Hansen: Climate Change Is Worse Than We Thought

NASA’s James Hansen writing in the WaPo:

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988, I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic. …

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

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  • WesleyV

    But no one is more capable of denying global warming than Republicans, and that is just what they will do. Deny, deny, and deny.

  • The_Ohioan

    But if it was that hot, God would bring the dinosaurs back. I haven’t seen any, so this must just be a fluke.

    And besides, global warming is a dirty, pinko, communist plot, because:

    “There is a reason that the upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd, falls on the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the former Soviet Union’s first dictator. Everything associated with the environmental movement has communism as its basis.”

    http://www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog/frugal-cafe-blogzone/2012/04/21/my-sorta-kinda-tribute-to-earth-day-the-great-sustainability-lie-of-global-warming-its-doomsday-fallacies-failures/

  • zephyr

    The saddest thing about this (other than the utterly partisan based and ignorance based denial) is the unlikelyhood of us mustering the necessary right stuff as a species to do much about it.

  • labman57

    The evidence — compelling.

    The damage — substantial.

    The right wing response — “So?”

  • hyperflow

    The GOP position is only logical if you accept the notion that the challenge is too large to sustain a 1st world economy. Assuming — of course — that a first world economy today is more important than an hostile environment tomorrow

  • http://www.americaincontext.com Barky

    We’ve passed the tipping point. There is nothing we can do now. The freight train is hurtling to our doom. We cannot stop the climate train freight train now, even if we reverted back to a pre-industrial economy tomorrow.

    The Right has done their job: instigated enough delay that it no longer matters. May as well continue with the way we are going until the oil is gone, we’re doomed anyway.

  • rudi

    The industrial West are gluttonous pigs. We colonized Africa and South American to exploit its people and resources.

    The big problem with global warming will be to food supply. Look at the drought throughout the US. Add to this a water shortage, peak oil and a phosphate shortage. We will not be able to feed the runaway population. Starvation is worse than Mitten’s losing an ocean side home to rising oceans.

  • hyperflow

    We’ve passed the tipping point. There is nothing we can do now

    That is like saying you shouldn’t quit smoking because you already have COPD. We need to quit smoking.

  • StockBoyLA

    “God would bring the dinosaurs back.”

    Actually if we destroy ourselves by creating an environment so hostile that Earth can no longer support life, then we will be the dinosaurs when the next intelligent species arise in a few million years and excavate our fossilized graves.

    So I guess you can say that the dinosaurs are already here.

  • The_Ohioan

    Stockboy

    How about the dirty, pinko, commies? :-)

  • zephyr

    Right you are hyperflow. Giving up is not an option… and giving in to the idiots who refuse to get it (regardless of how powerful they may be) is not an option either.

  • ShannonLeee

    Barky is right. We are waaaaay past the tipping point. I have been saying that here for a while now. That does not mean that we should do nothing. It just means that we need to start preparing for the consequences of our actions. It is going to get really ugly over the next couple of decades.

  • slamfu

    That’s the nice thing about Climate Change. Its not some hypothetical bet about something like who would win in a boxing match, Joe Louis or Mike Tyson. If we just wait long enough we will plainly see who was right and who wasn’t. And so far it looks like it wasn’t the deniers. I’m sure another decade or so of crazy weather will bring the rest about.

  • petew

    .. I haven’t even heard the extreme religious right claim that God would bring the dinosaurs back if the climate was really warming–that’s a good one!

    All joking aside, we have created a climate catastrophe that there is nothing to laugh about! Big oil and coal have done their jobs well and have convinced the pubic that global warming is a hoax in the only way possible–by denying all the evidence and claiming that it is a conspiracy. Special interests have also capitalized on the general lack of scientific knowledge that the public doesn’t have–despite the fact that our textbooks and curriculum stress the use of solidly gathered Climate change data.

    I have heard deniers claim global warming does not exist because,for example, February 5th was a cold day, or, because we just, usually have, hot weather in summer–totally ignoring the weight of the latest information.

    My favorite lie concerns the fact that even local weathermen have difficulty predicting the weather for a week, so how do scientists expect to know what happens in the next few decades?–the answer being that local weather events are more apt to fluctuate in unpredictable ways simply because local weather does that. Climate Scientists are interested in documenting and recording TRENDS, which are long lasting patterns that are actually more easily predicted because they happen on a global scale. This is just one example of how deniers create doubt by playing to our lack of knowledge about science.

    There have been plenty of extreme weather changes in Earth’s long history–ones usually unfolding over thousands of years–not a few decades. This, and the fact that ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and the consequent massive release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has grown in a exponential way that almost perfectly coincides to the increased activity of our Industrial world. Our scientists are not lucky guessers, they have predicted this rapid change in our weather for decades.

    The sad thing is, right wing groups have chosen to bury their heads in the sand. Instead of working together to prevent this crisis. They have effectively insisted on not believing this inconvenient truth until it may be too late to reverse it.

    Human beings hang onto the familiar and prefer the need for rapid gratification. We do not want change until we become absolutely convinced about the reality of global warming. However,perhaps at least one good thing has resulted from our recently erratic and extreme weather–more and more of us cannot deny what we see happening all around us. Conservatives in Congress have nullified any real political will from the public,to actually believe the truth and take action to save our Currently livable world.

    I say”congratulations,congratulations, to you captains of industry and you big Corporate executives, Once again you have hidden the elephant in the room and capitalized on our human tendency to deny what we don’t want to think about. The future world belongs to you–every scorching hot corner of it. you helped old people die, created more destructive hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and snowstorms.
    you have set most of the American west on fire, have melted the massive amounts of frozen water at the North Pole, destroyed a vast area of the Amazon, and stubbornly refused to admit that almost every part of life will be adversely effected by climate change. The oceans, our food,our now endangered natural species, our water supply and our Political stability will now be even more elusive–And, the amazing thing is, just like Baghdad Bob, you have kept up the front of denial while insisting that your fellow beings are not really in danger, even while American tanks maneuvered and criss-crossed closely behind him. I’m sure you will also find an excellent way to deny everything in this post if you want, or need to. Congratulations, you are now the king of a seriously damaged environment!