Tag Archives: Dr. James Hansen

James Hansen causes a stir….

James Hansen, as reported in the UK’s Independent newspaper has suggested that the sceptic position on global warming is gaining ground and I really love this quote from the story:

In a briefing at the Royal Society , Dr Hansen, pictured, was frank about the success with public opinion of what he termed “the climate contrarians”, in effectively lessening public concern about global warming. He said: “They have been winning the argument for several years, even though the science has become clearer.

“There’s been a very strong campaign by those who want to continue fossil fuel ‘business as usual’, and the scientific story has not been powerful enough to offset that push.”

Part of the problem, he said, was that the climate sceptic lobby employed communications professionals, whereas “scientists are just barely competent at communicating with the public and don’t have the wherewithal to do it.”

The result was, he said, that in recent years “a gap has opened between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community, and what’s known by the people who need to know – and that’s the public. However there’s nothing that has happened to reduce our scientific conclusion that we are pushing the system into very dangerous territory, in fact that conclusion has become stronger over that same time period.”

Why do I love this quote? It is because it flies so blatantly in the face of reality. For example, a particular bugbear of this blog is the New Zealand Herald, which offers particularly biased coverage of the debate. A quick site search of the Herald produced the following:

1. An editorial titled ‘Gillard Shows Courage on Climate Bill’, in which, you guessed it, coverage of Hansen’s comments is included. In addition to this we have commentary such as:

Either way, the country’s first step towards a cleaner economy sends a clear message to the world’s developing nations. Finally, one of the most notable climate change loafers has acted. The excuses for inaction are dwindling. The tax also delivers a strong verdict on the perils of global warming to the public. In so doing, it heightens the prospect of informed debate.

2. A more balanced article on the carbon dioxide tax in Australia

3. An article on…..yep, Jim Hansen’s comments on the climate change debate.

4. An article on Gillard’s wider political position which includes discussion of her position and debate on the carbon dioxide tax.

5. A couple of other articles also briefly touch on climate change, but are not addressing the subject….

I could go on, but the point is that Hansen’s comments only serve to refute Hansen’s comments. He claims that the debate is being lost due to lack of communication of the non-sceptic side of the debate, but Hansen’s comments are themselves widely reported, alongside some highly dubious ‘evidence’ he presents for the anthropogenic global warming thesis. Where are all these communications professionals on the sceptic side of the debate?

They are nowhere to be seen in most of the mainstream media.The Herald just serves to make the point with extensive coverage of Hansen’s views and comments, alongside endorsement of Gillard’s position on the carbon dioxide tax. These communication professionals should be looking for new jobs, as they do not seem to be having any impact.

The real point of interest here is the miracle of growing scepticism in the face of the ‘warming’ bias of the vast majority of the mainstream media. This bias is in turn supported by a huge ‘industry’ of NGOs with communications professionals, all of whom are seeking to promote the global warming scare. Two sociologists promoted the myth of the power of the sceptic camp with the following diagram:

However, in a rather brilliant response, Jo Nova presents the following:

It is really rather comical that the non-sceptic side bleats about communication professionals on the sceptic side when most of the mainstream media is supportive of their cause. For example, the lack of coverage of the scientific fraud of NIWA over the New Zealand temperature record in the press is a disgrace (see previous post here). If you would like to evaluate which of the above diagrams is closer to the truth, the New Zealand mainstream media tells the story; Jo Nova’s diagram paints the accurate picture.

As I have said, the real story is that, despite so much positive coverage in the media for the non-sceptic side of the debate, the sceptic debate is winning. Perhaps that just reflects the growing strength of the arguments of the sceptic side of the debate? Now, there is a novel explanation of why the sceptic argument is winning, and one which does not seem to occur to the non-sceptics.

Note: This is the second version of the post, due to initial technical problem. Among many problems, all links disappeared in the first version, so I hope all of this is reproduced accurately as per the original post.

More of the Media Climate Change Love-in

Did you see the Close Up interview with Dr. James Hansen? Hansen is billed in the Close Up website as having invented the first climate models, itself a rather dubious claim. Mark Sainsbury interviews Hansen about his views on climate change, and the interview is, to be quite frank, an embrassment. I generally have a great deal of respect for Mark Sainsbury, who manages to ask interviewees many of the difficult questions without coming over as aggressive or partisan. It is quite a talent.

However, and it is a big however, the interview with James Hansen was an embarassment. It was bordering on the fawning, and absolutely no difficult questions were asked. We can assume, for example, that the Close Up researchers would have undertaken some kind of background search on Dr. Hansen and might have found his Wikipedia entry. This is a little excerpt from the introduction to his entry:

In recent years, Hansen has become an activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on several occasions has led to his arrest.

The key point here is that Dr. Hansen has become an activist, and is not simply a scientist. He has taken on a role that moves him away from being a disinterested scientist (okay, no scientists are entirely disinterested, but there is line that can be drawn), but this was not how he was portrayed on Close Up. Instead, Mark Sainsbury placed strong emphasis on his scientific credentials, with a particularly strong emphasis placed upon his leadership of the NASA Goddard Institute. Mark Sainsbury might just as well have said that he is a rocket scientist, and we all know how clever they are.

What kind of difficult question could Mark Sainsbury asked of Dr. Hansen? One question might have addressed the accuracy of the climate models that have been developed by Dr. Hansen. For example, a critique of the accuracy of the models can be found here. Instead of addressing any area of controversy, Mark Sainsbury appeared to present a series of questions which were purposefully designed to allow Dr. Hansen to present a series of frightening and emotive scenarios. If watching the interview, it would be impossible for any viewer to be aware that the anthropogenic climate change might be the subject of intense debate and controversy. Instead, scenarios of doom and disaster were presented one after the other without a single probing or difficult question.

Just to add to the sense of alarm, the editors of the program pulled and displayed scary quotations as the interview progressed, such as:


Just as Dr. Hansen has moved from scientist to advocate, Close Up likewise moved from being news to advocacy. This is not to say that advocacy does not ever have a place in news programmes such as Close UP, but advocacy on issue that is quite rightly such an area of controversy seems to be inappropriate. On an issue of this kind, a news programme should at the very least inform viewers of the fierce debate that is taking place. The programme should at least include some difficult questions, and identify that there are scientists who are questioning the foundation of Dr. Hansen’s views.

I can only conclude by expressing my disappointment with Mark Sainsbury and the Close Up editorial team. Whilst they may believe the scenarios presented by Dr. Hansen, they owe it to their viewers to give them an opportunity to make up their own minds, not to be spoon fed horror scenarios by a climate change activist.