Climate Politics — Headlines first, Science if convenient

I have read many complaints by skeptics about the science Dr James Hansen practices.  I had never read any of his publications until last week.   I was surprised.  He appears to have designed a study (the subject of my last 3 blogs) with a successful outcome in mind.   I suspect he selected a specific 30 year period….and then built a rational around the selection.

Why would anyone even bother to complete any climate study with only a 30 year baseline?  A baseline that started in 1951?  I know of no good reason to begin in 1951.  Why only 30 years?  He has 150 years of direct measurement, in varying degrees of accuracy.  Why not 150, or perhaps 1000 years or a million years?  My best guess….publicity.  There hadn’t been any doom speak global warming articles in a while….the cause needed one.

I first saw the story shortly after it was released online at  Bloomberg News.  The following morning there was an article in my local paper.   The Bloomberg story quoted Dr. Hansen and talked about his results.  The local paper included a comment by  Dr. Cristy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville which specifically said the  study was flawed.   That was my first indication that the study used an odd base year.

The next day I read the study.

Today I googled  James Hansen extreme weather and looked at all the different news agencies that picked up the story.  The Washington Post, The New York Times,  ABC and many many more.   Dr. Hansen was given time to talk about his study on PBS.   Wow.  He’ll be on Letterman soon, I’d guess.  It’s good to be famous.

Dr. Hansen and other climate scientists have been getting away with sloppy science since the 1980’s.  It is a frequent refrain in climate politics.  My personal top three:

  1. The Mann Hockey Stick Graph,  with it’s questionable algorithms and odd sampling.
  2. Al Gore’s film, no further explanation necessary.
  3. The 2002 IPCC Synopses Report on Climate that included the unproven Mann study and excluded anything that disagreed.   The 2007 Synopses Report partially corrected the error by including information omitted from the 2002 Report.

Sloppy science and wild ass guessing rewarded by the press.  Darwin’s Theory of Evolution gets more scrutiny than global warming theory and the Scopes trial was a hundred years ago.  I don’t know why global warming theory gets a pass…but it does.

If the press did a better job, Dr. Hansen would be challenged when he makes outlandish statements.  After a few, he would become more careful, and the IPCC would be more careful too. I doubt Al Gore has any careful in his genes.

When the press is scientifically ignorant, we all lose.

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