Hansen: Earth at Crisis Point

Article Updated: 24 Mar , 2012

NASA’s lead climate scientist says Earth has reached a “tipping point” in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 385 parts per million. But James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies believes there are ways to solve the problems of excess greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Hansen submitted a paper to Science magazine today, which outlines a plan for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030 and taxing their emissions, as well as banning the building of any new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit. This plan would need the support of policy makers around the world. But Hansen believes policy makers in the US are ignorant about the significance and gravity of climate change because oil companies influence the executive and legislative branches of the US government. Oil interests are also trying to sway the public’s perception of global warming, Hansen said. “The industry is misleading the public and policy makers about the cause of climate change,” he said in an article published by the AFP news agency. “And that is analogous to what the cigarette manufacturers did. They knew smoking caused cancer, but they hired scientists who said that was not the case.”

Hansen, who testified before Congress in 2007 that the current Bush administration has interfered with his reports on the climate, said government public relations officials filter the facts in science reports to reduce “concern about the relation of climate change to human-made greenhouse gas emissions.”

Hansen has come under fire for “crying wolf” about how humans are affecting Earth’s climate, but he continues to speak out on the subject because he believes he has to. “It’s analogous to an engineer who sees that there’s a flaw in the space shuttle before it is to be launched. You don’t have any choice. You have to say something. That’s really all that I’m doing,” he said.

The AFP article reported that in a recent survey of what concerns people, global warming ranked 25th.

90% of energy needs on Earth are currently met by fossil fuels. Hansen has said that if we continue to use fossil fuels at the current rate, the Earth will warm 3 degrees Celcius by the end of the century. Hanson predicts this would mean ice sheets melting, and 50% of the species on earth would become extinct from the disruptions of regional climate change – for example, northern latitudes would get much warmer, the American Southwest would turn into a desert.

But, Hansen has said that if fossil fuel emissions would be just 25% less than at present by the middle of the century and 75% by the end of the century, Earth’s warming could be kept to less than 1 degree C.

Since the U.S. contributes 3-4 times the amount of atmospheric CO2 of any other country, U.S. involvement in change is critical.

Original News Source: AFP

61 Responses

  1. VINNY says:

    What I dont understand is what is so hard to wrap around? There were not 30 million and counting cars on the planet when the last “cycle” of warming occurred. Is it so crazy that we might actually have an effect? I mean really, how long is the list of species humans have made go extinct? Longer than I have the time to count. Could the release of billions of tons have some possible impact….. seems like a duh comment to me.

  2. Owen says:

    i think he has the right idea

  3. Venatici says:

    And the mountains of data coming out now which contradict his theory are just a vast right-wing conspiracy right? He seems to be just another crackpot with an agenda.

    When will these alarmists start considering all the data instead of cherry picking what fits their models?

  4. Andrew says:

    Well, it’s hard to argue with one very basic piece of data:

    The average global temperature is rising from year to year.

    Prove that “alarminst” fact wrong.

  5. Timber says:

    Just what we need are more know-it-all do gooders, the last “improvement” from this crowd was to mandate the conversion of corn into gasohol. The result is all the worst characteristics of all including the price of milk in my area has gone from $0.97 per gallon at the beginning of last year to $2.30 per gallon today. The goal seems to be to impoverish the USA because “we deserve it” because of past success. A pox on all their houses.

  6. Waylander_348 says:

    By claiming that the only scientist supporting the argument against global warming, legitimate scientific debate is being censored. Humans add 2 percent of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Some global warming models doubled the amount of carbon dioxide. Oil companies have the right and the obligation to defend themselves where they are not wrong. We are in a warming period after coming out of the Little Ice Age. I have looked at both sides. Let’s not use this for more taxes. No. I do not work for the oil companies. Double check the facts on both sides for yourself.

  7. This is a an excellent article, Nancy. I watched a program last night how just a few tiny degrees in our temperature could warm the oceans just enough to cause huge releases of methane (undersea ice deposits) into our atmosphere. It’s a Venus scenario that was extremely thought provoking. It’s a program I wish all the folks had an opportunity to see… I think it might have opened their minds.

    I realize my own comments are going to invite harsh judgement, just as trying to promote Earth Hour did. If only we could channel all that energy into both promoting awareness and looking for a solution!

    You’ve done an excellent job reporting. Don’t let it discourage you from continuing.

  8. Timber says:

    Tammy, it appears the only ones that are supposed to open their minds are those that are skeptical of the “facts” that are being freely tossed out by the doomsday advocates, maybe it’s time that works both ways

  9. Cynthia says:

    Actually China has or is about to exceed the US in levels of CO2 emissions. Hanson should be talking to the Communists over there. They are always so very amenable to dialogue and discussion.

  10. Eric says:

    How about we just stop being ignorant and realize that changes need to be made. Even if you don’t believe that burning fossil fuels is contributing to global warming, you may want to trade in that monster truck of an SUV that you use for your daily commute for a more economical alternative. Oil production is sure to slow significantly this century if models work out the way they are being seen. Whether the seas rise or oil runs out or both, something needs to be done. I love my 30mpg and all I had to do was trade in a large 18 mpg pickup truck to get a 4 door midsize to get it.

  11. Watchful Stone Guardian says:

    Let’s see. CO2 and methane have both been clearly demonstrated as gases that trap solar radiation in the atmosphere. In the past greater amounts of CO2 and methane have warmed the planet. Humans are adding CO2 and methane to the atmosphere more quickly than the natural carbon cycle can absorb. So, even if this is a “natural warming period” then our actions by adding CO2 and methane to the atmosphere is going to ADD to the warming. So many natural systems are buffered but all buffered systems do have a saturation point.

    I would hate our “2% of carbon dioxide” (if that number is valid) to be the 2% that pushes us past a buffering point.

  12. Andy C says:


    > Humans add 2 percent of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

    Wrong. Do not confuse the total amount of CO2 emissions from all sources with the amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, they are not the same thing. Whilst it is true that human activities contribute about 2% to all CO2 sources, what you are overlooking is that the other 98% is offset by natural carbon sinks, resulting in no increase in levels of ATMOSPHERIC CO2 from natural sources (a slight simplification, but fundamentally accurate). The human emissions are only partially offset by natural sinks (mostly the ocean), but the rest is added to the atmosphere. We can tell that the increase in atmospheric CO2 (and we are talking virtually all of it here, not just some of it) is due to human activities by measuring the ratios of the different carbon isotopes in air, biomass, and ocean.

  13. Andy C says:


    > Just what we need are more know-it-all do gooders

    And what do you know about climate science Timber?

    James Hansen is a leading expert on climate, his expertise includes radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, development of global climate models, and analysis of climate change.

    He’s been the director of GISS for almost 30 years, with dozens of published research papers, and a long list of awards.

    I don’t like to use arguments from authority, but is it really that unreasonable to think that individuals with expertise on a subject might be worth listening to when they talk about that subject? (Particularly when the data supports their statements).

  14. Timber says:

    Andy C.

    What I am aware of is that there are other “leading experts on climate” that do not agree with a doomsday scenario

  15. alfonso says:

    so then the best thing to do is nothing?
    milk is more expensive now, it must be the fault of the dogooders.
    Oh and by the way Timber Prez Bush is not a “leading expert on climate”

  16. Andy C says:


    Yet the overwhelming majority would (broadly) agree with Hansen. The scientific consensus on this issue is clear, and the evidence very clearly supports this consensus. The trend in mean global temperature is up, CO2 is the dominant factor, and humans are responsible for the increase in CO2. Hansen isn’t saying we’re all going to die next year, he’s saying that if we don’t take action, we will be causing major long-term problems for ourselves.

  17. Venatici says:

    The problem is we have all these people, who firmly believe what they are preaching, calling themselves “experts”. There are no “experts” that know the causes of climate change. That is because we are only just starting to investigate the phenomenon.

    If man-made global warming was a fact there would be no disputing it. But this is not the case. In fact a growing populace is beginning to question and outright rebuff the claimed causes. The alarmist following is rapidly loosing its momentum.

    Climate change alarmists are borderline fanatics about what they believe. So much so they have repressed any and all criticism of their work. This is a definite sign that something is not right.

    Now we have solid evidence that global temperatures have actually been declining for the past decade. Only when cooler heads begin to prevail will we start to learn the truth.

  18. Timber says:

    Andy C

    The phrase “the overwhelming majority (of experts) would agree” has been used before in other contexts and has been shown to be far from accurate

  19. Ripley1 says:

    Ultimately it really will not matter what is responsible for causing our final demise. The fact is that we – all of us, the predominant lifeform on this planet, are over-growing, like a bacteria in a petrie dish, consuming all the nutrients, oxygen and water available. Someday we will drown suffocate in our own waste and by-products. At that time none of the whys or wherefors will matter. Humans cannot be entrusted with the care of such a beautiful and fragile thing as the planet Earth

  20. David says:

    For Tammy Plotner:

    For the record, I absolutely love Universetoday. I read this page more than the news. I also support new articles featuring human activity and its effects on the environment. I am also a fan of science, and I wish we could have the same open mind when analyzing other data that may also be contributing to the warming effect. Humans need to take responsibility for their actions, but part of that responsibility includes evaluating all the science and understanding how all the variables interact. I think there is much legitimate science that supports the conclusion that humans are contributing to an altered environment. But I keep asking questions that include looking at the geological record, the relationship between earth and the solar system (other planets, our own star, etc.), and how this might be contributing to environmental changes as well. Scientists often ask what went wrong on Mars…or why Venus is so hot…can’t we ask similar questions when trying to understand planet Earth? I am in no way trying to argue with you about the human relationship with global warming. I am simply trying to get a discussion going that includes other data as well.

  21. Andy C says:


    > That is because we are only just starting to investigate the phenomenon.

    Are you kidding? In 1896 Svante Arrhenius put forward the argument that our use of fossil fuels would eventually warm the planet. I don’t think you can seriously class more than a century as “only just starting to investigate”.

    > Now we have solid evidence that global temperatures have actually been declining for the past decade.

    This statement is simply not true. The error here is in comparing temperatures to 1998 only. A single warm or cold year does not constitute an argument for or against global warming. If you look at 1998 to 2007 (NOAA data), you will see that, apart from (1999 and 2000 – and they only just miss out), each year in that decade was warmer than each year from the previous decade. Furthermore, the average of the latter 5 years in the period 98-07 was warmer than the first 5 years.

  22. Venatici says:

    Andy C:

    Are you kidding? You mean to tell me you believe the world has been intensly investigating the threat of global warming for over one hundred years?

    Just because someone long ago proposed a concern does not mean we’ve been examining and tracking the changes to the same extent we are now. That is all I am saying. On a relative scale we’ve only just begun to investigate climate change.

    I’m sorry but my statement was accurate. 1998-2008 = 10 years = 1 decade.


    As you should be able to plainly see in the graph from the link above. Temperatures have remained relatively constant since 98. And with the huge drop in global temperatures in January 08 the trend is down.

    Now just to clear things up I am not disputing that the earth is warming up. It has been since the end of the little ice age. I am only questioning the forcasting models and major causes.

    I am willing to admit that I am not an expert and can’t possible know one way or the other. People like yourself however don’t seem to be willing to acknoledge they may not be correct in their beliefs. Such close-mindedness in not scientific and is very discrediting.

  23. Timber says:

    Right on Venatici

  24. No offense to any Global Warming groups (on both sides of the debate) but you are missing the overall issue.

    Regardless of who is causing the temperature to rise (whether the Sun, humans or flipper in the Pacific) no one is providing solutions as to how to stop this WITHOUT draining our economy.

    Switching to solar power, wind, etc. will not work, as they are still too expensive, even with the price of oil skyrocketing.

    If you do not provide an economic incentive for people to switch, people (and companies) will not do it for the sake of staying out of the red.

    Come up with useful alternatives to CO2 producing energy, otherwise you will have a hard time convincing anyone in the business arena, let alone China (which is building coal plants as if they were going out of style).

  25. Timber says:

    Time might provide a solution, if, IF, the trends to lower temperatures, which the data is suggesting, turns out to be correct, we may be trying to find ways to produce a lot more CO2. A few years will tell and I really don’t believe that the world will end in that time, if it does, we mortals couldn’t have done anything about it anyway, if we ever could have.

  26. Bill Illis says:

    Just noting that Methane levels in the atmosphere have flatlined for several years now and might even be decreasing.

    So, the comments about Methane are not based in the actual trends.

    Actually, CO2 recently took a little dip down too that was somewhat unexpected but it is doubtful whether the trend will continue.

  27. Andy C says:


    > You mean to tell me you believe the world has been intensly investigating the threat of global warming for over one hundred years?

    Your statement was that we have only just begun to look at the problem (you said nothing of ‘intense investigation’) this is not accurate, climate study has been going on for over a century, it didn’t stop for 70+ years after Arrhenius’ publication, contrary to what some people seem to think. We have better tools now of course, but then, the same can be said for research relating to General Relativity, that doesn’t mean we’ve only just started looking at it.

    > I’m sorry but my statement was accurate. 1998-2008 = 10 years = 1 decade.

    It is misleading, as it puts excessive emphasis on 1998. If you choose the decade from 1997-2006 (i.e. 2006 temp – 1997 temp), that decade is clearly warmer, if you choose 1996-2005, the situation is even more clear-cut (as in fact it is for each and every rolling decade back until 1987-1996 – which is a blip itself).

    > And with the huge drop in global temperatures in January 08 the trend is down.

    Again, you are putting emphasis on individual numbers, not trends… if you include February 08, the ‘trend’ is back up again (NOAA data – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/anomalies.html ).

    If you look at the actual temperature records over the past 20 years, the order from hottest to coldest looks like this:


    Do you see the pattern here? Although 2002-2007 are all very close in temperature, they are all significantly warmer than every year prior to 1998 (and as noted earlier, the latter part of 1998-2007 features heavily in the set of highest temperatures). If you look back through all of the data, you can cherry pick numerous time periods where the temperature appears to remain relatively constant, and yet, when you look at the bigger picture, the upward trend remains intact. Incidentally, as a quick check on the bias introduced by focusing on 1998 as a starting point, try looking only at 99-07, does the temperature range look flat now?

    > Now just to clear things up I am not disputing that the earth is warming up.

    Really? Your statement in the previous sentence would seem to suggest otherwise.

    > People like yourself however don’t seem to be willing to acknoledge they may not be correct in their beliefs.

    It isn’t a ‘belief’, my position on AGW is determined by the evidence, and the expert analysis of that evidence. If someone can produce compelling evidence, overturning the large quantity of evidence in favour of AGW, I will adjust my view (I’ve already adjusted my view on AGW… I was sceptical until I really started to look at the evidence in the peer reviewed literature).

  28. ed says:

    @ All of you

    Here is one solution.
    GO Nuclear

  29. Excellent and well thought out reply, David. That’s why this program was so interesting.

    I don’t take well to alarmist theories and I like all my little “science duckies” in a row before I start shooting them down. What I will not do is point fingers to any particular government or adminstration – that’s just tacky. One of the beauties of Earth Hour was to show that we could look beyond these goobers and make an effort at displaying unity as a species.

    Since this topic Nancy has chosen draws in huge amounts of responses? Hey… I read them. I want to know what people think and how they feel. I also listen, research, and form my own opinions. For a great many years, I felt we just hadn’t studied global weather patterns enough, solar history, etc. Needless to say, I had my head in my proverbial… ahem… sand.

    The program I watched aired on the History Channel, called “A Global Warning”. This wasn’t an alarmist “let’s get the ratings” type of program. It was well thought out and contained all the archaelogical, solar, glacial, CO2, yada, yada, yada data that you’d expect. What I didn’t expect was to find myself paying strict attention to what was being said… Right down to how the Earth’s orbital pattern can also affect climate change. (A thing we cannot control.)

    Talking about what’s going on in a constructive manner is what it’s going to take. If it is true (and geological evidence points to it) that our eliptical orbit may force a few extra degrees on the Earth at a point in time, all it will take is just another added degree or two to push us over the limit. We can argue until it happens, or we can work together to understand.

    I appreciated your comments very much, David, and I very much recommend keeping an eye out for “A Global Warning” should it re-air. I think you’ll like it.

  30. Nwity says:

    1. The earth exited a cooling period (the little ice age) about 200 years ago
    2. Since then, records indicate that the earth has been warming. This started before mass industrialization and significant rises in CO2 levels.
    3. There was a cooling and plateau in global temperature the 60s, 70s and 80s (anyone remember the panic about Global cooling?) – this occurred despite the huge rises in CO2 during the preceding two decades.
    4. Then the earth started warming again until 1998, and then global temperatures plateaued
    5. The hottest year of the 20th century was in fact 1934.

    I think everyone agrees that humans are affecting the environment and I, for one, am pleased that companies are starting to clean up their act and being held accountable. However, I don’t believe humans are changing the global climate – it’s obviously quite capable of changing by itself due to influences the mechanics of which we haven’t worked out yet.

    P.S. – A consensus in science means nothing – scientists used have a consensus that the earth was flat!

  31. Pauly says:

    Personally I am sick of living the way I do just so Oil & Coal Companies can keep making unfathomable amounts of money out of all of us climate change or not it should change there like a winging bunch of kids, these people have made trillions its time they let it go.

    I’ve heard it said on the climate change debate, It a risk not worth taking, if there was %50 chance you’re car would explode and kill you every time you turn the key, you would not turn it on, and if you did you would not be around for very long, why are we gambling with every natural thing around us so we can drive stupidly wasteful cars and watch reality TV? Because you are taught and driven to from the day you are born.

    So whether or not the man is a crackpot is irrelevant IMO its just common sense we stop raping the earth and stop being scared of oil companies and give one of these guys plans a shot, lets try Solar Thermal technologies, we might learn something more from using them.

  32. AndyM says:

    I always find it strange to read the comments generated by articles on climate change on this site.

    There always seems to be a very vocal contingent of climate change skeptics, who it seems to me, want to portray the idea that human activity has and will have a future impact upon the global climate as some sort of left-wing conspiracy.

    I find this notion pretty bizarre, as if the Comintern never dissolved and is now still secretly seeking the overthrow of the capitalist system and the God given right to drive a tank-like vehicle to the store at the end of the street to buy a ‘gallon’ of milk. Using the corrupt and recently activated worldwide sleeper cells of hordes of climate scientists coordinated by that Goldstein like figure Al Gore… boo… hiss.

    Without pulling out lots of data, that neither I nor most people reading this will understand I am aware that the UK Met office has reported in the UK that the 10 warmest years ever (since records began in 1659) have occurred in the last twelve years.
    I trust the Met office, they are quite good at informing me that I might need to take an umbrella to work and I’ve never detected a left-wing bias to any of their weather reports.

    With the information they have provided I think I can spot a trend…..

    The Greenhouse effect I think has been pretty rigorously scientifically explored both in labs and also from observations of Venus etc.
    C02 (amongst others) has also been scientifically determined to be a greenhouse gas.
    From the examination of ice cores etc it has been determined that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has risen substantially since the Industrial revolution and particularly since the end of the Second World War.
    As virtually all the energy used since the start of the industrial revolution has come from fossil fuels, which produce large quantities of CO2 when combusted it is not really surprising that atmospheric CO2 levels have risen.
    In effect by burning fossil fuels at the prodigious current rate we are releasing a significant fraction of the carbon sequested during the Carboniferous period back into the atmosphere.

    Global warming I believe is a reality and one whose impact will be felt by us and the millions of other species we share this planet with for the foreseeable future.
    I don’t think the consensus opinion points to ‘Doomsday’… we’ll not for us at least… and unfortunately the significant fraction of species who make up this planet’s 4 billion year old biodiversity cannot communicate to us what doomsday feels like. I strongly suspect that they don’t even comprehend that it has arrived, nevermind we can all (approx 600 million or so of us) still continue to feel that little bit cooler during the summer months and enjoy some of the other marvelous benefits of western life.

    I unfortunately am very pessimistic about the future, you can recycle all you want, introduce carbon trading schemes, carbon offsetting and other ways for rich countries and individuals to continue to enjoy the Rolls-Royce powered lifestyle that we in the west and significantly large numbers of people in the east aspire to.

    In the end we either have to develop a cheap, clean abundant source of energy, for example nuclear fusion, or cut back on the capitalist consumerist roller coaster we have been enjoying the last hundred years or so.
    The latter option is not going to happen, and in that regard politics is useless and too short term, which politician is going to suggest we all take a 30% cut in living standards. Maybe some Greens but they unfortunately never get elected outside of Germany and Scandinavia.

  33. Brad says:

    Good luck getting China- set to become the biggest greenhouse emitting country THIS YEAR (by ousting the US from #1) to agree with no coal power. You’re dreaming.

  34. Yael Dragwyla says:

    The problem with so many of the claims in the comments to this article is that they don’t give much, if anything, of facts and models to back them up. I recommend *Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future* by Peter D. Ward (http://www.amazon.com/Under-Green-Sky-Warming-Extinctions/dp/B0012FBA92/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207650280&sr=1-1), which gives a truly scientific background on the question of global warming, and describes global warming events of the past and their impact on Earth’s life. Ward, who is a consultant for NASA, here presents data that is needed to ascertain whether global warming is real, and, if so, what it portends for our future. For those of you who refuse to concede that global warming even *might* be real, I suggest you should read this book because you should know your enemy — forwarned is forearmed, and all that. For everyone else, this work will give you powerful ammunition to use in debates over that issue. No matter which side of the controversy you are on, this book will be a valuable scientific and intellectual aid to take into the fray.

  35. Bill says:

    The way I see it…

    All the wackos that want to blame the oil companies and their high profits should note:
    Oil industries averaged 4% profit last year. Pharmaceuticals averaged nearly 10 times that.
    Lying Al Gore averaged over 60%.
    Hmmm…do I see a truth here?

    You backyard experts now need to try graphing out heat induction from volcanoes. You know the ones we didn’t know existed in the ocean. Volcanoes caused the last runaway of CO2 in the Siberian Traps. The amount of Sun activity has increased dramatically….so much so that even Mars is heating up. Add that in.

    And most important for those who haven’t heard the truth…the earth is a lot cooler now than it was a million years ago. The poor little ball is going through another one of its stages of heat up, cool down.

    Now we little ants are causing some heat up….TOO DAMN MANY PARKING LOTS for all the Kool Aide drinkers.

    Three Solutions:
    1. Build more Nuclear power generation facilities.
    2. Learn to adapt to climatic change.
    3. Shoot all Kool Aide drinkers on site.

  36. DavidRavenMoon says:

    “P.S. – A consensus in science means nothing – scientists used have a consensus that the earth was flat!”

    Right.. and don’t forget how many times the speed of light was changed!

    The “problem” with science is you can’t measure something that you don’t know exists. We think we know a lot of things, until we find out we were wrong. All the astronomy books I read growing up are now wrong about simple things like how many moons does Saturn have, and even the number of planets!

    So clearly we only know what affect we have on the environment by looking to see what damage we have already done, and to make guesses about the future. Maybe us adding 2% CO2 is too much. And also look at the deforestation we cause. All this throws off the natural balance of things.

  37. Andy C says:


    > anyone remember the panic about Global cooling?)

    No. Because the ‘scientists predicted global cooling’ argument is a myth. If you go back and look at the publications of the era, whilst their was not the clear consensus of today, the majority of published papers predicted warming:

    * 7 articles predicting cooling
    * 44 predicting warming
    * 20 that were neutral


    > The hottest year of the 20th century was in fact 1934.

    True for the US. Not true for the world. The record since 1900 is held by 2005 (slight at odds with the notion that temperatures have been falling for the last decade, as opposed to 1998 being warmer than 2007).

    > P.S. – A consensus in science means nothing – scientists used have a consensus that the earth was flat!

    No. The ancient Greeks knew the Earth was a sphere, and Eratosthenes determined the size of the Earth to a high degree of accuracy (particularly given the tools of the time). This was well over 2000 years ago (long before the modern scientific method could be said to exist). People outside of academic spheres may have continued to believe in a flat earth, but the educated were well aware of that the earth was spherical.

  38. Emission Nebula says:

    Yay, another article to have a huge debate over!!!

    Im not arguing either side of this. Oil companies are bastards ripping off the entire human population. Humans do contribute to Global Warming, but I honestly dont think either side of the debate is telling the public everything. Nuclear power sounds good to me. Of course I would want to know more about it.

    Oh, and in this you said “Americas southwest would become a desert”.

    Americas southwest IS a desert. Has been since long before any pilgrams came to America.

    Cheers all

  39. Joel Raupe says:

    The end of Solar Cycle 23, which has now drug on for a year, coincides with a very predictable increase in undeviated Galactic Cosmic Rays, which upon breaking up into secondary particles, forms micro-nuclei around which water vapor condensates and forms clouds, which have a cooling effect.

    If Cycle 24 is below expectations, the GCR infall will result in global cooling. If Cycle 24 is, as is expected by many, is a huge one, then there will be warming due to as much as a 50-60 percent deviation in GCR infall.

    As to CO2? What is the optimum level of this gas in our atmosphere? Hansen claims it’s 380 ppm, which is demonstrably lower still than the past, when it has been as high as 3000 to 7000 ppm, which life flourished.

    More important still is the refusal by alarmists to examine those ice-core samples with the instruments available to us now. The apparent correlation between CO2 and past warming in the latest data shows CO2 levels FOLLOW warming, and do not LEAD warming.

    And the increase in CO2 in “the modern era” began its upswing before the automobile, as well, as did the centuries-old mostly uptick in solar cycle peaks. Read the National Research Academy reports on GCRs and Solar Particle Events, and engage in the oldest and MOST important part of Science – investigation.

    Proof against all criticism is contempt prior to investigation.

    Sorry, Fraser. But the Solar activity swing of .04 percent between highs and lows in the 11 year cycle are not the smoking gun. The 50 to 60 percent clear correlation between GCR infall levels inverse to peaks in the cycles is the smoking gun.

    Hansen should get busy getting rich with Al Gore selling Carbon credits before the market eventually drops out.

  40. Andy C says:

    @Joel Raupe,

    > More important still is the refusal … to examine those ice-core samples… the latest data shows CO2 levels FOLLOW warming, and do not LEAD warming.

    There has been no refusal to examine this data, in fact, rather ironically, Hansen was amongst those who predicted this finding back in 1990:


    Furthermore, for more details regarding why the lag does not contradict AGW, have a look at these:



    > And the increase in CO2 in “the modern era” began its upswing before the automobile

    As I noted in an earlier post, the recent substantial increases in atmospheric CO2 levels can be directly linked to human activities (not just a simple statement that humans emit CO2, therefore the increase must be down to us, but an objective measurement of the source of CO2).

  41. Eric Burgess says:

    Isn’t Hansen the NASA scientist sponsored (with a big fat paycheck) by Greenpeace? The bottom line is that the earth gets warmer and then gets cooler and does it over and over again. It’s been that way from the beginning and I’m willing to believe that it will continue that way. Extrapolation of present weather models 25, 50 or 100 years into the future is pure folly. If those who prefer a cooler earth with a more stable climate, may I suggest Pluto.

  42. davey says:

    There is much to be concerned about human’s impact on the enviroment. C02 is an emission thats worrisome, but there is a lot of other stuff coming out of those stacks as well. There is also a lot of stuff humans are doing to the inviroment that really do affect local regional weather systems (deforestation, pollution, etc). It seems that GW is seen as the only way to convert people to greenies. That is a bad strategy IMO.

    I too love this website and have always kept and open mind about this subject. But, when “TIpping Point”, and “consensus” get thrown out there, I get the message, but it’s not what the sender intended for me. Neither of those strategies involve facts or science. It does remind me of the last time I had to buy a new car, though…..

    Questions Ive always had and would like to ask this group:

    Who said that the climate as it has been the past 10K years is the ideal ‘norm”, and should be protected? It seems to me that, geologically speaking, the ice caps are the abberation, not the norm. Loose some islands and present coastline, or have the norhern hemisphere covered by a 2 mile thick sheet of ice? And for those who will inevitably attempt it – no, you cannot have it both ways. That is another bad strategy.

    The entirety of human emmisions from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to today equals one or two medium sized farts from one or two medium sized volcanoes. 1%-2% CO2- I should be worried about that because…. tipping point? hmmm. Explain this to me please.

  43. cosmos says:

    Warming science load of hot air
    Jack Millman
    Issue date: 4/4/08 Section: Opinion

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    Page 1 of 1

    Over and over the public has been bombarded with the disaster that is global warming. We are told that unless immediate action is taken, the “global economy” could shrink by 20 percent and millions will be killed by rising seas, droughts, floods and water shortages. Yet those who challenge the science behind climate change are tagged as “climate change deniers,” a not so subtle reference to the holocaust kind. Open debate is not wanted, because global warming is increasingly driven by fear, ignorance and bad science.

    The science has become hopelessly politicized. Now climate change is a cover for anti-corporate and anti-development policies, and the billions of dollars that go into climate change research and green technology have created determined advocates (the billions given to global warmers and green technology dwarfs the funding for global warming skeptics). Science that contradicts global warming is neither heard nor wanted.

    A classic example is the Mann hockey stick, a revolutionary development for warming fundamentalists. It purported to show temperatures as actually having been relatively flat over the last thousand years, before suddenly spiking in the 20th Century. It was featured prominently by Al Gore in his Oscar winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Despite its numerous flaws, it was accepted immediately as gospel until finally it was totally disproved by fellow scientists within a few years. Yet almost no mention of this can be found in the media.

    Mt. Kilimanjaro’s disappearing snow cap is another commonly referenced event in the media concerning global warming. But research by Nature’s Betsy Mason and climatologist John Daly, points to deforestation being the likely culprit. Satellites have recorded no measurable atmospheric warming since 1979 in the free troposphere between 1,000 and 8,000 meters.

    Despite alarmists wanting to portray the scientific community as having moved past debate, dissenters are still speaking out. Dr. William Gray, the respected hurricane forecaster and professor of atmospheric science, slammed Gore as a fraud and accused his movie of “brainwashing children.”

    The response to these critics has been blistering. They have been accused of being lackeys for “Big Oil” (whatever that means), hacks and liars. Several warming zealots have called for “deniers” to face criminal charges for spreading lies. Ellen Goodman of The Boston Globe came out and said global warming deniers are “now on a par with holocaust deniers.”

    An insightful book by Bjørn Lomborg called “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalists Guide to Global Warming,” attempted to step back from the hysteria. He argues that even if global warming is true, that does not mean it is the only priority of governments. Lomborg pointed out there are far better ways to spend taxpayers’ money, such as HIV/AIDS research, preventing malnutrition and ensuring Third World drinking water standards. The message of keeping global warming in perspective is the book’s most valuable contribution. Instead of a climate of fear and ignorance, we should encourage one of open and informed debate.

    Jack Millman is a sophomore in political science and economics. He can be reached at millman.5@osu.edu.

  44. Clavius says:

    Why are the stories of lower tempuratures, less carbon dioxide, major climate scientists moving away global warmist true-believe never covered here?

  45. Brian Johnson says:


    I’m astonished at how much debate this post has generated. I find myself asking, “why don’t posts on other topics on the Universe Today generate this much arguing?”

    There are two special things about climate change. The first is that it has policy implications. Depending on which policies are followed, enormous amounts of wealth could be made or lost by, or transferred between, many different people and organizations.

    So, when I observe this type of debate, I always ask myself whether people are arguing the side that is the most logically sound, or the side that makes them the most money.

    Climate change also has world view implications. People like to believe they are right, and consequently have a strong bias to listen to affirming statements, and discount contrary statements. In my experience, this tendency is strongest in people who are not accustomed to engaging in reasoned debate. Worse, some people deliberately take advantage of this innate human characteristic by constructing propaganda-style “arguments” that have little logical validity, for the sole purpose of swaying the masses.

    So, the second thing I look for in controversial debates are signs of naive thinking that protects a world view that may be percieved as being under attack.


  46. Eric says:

    I saw a show on History Channel about a few months ago about a mini Ice Age that started (if I remember correctly) before Medieval times and ended within the last couple hundred years.

    Could this warming be related to the mini ice age?

    Could it really just be a warming recoil because of that 500-700 year cooling?

    How far back do the ice and sea floor samples that have been studied really go?

    I’m not a Global Warming skeptic, but after I saw that show it made me wonder if the warming we’re seeing is not only a consequence of our burning of fossil fuels, but also just the upswing of a global temperature cycle.

  47. ScepticTim says:

    This associated press article is a real wake-up call. Blimey, Global Warming IS getting serious:

    Scientist warns climate change will impact beer production
    at 3:44 on April 8, 2008, EST.

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The price of beer is likely to rise in coming decades because climate change will hamper the production of a key grain needed for the brew – especially in Australia, a scientist warned Tuesday.

    Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said climate change likely will cause a decline in the production of malting barley in parts of New Zealand and Australia. Malting barley is a key ingredient of beer.

    “It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up,” Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention.

    Similar effects could be expected worldwide, but Salinger spoke only of the effects on Australia and New Zealand. He said climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 30 years, especially in parts of Australia, as dry areas become drier and water shortages worsen.

    Barley growing parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales would likely be harder hit than growing areas in New Zealand’s South Island.

    “It will provide a lot of challenges for the brewing industry,” even forcing breweries to look at new varieties of malt barley as a direct result of climate change, Salinger said.

    New Zealand and Australian brewer Lion Nathan’s corporate affairs director Liz Read said climate change already was forcing up the price of malted barley, sugar, aluminium and sugar.

    Read said that in addition to climate change, barley growers are grappling with competition from other forms or land use, such as the dairy industry.

  48. Timber says:

    Andy C., claims that Hansen is a leading expert on climate. Experts I thought based their expertise on scientific data.

    On June 1, 2007 Hansen predicted that “the tipping point” would be reached in 2016 if nothing was done to correct our ways. Less than a year later that tipping point has been moved forward to today, eight years sooner.

    What is it that has caused such an extreme altering of his prediction? Maybe the $250,000 from John Kerry’s wifes foundation allowed some new research and something unusual was found this past year.

    If anyone knows what that might be, please share it with the rest of us. Without knowing the data it sounds more like an emotional or political alarmist rather than an expert scientist.

  49. Earth is fine says:

    Global warming isn’t real….Just keep things the way they are. There is no possible way that pollution is bad. I don’t care what common sense tells me. I think we should exclusively use petroleum products and nothing else.
    When that runs out, Then – we can start using clean energy, by then I will have diversified my portfolio.
    I say don’t flush toilets either – that just wastes water.
    There is no proof that human waste is bad for the environment either.

  50. marcellus says:

    Bill, you rock. If Global Warming is real, then Obama is a Reagan Democrat.

    Global warming is not real. It is a scare tactic dreamed up by the liberal media to get bigger ratings.

    “If it bleeds, it leads”. “If it’s a scare, it’s there”.

  51. Global Warming is Bunk! says:

    Everybody is freaking out about CO2 levels at <400 ppm and the average level over the last 500,000 years or so is 2500 ppm with a peak of over 4000 ppm. And guess what! The planet wasn’t a dry arid desert at the time it was covered with ice sheets a couple of miles thick!

    The so-called “global warming” trend that everybody is talking about ended in 1998.

    Even the UN committee on global climate change is now backing off of dire predictions! I wonder why? Could it be that the bunk science just doesn’t add up?

    In early March, a group of 400 or more of the worlds leading scientists had a conference on climate change. The consesus is that its not a problem it’s a hoax resulting from inaccurate and faulty science perpetrated by people with a political agenda.

    Pollution, OTOH, IS something that we should be paying attention to. When we poison our fresh water supplies, we will start dying of thirst.

  52. RUF says:

    Andrew Says:
    April 7th, 2008 at 10:26 am
    Well, it’s hard to argue with one very basic piece of data:

    The average global temperature is rising from year to year.

    he UN released a report stating that there has been NO increase in average global temps for the past 10 years. Guess Global warming comes and goes as the politicians see fit.

  53. Bill says:

    For those who like to say:

    The average global temperature is rising from year to year.

    I say, the facts are that the actual change of temperature has fallen when looking at the cosmic view of a 4.5 billion year old Earth.
    250 Million years ago the Earth was a virtual sauna with over 100 deg F as the average. Then the “Snowball” hit and it got very cold. Suddenly, the temp started up the scale again and all the ice melted away to a tropical world again. Then it got cold again in another ice age….then….
    do you foolish global warming alarmist get the point?

    The average global temperature is not warming when we get outside our measily little tunnel vision (called a lifetime) and see it as a whole.

  54. Aqualung says:

    If 50% of current species are expected to become extinct due to man made global warming then this is a mass extinction event.

    This would also make each previous ice age and interglacial warm period a mass extinction event as well.

    Where is the evidence that on each of these occasions there was a loss of 50% of the animal species.

    We did loose highly specialised animals such as the Mammoth. But the fossil record does not show mass extinctions of 50% of animal species.

  55. Eric says:

    Im going to repost my previous comment because I would like a little bit of info on it.

    “I saw a show on History Channel about a few months ago about a mini Ice Age that started (if I remember correctly) before Medieval times and ended within the last couple hundred years.

    Could this warming be related to the mini ice age?

    Could it really just be a warming recoil because of that 500-700 year cooling?

    How far back do the ice and sea floor samples that have been studied really go?

    I’m not a Global Warming skeptic, but after I saw that show it made me wonder if the warming we’re seeing is not only a consequence of our burning of fossil fuels, but also just the upswing of a global temperature cycle.”

  56. Eric says:

    What about the news that came out a few weeks back about a research team that utilizes diving probes to check temperature on all the world’s oceans from the surface to i think 3,000 feet of depth? From what they were finding, the oceans weren’t really changing temperature too much. They wondered if their technology was faulty because of the crazy measurements.

  57. Dark Gnat says:

    I really would hate all of the luxury SUV owners to be inconvienced by the “global warming conspiracy”, but the fact remains…we cannot sustain the current economy without changes.

    It seems that smog and water pollution has taken a back seat to global warming/climate change. Pollution is a directly observable and measurable reality.

    I flew a small plane over my city ( a small industrial town) and noticed that the air layer closest to the ground was noticably brownish. The air above was a beautiful blue.

    I couldn’t help but wonder if this dirty air was responsible for the high numbers of allergy and asthma patients in the area.

    Fossil fuels are a huge source of pollution. On local scales, it is obvious. There are thousands of small towns, and hundreds of huge cities spewing out similar pollutants around the world. Obviously, this has an effect on the global scale.

    As for climate change: I believe that the change is natural, but human carbon emissions are throwing a monkey wrench into the cycle, and getting things off balance.

    Even if our effect is marginal, we should still try to cut back on our fossil fuel use by seeking alternative, renewable, less polluting energy sources.

    It makes sense economically and ecologically.

  58. cosmos says:

    It seems that several facts have now come to light that debunk the idea that we’re killing the environment with CO2 emissions:

    The predicted tropospheric hotspots that had been predicted by the IPCC failed to appear. When climatologist Dr David Evans

    and Christopher Monckton found an error in the way that the IPCC had interpreted the Stefan-Boltzmann equation and applied

    a revised (corrected) factor to the workings, they discovered that the temperature rise was as little as a third of what the World’s government think tank had predicted.

    The IPCC’s computer models, used to predict the effects of global warming, it appears, failed to accurately predict the influence that water vapour has on the temperature of the earth. At the global climate change summit in Bali late last year, Dr Roy Spencer presented a paper to the IPCC, saying that rather than CO2 driving the formation of water vapour, which then drives up temperatures as a greenhouse gas, water vapour actually washes excess CO2 out of the atmosphere, dampening and balancing its effect as a greenhouse gas. This discovery was made thanks to weather satellites that showed water vapour forms a lot lower in the atmosphere than was initially suggested. Shock horror, the finely balanced system that is the global ecosystem is able to keep itself in balance… who’d have thought it?!

    Apparently the lead author of the IPCC chapter on feedback (the word used to describe what effect – negative or positive – a gas has on the temperature) has written to Dr Spencer, agreeing that he is right.
    CO2 output has a point of diminishing returns anyway, apparently the common analogy is painting over a window: the first layer of paint has a big impact on the amount of light let through, while each subsequent layer has a less obvious impact.

    Meaning that, even without the dampening effect of water vapour, a ‘tipping point’ so often spoken about by alarmists like Al Gore, is actually a scientific impossibility.
    A far more thorough summary is available in Owen McShane’s column in the National Business Review , which contains gems like this quote: “The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet
    will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.”

    from http://www.crash.net

  59. I do keep large notes on planetary physics–including the fact that plant growth has increased in North America from CO2. Please check out Monastersky, R., “Where Has All the Carbon Gone” Science News November 21, 1998 pg. 332 and “Earth is Becoming a Greener Greenhouse” SpaceDaily.com Washington—September 5, 2001 http://spacedaily.com/news/greenhouse-01t.html. There are places the Earth is absorbing this minute amount of carbon dioxide, compared to natural carbon dioxide. The Earth is abosorbing our minute amount of carbon dioxide. It is growing more plants, which lock up carbon dioxide. It seems those who follow my line of thinking have given facts and careful research.

  60. Looking at my notes, I also found additional support for my position. Wojick, David “Damn the Science, Full Speed Ahead” Electricity Journal December, 1997 http: //www.junkscience.com/news/wojick.htm We do absorb as much carbon dioxide in our forests as we produce. This was an earlier study. Other studies show that we absorb more carbon dioxide than we produce. Monastersky, Richard “Where Has All the Carbon Gone?” Science News November 21, 1998 pg. 332
    Carbon dioxide makes up only 1 percent of the gas in the atmosphere. Comings, Neil F. What if the Moon Didn’t Exist pg. 95. Also, the hotter our planet gets, the more it absorbs carbon dioxide.Ward, Peter D. & Donald Brownlee Rare Earth pp. 210-211. Even with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from man made sources, interglacial periods do have more carbon dioxide in them. Gallant, Roy A When the Sun Dies pg. 77
    Only half the scientists support global warming. They include people who are not scientists, though this is a minority. Some are lawyers, politicians, and lawn care specialists. They were put forth as concerned scientists for global warming to make their numbers grow. Others had six scientist s agreeing with them and called this a consenus of scientists. There are also reports of allowing politicians to write the results of studies supporting global warming. (Jaworowski, Zbigniew M. D. Ph.D., Sc. “The Global Warming Folly” 21st Century Science & Technology Winter 1999-2000) There is evidence too that the amount of carbon dioxide was doubled in the global warming models. (Wojick, David “Damn the Science, Full Speed Ahead” Electricity Journal December, 1997 http: //www.junkscience.com/news/wojick.htm.) Some of the data is also suspect in other ways. The data had as much as a 100 percent error. (Jaworowski, Zbigniew M. D. Ph.D., Sc. “The Global Warming Folly” 21st Century Science & Technology Winter 1999-2000 ) NASA also said that data showing global warming was incorrect. (Jaworowski, Zbigniew M. D. Ph.D., Sc. “The Global Warming Folly” 21st Century Science & Technology Winter 1999-2000)
    There are also models that say the Sun causes any global warming, however there were also studies that say this was false. I have not had time to look at all of this. It would not be responsible for me to give an opinion on this. At this late date, it would do no good to go into this further. A pulled hamstring prevented me from doing this earlier.
    People who are against global warming are not against pollution. They do not believe that the world is flat or that the Moon landings are a hoax. It is sad that some have to promote their opinions in science by blackening the opposition. When I was a reporter, my independent paper did interviews with both sides of the Meese Commission to let our readers have the full facts about the controversial issue of pornography. We became more trusted in time than our competition. It never hurts to show both sides of an issue. The public is smart enough to recognize the truth.

  61. Timber says:

    If there is anyone still looking at this debate;

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