We have just observed the 30th anniversary of Jim Hansen’s explosive and infamous testimony before a Senate committee claiming that climate change was taking place, humans were causing it, and that an environmental catastrophe would occur in the near term unless prompt action was taken.
How this came about and the accuracy of Hansen’s predictions are a case study in “manufacturing” news. Anyone who objectively looks at claims about a climate catastrophe and the evidence that supports them would have to conclude that the climate agenda disguises a political agenda, which it does.
The background to Hansen’s testimony is illuminating. Al Gore and Tim Wirth, Senator from Colorado and committee chair, orchestrated the hearing to gain maximum publicity and push the US to join European greens in the battle against climate change which was called global warming back then. Gore and Wirth had become true believers in the sustainable development movement under the leadership of Maurice Strong who was the founding director of the UN’s environmental program. Strong was a tireless advocate for global governance, believing that national sovereignty must yield to the “imperatives of global environmental cooperation.”
According to the book, The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker, Wirth has bragged about how he had committee staff call the Weather Bureau to find out what was likely to be the hottest day that summer. Armed with that information, Wirth scheduled his hearing and to make sure that it had the desired effect, he had all of the windows in the committee room opened and made sure the air conditioning would not be working. Under those steamy conditions, Hansen’s testimony received national attention and provided Gore, Wirth, and their environmental allies the ammunition to make global warming the number one environmental issue.
While Hansen continues to be a prophet of doom his credibility has taken a hit as his predictions of a climate apocalypse have become like the horizon, receding as it is approached. While he has become embittered and ever more shrill, his puppet master, grifter Al Gore, has become a multi-millionaire.
Around the 30th anniversary of Hansen’s testimony, Pat Michaels, former Virginia state climatologist and a senior scientist with the CATO Institute did a look back on Hansen’s predictions that was published in the Wall Street Journal. He pointed out that based on 30 years of data, Hansen missed the mark on his three warming scenarios. His first based on business as usual was that temperatures would increase 1degree C by 2018. His second, based on emissions rising at the same rate today as in 1988, was that temperatures would rise about 0.7 degrees C while his third was constant emissions beginning in 2000 that would result in temperature rising a few tenths of a degree C. The outcome of his third scenario proved correct but not for the reasons he cited.
Hansen’s other predictions also missed their mark as pointed out by Michaels. There was no spike in temperatures in the southeast and mid-west in the 80s and 90s. Hansen also predicted that Greenland’s ice would melt raising sea levels 100 feet by 2107. Wrong again, just as he turned out to be wrong about hurricanes getting stronger. And, tornadoes have declined, not increased.
Models are useful analytical tools for gaining insights and testing hypotheses. When they are used to confirm preconceived outcomes and ideology, they are no different that the sorcerer’s bag of tricks.