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James Hansen on the Warmest Year Brouhaha 743

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hot-or-not dept.
Jamie writes "In response to earlier reports, Dr. James Hansen, top climate scientist with NASA, has issued a statement on the recent global warming data correction. He points out 'the effect on global temperature was of order one-thousandth of a degree, so the corrected and uncorrected curves are indistinguishable.' In a second email he shows maps of U.S. temperatures relative to the world in 1934 and 1998, explains why the error occurred (it was not, as reported, a 'Y2K bug') and, in response to errors by 'Fox, Washington Times, and their like,' attacks the 'deceit' of those who 'are not stupid [but] seek to create a brouhaha and muddy the waters in the climate change story.'"
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James Hansen on the Warmest Year Brouhaha

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  • The bigger issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday August 17, 2007 @07:55AM (#20259647) Journal
    The bigger issue is the cloak of secrecy around the data and the algorithms used to generate the outputs. I do not understand why all data wouldn't be publicly available. Is there one place to go to see the data used to make the dire predictions I hear all over the place? I generally accept global warming as a fact, but when I see the amount of contortions one person had to go through to figure out there was a problem in the first place, I start to get suspicious.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Indeed - in paticular, let's see the algorithm. There could be other bugs. It's just as likely that global warming is WORSE than what is being claimed (imagine if the average temperature is actually 1 degree MORE than what is currently being calculated) as it is (in this case) that there was an error in the denier's favor.

      Until the data and the algorithm are available to the public for scrutiny, it's difficult to trust the results, much less make the correct policy decisions (as noted above - if global
      • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Informative)

        by Intron (870560) on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:17AM (#20260643)
        Did you look at the graph? The error wasn't in anybody's favor. It was negligable.

        The overall shape of the graph is the same - a 0.8 degree rise in average temperature over the last century with increasing slope.

        I was in the Bahamas last year measuring water temperature, beach erosion and doing population counts to provide data on why coral is dying off all over the world. Its a complex topic but one of the leading culprits is ocean warming. Coral is adapted to a narrow range. Once the coral reefs are gone, which will be soon, say goodbye to fish diversity and sandy beaches.

        I live in New England, the recent scare is over West Nile virus. According to the CDC, over 15,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for WNV infection since 1999 and over 500 have died.

        Don't make the mistake of assuming that a small change in temperature won't have a significant effect.
        • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hador_nyc (903322) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:09AM (#20261347) Homepage

          I was in the Bahamas last year measuring water temperature, beach erosion and doing population counts to provide data on why coral is dying off all over the world. Its a complex topic but one of the leading culprits is ocean warming. Coral is adapted to a narrow range. Once the coral reefs are gone, which will be soon, say goodbye to fish diversity and sandy beaches.
          I've heard this before, and I'd like to ask you an honest question. Coral has been around for a long time; according to this link on wikipedia [wikipedia.org], over 500 million years. Average global climate temperature has been both significantly warmer and cooler [scotese.com] in that time. My question is why would warming be the thing that's hurting them? I am not a biologist, nor an expert in this in any way; you are; that's why I'm asking you. To me, and again I'm a radar engineer, it seems more likely that the thing that's different now, and hurting them is us; runoff from our farms; the increased nitrogen and fertilizer in the water, or some other group of chemicals we're putting into the environment. Even CO2, as in the form of making the oceans more acidic, doesn't seem to me to be the problem; since again that too has been higher in coral's history.

          Also, beach erosion; how is that bad at all; except for the idiots who build houses or hotels on beaches? Isn't that simply a natural process? I think beaches communities should reverse development, and build back the dunes between the towns and the water. Screw the beach front hotels; it's bad for the environment, and we can still enjoy the beach without having a house or hotel on it!

          As for your comment about west nile virus, hell, we had malaria here too; but back before you or I were born, we defeated it. DDT being a big help there; amongst other things. West Nile is not a biggie. If we can stop malaria in Cuba and the South, we can stop it here when it gets warmer. People can adapt.
    • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:13AM (#20259811) Homepage Journal

      The bigger issue is the cloak of secrecy around the data and the algorithms used to generate the outputs. I do not understand why all data wouldn't be publicly available. Is there one place to go to see the data used to make the dire predictions I hear all over the place? I generally accept global warming as a fact, but when I see the amount of contortions one person had to go through to figure out there was a problem in the first place, I start to get suspicious.
      Yes. Check out the Publications section [www.ipcc.ch] of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [www.ipcc.ch] (IPCC)'s Web site.

      According to this article in Scientific American ($), they've come to the conclusion with 80% certainty that global climate change is not only real, but is caused by human activities. They're new 2007 assessment report isn't on the website yet, but it is discussed in SciAm, so it should be there shortly, I believe. Methodologies are discussed pretty well in the SciAm piece.
      • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Informative)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:15AM (#20259833) Homepage Journal
        Oops.

        Link to the SciAm piece [sciam.com].
      • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:30AM (#20260825) Homepage Journal

        they've come to the conclusion with 80% certainty that global climate change is not only real, but is caused by human activities.
        That's a bit of a mis-statement. The computer models used generate results that conform to that hypothesis with an 80% margin for error. The idea that we're 80% certain that the models are correct is not supported by anything I've read.

        As some scientists have pointed out [slashdot.org], there's substantial concern about these models and how accurate they can be in the first place. What we know is this: some of the Earth is undergoing substantial climate change (always true, but this is exceptional), and much of the change is in the direction of warming (the arctic and antarctic regions, especially). We also know that CO2 levels have risen. The problem is that correlating those two factors requires that we understand the climate on a macroscopic level, which, sadly, we do not. We have models that predict past activity, but they have so far failed to accurately predict future activity accurately. Dyson suggests a naive model ("no change") would be more accurate that the models we use. That's been hotly debated, and I'm willing to believe that he might have gone a bit overboard there.

        Still, the fact of the matter is that we're uncertain about a great many things, and until we are certain, we should be careful about what we insist is "fact".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Christianson (1036710)
      No direct experience with the data in question, or indeed any climatological data at all, but this isn't really an uncommon case in science. People collect and store their own data. The full extent of raw data is often massive, it's often poorly indexed, and there is no such thing as a consistent storage format. Practically speaking, this means that whenever you want to get someone else's data, you have to get in touch with someone who would have collected it, ask them to filter out the part of the data
      • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:30AM (#20259995) Homepage Journal

        Scientists get grant money by analyzing data and publishing the results, not spending the effort to make the raw data publicly available.

        mmm... maybe that needs to change. Given the current tendency towards knee jerk FUD in some quarters, the only way we're ever going to be able to settle debates like this one is if the data can be subjected to widespread peer review.

        • by xappax (876447)
          the only way we're ever going to be able to settle debates like this one is if the data can be subjected to widespread peer review.

          Not to be elitist, but do you really think you could effectively review the data? I sure as hell couldn't. Which is not to say it should be kept secret, simply that it may not be that urgent to make the raw data hyper-available to every guy on the street. As long as interested scientists - regardless of their previous conclusions or political leanings - can get the raw dat
          • by dbrutus (71639) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:58AM (#20262203) Homepage
            A professional statistician (which is what McIntyre is) might not be able to check the underlying science but he might be better than the original climate scientist in applying cutting edge statistical analysis because that's *his* expertise.

            An awful lot of science is multi-disciplinary that way, with data gathered for one field but bits and pieces of other fields being brought in to make sense of it. And those bits and pieces tend to be outdated. Economists, for example, regularly shake their heads at the economic analysis applied by political scientists. Mathematicians and evelotionary biologists have some similar friction.

            So while the problem of analysis of data exists, there are plenty of cases where eyes from outside the specialty would do a lot of good. We should be very happy to see that sort of professional knowledge silo breakdown. Some people are less than happy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by NickFortune (613926)

            Not to be elitist, but do you really think you could effectively review the data?

            That, I think, depends on the assertion it's being used to support. I'm quite good at writing code to crunch large amounts of data and generate useful summaries. I wouldn't like to try and predict global temperature averages one hundred years hence. However, I think I could probably run up a quick sanity check as regards global average temperatures over the last century, for instance.

            it may not be that urgent to make the

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Evilest Doer (969227)

          Given the current tendency towards knee jerk FUD in some quarters, the only way we're ever going to be able to settle debates like this one is if the data can be subjected to widespread peer review.

          I wish I could share your optimism, but widespread peer review won't change anything. The problem is due to people who know nothing or very little (which is often worse than nothing) about the sciences. If the raw data is publicly available, it will give the people who want to deny basic science more ammunitio

          • So wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SIIHP (1128921)
            You're advocating "security through obscurity" for scientific data?

            Really?

            Because you think the downside of allowing the data to be easily available is worse that making sure it's accurate through peer review?

            And that makes sense to you?

            What kind of reasoning must one engage in to believe the idea that widespread peer review is not desirable because some nutters will misuse the data? THEY DO THAT ANYWAY.

            Meanwhile, situations like this occur because the data is not easily available for review.

            I simply don't
    • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Informative)

      by Coryoth (254751) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:51AM (#20260327) Homepage Journal

      The bigger issue is the cloak of secrecy around the data and the algorithms used to generate the outputs. I do not understand why all data wouldn't be publicly available.
      Well for startes the data is available. Full gridded data can be found here [nasa.gov], along with appropriate fortran code to extract individual months of years. Gridded data for individual years can be found here [nasa.gov]. Original source data for individual stations can be accessed from here [nasa.gov]. Detailed accounts of the adjustments for urban heat island effects and compilation procedures used can be found in the papers listed in the references here [nasa.gov]. Most of those papers (i.e. those by GISS staff) are freely available in the GISS publications database [nasa.gov]. You did actually look to see if the data and detailed accounts of the methods were available, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Glock27 (446276)
      The bigger issue is the cloak of secrecy around the data and the algorithms used to generate the outputs. I do not understand why all data wouldn't be publicly available. Is there one place to go to see the data used to make the dire predictions I hear all over the place? I generally accept global warming as a fact, but when I see the amount of contortions one person had to go through to figure out there was a problem in the first place, I start to get suspicious.

      There are many 'big issues' with the Globa

      • Re:The bigger issue (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:43AM (#20261929)

        It's at a minimum interesting that there were reports in the 1920s of widespread arctic ice melting,
        It wouldn't be surprising if there were, since there was warming in the 1920s. What is your point?

        followed in the 1970s by a "Global Cooling" scare.
        Which was mostly media driven hype (here [skepticalscience.com]). Of course, there was some cooling from 1940 to 1970, but again, what is your point? Neither that nor the above contradict the reality of the global warming trend.

        This recent revision of which was the warmest year in US history casts even more doubt.
        "The warmest year in US history" is utterly irrelevant to any warming trend and the two top years were statistically tied both before and after the revision.

        Looking further back into history, there has been historical warming in Greenland that exceeds the current trend, well before human produced greenhouse gasses could have been a factor.
        Yes, we know that climate change has occurred in the past, and there have been large, rapid changes in Greenland temperatures associated with, for instance, the shutdown/restart of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. However, that doesn't change the evidence that the current warming is not largely due to such natural events.

        Further, they are modeling inherently chaotic systems which we have trouble forecasting only a week into the future. Hubris, anyone?
        Give me a break. Yes, it's impossible to forecast the weather more than a couple weeks in the future, due to chaos. But you can forecast the climate, which is a temporal and spatial average of all possible weather events, out much farther. The ability of climate models to do this has been demonstrated in hindcasting and out-of-sample validation experiments.
  • Goalposts. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "In a second email he shows maps of U.S. temperatures relative to the world in 1934 and 1998, explains why the error occurred"

    Since pollution is suppose to be one of the climate changing factors. Did we pollute less in 1934 than we did in 1998? And did the nature of the pollution change?
  • Immediate action?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:02AM (#20259719) Homepage
    Whenever somebody tells me that I must take immediate action, I reach for my wallet.
  • If the corrected US data doesn't indicate such a large statistical anomaly on a global basis, why are we blaming the US, US government, US Citizens for creating the massive global warming effect being reported? Sounds like we might be less of the cause then?
    • by marx (113442) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:18AM (#20259865)
      The temperature in the US has little effect on the global mean value of the temperature (the US is only 2% of the area of the Earth). But the US is one of the top (or the top) polluter of greenhouse gases. That's why there's criticism, the US's share of the pollution is a lot larger than its share of land area or population.
  • Business as usual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arivanov (12034) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:03AM (#20259729) Homepage

    Fox and Co think that the world consist only of USA, news at 10.

    They have looked solely at the USA graphs and completely ignored the world ones which are the ones that look really scary. They have also declared the problem with the USA data analysis to be a flaw in the data for the whole world.

    Is anyone surprised? I am not...

    • Re:Business as usual (Score:5, Informative)

      by faloi (738831) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:09AM (#20259773)
      I know it's hip to hate Fox News... But the actual article [foxnews.com] describes the people denying global warming is man made as a "fringe group" and includes quotes from British researchers pointing out that it really doesn't matter on a global scale.
    • by lottameez (816335)
      Personally, I have a far bigger problem accepting that a graph showing a 120 year trend is supposed to mean anything of any significance in the billion or so years that earth has been around.
    • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:43AM (#20261013) Homepage Journal

      Fox and Co think that the world consist only of USA, news at 10.
      My problem with the debate (and this isn't new... it's at least 2 decades old) is that every time some conservative politician or news outlet waves some piece of information around (usually misunderstanding it badly), we immediately seek to use that to discredit the person or group who produced or publicized the information.

      We desperately need to remember that scientists and politicians have an intersection, but the vast majority of them don't have anything to do with each other. A scientist who seeks to prove Einstein wrong isn't some Einstein-hating nutjob (typically). In fact, they're performing the most valuable task that the scientific method sets forth: seeking to disprove. By attempting and failing, we learn more about the value of a theory. By attempting and succeeding, we learn more about the theory's weaknesses, and often improve upon it.

      Let's not start marching toward those scientists who seek flaws in global climate change research with pitchforks and torches (or rather, let's stop doing so), and instead seek to pressure the media and politicians into supporting them and their less skeptical peers without confusing the issue by politicizing results too early. We need even more funding than we have for those who seek to assail the consensus, not because we think it will fall, but because that's what the scientific method demands. Anything less is not science, it's just politics in a lab coat.
  • Whither the hype? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:07AM (#20259753)
    Ok, so 1998 was still the warmest - but not by more than a tiny fraction of a degree over 1934, and separated by a decrease to 1800s-era temps.

    The bigger story I see in TFA's graphs is: we're looking at an increase of less than 1 degree C per century.
    What's the fuss?
    • Ok, so 1998 was still the warmest - but not by more than a tiny fraction of a degree over 1934, and separated by a decrease to 1800s-era temps.
      The bigger story I see in TFA's graphs is: we're looking at an increase of less than 1 degree C per century.

      Perhaps that's why there's so many that find "Global Warming" to be a myth.

      Personnally, I think we still don't have enough accurate data measured to say one way or the other as we still have to figure out the cycles of the earth - and no, pulling

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ambitwistor (1041236)

      The bigger story I see in TFA's graphs is: we're looking at an increase of less than 1 degree C per century.
      What's the fuss?

      The "fuss" is:

      1. The climate change so far is relatively small, but has already had noticeable impacts on ecosystems.
      2. The amount of change is attributable largely (but not wholly) to human activity.
      3. The amount of change is projected to accelerate in the future, based both on increases in human activity, the long atmospheric residence time of CO2, and the long term response being delayed by ocean heat uptake.
      4. The damages (economic, ecological, and otherwise) are estimated to increase faster than linea

  • Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:07AM (#20259757) Journal
    This had seemed like pretty much a non-issue all along. If anything it's Hansen's "second, more impassioned email" that diminishes his credibility as a sober, objective scientist just reporting his data. At least in my field, scientists don't issue corrections like:

    Make no doubt, however, if tipping points are passed, if we, in effect, destroy Creation, passing on to our children, grandchildren, and the unborn a situation out of their control, the contrarians who work to deny and confuse will not be the principal culprits. The contrarians will be remembered as court jesters. There is no point to joust with court jesters. They will always be present. They will continue to entertain even if the Titanic begins to take on water.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hal2814 (725639)
      "At least in my field, scientists don't issue corrections like"

      Well, maybe not in your field. In my field, I could've seen Dijkstra making such a statement concerning the continued use of GOTO. I don't think it would've made it into a proper EWD and I doubt it would be sent via email since Dijkstra wasn't that fond of personal computers, but I could see him making such a statement.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by djmurdoch (306849)
      You must work in a really boring field. If someone makes a deceitful argument, I would hope they would be exposed as a liar, not simply contradicted. And I don't mind reading colourful prose, rather than the dead academic passive voice.
      • by slughead (592713)
        >You must work in a really boring field. If someone makes a deceitful argument, I would hope they would be exposed as a liar, not simply contradicted. And I don't mind reading colourful prose, rather than the dead academic passive voice.

        The 'colorful prose' is a great litmus test for bullshit. If a scientist reveals data on a subject on global warming and then details what (s)he thinks to be the effects which are outside the scope of their expertise, my bullshit detector goes ape sh*t.

        Economic impacts an
      • Re:Honestly... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:52AM (#20260337) Journal

        If someone makes a deceitful argument, I would hope they would be exposed as a liar, not simply contradicted.
        He also makes a cogent political and religious argument in the same section of his letter.

        I am puzzled by views expressed by some conservatives, views usually expressed in vehement unpleasant ways in e-mails that I have been bombarded by in the past several days. ... It is puzzling, because it seems to me that conservatives should be the first ones standing up for preserving Creation, and for the rights of the young and the unborn. That is the basic intergenerational issue in global warming and the headlong use of fossil fuels: the present generation is, in effect, ripping off future generations.

        Is it possible that conservatives have been too quick to support the captains of industry?
        The basic problem is that national religious conservative leadership has focused exclusively on issues like "the rights of the young and the unborn" and the gay 'agenda'.

        Those (in leadership positions) who desire to shift away from political gay/abortion/Jesus activism and towards things like helping the poor and conserving the environment are mostly told to STFU & get back on message. "They" don't want to split the consideral political capital that's built up behind the religious conservative bloc.

        Religion has always influenced politics, but IMO, in the last 30 years, politics has been corrupting religion.
    • This had seemed like pretty much a non-issue all along. If anything it's Hansen's "second, more impassioned email" that diminishes his credibility as a sober, objective scientist just reporting his data. At least in my field, scientists don't issue corrections like:

      Make no doubt, however, if tipping points are passed, if we, in effect, destroy Creation, passing on to our children, grandchildren, and the unborn a situation out of their control, the contrarians who work to deny and confuse will not be the pri

  • I thought it muddied the waters plenty when he

    - published incorrect data leading to incorect conclusions,
    - refused to release his algorithm so it had to be reverse-engineered,
    - and deliberately exaggerated the global warming threat to push his personal agenda (which he later admitted).

  • by _14k4 (5085) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {t.navillus}> on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:11AM (#20259799)
    Release the data, all of it, openly. NOAA data is available, for a fee to download I think, and so should all of the other data. I don't mean "should" as in "legislated", I mean "should" as in "should" or, "it would be nice."

    If all of the data were released in this fashion, in one central "trusted" place, one could assume that as more and more analysts take a gander - themes will appear and more and more of the graphs could be trusted.

  • Cerial (Score:2, Informative)

    by dlhm (739554)
    This article does not sound like it was written by a scientist, it sounds like a poor little man who is outraged and upset that anyone would question his admitidly flawed data. I think he needs to take a pill. If Global Warming has increased the earths tempature from .3-.6 C then a .15C IS a big deal.
    • Re:Cerial (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:49AM (#20260313) Homepage Journal
      And you're illustrating exactly why he is outraged: The errors affected the US. The effect on the data for the global temperatures was so small as to be dwarfed by the overall margin of error for the data, but the media completely ignored that, and ignored that it changes nothing with respects to long term trends and overall global warming.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ambitwistor (1041236)

      If Global Warming has increased the earths tempature from .3-.6 C then a .15C IS a big deal.

      You're comparing apples to oranges (global temperature to U.S. temperatures). 0.15 C in the U.S. is not a big deal to the global picture, since the affect on global temperatures is about 50 times smaller.

      It actually isn't that big of a deal to U.S. temperatures, either (here [imageshack.us] is a before-after graph of the change), although it is noticeable. It's really only a big deal for trends in specific regions of the U.S.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:17AM (#20259847)
    Why do we still call it global warming? It's global climate change. Some areas will get warmer. Some areas will get cooler. Some areas will be under water.

    The nice thing about it is that the majority of us will live to see the changes. We are in for some interesting times over the next 30-50 years. :-)
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      Or global head in the sand time, or global denial or whatever.
    • I'm sure that the next hundred years will be much less "interesting" than the previous hundred years, which saw the violent deaths of 250,000,000 people.
      • by rhakka (224319) on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:49AM (#20261083)
        Aren't you cute. The population has grown and at some point resources simply won't stretch far enough for all of us.

        What exactly do you think is going to happen then? We'll all sit down, sing Kumbaya, and work out a peaceable solution, with the rich folk voluntarily slashing their standard of living so we can all subsist?

        I think it would be pretty hard to say that unless we make some serious changes in the way we do things, 250m violent deaths will be the "good old days". Assuming we don't completely destroy ourselves while fighting over water, energy, and food.

        I hope you're right, but I don't see the basis for your optimism.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rcs1000 (462363) *
          "Aren't you cute. The population has grown and at some point resources simply won't stretch far enough for all of us."

          There is this shocking, general belief that populations are exploding.

          The truth is different: in countries as diverse as China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Iran (yes, Iran), and Mexico plus all of Europe, birth rates are below replacement levels. In Russia, there were four deaths for every birth last year. Even in India, the birth rate has collapsed, even if it is still well above replacement.

          Sure
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rhakka (224319)
            I know.. I'm not making a hockey stick arguement. But the fact is there is already dissapearing potable water in heavily populated areas of china as well as the US. We are, right now, operating beyond currently sustainable levels in energy and water usage, and that in turn is and will be placing pressure on food.

            And, more people are demanding more as "all boats rise". Consumption is skyrocketing even though population is merely growing. What do people do who don't have kids? They consume...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Actually, if we made everyone fabulously wealthy (i.e. as wealthy as the US, Western Europe, Japan), population growth would stall entirely, since that's what happened when the US, Western Europe, and Japan all became fabulously wealthy. The problem is, making everyone fabulously wealthy (i.e. "economic development" or "globalization") will...lead to a shortage of resources. It's not population growth that's the issue.

          Population growth these days is simply self-perpetuating poverty, and poverty doesn't put

  • he shows maps of U.S. temperatures relative to the world in 1934 and 1998

    Just a thought, but the first word in "Global Warming" is "Global", would he be so kind as to show us "Global" maps? They do exist, and these temperatures were recorded back much further than 1934.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:25AM (#20259939)
    It went all weird once the economists got involved. Now both sides are talking about things based on little data as if they are certainties and the strongest opponents are grasping at tiny straws and saying that makes the entire thing worthless. What's more the most rabid opponents are saying that people in Antarctica are faking ice core results - a pretty stupid assertion really since they could fake the stuff at home where it is warm instead.

    At least most people have given up on saying it isn't happening at all - a lot of opponents have moved to saying it's a purely solar effect. Watching the oil industry they are fairly split too so they can't be blamed - it's governments stirring up the mess and whether they are right or wrong Lysenkoism is taking over in US science and wreaking havoc. I would hate to be a climate scientist caught in the middle having the choice of either potentially career ending ridicule or government funding.

  • A quick search on Foxnews [foxnews.com] show they mention that it is about the US only a few times.
    Also it does not make 1934,1998 or 2005(what ever of thoses 3 years) the hottest year as the OP says, it makes it the hottest year in recent recorded time, guess we better start a new topic about that.
  • Usufruct (Score:5, Informative)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:27AM (#20259965) Journal
    Ok, I admit, I had to look this one up:

    Usufruct is the legal right to derive profit or benefit from the property of others. It comes from the latin roots for "use" and "fruits," in the sense that you are using the fruits of someone else's labor.

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    Merriam-Webster's Dictionary [m-w.com]
    a legal Dictionary [lectlaw.com]

    In the case of Hansen's second email [columbia.edu], he is, I think, using it to describe how captains of industry are benefitting from the global warming nay-sayers' spin on this correction. He also uses it in the sense that successive generations have a right and claim to the enjoy the Earth, so we'd better take care of it, even as we benefit from it.
    • Re:Usufruct (Score:5, Informative)

      by djmurdoch (306849) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:33AM (#20260039)
      Usufruct is the legal right to derive profit or benefit from the property of others.

      You left out the most important part: "as long as the property is not damaged." He's saying we have a right to use the Earth, but we don't have a right to damage it.
  • by lightsaber777 (920815) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:36AM (#20260093) Journal
    He's a scientist with an ego... which most scientists have and is a danger and possibly a barrier to objectivity. Being corrected and somewhat mocked for his mistake is, I'm sure, embarrassing and a shot to his ego. Of course, if he had simply released his findings instead of using them as a platform to promote his theories of climate change, I'm quite sure the response to the mistake would not have been so negative. The fact that they trumpeted the first findings and quietly released the second makes one wonder about the real reason for releasing them in the first place. Do real scientists keep things to themselves if their experiments don't fit with their original hypothesis? Do they tweak experiments until they come up with the intended outcome? That's not science... that's politics.
    • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:03AM (#20261263)

      The fact that they trumpeted the first findings and quietly released the second makes one wonder about the real reason for releasing them in the first place.
      Actually, Hansen is on record back in 1998 as stating that 1934 was the warmest year. Since then, 1998 and 1934 have ping-ponged back and forth in the NASA data as "warmest year" as various minor adjustments have been made, and NASA hasn't made much of it. As far as I can tell, it was NOAA, not NASA, which played up 1998 (or 2005, or whatever the record of the moment is) as the "warmest year".
  • Hansen makes a huge leap in his second email. He goes from

    "the evidence still indicates that global warming is real"
    to

    "it's all the fault of our leaders"
    in a single bound. That kind of superhuman logic belongs in comic books, not in scientific writing.
  • Wise words (Score:2, Funny)

    by LentoMan (704115)
    He who controls the Global Warming data, controls the universe!
  • typical mud-slinging (Score:5, Informative)

    by br00tus (528477) on Friday August 17, 2007 @08:41AM (#20260195)
    I have not paid much attention to the story, the reporting I heard kept mentioning the warmest year was 1934 and what we've been hearing from the people with the "global warming agenda" (whatever that is, everyone has to wear Birkenstocks?) was false. Of course they somehow neglected to mention that only the figures for the US were off, and only for the past seven years.

    More understandably, they neglected to mention that May 1934 was some of the worst weather to hit the US for a long time, and it wiped out the agriculture of many states, it was called the "Dust Bowl". And it was caused by agriculture concerns that had no concern whatsoever for the environment. So they are pointing back to an earlier environmental disaster.

    • by ElrondHubbard (13672) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#20262073)
      What Hansen considers the really significant distortion in the 1934-vs.-1998 comparison is this: while the absolute temperature difference between the two years (for the U.S.) was negligible, the U.S. was much warmer than the rest of the world in 1934, whereas in 1998 it was close to the global average. You can see this if you go back and read the PDF http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/realdeal.16aug20074. pdf [columbia.edu] of Hansen's second e-mail, and especially take a look at Figure 2 on page three. In 1934, the U.S. is a red spot surrounded by cooler areas, whereas in 1998 it's glowing red all over. Of course, the colour codes for a difference against baseline, not absolute temperature, but the difference is clear: 1934 temperatures in the U.S. were anomalously warm vs. the rest of the world, whereas in 1998 they were much more typical.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:34AM (#20261741)
    Seems like a sloppy guy. Time to move on to more careful scientists, even if they are coming up with similar results. Thats what happens when you become too political.
  • by sherriw (794536) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:34AM (#20261751)
    Dr. Hansen gets it right on. His 2nd email: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/realdeal.16aug20074. pdf [columbia.edu] is full of facts but most climate change deniers are highly skilled at ignoring those pesky facts.

    I think that how humanity handles this issue will be one of the greatest measures of our species in our entire civilization's existence so far. I just hope we don't embarrass ourselves by bickering about this until it's too late.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

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