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Hansen's direst forecast?

The Daily Beast recounts James Hansen's latest prognostication of doom, under the headline 

Climate seer James Hansen issues his direst forecast yet

The immediate thing that struck me was that this must be some pretty far-out stuff, because Hansen has issued some truly blood-curdling predictions in the past. So what is it this time?

James Hansen’s new study explodes conventional goals of climate diplomacy and warns of 10 feet of sea level rise before 2100.

No, I'm afraid that just doesn't cut the mustard. As Anthony Watts has related, back in 1998 Hansen was talking about that level of sea-level rise by 2040. I suppose we should acknowledge that the great climatologist has reined back his soothsaying from "outright bonkers" to "slight foaming at the mouth", but we can say for sure that is is not his direst forecast yet.

Far from it.

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Reader Comments (49)

When one of my buddies starts talking about AGW and sea level rise (and yes, they do - some of these guys are really into that sort of thing), I suggest they go the the beach, stand at the water's edge, and notice the fact that they're not actually submerged.

That was pretty much the "scary" prediction - a good six feet of sea level increase by now. Oops. Of course, they've "edited" those predictions over the years, going from "eighteen feet by 2100" to "eighteen to twenty-nine feet in the coming centuries," to "six feet by 2100, to "well, maybe a foot over the next century."

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commentercirby

Don Quixote syndrome.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

If the reader was, say, about 16 years old then they could perhaps claim ignorance on the basis that Hansen has been predicting worse disasters since before they were born.

But the reporter is clearly older than that. He should be mindful that the job of reporter still, occasionally, comes with a few requirements to be truthful and/or research the topic at least a little bit.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

To improve his credibility, Hansen should try forecasting something that has a chance of happening in his lifetime, like maybe one of his previous predictions coming true. Otherwise his grandchildren will have to spend their lives apologising.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Hansen has no credibility whatsoever. None.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

Errr, petitio principii, when has Mr Hansen ever been right in his "predictions"? According to the article he's a veritable soothsayer of pronounced correctness!

My turn, tomorrow, the Sun will rise somewhere around the Earth! More chance of being right than Hansen ever will be!

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Hansen deserves to be ridiculed from here to eternity. His 'predictions' have been shown to be outright fantasy.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Your friends at RTCC are shrieking similarly, but more vaguely.
"several metres"
“highly dangerous”
Apparently there's a "study", but in usual propaganda style it seems that it hasn't been published yet - just leaked to sympathetic journalists so it can be hyped and nobody can check the claims.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

So Chicken Little tells his story again, and all these reporters credulously don their hard hats and practice their duck and cover for the umpteenth time.

They're every bit as bad as the idiots who just need another twenty bucks because they're SURE they can beat the three-card monte hustler next time.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Mark Hertsgaard is a weapons grade berk (or worse - much, much worse).

If Hansen is right—and he has been right, sooner, about the big issues in climate science longer than anyone—the implications are vast and profound.

This stuff is beyond parody - it's taxing credulity well past snapping point. The painful part is that these chronically deluded gits won't shut up.... and they've got playmates.

The Daily Beast is the legitimate offspring of The Home Shopping Network.... go figure

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Succinctly summed up by Private Frazer:

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

In 2005, James Hansen told Tim Radford of The Guardian that the current 1 W/m^2 energy imbalance will raise temperatures 0.6 C by 2100, and over 10,000 years would raise sea levels by 1000 meters. This is a remarkable claim. Global ice is 33 million km^3, which if melted, would raise sea levels by 80 meters. The 3900 meter average ocean depth, when heated to just below boiling, would thermally expand an additional 164 meters. The maximum possible increase is 244 meters, a factor of 4 less than what Hansen claimed. In addition, the sea level rate of rise needed is 100 mm/year, a factor of 50 larger than what is currently observed.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

In 1988, Hansen’s scenario B predicted that global surface temperatures would increase by 0.6C between 1997 and 2013. But temperatures have actually increased by 0.07C (HADCRUT4), 0.00C (RSS), and 0.04C (HADSST3). Hansen’s prediction was too high by at least a factor of ten. With a surface warming of 0.6C, the predicted RSS increase should be 20% higher, or 0.72C. Hansen was completely wrong with this prediction.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

In senate testimony in June 1986, James Hansen predicted that CO2 and trace gases forcing would double by 2020, increasing US temperatures by 5C by 2050. This is a trend of 0.78C/decade. In reality, US temperatures have risen 0.1 C/decade between 1986 and 2012, about 8 times slower than predicted. To achieve Hansen’s prediction, US temperatures now need to rise by 1.25 C/decade.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

On June 23, 2008, Dr. James Hansen of NASA GISS predicted that the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer in five to ten years. Five years later, Arctic sea ice in summer 2013 had a remarkable recovery compared to previous years. With less than 5 years until Arctic sea ice is gone on June 21, 2018, this prediction is likely going to be laughably wrong.

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

“James Hansen of NASA is the only climatologist to have told Congress that the greenhouse effect is already here. He is a respected scientist but on this point very few of his colleagues agree with him, as Richard Kerr noted recently in Science. The Office of Management and Budget drew criticism when it heavy-handedly made Mr. Hansen qualify testimony to Congress last month. But its caveat, that his warnings ”should be viewed as estimates from evolving computer models and not as reliable predictions,” was scientifically impeccable. The computer models of the greenhouse effect are indeed ”evolving” -they’re somewhere around the amoeba stage.
Environmental lobbyists are tempted to emphasize the threat of the greenhouse effect because it reinforces so much of their other agenda.”
Nicholas Wade, New York Times Editorial, July 3, 1989

Jul 20, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

“The story is scientifically accurate and yet should be understandable to the public, a public that is less and less drawn to science… By telling the story of climate change with striking clarity in both his book and movie, Al Gore may have done for global warming what Silent Spring did for pesticides.”
James Hansen reviews An Inconvenient Truth, July 2006

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Main fact: It's even worse than we thought

Supporting detail: Why do you want to know, are you one of those denialists?

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

"I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a DEAD CERTAINTY.”
Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren
"At least one sentence in “Storms” will need to be corrected in the next edition: even with burning of all fossil fuels the tropical ocean does not “boil”."

High latitude warming is faster than tropical warming, reducing latitudinal temperature gradients, which is somehow going to drive more powerful cyclonic storms.
"…high latitude cooling would increase latitudinal temperature gradients, thus driving powerful cyclonic storms.”- James Hansen, blog paper, 12/26/2012

“As we shall see, the small forces that drove millennial climate changes are now overwhelmed by human forcings.”
Hansen et al., 2003 bulletin, Columbia University
“"The longevity of the recent protracted solar minimum, at least two years longer than prior minima of the satellite era, makes that solar minimum potentially a potent force for cooling," Hansen and his co-authors said.”
Hansen et al., "Earth's energy imbalance and implications", 2011

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Don't miss next week's top shocking story in the Daily Beast......

"The bats in Hansen's belfry require water wings."

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Isn't it strange how other scientists look into sea level rise and completely fail to find to same problem.

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

@ chris y at 3:48 PM

"In 2005, James Hansen told Tim Radford of The Guardian that the current 1 W/m^2 energy imbalance will raise temperatures 0.6 C by 2100"

Can Hansen calculate the energy imbalance which raised the temperature of Heathrow Airport by 0.9C in 2 minutes on 1st July?

Jul 20, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The Rubber Room is missing one of its residents
No doubt he'll be front and centre at the Paris Climate Coven tho

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

In the circus of the 1988 congressional hearings (Ringmaster: Timothy Wirth), Hansen was a prominent performing seal. He has helped promulgate his CO2-phobia even further since then, and much harm has been caused as a result. From the failure of his forecasts, we can at least with hindsight say that his science was unimpressive, and that no policy decisions ought to have been based on it. His performance then and since, was perhaps more intended to scare policymakers with histrionics about his phobia than to present them with a scientific case for them to follow up on before getting carried away with policymaking. If only more people had been calm enough to discount the unprofessional dramatics, and had supported say a 20 year follow-up period before doing anything expensive, then we could all (apart from those on the windfarm and other scams) be better off today, emotionally as well as financially. But the Club of Rome's adventures with Limits to Growth had already shown schemers how politically influential it can be to get men in white coats talking science and computer models when properly stage-managed. The next stage-management was the job of the IPCC, and it did it pretty well.

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:05 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

'DR DOOM' strikes again, although to be fair having your 'super power' of being always wrong is in really a bit rubbish , Still just as well its not stopped him from make a very nice living .

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

From the Daily Beast article, I don't think Hansen understands the meaning of 'evidence'.

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:57 PM | Registered Commentershub

Raise sea level by kilometre... wow. That was The Guardian Apr 29, 2005.

Holy moly their stories.

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterHugh

This is strange. Megan Darby of RTCC, having written the "we're all gonna drown" article I linked above, almost seems to be losing her faith on twitter:

" Hmmm, Hansen study was due to be published today but is "still being proofread"

"This sounds like more advocacy than science" says @borenbears - questioning why Hansen study is not in peer-reviewed journal

Can't help feeling Hansen made a tactical error not getting dire climate warnings peer reviewed first

quite apart from the fact scaring people has not proved to be an effective way of mobilising action "

Jul 20, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

In 1988 Hansen said New York's West Side Highway would be underwater in 20 years time. 20 years later, he said he meant 40 years not 20.

He has changed the timescale of his forecast by 100%. 27 years later he still appears to be completely wrong on timing, and there remains no evidence of accelerated sealevel rise.

As a "former NASA Scientist", does anybody know if he got away with such a consistent level of failure in Public Office? Obviously belief in Mooncheese is an Obama phenomenon, so did Hansen miscalculate the weight of the moon, based on the size of holes he saw in Swiss Cheese? Or was it due to the leaping cow, now in geostationary orbit?

Jul 20, 2015 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Daily Telegraph on predictions

First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied, "Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”

Startled by this sobering analysis, I moved on to Professor Rowan Sutton, Climate Director of NCAS at the University of Reading. When pressed on the particular outlook for the British Isles. Professor Sutton shook his head, moaned eerily unto the heavens, and stuffed his fingers into the entrails of a recently disembowelled chicken, bought fresh from Waitrose in Teignmouth.

Hurling the still-beating heart of the chicken into a shallow copper salver, Professor Sutton inhaled the aroma of burning incense, then told the Telegraph: “The seven towers of Agamemnon tremble. Much is the discord in the latitude of Gemini. When, when cry the sirens of doom and love. Speckly showers on Tuesday.”

For a final word, I turned to the greatest climate change scientist of all, Dr David Viner, one-time senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, who predicted in 2000 that, within a few years, winter snowfall would become "a very rare and exciting event".

However, he was trapped under a glacier in Stockport, so was unable to comment at the time the Telegraph went to press.

Jul 20, 2015 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

New Ice Age may begin by 2030

Researcher from the Lomonosov Moscow State University and her colleagues showed that the new Little Ice Age is coming

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Jul 20, 2015 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

As Tomo quotes

If Hansen is right—and he has been right, sooner, about the big issues in climate science longer than anyone—the implications are vast and profound.

Can anybody list those issues he has been right about?

Jul 20, 2015 at 6:56 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Chris y @ 3:48 pm:
Only 0.6 C ~1 degree F by 2100!! That's compatible with lukewarmers' expectations; a little gentle warming of no threat at all this century. How did Hansen make such a molehill of a prediction? But the mountain-building team quickly builds a huge volcanic mountain from such a molehill. We need a thorough study of the mountain-building process; we know a mountain cannot be built starting from nothing; they do need to start with a molehill.
By the way, my planet with it's super-greehouse conditions has about 200,000 times more carbon dioxide in it's atmosphere than earth.

Jul 20, 2015 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMayor of Venus

I predict my grandchildren will never see dire predictions the way we see them now. I also predict that the previous prediction will be wrong.

Jul 20, 2015 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

Who cares what Homer Hansen thinks? Hasn't he done enough already to trash whatever minor reputation in amateur dramatics he ever had? His major hypothesis, that earth would become like Venus owing to 'positive feedbacks', doesn't have many adherents.

Here's a forecast: this isn't the last doom prediction we'll ever hear from him, more's the pity.

Jul 20, 2015 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

chris y, Mayor -
The 0.6°C, from Hansen et al., "Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications" (Science, 2005) is an estimate of "warming in the pipeline"; that is, the additional warming expected to occur even if greenhouse gas concentrations remain fixed. [In brief: current forcing of 1.8 Wm-2, and equilibrium climate sensitivity of 2/3 K/(Wm-2), together imply 1.2 K eventual increase. We've seen 0.6 - 0.7 K to date, so the long-term response remaining is about 0.6 K.]

The paper doesn't give an estimate for temperature rise by 2100, if emissions continue to increase along a "business-as-usual" course, but it is certainly well above that.

In looking to see if the paper had other predictions for temperature, I ran across this line:

For example, it has been argued, on the basis of sea level during previous warm periods, that global warming of more than 1°C above the level of 2000 would constitute ‘‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’’ with climate (25,26).
Look up references 25&26 -- they're articles by Hansen himself! They could easily have written "One of us (Hansen) has argued..." but it sounds so much more objective to use the passive voice, doesn't it?

Jul 20, 2015 at 8:15 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Doug Elliot, not for the sceptics the sun-drenched beaches of Bali, the excitement of Rio, the sophistication of Paris.

Llandudno. The big oil funding didn't stretch very far. Butlins?

Jul 20, 2015 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

If I am not mistaken, Hansen previously talked about a paper he and his friends had in the works, which he gave some excuse for not publishing right away. I suspect his work is presently confronted with the problem of finding suitable reviewers to give it a pass.

Jul 20, 2015 at 9:17 PM | Registered Commentershub

When climate scientists start to wonder why no one takes them seriously anymore .........

The Oscar for Comical Climate Science goes to ...

Muppet Show creator Jim Henson would have appreciated the tributes almost bearing his name.

Jul 20, 2015 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Any chance that someone could ask a highly respected Met Office representative such as Dame Julia Sligo for her opinion on Hansen?

The Met Office and BBC were so keen on identifying Heathrow as the UK's hottest Urban Heat Island, yet they are a bit cooler about overheated climate science hotheads.

Prince Charles was famous with his enthusiasm for The Three Degrees. Now he and others remain excited by 2.

Jul 20, 2015 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Author! Author! Don't know who is funnier -- you or Hansen. Of course, Hansen's humor is unintended.

Eugene WR Gallun

Jul 21, 2015 at 3:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterEugene WR Gallun

BH .... you have it wrong. The truth is irrelevant. All that matters is the continuation of the big lie. The fact that every prediction fails to come to pass doesn't matter. Paul Erlich taught us that.

Jul 21, 2015 at 4:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterImranCan

Hansen's successor Schmidt is almost as as bad: He used to continually repeat a bad joke that people in Battery Park basement flats should worry first about sea level rise apparently unaware that Battery Park was entirely built on reclaimed land in the first place and so is a testament to just how easily humans can adapt. Ancient Rome is actually 18 feet below modern Rome btw: Funnily enough the Romans were smart enough to adapt even all those years ago. Nobody of course is listening to these sea level doomsters since folk continue in droves to buy houses closer and closer to the sea.

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I seem to remember that our PM was quite a fan of Hansen.

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

We are still waiting for the sea level to rise at Southport.

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

Against my better judgement and no thanks to Paul Matthews ;(, I wandered over to RTCC, by all the Gods my head now hurts so much.

You have to snigger, oh ever so slightly, upon reading this 'publication' RTCC, which pretends grave portents and presents gloom laden scenarios all earnestly reported [and 'behind the pen,' how do they keep a straight face?]. Doom, doom and ever more doom - er actually just rehashed doom but who the hell cares it's all on meme innit........

Does it not though beg the question, how can RTCC aspire to be a serious site when it allows itself to be the vehicle advertizing the wares of false prophets, counterfeit lobbyists and grubby failed politicians, Hansen, Gummer and Gore? After that, then one is given to musing, all of it [the great warming scam] is based on lies, big lies computer models and well, more lies after that.

Yes, the world's greatest Ponzi scheme rolls on, talking of prophesy and doom and stuff, are we to anticipate a major event during the Paris gob fest? Along the lines of a financial calamity - when the single currency goes t*ts up, climatic, tectonic, extra terrestrial projectile coming our way with a divine vengeance.........and anything related perchance?

No need to fear, the self style, self anointed leader of the free world can cope, it's the way he tells 'em.

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Why does anyone listen to Hansen?

Every single one of his predictions that could be factually checked has failed dismally.

Why don't the MSM pick up on this?

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Tsunamis, Earthquakes,Bolide impacts or atmospheric explosions, fuel poverty,lung diseases arising from cow dung, kerosene cookers and indoor wood fires and other disease epidemics have already killed more people in the last decade than all the estimates of mortality from the real or speculative impacts of "Catastrophic anthropogenic climate change" , atmospheric warming, sea level rise,glacier and ice cap melting, species extinctions and so on and so forth.

We don't need this rubbish- it merely distracts talent, attention and resources from real problems.

Bring on Bjorn Lomborg.

Jul 21, 2015 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaleoclimate Buff

Climate Change concern and sea level rises reflected in collapsing property prices.

An imminent 10 foot sea rise would pretty much wipe out Lower Manhatten . So do local New York resident James Hansen of Riverside Drive and his his Employer The Unversity of Columbia next to the Hudson River do they have any plans to sell up and move inland ?

Jul 21, 2015 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

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