Thirty years ago, in June, 1986, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee met to consider the problems of ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, and climate change.
Present at those hearings was today’s climate Cassandra, James Hansen, then of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies. And he was predicting that “global temperatures should be nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years,” according to Associated Press reporting at that time.
There was some sloppiness either in Hansen’s account, or the AP’s, for in one part of his testimony Hansen claimed that his institute’s climate models projected, for “the region of the United States, the warming 30 years from now is about 1 1/2 degrees C, which is about 3 F.”
Ronald Bailey, the science writer over at Reason, tries to make sense of this mess of numbers, models, and predictions.
Oh, and actual, tabulated results.
Hansen’s predictions went, as Bailey put it, “definitively off the rails when tracking the temperature trend for the contiguous U.S. between 2000 and 2016. Since 2000, according to the NOAA calculator, the average temperature trend has been downward at -0.06 F degree per decade.”
That’s not the whole picture, though: “global temperatures have increased by 0.51 C degree since 1986, so perhaps the man-made global warming signal has finally emerged.”
No matter, though, as Bailey notes, “the United States and the Earth have warmed at considerably slower pace than Hansen predicted 30 years ago.”
Which suggests that Hansen’s models may be inspired more by wish, fear, and ideology than genuine science.
So, to those who wish to rush to “do something” (anything?) to combat “climate change,” take it slow. Follow the pace of the Earth itself.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.