the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Hansen’s Dissin’ Freeman Dyson…..

Posted by Jeff Id on March 31, 2009

Dr. Freeman Dyson has created quite a stir. Enough so that even Hansen had to back off from his rhetoric.

Tomorrow’s NY Times Magazine article (The Civil Heretic) on Freeman Dyson includes an unfortunate quote from me that may appear to be disparaging and ad hominem (something about bigger fish to fry). It was a quick response to a reporter* who had been doggedly pursuing me for an interview that I did not want to give. I accept responsibility for the sloppy wording and I will apologize to Freeman, who deserves much respect.

There is nothing wrong with having contrarian views, even from those who have little relevant expertise – indeed, good science continually questions assumptions and conclusions. But the government needs to get its advice from the most authoritative sources, not from magazine articles. In the United States the most authoritative source of information would be the National Academy of Sciences.

You might guess (correctly) that I was referring to the fact that contrarians are not the real problem – it is the vested interests who take advantage of the existence of contrarians.

Wow, nothing wrong with contrarian views!! What about imprisonment, we don’t forget that easily doc. Here

I’m going to end up quoting this whole article. I thought he was Obama’s new buddy but he sounds really serious about no more coal and gas. Never mind the billions of lives which would be destroyed as long as they’re not slightly warmer, it’s ok.

The fact that the current administration in the United States has not asked for such advice, when combined with continued emanations about “cap and trade,” should be a source of great concern. What I learned in visiting other countries is that most governments do not want to hear from their equivalent scientific bodies, probably because they fear the advice will be “stop building coal plants now!” These governments are all guilty of greenwash, pretending that they are dealing with the climate problem via “goals” and “caps”, while they continue to build coal plants and even investigate unconventional fossil fuels and coal-to-liquids.

Even Hansen admits cap and trade is nonsense, he probably doesn’t know that Obama partially founded the Chicago CO2 exchange. Of course he then expounds on a totally wacko vision of wealth redistribution which sounds like it came from a presidential candidate. Good move for a politician, but it reads like rubbish for an indpendant thinker.

If this Wikipedia information is an accurate description of his position, then the only thing that I would like to say about him is that he should be careful not to offer public opinions about global warming unless he is willing to first take a serious look at the science. His philosophy of science is spot-on, the open-mindedness, consistent with that of Feynman and the other greats, but if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework — which he obviously has not done on global warming. My concern is that the public may assume that he has — and, because of his other accomplishments, give his opinion more weight than it deserves.

Here’s the quote in the NYT which made so much stir that Lord Hansen had to make a statement.

The quote in the New York Times:

“Reached by telephone, Hansen sounds annoyed as he says, ‘There are bigger fish to fry than Freeman Dyson,’ who ‘doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ In an e-mail message, he adds that his own concern about global warming is not based only on models, and that while he respects the ‘open-mindedness’ of Dyson, ‘if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework — which he obviously has not done on global warming.’

You know the level of science between global warming papers like the hockey stick and top end physics is an order of magnitude different in difficulty. The fun in these papers is figuring out what they are actually saying. Steig 09 is written in what I would describe as intentionally obfuscating language – not that it’s immoral, it’s written like scientists who want to sound smart. I’d like to know what’s the point of that anyway, the math should speak for itself.

Here we have Hansen, the dolt criticizing Dyson the obvious genius for not doing his homework. Good stuff!

What’s better, check out the title on the always top notch New York Times.

James Hansen sets the record straight on the New York Times article ‘The Civil Heretic’

Why don’t these people know why their paper is going bankrupt? Good riddance I say.

14 Responses to “Hansen’s Dissin’ Freeman Dyson…..”

  1. TCO said

    It’s a silly kerfuffle. Who cares if Hansen made an intemperate remark. Don’t get all PC. Leave that to the liberals.

  2. Jeff Id said

    I’m not even sure I know how to do PC. I just hate that I have to pay this idiot a salary.

  3. Pete S said

    “In an e-mail message, he (Hansen) adds that his own concern about global warming is not based only on models..” What else is it based on? Certainly not most global temperature measurements over the past decade.

  4. Layman Lurker said

    #3

    He is likely referring to arctic sea ice, glacier retreat, northern migration of plant and animal species, etc.

    However, the notion of a static climate is a fallacy. As per John Christy the climate is never static. Glaciers are either advancing or retreating; oceans are either rising or falling; temps are either rising or falling. etc.

  5. Kenneth Fritsch said

    My thoughts on dealing with an advocate/scientist like Jim Hansen are to keep his advocacy and politics very separate from his science. I take this one step further in the science part in keeping separate the conclusions from evidence presented, and particularly so those conclusions that can be readily recognized as a marketing effort for an advocacy cause.

    I judge that one can learn from the methods and approaches of these scientists/advocates such as a Hansen or a Mann and judge the quality of the evidence used for their conclusions better by keeping this separation in mind. In other words, what is the evidence provided and how is it best evaluated (usually by sensitivity testing) without letting the conclusions influence you one way or the other?

    What exasperates most people of political/advocacy views differing from Hansen are that Hansen is an excellent marketer of his advocacy and thus obtains media attention beyond what the worthiness that his scientific exploits might otherwise be valued. Hansen probably sincerely believes that we are on the edge of a climate cataclysm and that rather extreme mitigation to avoid this catastrophe has little or no unintended consequences (and consequences that some of us think would be worse than any reasonably imaged detrimental effects from even the worst case warming scenario). Even if Hansen could convince all those in positions to mitigate or allow mitigation that warming of x degrees will occur over a given time period, he would have, in my mind, an even more difficult task of convincing these parties of the extreme detrimental effects resulting from that warming that he has conjectured will likely occur.

    Hansen and others with similar advocacy stances are going to undergo a very frustrating time with the political processes around the world. Those processes will react to real or alleged degrees of AGW and its potential detrimental effects with political expediencies and much less to findings (or dictates) of science. He understands that Kyoto and most of the cap and trade type actions currently being proposed are merely political posturing and of little practical value in reducing the levels of GHGs to that required to effect future temperatures significantly. I think many with opposing advocacy views would agree with him (I certainly do). Hansen has already made statements about his disappointment with the slow processes of democratic governments.

    In concluding, I must point out that the above is how I handle the scientist/advocate and do not expect that it will work for everyone. I am not that much sensitive to the “appearance” issue of skeptics or mitigation advocates as once one gets by that appearance and takes it into consideration there is frequently learning that can be gained no matter the partisanship of the evidence giver. In US partisan politics, I often agree with the partisan in criticism of their opposition. My problem with them is that they too often do not apply the same standards to their own parties.

  6. TCO said

    Gosh, you are sounding like you are capable of disaggregating, Ken.

  7. EJ said

    Whenever Hansen and Mann are discussed as scientists, I have to point out that their well documented osbfucations in disclosing methods and data should preclude them from claiming to be scientists, period, end of story. No do overs, no more excuses.

    I doubt Dyson could even “do his homework”, as the bother of trying get and organize their data would not be worth his time.

    This also goes to what Jeff was saying about the misleading presentation of their studies.

    If I were a young climate scientist, I would distance myself from these two for sure.

  8. TCO said

    Who the eff cares what you say, EJ. You are basing your opinion off of a “scratch pad” (blog) from a penny stock operator. Why don’t you buckle down and think, sailor?

  9. Jeff Id said

    I think Dyson, like myself has an understanding of computer modeling. If you read any papers on it, you can immediately see the assumptions are large and often based on weak knowledge. Homework beyond that is not required to make a reasonable decision. The cloud feedback is the perfect example. Totally reasonable scientists are currently being blocked from publication by the AGW guys because they’ve been able to demonstrate a negative feedback rather than a large positive. The fact that it’s even a possibility is enough not to toss away the remains of our economies and our way of life right now.

    It’s time to look closer, not to make asinine political decisions.

  10. Fluffy Clouds (Tim L) said

    I agree completely #9
    BO has force out GM chief,
    more gov. cont. is on way.

  11. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Whenever Hansen and Mann are discussed as scientists, I have to point out that their well documented osbfucations in disclosing methods and data should preclude them from claiming to be scientists, period, end of story. No do overs, no more excuses.

    EJ, Hansen and Mann are both apparently held in reasonably high esteem by their climate science colleagues, and, therefore, if there are major problems with their science capabilities or integrity, the problem would be as much with the climate science community as it would be with these two members.

    I personally have problems with both of these men overplaying their hands with conclusions that I do not judge fit the evidence that they have provided and particularly when reasonable uncertainties are applied. I do not, however, judge that they are unique relative to their science since I see examples in other fields as well – with economists coming immediately to mind.

    The fact that it’s even a possibility is enough not to toss away the remains of our economies and our way of life right now.

    It’s time to look closer, not to make asinine political decisions.

    Jeff, in my mind, any great changes that come about will be by those politicians who are already committed to those changes and simply are looking for the emergencies/crises, real and imagined, that will allow them to more easily put those changes into effect. The immediacy of those emergencies will not be well thought through. In fact, any hesitation to do some clear thinking on the matter would be considered an impediment to their progress. The politician and their inclinations will play, by far, the biggest role in any changes. They can look with blinders, as the IPCC does, and see just what suits their motivations.

  12. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Gosh, you are sounding like you are capable of disaggregating, Ken.

    And you, TCO, are sounding like you are capable of judging.

  13. Harold Vance said

    It’s ultimately about the narrative. Whoever controls it gets the goodies. The science isn’t all that important but it does need to seem exciting and potentially scary to large numbers of people. Without bogeys to bash and witches to burn, guys like Hansen can’t achieve rock star status.

    If the voters are too stupid to see through the cap and trade charade, they pretty much deserve to pay higher taxes.

  14. Jeff Id said

    #13

    IMO, That pretty well hits it.

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