I normally search Google News for stories about climate change. Today I wish I hadn’t.
Knowledge@Wharton, a website sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, has a story today titled ‘The Climate Change Tipping Point: How Should Businesses React?‘ It is based on James Hansen’s recent foray into igniting food fights with his paper published in the Discussion section of the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion Journal.
The story has no advice for businesses at all. It just discusses the wilder claims in the Hansen paper. It has quotes shouting out “If you look at what [the IPCC] predicted [in 2000] for 2020 in terms of greenhouse gas emission, in terms of impact on the planet — the worst-case scenario is already happening….”
and “We may wake up … in 2025, 2030 and see rapid sea level rise — that’s what people have been fearing for years, because they don’t have the time to adapt.”
and “We’re not talking about an increase of sea level by a few feet; we’re talking about a large number — five, 10, 20 meters — basically two, three, four, five floors.”
None of which are predicted by mainstream science, which used to include James Hansen.
It’s dispiriting to see science ignored. It’s worse when you realize that it isn’t just Wharton–Rolling Stone has a piece titled “The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here“. SBS has a story titled “Is anywhere on Earth safe from climate change?”
In all, the search for “Climate Change Hansen” on Google News returns 42,300 results.
Hansen’s claims are not based on mainstream science. Rather, they come from his nightmares. Hansen as much as admits this in a piece he wrote for Huffington Post titled “Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is An Issue For Today’s Public–Not Next Millenium’s.” Hansen writes, “Did you read any of the recent papers that concluded ice sheets may be disintegrating and might cause large sea level rise in 200-900 years? The time needed for ice sheets to respond to climate change is uncertain, and there are proponents for time scales covering a huge range. However, 200-900 years should cause a scientist to scratch his head. If it is uncertain by an order of magnitude or more, why not 100-1000? Where does the 200-900 precision come from?
Why the peculiar 900 years instead of the logical 1000? Probably because nobody cares about matters 1000 years in the future (they may not care about 900, but 200-900 does not seem like infinity). A scientist knowing that sea level is a problem does not want the reader to dismiss it.”
The ice Hansen is worried about is mostly the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, particularly the Pine Island Glacier. It has been predicted to fail since the 1930s due to mechanical stresses, not global warming and scientists think that it will take about 200 years to have an impact on sea level. The ice cap in Greenland would take a minimum of 3,000 years to lose half its volume. The Eastern Ice Sheet in Antarctica would take even longer than that to impact sea levels.
But the sheer volume of the hysteria caused by Hansen’s ill-advised paper, meant no doubt to provide fodder for the climate concerned in Paris, is dispiriting. How can misinformation be countered on that scale?
It’s like we’re watching a cheesy disaster movie from the 70s.
Maybe sane people could counter with an appropriate satire?
Look. Disasters are serious. I am currently living in Taipei. Some time in the next 12 hours Typhoon Soudelor is expected to pass over my house. It is thought that it might strengthen as it approaches. 3 people in Taiwan have already been swept out to sea by the storm.
But the people here, unlike the hysterics agitating about 5 meters of sea level rise by 2020, are doing what we need to do. Sandbagging, laying in water and batteries for flashlights, tying things down. We are not accusing someone of creating this storm. We are not advocating that windows be permanently removed from buildings, nor that we start living in caves.
Hansen’s problem is that he doesn’t have enough problems. Forcing his nightmares on us might be therapy for him. It’s leading to a real disaster for us–if we choose to believe him.