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July 21, 2006

Jim Hansen's Refusal to Testify


Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

According to E&E Daily, James Hansen who was invited to appear at yesterday's House Government Reform Committee, but did not appear, would have attended had John Christy not attended. According to E&E Daily (link, but a subscription site):

In the message Hansen sent to reporters to explain his absence from yesterday’s hearing, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies said he had a conflicting doctor appointment to deal with a cold that interacts with his asthma to create a drip in his lungs. But he also indicated he would have adjusted his schedule if the witness list did not also include skeptical points of view.

The only person on the witness list who's views could be characterized as skeptical was John Christy. John is widely acknowledged by his peers as a highly qualified and accomplished climate scientist. He was, for example, on the CCSP Temperature Trends Committtee as well as the recent NRC Hockey Stick Committee, and particpates in the IPCC. So I am baffled why Jim Hansen would only appear if other legitimate perspectives are excluded. He might disagree with Christy's views, but they are certainly appropriate to include on a Congressional panel.

Coming from someone who complained about being censored, it sounds like he'd like to do a bit censoring of his own. It also seems a bit odd for a high ranking government employee to refuse to offer testimony when called upon by Congress to do so. This helps to explain Chairman's Davis' obvious pique when mentioning Hansen in his opening comments yesterday.

Posted on July 21, 2006 02:33 PM

Comments

Roger,

I agree the article makes his behaviour sound strange. Do you have access to the actual e-mail he sent out, because I'm inclined to think that this may be a case of misinterpretation/misrepresentation ...

Posted by: Marlowe Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 03:10 PM


I do not, if anyone does, please post it here ...

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 03:43 PM


I would have made a similar comment if Marlowe had not made his.

Roger, I hope that his actual reasons for not attending are close to the ones you subscribe to him based on, it turns out, second or third hand evidence. I feel your post is rather irresponsible regardless given your admission to no first hand knowledge, but if Hansen's attitude turns out to be anywhere close to your specualations there will at least have been no harm done.

Posted by: coby [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 05:14 PM


Coby- E&E Daily is a widely read and respected media source. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of their reporting. If their reporting is however in error, we'll retract the post. Meantime, I take what they report as accurate. Thanks!

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 07:12 PM


Perhaps some further text from the E&E story is worth including:

"I would get out of my sickbed to testify to Congress on global warming, if they were ready to deal responsibly with the matter," Hansen wrote. "But obviously they are still in denial, inviting contrarians to 'balance' the science of global warming."

Hansen apparently was objecting to the House panel's late addition of John Christy, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his testimony yesterday, Christy told lawmakers that scientists "cannot reliably project the trajectory of the climate" for large regions of the United States.

Christy also said it would be a "far more difficult task" to predict the effects should the United States adopt a mandatory greenhouse gas policy.

Hansen's e-mail said skeptical points of view cloud the climate debate rather than enlighten it. "The function of the contrarians is to obfuscate what is known, so as to keep the public confused and allow special interests to continue to reap short-term profits, to the detriment of the long-term economic well-being of the nation," he said."

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr. [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 07:20 PM


What’s going on in the global warming scene in the US ?

Mann refused this week to testify before the Barton committee as his hockey-stick was the subject of the hearing . He had the unique opportunity to defend his thesis.

And now Hansen.

Maybe this is additional stuff for an additionel analysis by Prof. Wegmann


Posted by: B. Stroeher at July 22, 2006 02:59 AM


I don't especially blame Hansen for taking the reported stance after the bait and switch that Christy (along with Spencer) pulled earlier this year.

Posted by: Steve Bloom at July 22, 2006 03:17 AM


One has to wonder if Hansen has fallen into the same abyss as those defending MBH98. It would be so much more constructive if Mann would just admit that analysis was wrong. That he won't seems to indicate that it was purposely wrong, and this apparent ploy by Hansen gives even more credence to the Wegman report, as Hansen looks to have jumped in behind the circled wagons.

Posted by: Steve Hemphill [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2006 09:05 AM


""The function of the contrarians is to obfuscate what is known, so as to keep the public confused and allow special interests to continue to reap short-term profits, to the detriment of the long-term economic well-being of the nation," he said."

This is a most disturbing statement coming from a leading authority on anthroprogenic climate change. While editorialists have been making similar,totally unfounded claims for over a decade, a scientist should know better. Such a remark indicates that Hansen is either loosing his cool, loosing the debate or both.

Posted by: Jim Clarke [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 06:56 AM


I believe that it is really annoying that every one who has a contrarian view is labeled has being in it for money from the oil industries.

That I know of, neither of these scientists, Roger Pielke sr, Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Will Gray, Steve McIntyre, etc, have anything to do with oil industry. They believe for the most part in AGW.

If the science is settle, and if GCM's are performing so well, as some people say, shouldn't we stop or reduce the funding of climate research so we could start to work on the problem.

What is strange is that these people who says, that everything is settle and that they know what will happen, will also say that more money is needed into researching/predicting climate because we don't know enough about it.

Posted by: Sylvain at July 23, 2006 08:56 AM


"Everything is settled".

Clearly such a statement requires context, as it can not truly mean "everything". I don't yet know what I will have for lunch today, so there is the single counter example to falsify a literal interpretation.

I think it is pretty clear that this does not even mean everything in climate science is settled, that is only slightly less of a ridiculous interpretation. It only means that the central questions of this debate, the ones that relate most directly to wise policy decisions, are settled. That is: the planet is warming rapidly; the primary causes are anthropogenic; if the warming continues at this rate it represents a serious problem.

One of the latest contrarian talking points is demolishing this strawman interpretation that "everything" is settled with points like we don't know exactly how much or how fast sea levels will rise.

The same thing applies to "consensus". It is a very broad consensus on a very focus set of points, those I listed above.

Posted by: coby [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 11:12 AM


"It only means that the central questions of this debate, the ones that relate most directly to wise policy decisions, are settled."

This is clearly false. The most important policy-related question is, "If governments don't do anything, what will be the future CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations, methane atmospheric concentrations, and resultant temperature increases?"

Those questions are clearly not settled. The simple fact is that the IPCC has *never* made any scientifically valid predictions for any of those parameters, and likely never will.

Posted by: Mark Bahner [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2006 08:26 PM


One can presume the this scientist also objected to the makeup of the NAS panel on this issue -- same skeptic on both? Did the Heinz-Foundation Award Winner publically voice objection to this as well?

Posted by: McCall at July 23, 2006 10:34 PM


"the planet is warming rapidly; the primary causes are anthropogenic; if the warming continues at this rate it represents a serious problem."

Here are were the consensus end from what I read:
1-)The planet has warmed by 0.6°C: Rapidly? Unprecedented ?this is yet to be settled.
2-)Humans are contributing: Although attribution is yet to be settled. Attribution is not required for us to adapt.
3-)CO2 is rising and now stand at about 380ppmv. The level of the forcing has yet to be settle.

I have some questions although they may be off topics: (if they you can email me)

Are oil industries dumb enough to not research for ways to either reduce the CO2 emission (either by better efficiency or by capturing it) or even to invest in alternate energies like wind power or solar power or anything else?


From what I understand of the AGW community all the focus of policy makers should be towards reducing CO2 emission. I also understand that even if we could cut all CO2 emission the earth would still warm, so we would certainly not put an end to catastrophic events like hurricanes, flood, drought or anything else. Understanding that aren't better to research greener technologies so they would get cheaper than oil and adapt to these events so they wouldn't cause as much damage, instead of only focusing on CO2 as it seems to be the case?

Posted by: Sylvain at July 23, 2006 11:37 PM


Coby -

1. I agree with you. Sort of. If warming continues at this rate we may be at a climate like the last time we were this warm - the pliocene where equatorial temperatures were ... uh, well ... about the same as they are now.

2. Anthropogenic causes may in fact be the primary cause of climate change, but most of it is not from increasing CO2.

3. We don't know that it will be a problem, however we should probably increase research to find out. We're in the elementary school phase of deciphering climate. Remember Manhattan? (and not the one in New York) It's called for now, in my opinion. Much cheaper than some of the other (economy choking) alternatives...

A question for you though. Do you really think an 80 foot difference in sea level would not have a significant effect on regional climates?

Posted by: Steve Hemphill [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 26, 2006 05:51 PM




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