Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [See Update At End]
Well, Dr. James Hansen, the man who invented the global warming scam and our favorite failed serial doomcaster, recently addressed the cratering of a 30-year prediction he made in 1988.
Back then, he said the globe would warm up by one full degree by 2018 under the “business as usual” rubric … not. Here’s the story as written up in “Spin” magazine in 1988.
Since then we’ve had a continued expansion of fossil fuel use, as in his most alarmist scenario. Given that amount of CO2 emissions, his prediction was that by now, temperatures would have gone up by 1°C (note that the Spin article, as pointed out by Mosh and Tamino among others, is in error).
Obviously, nothing like that has happened. Despite the fact that millions of folks believed his prediction in 1988 and continue to listen to him today, the UAH MSU satellite data says that since 1988 it’s warmed by … well … about a third of a degree. Not one degree. A third of a degree. He was wrong by a factor of 3. So obviously, he needs an excuse for this failure.
Here’s the back story to Hansen’s excuse, published last week under the headline “Climate Scientists Move Global Meltdown from 2018 to 2168” …
And just last week [Hansen] addressed the prospect of further temperature increases during an interview with New York magazine. Keep in mind that Hansen predicted in a greenhouse model that there would be “an increase of from two to five degrees Fahrenheit” in global temperatures by 2018, as quoted from December 1988 edition of Spin magazine.
“I don’t think we’re going to get four or five degrees this century, because we get a cooling effect from the melting ice,” he said last week. “But the biggest effect will be that melting ice. In my opinion that’s the big thing – sea-level rise – because we have such a large fraction of people on coastlines, more than half of the large cities in the world are on coastlines.” [Hansen]
Amazing. He’s kicked the old threat of global warming under the bus. Now, it’s morphed into “Global warming won’t cause increased temperature because it just melts the ice but then the sea levels will rise and WE’RE ALL STILL DOOMED!” Once an alarmist, always an alarmist, I guess.
Now, that claim about ice melting had my numeric legend detector ringing like a fire alarm in a cheap whorehouse. It didn’t make any sense that melting that amount of ice would cool us that much, the amount seemed far too small. So I decided to see if that made sense. Sea ice is basically unchanged, so how much land ice is melting? The analysis of GRACE satellite puts it at 500 billion (500e+9) tonnes of ice per year.
Let me go through the calculations, so y’all can identify any mistakes I’ve made. I’m working in the computer language “R”, don’t worry about that, it will all be explained. Things following a hashmark (#) are comments. Lines that start with  are the computer output from that instruction above it. A semicolon separates two different instructions on one line.
In the first line below, I’ve created a variable called “latent” and set it to the latent heat of melting for water at zero salinity and zero pressure:. As the comment notes, this is in units of “J/kg”, which is joules per kilogram. Note that the second instruction, the one after the semicolon, “latent” by itself, just prints out the value of the variable “latent”.
> latent = gsw_latentheat_melting(0,0) ; latent # J/kg
Next, I also create a variable named “ice_mass” and set it to the 500 billion tonnes of ice melted per year.
> ice_mass = 500e9 ; ice_mass # tonnes/year
Then I start the actual calculations. The variable “heat_required” is the calculated number of joules required to melt 500 billion tonnes of ice in one year. As the comment notes, a factor of 1000 is needed to go from J/kg in “latent” to J/tonne to match the ice_mass.
> heat_required = ice_mass * latent * 1e3 ; heat_required # J/yr. “1e3” is to convert kg to tonnes
Then I calculate the total joules in one year from a constant flux of one watt per square metre. Since a watt is one joule per second, this is the same as the number of seconds in a year. I use this value a lot so I already have a variable set to this, called “secsperyear”. If I didn’t, it’s just 365.24 days * 24 hrs/day * 60 mins/hr * 60 secs/min
> onewattperm2=secsperyear ; onewattperm2 #joules/m2/year. “secsperyear” is seconds per year
Next, I’ve converted joules per square meter per year into total global joules per year by multiplying by 5.11e14, the number of square metres of the earth’s surface.
> onewattglob=surfaream*onewattperm2 ; onewattglob #joules/yr/W. “surfaream” is global surface in square metres
And finally, I am able to calculate the number of watts per square metre needed to melt 500 billion tonnes of ice per year … which turns out to be a flux of about one hundredth of a watt per square metre.
> watts_needed=heat_required/onewattglob ; watts_needed #W/m2
Now, bear in mind that as a 24/7 global average, there is about half a kilowatt of total downwelling radiation at the surface (500 W/m2, made up of about 170 W/m2 of solar radiation plus about 330 W/m2 of longwave infrared radiation).
So the 0.01 W/m2 from the melting of the ice is equivalent to a 0.002% change in downwelling radiation. TWO THOUSANDTH OF ONE PERCENT CHANGE!
So what James Hansen is saying to excuse his laughable prediction is that reducing the 500 W/m2 of downwelling radiation to 499.99 W/m2 has reduced the earth’s temperature by two thirds of degrees in thirty years …
Say what? That’s so far off it’s not even wrong!
And even if the GRACE satellite ice-melt estimate is out by a factor of ten, the result is the same. The amount of cooling from even ten times that amount of ice per year would only give us a cooling of a tenth of a W/m2, so instead of 500 W/m2 at the surface, we’d have 499.9 W/m2 … be still, my beating heart …
So as my bad number detector indicated, Jame Hansen is just running his usual con job on the unscientific public. Make a bold prediction for thirty years out, wait twenty-nine years, wave your hands and prevaricate to explain the fact that the prediction has totally cratered … and then make a new prediction, that it’s still gonna happen … but not for a hundred and fifty years.
Hanson has learned something about making predictions, though … he won’t ever have to explain the probable cratering of his new prediction, no worries about that.
By the time that prediction is testable … he’ll be dead.
Maybe that’s some of the dying that Bill Nye the Skeevy Science Guy has been saying is needed to move climate science forwards …
Sometimes I think there will come a time when Jim Hansen runs out of excuses for his plethora of piss-poor predictions … but then I consider the distance from here to the nearest star, and the size of my gorgeous ex-fiancee’s heart, and the number of grains of sand on the beach, and I realize that there is no reason to think that the source of his excuses is any less limitless than those things …
Best of life to each of you,
NOTE: As ever, I request that when you comment you QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS you are discussing, so we can all be clear on your subject.
[Update] As a number of folks pointed out, the Spin article was 100% wrong. Hansen’s model didn’t predict 3° warming by now … it predicted one degree warming. I’ve changed the post to reflect this.
And I was also 100% wrong, to believe a contemporary article rather than go back to the original paper. Mea maxima culpa, my thanks to Mosh, Tamino, and others who pointed it out.
However, this makes no difference to my point. His claims about melting ice are a wild exaggeration. The amount of cooling from the melting of ice is far, far too small to have the effect, whether by now or by the end of the century.
I note that Tamino has a post over at his website responding to my post here, entitled “Does Willis Eschenbach Have Any Honor”.
The answer from my perspective is obviously “Yes” … however, the oh-so-honorable Tamino banned me from his website about a decade ago, which means that he is mounting a cowardly attack on me in a place where I have no way to respond.
Here at WUWT, I made a mistake, which was picked up by Tamino. I corrected the mistake, and thanked him. And obviously, Tamino is free to comment on that here.
In response, Tammy has published a pusillanimous attack on me in a place where he has censored my voice entirely and I am unable to defend myself in even the slightest manner.
I leave it to the reader to determine which of us is honorable.