of the Earth’s ozones IS the Sun.
There is no other source of radiation that can effectively destroy the earth’s ozone layer. But what was curious (and unbelievable) is that there were obvious determined efforts (in the mid-to-late 1980s) to blame mankind for something it could not do on a planetary level – and that is to change the climate.
Only the Sun can do that.
What I noticed about Sen. Wirth and Hanson back in the late 1980s, is that there was a obvious concerted effort within the emergence of baby boomer management and personnel into climate science on the federal level; that they were pushing ideology as policy. This was a prepatory assault that was planned out.
When Al Gore rose to the vice-presidency by 1993 – Wirth and Hanson were already well out in front of the ‘man-made’ global warming pack – extending the ‘man-made’ ideology to other federal agencies and the university-level climate community – with federal dollars.
Follow the money pushing the ideological AGW lie. If one examines climate science funding from 1986 to 1996 and then from 1996 to the present – you may find some amazing numbers.
Incredible amounts – increasing yearly and wasted on every bigger and more expensive computers to run models. Careerists who cannot forecast seasonal weather were making things up (and began to alter weather data on purpose) while spending lavishly on computers pushing the AGW ideology – all at the public’s great expense.
But the media was not on board. Most journalists are ignorant of climate and weather science. I was fortunate in that I was not, so my editors passed on to me the great amount of work – and I was busy enough as it was a police reporter as it was! Since my beat included covering the climate science community in the heart of it in Colorado, I was well-attuned to how events were shaping up by 1989.
Since the mid-1980s, what I saw were articles like the one Anthony posted from 1986 were becoming more common. What I observed as professional reporter was that the ozone-layer press releases from NOAA and NCAR and other climate centers were beginning to use the same talking points in their different releases to news desks. Sometimes, these went out on the wire which were then placed into newspapers across the country without the resources to assign reporters to cover the climate.
I did not have that problem since this was part of my beat. In interviews with the particular scientists (including Hanson) what I observed was that they were heavy on the ideology, yet not sure if it was strong enough because the global weather data in the late 1980s did not strongly support their case that the world was warming because of man.
Still, by 1989, the AGW science did not make sense to me in light that it would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Which I remind everyone – remains in effect to this very day.
Anyhow, it did not seem to matter to Wirth’s office, Hanson, or the growing careerists at NCAR and NOAA; because whomever was pushing ‘man-made global warming’ on the United States, were also doing it at the international level too.
My view was that it was a conspiracy right from the start to bamboozle the world on the lie of anthropogenic global warming sandbagging much of the mainstream media, the markets and the educational system to not believe their own eyes and ears.
Events have since proven that I was right.
All this – while AGW ideologists reaped untold profits convincing populations that carbon (the very stuff we are made of) is bad and so we all have to pay for carbon to a global mafia.
In short, the careerist climate AGW scientists and their political insiders conspired to convince the world that humans had to pay dearly for exhaling the carbon gases that the natural world and our trees inhales to flourish.
Carbon is natural to Earth. It is driven by the Sun’s activity. Carbon lags far, far behind temperature (also driven by the Sun) and carbon is not – and never has been – a threat to the Earth.
Because the laws of thermodynamics and physics that govern our system says so.


Steve Goddard didn’t find this particular news article. I remember reading about this back in early 2011.
Another point. The article must be talking in °F not °C. That becomes obvious if you were to read the entire news article where the reporter says:
“Hansen said the average US temperature has risen from 1 to 2 degrees since 1958.”
There’s no way that Hansen would’ve said there was a 1 to 2°C rise between 1958 and 1986 when in the 1980’s Hansen was saying that we can expect a 2.5°C temperature rise for the entire 21st century!


Hanson’s prediction was Accurate but wrong. This of course means he was right even though he was wrong. Jeez, cut the guy some slack he’s trying to save us from disaster.

Markus Fitzhenry

Cut him some slack? That’s what Hansen did in his 1981 CO2 paper.
He was real slack when assuming the saturated adiabatic lapse rate. He has never put out a true and accurate paper, he has fudged thru his scientific career.

Mark B.

A prediction is when you get it right and want credit. A projection is when you get it wrong and want to skip any consequences.

Re the C or F controversy:

REPLY: You must have missed this: Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. The Press-Courier – Google News Archive Search

Interesting! I notice the article states: “Hansen said the average U.S. temperature had risen 1 to 2 degrees since 1958.”
So its simple, isn’t it! Check the rise on the diagram against “1 to 2 degrees” and see which scale (C or F) fits better!
The only problem: T rise on the diagram since 1958 to 1986 is: – wait for it – about 0.05C (or 0.09F).
So Hansen got the past even wronger than he got the future.


u.k.(us) says:
March 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm
Umm, given that Hansen leans towards the extreme, the article has been cut-off in mid-sentence (near as I can tell, by looking at the right column).
I would like to see the full article, as it probably contains a host of additional information that was being foisted upon the populace at that time.
REPLY: You must have missed this: Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. The Press-Courier – Google News Archive Search
Darn it, I did miss it.
Some nuggets from the article:
—-Severe ozone depletion, floods,skin cancer, drought, extinction of human life in 500-1000 years,30-50% loss of ozone at the south pole.—–
Seems the ozone scare has been debunked, the others adapted to (so far).

A projection is the extention of a trend line or curve into the future. It is no better than statistical confidence limits and the physics on which the curve is based. If the physics are good and the error bars are close, you may have confidence to dare and make a prediction. Hansen is doing no better in predition than a snake-oil salesman.

chris y

The second article has Hansen predicting 0.5 – 1 degree rise by 2000, and another 2 – 4 degree rise between 2000 and 2010. That comes to 2.5 – 5 degree rise between 1986 and 2010. Whether it is F or C really doesn’t matter. His predicted temperature rise from 1986 to 2010 is flat out wrong. His prediction for the temperature rise in 2000 – 2010 has been a complete disaster.

Roy Spencer

I have never understood the distinction between projection and prediction (even though I am meteorologist with lots of experience at prediction). If a projection is not a prediction, then we can ignore any claimed predictive value it might have.


Roy Spencer says:
March 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm
I have never understood the distinction between projection and prediction (even though I am meteorologist with lots of experience at prediction). If a projection is not a prediction, then we can ignore any claimed predictive value it might have.
I saw that too.
It is what’s called leaving a rear guard.

Richard Day

It’s a real shame that building security back then weren’t on the same kind of alert which is now so typical post 9-11. Oh, and equipped with tazers.

Allan MacRae

As a Climate Atheist, speaking to devoted acolytes of the “Church of Dangerous Manmade Global Warming”, aka the “House of Hansen”, aka “Home of the Big Bun”.
I’m sorry to break the news to you people: The truth is, “There is no Beef.”


He’s still at it:
400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day! And photos of his grandchildren! That oughta get their attention!
Ugh. Science?

Mark Bofill

Is it just me, or does Dr. Hansen seem to make a habit of exaggerating claims when talking to the press? That business about sea level covering West Side drive, this article… can I count the video where he mentions the seas boiling… Does he really believe what he’s saying? More to the point, does it matter / do we care? Credibility is destroyed. Maybe when scientists go activist it’s time to hang up the scientist hat, I don’t know.

Joachim Seifert

All this turning around of words what a prediction/projection is…..why not stay
with the good old FORECAST and HINDCAST …..
It was always: and now comes the weather forecast from the weather
forecasters and not the prediction/projections from the
We should not accept the Prediction/projection nonsense….the official
IPCC data base glossary specifies that a projection is a “STORY LINE”…..
……. thus IPCC “projections” serve like Hansel and Gretl?

His 1988 paper predicts about 1.8C or so by 2020 – worst-case scenario if no action was taken. Which is probably closest to what has and is happening. If a media article claims he said otherwise, he can always cite his 1988 prediction.

I made an interactive gadget here which allows you to superimpose your choice of observation datasets on Hansen’s original graph.
REPLY: Strawman Nick, we aren’t talking here about his “original graph” but we ARE talking about statements of prediction made to the press in 1986 which range from 2F to 4F. – Anthony


It would be difficult to find anything Hansen declares, historical or predictive, that is correct. The man is fraud. That is why he turned off the AC for soft headed Senators to believe that a hot afternoon, prior to cocktail hour, meant that Hansen should get millions of our dollars.

Prediction is equated to a sure thing. A foretelling developed from knowable or feeling or physic insight predicting a SINGULAR EVENT that will happen by singular path after the passing of some duration of time. It is derived also from the spiritual prophecy context as in prediction so as foretell a future SINGULAR event or SINGULAR situation. i.e. Physic, Prophet or the Spirituals as related to the theological study of God/Man/Spirit.
Projection/s is based on numerous paths with unsure developments within those paths.
As Hansen would have been termed a secularist prophet – the most likely outcome would be PROJECTIONS rather then using the term prediction as in religious.
Prediction: A prediction or forecast is a statement about the way things will happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge as it can be based on esoteric mystical experience/s.
While there is much overlap between prediction and forecast, a prediction may be a statement that some outcome is expected, while a projection may cover a range of possible outcomes.
Back to the Case in point: Hansen’s Projection or implied prediction by Skeptics (who should know better) – is a MATHEMATICAL projection. Thus the term projection is correct as it consists of ANY mappings of a set (or of a mathematical structure) and is idempotent, which means that a projection is equal to its composition with itself.
Moreover the English words of projection and prediction are often used interchangeably in sentence construction and verbal communication.
Saying that Hansen made projections is therefore sound, correct and the better logical argument in this case. There were ranges (mathematically calculated) of A,B and C situations.
This is therefore not a overly semantic argument.
Dr Roy Spencer and others who cannot see the difference are therefore incorrect and should know better.
Ross J.

Pat Moffitt

Your post may benefit from putting a C or F following temperature like your post’s 2 degree Hansen forecast. I’m sure Australian and European readers are thinking C -or was it?


When I was still teaching as a geology professor I often taught an introductory class that included a fair amount of weather and climate. When the whole AGW nonsense came on the scene I caught holy hell from my greenie students for telling the class that I didn’t believe a word of the narrative. Day after day they beat up on me for not jumping on the AGW bandwagon and not wanting to save the planet. At the close of class one day I told them that long before the class started I’d adjusted the thermostate so the classroom would warm up by the amount of global warming currently in vogue. I asked the large class (around 150 students) how many could notice the increase in “global warming” they experienced that day. Only the greenies said it was clearly a lot hotter. Most said it seemed the same. Of course I hadn’t touched the thermostat. Make what you will of that experiment. I still think even more that AGW is total crap.

Face it, Nick, Hansen was totally wrong. Scenario A is the correct comparison: