aside President’s Denial Of Climate Change Science Could Portend Catastrophic Harm To Our Planet

The Father of Climate Change Science, former NASA climate director Dr. James Hansen and a slew of fellow scientists claim a mechanism in the climate could rapidly raise sea levels by metres which does not follow the model currently relied upon in the USA.

But this is someone who is a serious scientist and who deserves to have his voice heard. This climate change issue should be a top level national security issue, not just for the USA but for the world.

Here is the rest of the story…

On 3/24/16, Graham Redfearn of The Guardian penned the following report, “Has veteran climate scientist James Hansen foretold the ‘loss of all coastal cities’ with latest study?”

“James Hansen’s name looms large over any history that will likely be written about climate change.”

Image result for photo of NASA“Whether you look at the hard science, the perils of political interference or modern day activism, Dr Hansen is there as a central character.”

“In a 1988 US Senate hearing, Hansen famously declared that the “greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now”.

“Towards the end of his time as the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Hansen described how government officials had on other occasions changed his testimony, filtered scientific findings and controlled what scientists could and couldn’t say to the media – all to underplay the impact of fossil fuel emissions on the climate.”

Related image“In recent years, the so-called “grandfather of climate science” has added to his CV the roles of author and twice-arrested climate activist and anti-coal campaigner. He still holds a position at Columbia University.”

“So when Hansen’s latest piece of blockbuster climate research was finalized and released earlier this week, there was understandable global interest, not least because it mapped a potential path to the “loss of all coastal cities” from rising sea levels and the onset of “super storms” previously unseen in the modern era.”

“So what is Hansen claiming?”

“Well, the first thing to understand is that Hansen’s paper, written with 18 other co-authors, many of them highly-reputable names in climate science in their own right, is far from conventional.”

“Most scientific papers only take up four or five pages in a journal. Hansen’s paper – in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics – grabs 52 pages (although it’s hard to quibble over space when you’re laying out a possible path to widespread global disruption and the complete reshaping of coastlines).”

“Nor was the paper published in a conventional way. If you’re getting a faint sense of déjà vu about Hansen’s findings, then that could be down to how a draft version of the study was published and widely covered in July last year.”

“The journal runs an unconventional interactive system of peer review where comments and criticisms from other scientists are published for everyone to see, as are the responses from Hansen and his colleagues.”

“This is arguably a more transparent way of conducting the scientific process of peer review – something usually carried out privately and anonymously.”

LOUSIANA FLOOD

“None of this should really detract from Hansen and his co-author’s central claims.”

“Firstly, Hansen says they may have uncovered a mechanism in the Earth’s climate system not previously understood that could point to a much more rapid rise in sea levels.”

“When the Earth’s ice sheets melt, they place a freshwater lens over neighboring oceans. This lens, argues Hansen, causes the ocean to retain extra heat, which then goes to melting the underside of large ice sheets that fringe the ocean, causing them to add more freshwater to the lens (this is what’s known as a “positive feedback” and is not to be confused with the sort of positive feedback you may have got at school for that cracking fifth grade science assignment).”

“Secondly, according to the paper, all this added water could first slow and then shut down two key ocean currents – and Hansen points to two unusually cold blobs of ocean water off Greenland and off Antarctica as evidence that this process may already be starting.”

“If these ocean conveyors were to be impacted, this could create much greater temperature differences between the tropics and the north Atlantic, driving “super storms stronger than any in modern times”, he argues.”

“All hell will break loose in the North Atlantic and neighbouring lands,” he says in a video summary.”

“Hansen points to evidence from ancient climates (known as paleoclimate data) to suggest this has previously happened on Earth – an interpretation that was challenged during the interactive peer review process.”

“Now, according to the IPCC, global sea levels will only rise a maximum of not quite a metre by the end of the century.”

“But Hansen says this is too conservative. His paper claims that climate models, including those used for his paper, don’t properly capture the consequences from adding freshwater from melting ice sheets. Sea levels could rise several metres beyond the IPCC’s estimates, and the rise would be much faster.”

“So what’s the upshot? According to Hansen:

These feedbacks raise questions about how soon we will pass points of no return in which we will lock-in consequences that cannot be reversed on any time scale that people care about.

Consequences include sea level rise of several metres, which we estimate could occur this century or at the latest next century if fossil fuel emissions continue at a high level.

That would mean the loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s largest cities and all of their history.”

“The idea that ice sheets are becoming unstable and could raise sea levels several metres is not as controversial as you might think. There is good evidence that sea levels have been many metres higher in earth’s history, well before humans came along.”

“A May 2015 study covered here on Planet Oz found Antarctica’s ice sheet alone could have pushed sea levels as much as 17 metres higher, but it would have taken thousands of years.”

“Commenting on Hansen’s study, Dr John Church, a sea level rise expert at Australia’s CSIRO, says multimeter sea level rises are consistent with current research, but where Hansen departs is on claiming it could all happen before the end of this century.”

“But Church says that as fossil fuel emissions grow, the world is committing future generations to much higher sea levels.”

“Even with the lower emission scenarios we have committed the world to ongoing sea level rise for centuries,” he says.

“You can be sure that many scientists – indeed most scientists – will find some aspects in our long paper that they would interpret differently,” Hansen says.”

“But he also commented that these disagreements shouldn’t be misinterpreted.”

“I find that the public sometimes misinterprets our science discussions – how research is done. Scepticism is the lifeblood of science. It takes time for conclusions to be agreed upon and details sorted out.”

“And so it’s in this spirit that I think Hansen’s paper should be taken.”

“Whether or not March 2016 becomes another seminal moment in Hansen’s storied climate career only time, and a failure to reign in fossil fuel emissions, will likely tell.”

One final point.

“Hansen has long called for a straightforward rising price on greenhouse gas emissions, which he argues would “quicken the transition to cleaner energy.”

“This is a tragic situation, because it is unnecessary,” he says.”

We could already be phasing out fossil fuel emissions if only we stopped allowing the fossil fuel industry to use the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for their waste.

9 comments

  1. Gronda, thanks for posting this. Hansen is a voice worth listening too. It was interesting that the Pope provided our low-information President with his educational piece of climate change. Of course, only one those men take the time to read and he is the religious one who believes climate change needs to be dealt with.

    Keith

    • Dear KEITH,

      I do hope that DDT listens to Pope Francisco. I bet that the president was impressed by the Vatican. Let’s just say, that Dr. Hansen is a voice that we can’t afford to discount out of hand.

      Ciao, Gronda

      • Gronda, of course, the assault is not just on climate science, it is on the environment. I heard that Scott Pruitt is replacing 1/2 of an apolitical science board of 18 with nine industry folks. It does not take a rocket scientist to see what that will do. Keith

  2. Thank you for this post Gronda.
    Even if we assume this paper is ‘off’ by 75% many low-lying areas will experience unpleasant effects, particularly in Storm seasons.
    The planet is not ours to control. There is one phrase for the doubters ‘Fossil Record’- or if they insist on being Biblical ‘Noah’ (God only said He wouldn’t flood the entire world).

    • Dear Roger,

      This is indeed sobering news. For those of us who live in Florida, a state that is surrounded by water, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico in the west., this does not bode well.

      Ciao, Gronda

  3. Trump is neither a majority of the population or a scientist. Even if he doesn’t believe things will get as bad as as it threatens he should be deciding if the risks he takes with his coal mining and other policies are worth it….. not for himself as people of our age will be gone, but for the sake of his children and grandchildren. They won’t be looking up to the man who shrunk their world and lost all their coastal properties.
    He is being criminally negligent now by ignoring the facts. In the not too distant future he may just be known as a criminal.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Dear David Prosser,

      DDT’s continued denial of climate change does border on criminal negligence by not acting in the best interests of this country.

      And yes, I suspect that DDT is heavily invested in fossil fuel industry and I am willing to bet that his actions are self serving.

      This is so frustrating.

      Ciao, Gronda.

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      Thanks for the reference. I did do a blog on this story. It is too bad that 250,000 have early voted. It is expected that there will be about 400,000 total votes.

      Ciao, Gronda

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