By James Hansen: Scientific Reticence

Here is the latest (draft) paper from James Hansen, the world’s best climate scientist.

In summary, the situation is much worse than you’re being led to believe.

We argue that global warming of 2°C, or even 1.5°C, is dangerous, because these levels are far above Holocene temperatures and even warmer than best estimates for the Eemian, when sea level reached 6-9 meters (20-30 feet) higher than today. Earth’s history shows that sea level adjusts to changes in global temperature. We conclude that eventual sea level rise of several meters could be locked in, if rapid emission reductions do not begin soon, and could occur within 50-150 years with the extraordinary climate forcing of continued “business-as-usual” fossil fuel emissions.

The 2 C goal set by our governments is not an appropriate goal because it is clearly dangerous, and despite this, we are almost certainly not going to achieve the goal.

It’s not like we tried and failed. We’ve done nothing except talk and deny the science.

Hansen laments here that even scientists are denying the science.

Where are the adults?



4 thoughts on “By James Hansen: Scientific Reticence”

  1. Here is a tongue in cheek comment, but I intend it seriously and sincerely. I hope you don’t mind. Perhaps we should invite the Australian Aborigines or their ilk to “The Conversation At The Table(TM), along with their embarrasingly regressive cosmology of “The Dreamtime”. Maybe they could offer some pragmatic and practical “input” in our never-ending quest to “move forward” on this and other existential dilemmas? Nothing on our side seems to be working. The point here being that nothing coming out of our culture – neither rational scrutiny nor empirical evidence nor even veritable tsunamis of accumulated data in this Supreme Age of Reason(TM) – seems to be capable of nudging the asteroid (which of course is us) from it’s inevitable trajectory. We are illiterates staring at the proverbial writing on the wall, unable…or unwilling…to make any sense of it and its inconceivably dire import.
    P.S.: In what sense is Hansen the “best” climate scientist? I see him flying over the place and advocating nuclear energy as a grand “solution” to our ills as rapacious energy consumers. He appears to be in denial too!


    1. Perhaps another way of expressing your point is that our genes are in charge, despite the fact that we are the only species that can understand that our genes are in charge.

      You’re right, maybe I should describe Hansen as “one of the most respected”. I wrote more about Hansen here:

      I think nuclear would be a mistake because we can’t safely govern and maintain it as oil depletes, however reasonable people could disagree on this. Hansen’s point is that if you want a chance of maintaining our current lifestyles, and reduce CO2, then nuclear is the only option, and I think he’s right. Hansen also understands that we can’t stop using oil because there is no substitute and so he focusses on coal, unconventional oil, and deforestation. I think Hansen does not understand how imminent oil depletion is and thus does not see the nuclear safety risk.


      1. “Hansen’s point is that if you want a chance of maintaining our current lifestyles,….”

        THAT, my friends, is the entire problem: Wanting to desperately maintain our current living standards at any cost! That kind of thinking can be called insane.

        Lower the living standards of the First World countries and everything looks very different. But, NO, we cannot lower our standard of living because…. well……. I don’t know why.


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