ABC’s Global Warming Piece Ignores Decades of Hysteria from NASA's James Hansen

May 31st, 2007 11:49 AM

ABC’s Bill Blakemore wrote an article posted at the network’s website Tuesday citing global warming alarmist and NASA scientist James Hansen as stating that the earth is at a tipping point “with dangerous consequences to the planet” (emphasis added):

With just 10 more years of "business as usual" emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas, says the NASA/Columbia paper, "it becomes impractical" to avoid "disastrous effects."

Unfortunately, Blakemore chose to completely ignore decades of hysterical predictions by Hansen that have already proven wrong, and that this is not the first time the NASA scientist has referred to ten years before disaster strikes.

For instance, here is what the Washington Post reported last January (emphasis added):

"It's not something you can adapt to," Hansen said in an interview. "We can't let it go on another 10 years like this. We've got to do something."

Yet, maybe more comically, USA Today reported earlier this year that Hansen made such claims in 2004 (emphasis added):

He echoes a warning by NASA scientist James Hansen in 2004 that the window for action is only 10 years.

So, when does the clock start ticking? After all, if it began in 2004, shouldn’t the window for action now be down to seven years?

Clearly, Blakemore chose not to challenge Hansen on this.

Maybe more surprising, Blakemore didn’t bother looking at some of Hansen’s previous claims, and how they’ve panned out.

For instance, on June 23, 1988, Hansen was invited to speak to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. At the time, the Midwest was mired in a terrible drought sending commodities prices skyrocketing.

Here’s how the Associated Press reported Hansen’s testimony the following day (emphasis added):

"Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming," he said.

He said there is only a 1 percent chance that he is wrong in blaming rising temperatures around the world on the buildup of man-made gases in the atmosphere.


Computer models predict more frequent droughts in the American Midwest and Southeast, and the latest models predict a best-guess estimate of an increase in global average temperature of about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit each decade into the middle of the next century.

Interesting prediction concerning increased droughts in the Midwest, as just five years later, the region experienced record rains and floods as reported by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (emphasis added)

From May through September of 1993, major and/or record flooding occurred across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Fifty flood deaths occurred, and damages approached $15 billion. Hundreds of levees failed along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.


During June through August 1993, rainfall totals surpassed 12 inches across the eastern Dakotas, southern Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. More than 24 inches of rain fell on central and northeastern Kansas, northern and central Missouri, most of Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southeastern Nebraska, with up to 38.4 inches in east-central Iowa. These amounts were approximately 200-350 percent of normal from the northern plains southeastward into the central United States. From April 1 through August 31, precipitation amounts approached 48 inches in east-central Iowa, easily surpassing the area's normal annual precipitation of 30-36 inches.

*****Update: As one can see from this NOAA chart, the Midwest is not currently in a drought condition, either. In fact, since NOAA created this tracker in 1999, at similar points of the year to when Hansen made his prediction in 1988, the Midwest has only been considered to be in a drought condition in 2005 and 2006, which appears to have ended.  

As such, nice call on the continued droughts in the Midwest, James. Unfortunately, Blakemore didn’t bother calling Hansen out on these numbers, or how wrong he ended up being just five years later.

However, ten years later, as the U.S. was considering involvement in the Kyoto Protocol, the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels did (emphasis added):

Ten years ago, on June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the House of Representatives that there was a strong "cause and effect relationship" between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere. His testimony coincided with a very hot, dry period (much worse than the summer of 1998), and subsequent polls showed that, as a result of his testimony, the public believed that the 1988 drought was caused by human-induced global warming.

At that time, Hansen also produced a model of the future behavior of the globe’s temperature, which he had turned into a video movie that was heavily shopped in Congress. That model was one of many similar calculations that were used in the First Scientific Assessment of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC", 1990), which stated that "when the latest atmospheric models are run with the present concentrations of greenhouse gases, their simulation of climate is generally realistic on large scales."

That model predicted that global temperature between 1988 and 1997 would rise by 0.45°C (Figure 1). Figure 2 compares this to the observed temperature changes from three independent sources. Ground-based temperatures from the IPCC show a rise of 0.11°C, or more than four times less than Hansen predicted. Lower atmosphere temperatures measured by ascending thermistors on weather balloons show a decline of 0.36°C and satellites measuring the same layer (our only truly global measure) showed a decline of 0.24°C.

The forecast made in 1988 was an astounding failure, and IPCC’s 1990 statement about the realistic nature of these projections was simply wrong.

Interesting, wouldn’t you agree? After all, if Blakemore and others are going to continue to quote Hansen as an expert on predicting future climate events, shouldn’t they look at his past forecasts to determine accuracy? Or, is that just too much like journalism?

Yet, maybe more delicious were predictions made by Hansen in 1986. The following comes from an Associated Press article published June 11 of that year (emphasis added):

Hansen predicted that global temperatures should be nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years, "which is about the warmest the earth has been in the last 100,000 years."

How close was Hansen on this one? Well, as the following chart shows, he was probably off by roughly 1.4 degrees, or almost 70 percent!


Also of note in this AP piece:

Hansen said the average U.S. temperature has risen from 1 to 2 degrees since 1958 and is predicted to increase an additional 3 or 4 degrees sometime between 2010 and 2020.

Well, as we are now in 2007, and we’ve only risen about 0.6 degrees since Hansen made this prediction, we’re going to have to rise at least 2.4 degrees in the next thirteen years for him to be right. As we’ve only increased by 1 degree since 1976 when the previous cooling cycle ended, it seems quite unlikely we’ll spike two and a half times as much in the following thirteen.

Sadly, Blakemore didn’t challenge Hansen on this either.

Unfortunately, what we see here from Blakemore and others who use Hansen as a resource is that the accuracy of his previous predictions are totally irrelevant. All that matters is what he is saying about the future without regard to the past.

Of course, none of this should surprise us as the media use exactly the same tactic when they allow Democrat political leaders to make statements today that completely contradict statements made yesterday without any challenge.

How disgraceful.

*****Update II: For those interested, 1986 wasn't the first time Hansen had hysterical predictions published. The following comes from an August 22, 1981 New York Times article (emphasis added):

A team of Federal scientists says it has detected an overall warming trend in the earth's atmosphere extending back to the year 1880. They regard this as evidence of the validity of the ''greenhouse'' effect, in which increasing amounts of carbon dioxide cause steady temperature increases.

The seven atmospheric scientists predict a global warming of ''almost unprecedented magnitude'' in the next century. It might even be sufficient to melt and dislodge the ice cover of West Antarctica, they say, eventually leading to a worldwide rise of 15 to 20 feet in the sea level. In that case, they say, it would ''flood 25 percent of Louisiana and Florida, 10 percent of New Jersey and many other lowlands throughout the world'' within a century or less.


If fuel burning increases at a slow rate with emphasis on other energy sources, the study predicts a global temperature rise in the next century of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. If fuel use rises rapidly, which some believe may occur as the developing countries industrialize, the predicted rise is from 6 to 9 degrees.


These uncertainties are, to a large extent, recognized in the new report, signed by Dr. James Hansen and six colleagues at the space studies institute.

Add it up, folks, and that's almost 26 years of hysteria.