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« Lateral thinking | Main | IoP and the great unwashed »
Tuesday
May212013

Hansen at the LSE

Reader Danny Weston sends this report of James Hansen's lecture at the LSE last week.

On Friday the 17th James Hansen came to speak at the London School of Economics (LSE), on “Itinerant farming to White House arrests: A scientist’s view of the climate crisis”.

The venue was completely packed and I wasn’t sure initially if I would even get in. There were hundreds of people, already buzzing with excitement before Hansen began his talk.

As expected, Hansen put the frighteners on, emphasising that immediate action was required to stymie anthropogenic CO2’s allegedly noxious effect on our environment. His presentation was littered with continual emotive references to, and pictures of, his numerous grandchildren, showing them gradually growing up. This was important because Hansen is now pushing the line that whilst climate catastrophe is not imminent, it is “in the pipeline” and the victims will, apparently, be our grandchildren. The reason we’re not seeing imminent catastrophe now is because of “climate inertia” and we should be worried because there are further “tipping points” to come after which “we could lose control”. I’m sure all of this sounds familiar.

Furthermore, he was also playing the victim card, detailing his interactions with the Bush administration and presenting himself as a hard pressed and isolated scientist working against the grain. He claimed that the 30% reduction in the NASA climate budget during this period was a result of him having gone to the New York Times claiming that NASA had censored him [1].

He went through all of the standard alarmist memes with almost no qualification or caveats to speak of. Regular readers of BH and other sceptical blogs will be familiar with all of them – TSI not being a factor in affecting the climate, “unprecedented melt” in Greenland (for which he showed this [2] image, with no mention of these [3] issues), both Arctic and Antarctic “death spirals” (showing a graph for each, with a single curve sloping precipitously downward at an ever faster rate), ocean acidification, coral bleaching and so on.

“Extreme weather” of course had a central place in the presentation. He claimed that there were now “more extreme forest fires” and of course highlighted Hurricane Sandy. He said that droughts were also getting worse and tried to illustrate this anecdotally by claiming to have noticed changes in the migratory behaviour of the monarch butterfly in North America (also giving him another opportunity to reference his grandchildren).


He then moved onto more political aspects of his views, leading with a slide quoting himself thus:
“Our parents did not know that their actions could harm future generations. We will only be able to pretend that we did not know.”

This led into a discussion of “intergenerational justice”. During which he made a number of bizarre claims and statements. These included:

  • Extolling the virtues of France’s dash to nuclear power (no mention of the issue of nuclear waste whatsoever, nor the fact that both the UK and Germany regularly rely on French nuclear power).
  • Answering a questioner who raised the issue of national debts as possibly being more important than “green” spending, he claimed that attacking the deficit rewards the government, helping them to grow bigger.
  • Praising Bill McKibben for “getting the Sierra Club to join him” and “thousands of people” to surround the Whitehouse for the anti-Keystone pipeline demonstration. This is bizaare because Hansen was there himself – with all 50 attendees [4]
  • Then of course there was the boilerplate “there is a well funded [fossil fuel] effort to prevent the public from understanding the issue”.

During the Q and A session as I listened to one questioner after another identify whichever activist group or green lobbying special interest group they were from, I truly felt like I was alone in enemy territory. I almost backed out and let my fear get the better of me. But I kept putting my hand up regardless – I felt Hansen’s scaremongering could not go unanswered and if it wasn’t by way of putting points and questions to him then it was going to have to be heckles.

Shortly before the mike came to me, one of the activists in the audience pointed out that he [Hansen] was only preaching to the choir, saying that it was important to get people from ‘outside the choir’ to attend such events and asking how.

That was my in. Hansen responded to her that it was very important to get people from ‘outside the choir’ in to such talks but didn’t know how.

The mike came to me and I stood up and laid into him. I said that he was high on the hyperbole and hysteria and low on the facts. Most of the people there would unfortunately take him at his word and not look any further so I said I felt obliged to point out that most of his claims were highly controversial and some were flat out wrong and that I’d be happy to go through them with him there and then and debate him.

The crowd then turned on me, exploding in incredulity.

I stated that my question to him was that if he truly wanted people from ‘outside the choir’ to get involved then what on earth did he expect to happen when he continually pushed the line that there was an enormous well funded “denial” campaign, painting anyone who dared express a sceptical thought as being in bed with the fossil fuel industry.

After several hostile exchanges with the crowd immediately around me and a bit of back and forth between myself and Hansen, he finally got around to (not) answering my question. His response was very odd. He went through the hackneyed nonsense about science being based on scepticism (the implied syllogism here being that he was a scientist, therefore also a sceptic). He then said that he had debated Richard Lindzen previously. He said (referring to Lindzen) that it was “hard to win against an articulate guy”. He also – bizzarely – claimed that Lindzen had been shown to be wrong again and again and that he [Hansen] would no longer have any kind of debates, public or otherwise, with Lindzen or others because Lindzen “like other climate contrarians” – apparently – “even when he has been shown to be wrong on so many occasions, just shifts to another point to pick on”.

Following the talk I ended up being collared multiple times outside the lecture theatre. Thankfully a few people backpatted me and saying “very brave”, and a couple whispered to me conspiratorially “I’m outside the choir too”, but plenty were wanting to argue. I was happy to oblige.

I want to say thanks here by the way to the one kind chap who sided with me and argued with the attendees outside. What was particularly depressing though was further confirmation of the general pattern of ignorance that many of the alarmist footsoldiers appear to exhibit. There genuinely is no variation in my experience and over the last seven years or so during which I’ve argued with hundreds face to face since I fell from grace and became a CAGW sceptic. It is abundantly clear that they all get their talking points from the same limited insular group. I’d be interested to know if other BH readers have had a similar experience – commonalities include ignorance of CO2’s direct effect following a logarithmic decay, the importance of climate sensitivity and strong positive feedbacks to the alarmist case and similarly, their importance to the typical sceptic’s position (they always seem to have an utterly cartoonish impression of sceptics having never having before met one in real life), not understanding that the temperature data of 1880 or before may not necessarily be comparable to that in 2013, not knowing that regular measurements of CO2 have only been taken since 1958, not knowing that Venus’s climate is driven primarily by atmospheric pressure and proximity to the sun rather than CO2 and so on.

All in all a thoroughly depressing experience.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[2] http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/greenland-melt.html
[3] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/21/greenland-ice-melt-overestimated-due-to-satellite-data-algorithm-issue/
[4] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/13/keystone-xl-nasas-james-hansen-risks-arrest-again/

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Reader Comments (107)

Well, I would like to congratulate Danny Weston for his courage in speaking out in such a rabid green crowd. How else can we reach these frightened-to death people who only read the Guardian, and wouldn't dream of visiting a sceptic website, in case it should corrupt them?

May 21, 2013 at 7:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Wow. Was the event recorded? Sounds as if Danny Weston is our man standing in front of the tank. Congratulations.

May 21, 2013 at 7:40 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

A lecture from the Pope of AGW was always going to be a glorified pep talk. Well done Danny for putting the other side in such circumstances. Even a single determined and informed dissenting voice is a help.

May 21, 2013 at 7:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Yes, indeed. Well done.

May 21, 2013 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Well done Danny. I think though that you can get the wrong impression from a group of die-hard alarmists in the middle of Grauniad-reading London, which is full of students and activists who are divorced from reality. Out here in the sticks it is hard to come across anyone who believes in "climate change"TM. There are a few Green Party activists and greens in some of the towns (transition towns) and universities and LPAs, but on the whole, people are too steeped in reality to believe the nonsense that is spouted by the beeb and other alarmist propaganda media sources.

May 21, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Thank you for attending, but more importantly, for writing it up.

Did Hansen really say this?- "TSI not being a factor in affecting the climate,"
It flatly contradicts what he recently wrote;
"The longevity of the recent protracted solar minimum, at least two years longer than prior minima of the satellite era, makes that solar minimum potentially a potent force for cooling," Hansen and his co-authors said.”
Hansen et al., "Earth's energy imbalance and implications", 2011

Did Hansen repeat his assertion that cap and trade was half-assed and half-baked?
Did Hansen repeat his assertion that Copenhagen 2009 was fraudulent politics as usual? If so, did he elaborate on what sort of dictatorial system he preferred?
Did Hansen repeat his assertion that renewables are an energy solution akin to believing in the easter bunny or tooth fairy?
Did Hansen still state that his idiotic Venus syndrome on Earth was dead-certain, or was it certainly dead now?
Did Hansen explain why he never moved NASA GISS offices out of NYC and dead-certain sea level rise doom that he, himself predicted would come to pass this decade?

Based on your discussions with the crowd, it seems that David Roberts at Grist was correct in his assertion-

"For the most part, those who strongly support climate action do not do so because they've been rationally persuaded; in fact, they tend to be quite ignorant of the scientific details."
DR, Grist, 10/6/2011

May 21, 2013 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

“thousands of people” to surround the Whitehouse for the anti-Keystone pipeline demonstration. This is bizarre because Hansen was there himself – with all 50 attendees

Wow ... I've heard of people being temporarily afflicted with "double vision" ... but if Hansen's vision is such that 50 people appear to him as "thousands" then a visit to an ophthalmologist is definitely in order, PDQ. Or perhaps he is profoundly affected by "false memory syndrome".

If neither of the above can be confirmed by appropriate medical practitioners, then his rapidly declining credibility is, well worse than we thought ... and happening faster than we thought.

But kudos to Danny Weston for sitting through Hansen's performance - and for braving the inevitable onslaught of knee-jerk hostility for daring to question the Grand Panjandrum of alarmism.

May 21, 2013 at 8:13 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I'm on a countdown for the first appearance in the 'meja' of the cause of the disaster in Oklahoma to be ascribed to 'global warming'... any sightings yet ?

May 21, 2013 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Why "depressing"? A truth fabricator and manipulator on stage, dozens of braindead idiots in the crowd. It's like playing football against a squad of little babies.

Also on the positive side no sign (as yet) of violence.

May 21, 2013 at 8:33 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Most of the people who believe in CAGW have no qualification in or knowledge of science, they have faith. Such people are not interested in facts but onlty in the word of their prophets. As the science continues to go against CAGW we can expect more and more nonsence.

James Hansen is like a madman in an asylum shouting that he is sane really, shouting louder as the world realises how insane he is.

May 21, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I despair of Hansen. This is his first modelling paper: 1981_Hansen_etal.pdf

‘Carbon dioxide absorbs in the atmospheric “window” from 7 to 14 micrometers which transmits thermal radiation emitted by the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere. Increased atmospheric CO2 tends to close this window and cause outgoing radiation to emerge from higher, colder levels, thus warming the surface and lower atmosphere by the so called greenhouse mechanism’

This was either a very clever deception or a bad mistake. Apart from two minor bands at ~10 µm, there is very little CO2 absorption in the 8-14 µm ‘atmospheric window’. There is absorption at 7 µm and 15 µm. The latter is the major IR absorption band. Therefore the argument that CO2 blocks the aw was wrong but using it they claimed the World was going to heat dramatically and flood. None of these events have happened.

I suspect they made a mistake in the science then went public, got fame and backing from the carbon traders including Al Gore and Ken Lay of Enron. When better minds identified the errors, ‘the team’ apparently set out to construct a web of deceit to cover up the initial mistake. They now claim the ~15 µm ‘OLR bite’ blocks IR emission to Space but it’s easy to show how this is bypassed.

May 21, 2013 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Danny,

Thanks for the report. The take-away message for me is that there are a lot more nutty grandparents in the pipeline.

May 21, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Wow, that was brave. Good on you, mate. They'll wake up eventually.

May 21, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterA.D. Everard

To speak for the opposition at a political rally takes real courage. All respect to you Danny.

May 21, 2013 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Chris y -

"Did Hansen really say this?- "TSI not being a factor in affecting the climate,"

- Yes. He didn't stay on a single topic for long at all (other than, perhaps, his grandchildren). It was a bit of a blizzard of claims. He made this claim and showed a graph charting TSI against temperature. I'm afraid I didn't have time to note the time-period it covered.

"Did Hansen repeat his assertion that cap and trade was half-assed and half-baked?"

- He didn't mention C & T as far as I recall, but see my answer to one of your other questions below

"Did Hansen repeat his assertion that Copenhagen 2009 was fraudulent politics as usual?"

- He didn't mention Copenhagen at all, though on the political side he did suggest that "direct action" may be the only way forward (his example being how he and his "thousands" managed to "surround" the Whitehouse...)

"If so, did he elaborate on what sort of dictatorial system he preferred?"

- Yes, he talked about something I hadn't heard of before - "Fee and Dividend" and the "Atmospheric Trust Litigation".

"Did Hansen repeat his assertion that renewables are an energy solution akin to believing in the easter bunny or tooth fairy?"

- He did say that he thought wind, solar etc were unrealistic solutions. He seemed to have a lot of time for nuclear but otherwise didn't reveal the specifics as to how he thought the base load power provided by fossil fuels would be replaced. He argued that the market should be incentivised to find its own solutions. He also claimed that the way to win conservatives over to the alarmist side and support his favoured policies was to convince them that holding back now would result in a larger government later.

"Did Hansen still state that his idiotic Venus syndrome on Earth was dead-certain, or was it certainly dead now?"

- Not a single mention of Venus from Hansen, but the activists outside still compared the Earth and Venus.

"Did Hansen explain why he never moved NASA GISS offices out of NYC and dead-certain sea level rise doom that he, himself predicted would come to pass this decade?"

- No, he was just the poor hard done by scientist being targeted by the establishment according to his account!

"Based on your discussions with the crowd, it seems that David Roberts at Grist was correct in his assertion-"

- Yes, absolutely my experience! It was almost identical in March when I was in Sheffield and attended a talk on climate change and fuel poverty which was organised and attended by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Green Party, "Sheffield Against Climate Change" (the latter were the chairs!!) and so on. The interactions there got so heated between myself and the representative of FotE and one Dr. Aaron Thierry from the University of Sheffield that I was asked to leave. For future reference if any of you do encounter Dr. Thierry, he believes not only in imminent catastrophe but that humans should immediately adopt a primitivist society to avoid it. I have been invited by 'Sheffield skeptics in the pub' previously to debate one of these people publicly but no one - including Dr. Thierry - will do so.

May 21, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDanny

Danny - well done for your efforts on the night and the write up. Having attended a recent talk by Prof Boulton I am struck by the many parallels - irrational alarmism, pessimism, use of grandchildren, hockey sticks, not an error bar in sight etc. I too raised my head above the parapet and asked questions of Boulton, much to the surprise of many of the audience, though this being a rural area most of the choir knew me and the atmosphere was not so caustic. I also had a friendly chat with Boulton after his talk - see my write up and follow up comment to John Shade at the foot of Boulton on scientific practice and malpractice.

update - here's my initial comment:


After having a brief chat with Geoffrey last weekend (after he gave a talk on the "Anthropocene" to a local society), I was a little taken aback by his overt "we are all going to die by teatime" theme 5C is on the cards etc alarmism. His graphs included an inverted hickey stick (ocean pH from 1870 to the present day with not an error bar in sight despite the pH values for the 19th century being accurate to 2 decimal places). He finished with yet more hockey sticks. He did accept that there not has not been any warming for 15 years, but was still very confident that 5C was on the cards, and was oblivious to the recent papers suggesting 1.6C or 2C at the most. He also argued that CO2 does not lead temperature as suggested by the Antarctic ice core data, he said global and polar was like comparing apples with oranges. He seemed unable to comprehend that a warming of 1 or 2C had net benefits for 80% of the world population who live in the cold NH. He did grudgingly accept that more CO2 would increase plant growth rates and help global food production, (but he had made no mention of this in his talk). Lastly I pointed out to him that as there had now been stasis for 15-17 years that was as long as the warming from 1980 to 1997, and also meant there was now a generation of school leavers who have not experienced any global warming. On this note I suggested he and his alarmist chums had a growing problem and that he would be wise to start thinking up an exit strategy. I think he was a bit taken a back at my candor. Mar 27, 2013 at 8:43 AM | Registered Commenter lapogus

-----------------------------

Well done, lapogus!

I think you must have seemed like a creature from another world to poor old Goeffrey, such has been the peculiarly-sheltered-from-our-reality planet he has been living on. There, when a chap ventures outside to speak to the hoi-polloi, he expects a bit of awe and questions like Oh no, tell me how long we have got', or 'Oh thank you, oh wise one, are we not blessed to have far-sighted men such as you?'.

Being told that an exit strategy is in order, while being a remarkable kindness to him, does not fit in there at all. Mar 27, 2013 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered Commenter John Shade

--------------------------------

Hi John,

Yes it was an interesting experience. I think he had been pre-warned that I would be there and may ask some questions from the sceptic perspective, but he was still rattled by my questioning, as I don't think he was used to it at all. What was sad was that rather than address sceptic points, he generally dismissed them, saying they were not based on real science. For example, when I pointed out that CS is much more likely to be about 1 or 2C and mentioned Lindzen, he said "oh he made a fool of himself years ago and when he comes to London he speaks at these things organised by Lord Lawson". His objectivity is clearly lacking, and I feel sorry for his students who probably don't have the wherewithall to ask such obvious questions of their professor's adherence to junk climate models and science.

Note the error above - "He also argued that CO2 does not lead temperature as suggested by the Antarctic ice core data..." should be "He also argued that CO2 does not lag temperature as suggested by the Antarctic ice core data...". (when I questioned him on this afterwards he cited what I assume was Shakun 2012 as evidence for this, (he couldn't remember the lead author's name and said the paper was in Science rather than Nature).
Mar 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Registered Commenter lapogus

May 21, 2013 at 8:55 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

confused
I'm on a countdown for the first appearance in the 'meja' of the cause of the disaster in Oklahoma to be ascribed to 'global warming'... any sightings yet ?

On French radio at 6am this morning (one hour ahead of BST). "caused by climate change"
Followed by a long report on the current "printemps pourri" ie 11°C this morning at about 10 miles from the Mediterranean! But no suggestion of climate change being the cause

May 21, 2013 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Walker

Gordon,
Also in the US there's a slew, try

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/

I am particular interested in the UK 'meja' though, especially the beeb.

May 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

"I’d be interested to know if other BH readers have had a similar experience ..."

The Precautionary Principle appears at the top of my list of similar experiences, fueled by a complete ignorance about how Science and Engineering works: we need to build them, [the windmills], just in case.
It is where certainty, whether reasonable or not, drives out inquisitiveness. It is where only the Agenda is discussed. Risks are a magic art handed down by those with political power and Mathematical skills cannot be used to advance the discussion so, for example, the inefficiencies of energy storage that make most 'green' projects unsustainable can never help the discussion along.

I do wonder whether these Alarmist supporters understand how contrary their philosophy and actions are to the Scientific process. The alternative is that they do know, but continue because of the benefits accrued, knowingly or unknowingly.

We come up with interesting views, such as on the paper discussing the Vostok ice core data, or the HSI, or Muller's disgust at the methods used to construct the hockey stick, and it is either dismissed or ignored completely. The expected discussion rarely materialises! It takes (at least) two sides to make a discussion and the Alarmists just move on to the next announcement!

For example, has anyone seen W R B Bowie's view criticised?
"Wind power saves little or no CO2 and other Green House Gases"
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmenergy/writev/517/m59.htm

If true, and I think it is if we use carbon fuels for back up, it should stop windmill building in its tracks because the project's objectives will not only fail, they will go into reverse! . Is that why this well argued memorandum is ignored?

Bowie's memorandum is my current bewildering "thought for the day". There have been many others - I blame BH for this! :)

I hope the meeting at The Institute of Physics Environmental Physics group on 22 May has a better understanding of what discussion is about!

May 21, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Gordon, there's some listed here.

May 21, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Danny - well done. On Sheffield - "Sheffield Against Climate Change" - you should have remembered that you'd travelled into (what used to be) a "Nuclear-Free Zone", where they've recently banned ice cream vans > 6 years old because of their unacceptable carbon foot print. They discourage motorists by managed gridlock and potholes.

May 21, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK

Danny, thanks for a very well written and articulated piece. It made my hairs stand on end. I am sure many of us can relate to this but have never had the balls to stand up in front of such a hostile gathering.

May 21, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

First, well done for speaking out in such a hostile environment.

Your account confirms my view that, when the scientific argument fails, the CAGW movement will fall back on alarmism and the precautionary principle to justify whatever it is they believe should be imposed on the rest of us.

May 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Daniel in the lion's den! Got out unscathed even after courageously taking Hansen to task.

Thanks for the report Danny.

May 21, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC

Brilliant done and told, Danny. And very helpful answers to chris y.

One interesting question that occurs is how many unaligned or unconvinced people would attend a Jim Hansen event. The vast majority would be committed to the CAGW cause already. A few, like you, would already have 'fallen from grace' into scepticism and would have gone along to learn what the enemy is saying and if possible talk back.

But how many uncommitted? My guess is a minute percentage. Such people are by now switched off the subject. Furthermore they are drifting, year by year, into a sceptical position on policy.

It's very important to confront the evidence-free extremists as they self-reinforce. It's also very important to see how far they are from representative.

However, the desire for dictatorship - "Fee and Dividend" and "Atmospheric Trust Litigation" are new to me, thanks - and the very high profile of Hansen means this was a heroic and necessary confrontation. Thank you.

May 21, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

It doesn't just happen in Climate 'Science':

More than 15,000 patients are dying in Britain every year as a result of cancer treatments rather than the disease itself, warns Lord Saatchi

The Tory peer said he had been given the estimate from someone in the medical profession.

Lord Saatchi said: 'The point is we don't know if it is 1 per cent of patients or 100 per cent of patients who die as a result of the treatment.

'What we do know is that the cancer drugs do such damage to the immune system that the patient is helpless to resist fatal infections like E.coli or MRSA or septicaemia.'
...
Lord Howe said statistics were collected for when cancer was the cause of death but not when treatment of cancer was the cause of death.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2328210/More-15-000-patients-dying-Britain-year-result-cancer-treatments-disease-warns-Lord-Saatchi.html

I hope there is at least some discussion of this topic (on another thread, and on other sites).

May 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130520/97-year-old-nenana-ice-classic-sets-record-latest-breakup-river-1

I guess this is just “weather”, unlike the tragic F5 Tornado in Moore Oklahoma which was “climate change”

May 21, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Top effort Danny and thanks for writing it up. The warmist clan find strength in their own pig-headedness, and little can be expected of Hansen. His views are 'fringe' at best.

May 21, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

I wonder how much he charged for this 'knowledge' given his been selling his doom for years,
for the grand kids of course. Who thinks he did it for free?

May 21, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Very interesting account.

Sounds like a gospel meeting more than anything resembling rational thought.

May 21, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Here’s my current hunch. A lot of people actually want there to be a CO2-driven climate crisis – they would, and will, be sorely disappointed as and when the prospect of one recedes into the political background.

The gentler end of this pathological condition includes those who wish to promote a wholesome, organic, low-pollution, low-impact, happier world. The harsh end includes those who dream of ‘smashing capitalism’, and at the far end we have those who seriously long for the disappearance of humans altogether. In the middle we have the majority who merely spot which way the wind is blowing, and offer consultancy services for engineering, political, psychological, financial and no doubt other applications. Others there find the opportunity for massive fund-raising too hard to resist, so much so that they have sidelined their original raison d’etres to take part more fully - Oxfam, WWF, the Royal Society are but a few examples that spring to mind, and of course with the increased wealth comes increased scope for political influence and so the spiral continues.

The once obscure and humble fields of geography in general and climate studies in particular have received such a tsunami of funding and status-elevation that it would take academics of remarkable strength and integrity to resist the wave. Entire departments have been created there and in other subject areas to exploit the surge, and thereby add their tuppence worths to help keep it going.

And in the background, we have had the climate diplomats, the Wards, the Brundtlands, the Strongs, and now the newbies we might refer to as the Ashtons, all scheming away, intoxicated with what they see as high ideals but which in practice lead so often to tawdry corruption wherever they go – the IPCC being perhaps not even the worst of this. So much else of the sprawling UN of very wealthy bureaucrats chatting about, and thriving thanks to, the existence of poor people is a blot on the face of world development.

So, the audience and experience of which Danny Weston speaks so eloquently comes as no surprise. All younger than say 30 years of age have had the risk of being fed the storyline since primary school, and for them it is merely ‘reality’.

Take away the CO2 crisis suddenly, and a lot of these folks would be left high and dry. But of course, it is not likely to go away suddenly. It will fade. The media will grow tired of the facile alarmism (‘not that again!’, is there nothing better we can headline?), and the criticisms of the basis for that alarmism will continue to diffuse into society by word of mouth and word of blog. More intellectuals may find the backbone to go on the attack, and more politicians will follow. The very act of standing up and defying the unspeakable Hansen may well have given some in that audience pause for further thought. To the tune of the Garden Song:

Inch by inch, row by row,
We shall make the rascals go
All it takes is to look, don’t you know
For their case is so unsound

Well done Danny Weston, and thank you very much for your report from the frontline!

May 21, 2013 at 10:23 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Danny Weston said:

His presentation was littered with continual emotive references to, and pictures of, his numerous grandchildren, showing them gradually growing up. This was important because Hansen is now pushing the line that whilst climate catastrophe is not imminent, it is “in the pipeline” and the victims will, apparently, be our grandchildren.

With Hansen's apparent change of view the door is left open for climate and economic sceptics to push through. For our grandchildren to stand the best chance of surviving the effects of any climate change, let alone man made stuff, the best thing we can do is... nothing. Less than we are doing now.

Keep the global economy growing, stop distorting markets with subsidies, leave more money in taxpayers pockets and let innovation and profit chasing find the technical advances that will have our grandchildren in solar powered flying cars and eating manufactured food pills while capturing their farts in baco-foil suits.

May 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

The "link" between Oklahoma and alleged AGW may already have begun:

http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/20/democratic-senator-goes-on-anti-gop-rant-over-climate-change-as-tornadoes-hit-oklahoma/

May 21, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

Mr. Weston, I salute your indefatigability in the face of overwhelming numbers, it takes guts but telling and seeking the truth lends one an inner fortitude and is uplifting - is it not?

May 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Very well done - both your report and your courageous intervention. How I wish I’d been there!

You bemoan the ‘general pattern of ignorance’ that you still observe among warmists after seven years involvement in the debate, and of course you are right.

It is alarming to watch a forerunner or ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ that was made for Australian television back in the 1990s; The Greenhouse Conspiracy. This can still found on the Internet I think. In spite of the billions that people like Hansen have helped governments spend on climate research over the last couple of decades, few of the fundamental issues that were controversial when that film was made have been resolved conclusively. And of course a man like Hansen must know this very well, hence the 'bizarre' behaviour. His reputation hangs in the balance between ‘The great scientist who warned us about AGW’ and ‘ The charlatan who initiated the biggest scare in history’. The temptation to put a finger on the scales from time to time must be colossal.

It seems most unlikely that this autumn’s IPCC report will change much either in terms of our understanding of the vast multi-coupled non-linear chaotic system which is Earth’s climate, or the willingness of those who promote alarm to face up to our lack of understanding of how it works.

May 21, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

The return of the Druids. You live in historic times. Instead of stones (henge), they build wind (mills) but the chant is the same, the worship is the same and they charge lots of money to appear with their doomsday (books).

Great to live in the UK!

May 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Mention of ''further tipping points'' would indicate that we have had at least one such thing. I do not remember any as I am sure that the BBC for one would have shouted from on high for months about it.
So Hansen caught in another LIE.

May 21, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Your comment about Venus needs a bit of correction. True Venus receives twice the insolation of earth but has a much higher albedo. Earth's albedo 0.3 Venus' is 0.67 so it receives less insolation at the surface than we do. Atmospheric density, due to CO2, is the driver of the high surface temperatures. The tropopause on Venus is 70Km high, ours 15Km, and adiabatic lapse rate slightly higher than ours at just over 10C/Km. So surface temperature is approx. 700K.
It is questionable as to whether any insolation actually reaches the surface of Venus due to its atmospheric thickness.

May 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

This Hansen guy knows how to play to a crowd, doesn't he? Right from 1988.

May 21, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Registered Commentershub

Stirring stuff Danny. well done, very brave.


'The sentries report Alarmists to the south west. Thousands of them.'

'Can't you see that old boy up on the hill? He's counting your arguments. Testing your firing power with the lives of his eco-warriors.'

May 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Thanks for doing this, mate. I recently went to a similar rally at Leeds University in England.

At least 50% of the audience were straight from Portlandia

May 21, 2013 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Thank you Danny for facing a hostile crowd and calmly replying with facts.

Have you had much practice 'debating' with believers?

May 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Danny - many thanks indeed -

Danny into the lions den.

A brave act - and one I much admire. Just as in the case of the original Daniel, where the accusers themselves were then subjected to the same, we are now seeing unprecedented questioning of the dogma.

But standing up as you did at a Hansen media circus is about as close as it must get to that allegorical "lions den".

Well done Sir!

May 21, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

Well done for standing on the frontline.

In my experience the two other green arguments I hear most often are:
1 Well, we need to move away from fossil fuels anyway because of acidification, peak oil, harm in extraction, carcinogenic dust fumes… Anything to say that AGW is not worth disputing as fossil fuels are bad news anyway and everyone can see that (duh) expect special interest groups.

Evidence is not in abundance but if you fire off enough flak one might deflect an enemy.
Speaking of which...

2 This is like the Spitfire, the establishment refused to see that there was a coming crisis and it was the little people who designed the fighters that won the war… If you disagree you are clearly part of the BIG OIL conspiracy and we, the little guys, will have to save the day despite you. Strangely, in my experience, women choose an adaptation that uses Noah and his Ark and that they may – grudgingly - give us “deniers” room on the raft as well.

The idea that the fixes might be technology not rationing is considered too risky. And the idea that BIG OIL doesn’t seem to have much sway with the mainstream media is just a sign of “false balance” caused by conspiracy nuts.

Also, in my experience, most people have no fixed view on the subject and are surprised at the vehemence of the debates. After all, we do not know for certain. The science is not settled.

Letting the true believers have their say is often the most persuasive counter-argument for observers. (This means that the Guardian Websites new stricter censorship policy just leaves the worst self-inflicted wounds to fester).

May 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Well done for standing on the frontline.

In my experience the two other green arguments I hear most often are:
1 Well, we need to move away from fossil fuels anyway because of acidification, peak oil, harm in extraction, carcinogenic dust fumes… Anything to say that AGW is not worth disputing as fossil fuels are bad news anyway and everyone can see that (duh) expect special interest groups.

Evidence is not in abundance but if you fire off enough flak one might deflect an enemy.
Speaking of which...

2 This is like the Spitfire, the establishment refused to see that there was a coming crisis and it was the little people who designed the fighters that won the war… If you disagree you are clearly part of the BIG OIL conspiracy and we, the little guys, will have to save the day despite you. Strangely, in my experience, women choose an adaptation that uses Noah and his Ark and that they may – grudgingly - give us “deniers” room on the raft as well.

The idea that the fixes might be technology not rationing is considered too risky. And the idea that BIG OIL doesn’t seem to have much sway with the mainstream media is just a sign of “false balance” caused by conspiracy nuts.

Also, in my experience, most people have no fixed view on the subject and are surprised at the vehemence of the debates. After all, we do not know for certain. The science is not settled.

Letting the true believers have their say is often the most persuasive counter-argument for observers. (This means that the Guardian Websites new stricter censorship policy just leaves the worst self-inflicted wounds to fester).

May 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Well done Danny - big respect. You're a better man than I, Gunga Din...

Re 'confused' and the 'meja' on the Oklahoma tornado - my antennae were finely tuned when the BBC reported on it this morning - including interviews both with the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma and a local radio reporter - but as both were at pains to make clear that this was a common (if devstating on this occasion) occurrence, the Beeb anchors couldn't conveniently find a reason to slot in 'climate change'...

May 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

I had to sit through a Hansen lecture a few years ago.
He was deceptive in his description of the problem. He made fun of those who point out that solar activity is likely involved. he used two photographs of the sun, one from the current cycle and one from the last, (or so he claimed) that allegedly showed the sun was really the same. And that therefor it must be CO2 and nothing else driving the catastrophe only he and his co-believers are detecting.
Solar activity fell to new lows shortly after his lecture, and while Hansen apparently archives other speeches, this one has disappeared down the memory hole.

May 21, 2013 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Thanks Danny for the interesting report and your brave stand.
To answer your question ("I’d be interested to know if other BH readers have had a similar experience..."), yes, absolutely. The combination of complete certainty that they are right and a catastrophe is inevitable unless we 'act now', with almost total ignorance of the issues and the facts is quite worrying.

May 21, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Many thanks Danny Weston and to the other Danny Westons, who refuse to be intimidated by the Jim Hansens of this world.
Should Mr Hansen repeat his assertion that there were thousands of anti pipeline activists surrounding the whitehouse , I hope that there will be a Danny Weston on hand to suggest that the audience might check this statement out.
Thanks again Danny, your resolve does you much credit.

May 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

All the activists including Hansen were there for their own amusement. Why would they listen to a party pooper?

May 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

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