Predictions and ultimatums by learned, qualified scientists should be taken seriously. In the case of the father of the global warming scare, James Hansen, formerly a climate scientist with NASA/GISS, and now a full-time scientist/activist, the time is up on a remarkable ultimatum made ten years ago in the New York Review of Books.
“We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions,” he wrote in his July 2006 review of Al Gore’s new book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth. “We have reached a critical tipping point,” he assured readers, adding “it will soon be impossible to avoid climate change with far-ranging undesirable consequences.”
Several years later, with the publication of his 2009 manifesto Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save the Planet, he shared “some bad news” (p. 139) with readers:
The dangerous threshold of greenhouse gases is actually lower than what we told you a few years ago. Sorry about that mistake. It does not always work that way. Sometimes our estimates are off in the other direction, and the problem is not as bad as we thought. Not this time.
“The climate system is on the verge of tipping points,” Hansen stated (p. 171). “If the world does not make a dramatic shift in energy policies over the next few years, we may well pass the point of no return.”
Also in 2009, he told the press:
We cannot afford to put off [climate policy] change any longer. We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.
Four years from 2009? If anything, the ten-year window Hansen foresaw in 2006 may have gotten shorter.
Fossil Fuels Still Dominant
So has there been a trajectory change with fossil fuels to avert disaster for Hansen? Hardly!
In 2005, the market share of natural gas, coal, and oil was 86 percent, according to the US Energy Information Administration. In 2015, a decade later, the market share of fossil fuels was an identical 86 percent, according to the BP Statistical Review.
EIA forecasts that fossil fuels will supply 79 percent of all energy in the year 2030, down from 86 percent predicted a decade ago but hardly suggesting a major trajectory change.
Hansen’s window for action has been missed. This has left him nonplussed with President Obama and the whole international climate-change crusade. Calling the Paris agreement “a fraud,” Hansen added:
It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.
This climate scientist has even led a federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration for
… willfully ignored this impending harm. By their exercise of sovereign authority over our country’s atmosphere and fossil fuel resources, they permitted, encouraged, and otherwise enabled continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels, and so, by and through their aggregate actions and omissions, Defendants deliberately allowed atmospheric CO2 concentrations to escalate to levels unprecedented in human history, resulting in a dangerous destabilizing climate system for our country and these Plaintiffs.
Recently, though, James Hansen seems to have forgotten about his closing-window ultimatums. There, as yet, is not a new point-of-no-return. Instead, he talks vaguely about the challenge ahead. “What makes [the climate change issue] all the more difficult is the fact that our solutions are going to require changing the energy system, and that requires decades,” Hansen said just last month. “So it’s a very difficult problem.”
Hansen as the scientific father and leader of climate alarmism should not get off so easily. His ultimatum was wrong, as was his science behind it. Which leaves his former high-pressure sales tactics for censure.
“Deadlines are designed to force you into a sale before you’ve had time to think,” the Better Business Bureau warns. Hansen’s tactics are somewhere between an over-eager salesman and a scammer, to which the BBB recommends:
Pay attention to your emotions. This may sound touchy-feely, but high pressure sales are all about manipulation. If you start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, rushed or like you just can’t think clearly, come to your own rescue. Walk out of the room. Hang up. Tell the salesperson to leave.
Wrong-again James Hansen should lose the confidence of his audience. The sky has not fallen and is not about to fall.
Free-market wealth-is-health adaptation is a better strategy than political shenanigans and a government-directed energy future. In fact, it is a strategy whose time has come now that we are out of Hansen’s window of reversal.