30 years after Hansen’s testimony


This posting is perhaps yet another that highlights the bias of OpEd’s within the Wall Street Journal. Once again we find that a distorted extremely biased article has popped up and so they once again are quite determined to ensure that they maintain their reputation for anti-intellectual bias.

The Article

Titled “Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up?” we find that Pat Michaels and Ryan Maue write a piece that claims that James Hansen “lit a bonfire of the greenhouse vanities“. Yes indeed, welcome to yet another WSJ anti-science article.

Laughably absurd and rather blatantly false claims pop up such as these …

Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000

Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago

it’s time to acknowledge that the rapid warming he predicted isn’t happening

etc …

The ever so non-subtle problem here with this stuff is that none of it is actually true.

You can of course make it true if you do stuff such as carefully cherry picking your data like this …

… but that is not exactly an honest use of data.

Why would they promote dishonest claims?

You might of course glibly think that these guys are oil shills being paid to write this by the Koch brothers, but then common sense would prevail and so you would dismiss the temptation to indulge in such conspiracy thinking.

OK, so who are these guys that authored this?

The WSJ article tells you exactly who they are. Under the article it explains …

Mr. Michaels is director and Mr. Maue an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science.

Oh … stunned silence.

But the Cato Institute is quite literally bankrolled by the Koch brothers, this is public knowledge. In fact it used to be called Charles Koch Foundation until they rebranded.

Is the Cato stance on Global Warming evidence-based?

PolitiFact says rather clearly “No”.

Scientific American also rather clearly says “No”.

Well gosh, why would deeply knowledgeable subject matter experts at the Cato Institute get it so wrong?

I simply can’t imagine why a group that is funded by the owner$ of a large chunk of the oil and ga$ industry would be ho$tile to the idea of evidence-based $cience that points to their industry as the cause of global warming.

Meanwhile back in the real world

In that twitter thread Zeke goes on to explain that the model is dead accurate. The reason Hansen used different scenarios is that he had to guess what future emissions would be and then feed those into the model. You can’t predict such variables, you can only guess. If you apply the actual emission rates then the temperatures you get from the model accurately reflect measured reality. Hansen really did build a very accurate model.

You can find a far more Meaningful Analysis of Hansen’s model here

Real Climate, a site where Climate Scientists write about Climate Science, has an article titled “30 years after Hansen’s testimony“. There they carefully review it without the spin and misinformation, then finish off with this …

Misrepresentations and lies

Over the years, many people have misrepresented what was predicted and what could have been expected. Most (in)famously, Pat Michaels testified in Congress about climate changes and claimed that the predictions were wrong by 300% (!) – but his conclusion was drawn from a doctored graph (Cato Institute version) of the predictions where he erased the lower two scenarios:

Misleading graph from Michaels/Cato Institute (1998)

Undoubtedly there will be claims this week that Scenario A was the most accurate projection of the forcings [Narrator: It was not]. Or they will show only the CO2 projection (and ignore the other factors). Similarly, someone will claim that the projections have been “falsified” because the temperature trends in Scenario B are statistically distinguishable from those in the real world. But this sleight of hand is trying to conflate a very specific set of hypotheses (the forcings combined with the model used) which no-one expects (or expected) to perfectly match reality, with the much more robust and valid prediction that the trajectory of greenhouse gases would lead to substantive warming by now – as indeed it has.

Bottom Line

Well gosh, who are you going to believe?

Will it be the folks who have a well-established track record for being dishonest and misleading, and are funded by oil-and-gas, or will it be the subject matter experts whose only real interest is in finding out the things that are actually true?

Hopefully you are not finding that a tough call to make.

Further Reading

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