Monday, April 27, 2009

Hansen's faulty 1988 predictions of global warming.

Once again, I was in an online discussion with some conservatives who were upset about their denomination getting involved in the issue of global warming. They pointed out how it had been shown that the models for global warming are faulty. The 1988 models from James Hansen's Senate testimony were unable to predict the warming that occurred, so we really cannot trust the models today. We really cannot re-order our economic life around predictions that have shown themselves to be faulty.

The problem is that this is all based on a lie. I don't know who started it. Many people may have repeated verbatim information that they got second-hand or third-hand because they trusted the philosophical worldview of the people who were pushing the propaganda. What is the lie?

Here is an example. The example cited to me was the written testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee of John Christy on 25 February 2009. In this public document is a graph comparing James Hansen's 1988 predictions against the actual data. Here's a plot:

Note how the plot purports to be from James Hansen in 1988. Note how there are curves for a Scenario A and Scenario B. They are practically on top of each other.

Look at Hansen's actual 1988 data:

See how the portion of the curve from 1990 to 2010 shows a significant variation between Scenario A and Scenario B. Isn't that special? So, the global warming skeptics are running around telling us that the models in the past were completely unreliable, but then make false claims about what the old models were.

So how does the 1988 curve stack up against the actual data? Here's a plot:
(I hope it does not count as bandwidth stealing if I tell you the above figure comes from the Real Climate blog's article, Hansen’s 1988 projections. The Scenario B lines up pretty well.

John Christy's report says,
"We utilize energy from carbon, not because we are bad people, but because it is the affordable foundation on which the profound improvements in our standard of living have been achieved – our progress in health and welfare."

The problem here is with a view of original sin. If we cannot see the possibility that sin creeps into any aspect of our lives, even our energy use, then we've fallen into Antinomianism. The 1960's showed us the societal impacts of sexual libertinism; as we climb up the curves in Hansen's 1988 plots, we'll see the societal impacts of economic libertinism.

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