Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Politicized science

Here's the problem:
The problems lie of course not the academic community as a whole but a vocal and aggressive subset, egged on by an uncritical media and a chorus of fellow travelers. Most of the community are solid scientists, who strive to do good work. But the public face of climate science is represented by the most vocal and politicized elements. As readers here know, I could write a book about the unseemly shenanigans that have gone on in the area of disasters and climate change.

The climate community won't fix this situation until practicing scientists start publicly saying enough is enough
Yup.  And here's the problem:
Climate change researcher James Hansen, the long-time head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is retiring from government employment to campaign for policies that he believes must be adopted to avoid impending catastrophic global warming, reports the New York Times. Back in 1988, on a blistering hot DC day in June, Hansen testimony at a Congressional hearing brought man-made global warming to the broader public's attention. Skeptics have questioned just how accurate Hansen's 1988 predictions have turned out to be ...
"Questioned"?  Boy, howdy:
From their Die kalte Sonne website, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt and Dr. Sebastian Lüning put up this guest Post by Prof. Jan-Erik Solheim (Oslo) on Hansen’s 1988 forecast, and show that Hansen was and is, way off the mark. h/t to Pierre Gosselin of No Tricks Zone and WUWT reader tips.

Figure 1: Temperature forecast Hansen’s group from the year 1988. The various scenarios are 1.5% CO 2 increase (blue), constant increase in CO 2 emissions (green) and stagnant CO 2 emissions (red). In reality, the increase in CO 2 emissions by as much as 2.5%, which would correspond to the scenario above the blue curve. The black curve is the ultimate real-measured temperature (rolling 5-year average). Hansen’s model overestimates the temperature by 1.9 ° C, which is a whopping 150% wrong. Figure supplemented by Hansen et al. (1988) .
To summarize: Hansen underestimated the amount of CO2 that would be released into the atmosphere by 66%, but overestimated the warming that would result by 150%.  His "Scenario C" shown here (the one which almost maps to the actual recorded temperatures) assumed that there would be no increase in CO2 at all after 2000.

The great thing about science is falsifiability - that science makes predictions that can be proven wrong.  It is said that "the scientist proposes and nature disposes" - scientific hypotheses are mooted and abandoned when the predictions do not come to pass.  Nature has pretty clearly disposed of Dr. Hansen's hypothesis.  It can only be a good thing for him to leave the scientific establishment for the (no doubt much more remunerative) post of a lobbyist.

1 comment:

Goober said...

But let's clarify one thing here - Being wrong isn't the problem. Being wrong is the foundation of scientific progress.

It's being wrong and then refusing to admit it that is the problem: it is spending the better part of three decades trying to surreptitiously bend the truth to fit your will, lying to the public about your findings, and attempting to gain control of vast sectors of the public sector, while calling your incorrect beliefs "the consensus" and declaring it "beyond debate" and "settled science" that is the problem here.

Just to be clear.

And as to Hansen - good riddance. i doubt very much that he'll be able to do as much damage as a lobbiest as he did as a "scientist" so I'm glad to see him go away.