Boiling Oceans and Burning Reputations with James Hansen

Guest post by James Padgett

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

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

Right?  Let’s take a look:

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

Now compare James Hansen’s words with this passage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

James Padgett

References:

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

Full Video of Hansen’s interview

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
JimB

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

Joachim Seifert

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

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

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

Michael W

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

Dave Wendt

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

Curiousgeorge

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

Ally E.

When do these guys spontaneously combust???

pouncer

I have a similar concern about all the claims regarding the icecaps and glaciers “melting”.
We’re talking about ice at 40 degrees below freezing.
We’re talking about air temperatures rising a few tenths of a degree.
We’re NOT talking about “melting” in this conversation.
Set aside that ice at 39 to 35 degrees below freezing isn’t going to melt. We’re talking about how much heat can be extracted from AIR to provide heat-of-fusion to solid WATER.
Not much.
You want to talk about the increased probability of sublimation from warmer winds? Fine.
But let’s not pretend sea level will rise, polar bears will drown, and penguins will evolve flight due to “Melting”.

GeologyJim

I couldn’t help but notice that creepy Jim-bo Hansen scarcely blinks during his video
They say that frequent blinking is a sign of evasion/prevarication
In this case, IN-frequent blinking while knowingly telling a lie must be a sing of pathology
And then there’s that stupid floppy hat – – – I rest my case

AndyG55

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

kbray in california

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

Keith Minto

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

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

early Venus may have had a global ocean

What happened then ?

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

Our evidence is slipping away……

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

almost gone……

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

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

Larry in Texas

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

It may be that Wiki was taking from the muppet, but same/same.
I wonder if science will ever quit using the term greenhouse gases as if they are all basically the same? H2O covers most of the IR spectrum…. all else, very narrow bands of little note.

Anything is possible

My attention was drawn, earlier today, to this 1967 paper which explains surface temperatures on Venus, without the need to invoke the “greenhouse effect”
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967ApJ…149..731S
The real kicker is the author of the paper…….

Reg Nelson

It is indeed a sad day when scientists become political activists, worse propagandists, or even worse, money whores.
WTF happened to science for science?
What happened to the pursuit of knowledge? Not for the knowledge that fit a preconceived notion?
How can anyone believe anything these money-grubbing, special-interest-funded, scientific whores ever have to say?

Daniel H

Wasn’t this EXACT same video already featured in a story on WUWT two months ago with reference to the EXACT same Wikipedia quote? This feels like déjà vu…
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/12/quote-of-the-week-dr-james-hansen-of-nasa-giss-unhinged/

SAMURAI

The only thing “boiling away” is Dr. Hansen’s reputation.
As the title of the book reads, “Men are from Mars, Hansen is from Venus”; or something to that effect…

noaaprogrammer

Hansen is as Hansen does.

Neville

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

Call me a sceptic if you like, but isn’t Venus just a tad closer to the Sun than we are? And doesn’t the Sun’s radiation footprint vary according to inverse square of distance (at least from memory of school-day physics), so with Venus about 67 Million Miles versus Earth’s 93 Million Miles – that’s about 72%.
Inverse square logic using my pocket calculator yields 92% more heat reaching Venus than Earth – ie nearly twice as much heat input
Now why is it hotter there?
Someone please correct my schoolboy physics – or give me a grant !!!

Anything is possible

Sorry about broken link in my post @ 9:01pm.
Copy the url into your header bar, then click on Google search. The first link takes you to the paper. Any other way simply takes you to the adsabs main page. Weird.

neill

The sheer arrogance.

James Padgett

@Daniel H Yes, the video was shown before, but not how he seemingly paraphrased wikipedia in his answer. There were two wikipedia quotes, one was shown before, but more importantly I also showed the one that uncannily tracked his spiel on the runaway greenhouse effect.
@GeologyJim IIRC Liars will often not blink while they are telling a lie and then rapidly blink right after telling a whopper. I’m going off memory here.

Jeff D

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

Steve Oregon

Are the alarmist’s arguments getting dumber every day?
I was arguing with him about a statement he made and he offered this link, headline and text as proof of rising belief in AGW:
62 Percent of Americans Believe in Global Warming
http://news.softpedia.com/news/62-Percent-of-Americans-Believe-in-Global-Warming-255803.shtml
“62 percent of poll respondents believe the scientific consensus”
But when one goes to the story and clicks on the poll the question that got 62% YES was this:
“Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past 4 decades?”
After being caught the alarmist then moved to some silly point about the difference between “earth warming” and “global warming.”
The true poll question would be answered yes by nearly every skeptic. I’m surpised only 62% answered YES to “Has it warmed over the last 4 decades.”

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

Jason H

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

gallopingcamel

IMHO James Hansen is unhinged so I could not resist mocking him here:
http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/unified-theory-of-climate/
Even so, I do agree with one of Hansen’s scary scenarios. He says that if the oceans should boil there is no way to return to a cooler Earth. I agree with this statement because the mass of the oceans is so great that the surface pressure would be 320 bars or roughly four times that of Venus. This would guarantee temperatures much higher than on Venus.
It is generally believed that Earth’s surface constisted of molten rock shortly after its formation 4.5 billion years ago and again when the collision that formed the moon ocurred. If Earth’s water was present at either of those times this planet would have a steam atmosphere. As that is not the case I surmise that our water arrived after the planet had time to cool down somewhat.
http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/06/12/venusian-mysteries/#comment-3240

P. Solar

It seems more likely that some lame WP zealot is quoting Hansen than the other way around.
Similarity does not prove causality.
WP has history. If you want to show Hansen picked his info from WP , dig through the edit history and find out when “boiled” got into this text. Then compare the data with when Hansen first said this.
Hansen is a rather befuddled old man now and I really think this quote was just a slip of the tongue in a live interview and he meant “evaporate”. (There is hesitation in his speech just before this.) Clearly a planet’s ocean could not literally boil.
Without clearer proof it is pretty stupid and unfair to suggest this proves Hansen got this idea from WP.
I’m surprised Anthony chose to post such a specious claim without more proof.

DirkH

gallopingcamel says:
March 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm
“IMHO James Hansen is unhinged so I could not resist mocking him here:
http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/unified-theory-of-climate/
Even so, I do agree with one of Hansen’s scary scenarios. He says that if the oceans should boil there is no way to return to a cooler Earth. I agree with this statement because the mass of the oceans is so great that the surface pressure would be 320 bars or roughly four times that of Venus. This would guarantee temperatures much higher than on Venus.”
But that situation isn’t stable. The higher layers of the atmosphere would constantly precipitate water out; while this precipitation falls, it would boil away again in the lower, hotter layers. Result: The fastest biggest heat engine ever, resulting in a very fast transport of heat upwards by convection. And what can water vapor do very well? Right: Emit IR to space, resulting in enormous radiative cooling.
The tendency of that system would be to become cooler, not warmer.

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

Gawd….videos of Hansen and Flannery in the same posting. Ultra-creep me out.

Anders Valland

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

Brian Johnson uk

Sadly Edinburgh Science Festival awarded Hansen a medal.
“The Edinburgh Medal is given annually to a person of great distinction in science and technology whose professional achievements have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.
Well just to confirm you can’t believe everything you read, the Edinburgh Science Festival Committee has awarded the the 2012 Edinburgh Medal to James Hansen.”
Not that everyone in Edinburgh thought it was a good idea!
http://climateedinburgh.blogspot.com/2012/03/more-on-hansen-award.html

Kelvin Vaughan

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

Gras Albert

Anything Is Possible
Your link to Hansen’s 1967 paper is illuminating, if only because 45 years ago he was arguing that aerosols cause WARMING on Venus, now he’s arguing that the exact opposite on Earth…
it just goes to prove that in CAGW science, anything is possible 🙂

Kelvin Vaughan

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

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

observa

Personally James if I were a life member of Big Climate I’d give up completely on the science and the Green politics, (not to mention impersonating Board members) and appeal to their artistic nature-
http://www.metrogallery.com.au/exhibitions/exhibition/52
The burning question of your times James- “When words and science fail, could art hold the answer to tackling climate change?”
(hat tip to Tim Blair for the link)

Gillian Lord

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

Alan the Brit

AndyG55 says:
March 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm
Venus,.. did you know that over the “equivalent pressure range” as Earth’s atmosphere, Venus’s atmospheric temperature is very close to 1.176x that of Earth (in K deg). This is EXACTLY what it should be if the distance from the sun was the ONLY DRIVER of global atmospheric temperature.
Yet Venus has 96.5% CO2 in its atmosphere, and Earth has 0.04%. !
hmmm !!!
Well pointed out! isn’t CO2 a reactive gas? i.e. it responds to either heat or cold, heating up or cooling down, implying that it does not drive anything but simply reacts to external influences like heat & cold? Mars has around the same amount of CO2 as Venus’ atmosphere, it is farther away from the Sun by half an AU, & a darn sight colder to boot with an ave surface temp of about -65°C or so. Yet Mars still receives oodles of sunlight! Not sure how to do the direct maths, but does that fit too? Anybody?

Ryan

This guy is the Harold Camping of climate

Gillian Lord

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

Nick Stokes

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

Quite so. Of course Hansen did not get it from WP. Here he is in a live interview, Nov 2009, saying:
“A runaway greenhouse effect means once the planet gets warmer and warmer, then the oceans begin to evaporate. And water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas, even more powerful than carbon dioxide. So you can get to a situation where it just — the oceans will begin to boil, and the planet becomes so hot that the ocean ends up in the atmosphere. And that happened to Venus. “
And no, he wasn’t quoting WP from memory. It was a long interview.

D Boon

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

Mydogsgotnonose

The claim that GHGs directly thermalise all absorbed IR ‘photons’** has never been proved experimentally and there is good physics showing why it is impossible***.
**The 1859 Tyndall and the modern ‘bottle’ experiments are constant volume so measure the rise in temperature from constrained increase in pressure as well as any increase in temperature from thermalisation. Slacken the bottle top and the temperature rise is lower.
***GHGs cannot transfer quantised vibrational energy to non GHGs because of ‘quantum exclusion’; the vibration is a resonance phenomenon. There is a natural pathway to thermalise by another GHG molecule if they collide in exactly the right way so the energy is shared as increased kinetic energy thus allowing the extra internal energy to leave in a single jump.
However, there is a time delay for it to happen and the principle of Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium means that the more likely process is for the same quantum to be emitted by another GHG molecule, restoring LTE. This is called scattering and it increases optical path length. The ‘bottle’ experiment probably picks this up by extra heating at the bottle walls. Also, Cp for CO2 rises strongly from 250 – 350 K so part of the extra energy is increased absorptivity.
Extending the logic, most if not all GHG warming in the atmosphere is probably at heterogeneous interfaces, cloud droplets and bare aerosols, with the GHGs in the gas acting as a heat transfer medium operating at near the speed of light.
It’s time that the correct IR physics was adopted by the IPCC.

GeneDoc

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