James Hansen and other talks

Written By: - Date published: 3:04 pm, May 16th, 2011 - 47 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster - Tags: ,

James Hansen was among the first to raise the alarm about climate change, and is sometimes called “the father of climate change science” for his trouble. He’s currently in New Zealand, and had an excellent interview last Saturday with Kim Hill (47 minutes, well worth the time). Kim doesn’t like the implications of the science — none of us do — but there’s no hiding from the facts. audio link

Hansen is touring NZ and speaking in many venues, see Hot Topic:

James Hansen will be touring New Zealand next month, giving a public lecture entitled “Climate Change: a scientific, moral and legal issue” in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin, Gore and Christchurch (schedule below the fold). Coal and lignite will be a major focus of his visit, and he’ll be participating in a symposium on “the future of coal” in Wellington on May 17th. Solid Energy’s CEO Don Elder will also be there, which should guarantee an interesting divergence of opinion. Hansen will also visit Southland to see the site of Solid Energy’s proposed lignite developments.

Click through for the schedule, note that his talk in Wellington is tonight.

And while on the subject of interesting science talks, check out Dark Ecologies, with events coming up in Auckland and Dunedin:

Douglas Kahn and Timothy Morton in conversation

How do we sense and make sense of immense phenomena, such as climate change, or radiation, which are real, but real in ways which most of us do not directly experience? As ecotheorist Timothy Morton puts it, “It is very hard to get used to the idea that the catastrophe, far from being imminent, has already taken place”. Morton, together with media arts historian Douglas Kahn, will discuss ways in which we can think about the challenges to humanity of nonhuman, nonsentient entities, like climate change and radioactivity, phenomena Morton calls ‘hyperobjects’. They ask, how can we productively respond to these challenges with the energies available to us? How do we radically question the ways in which we understand and interact with what used to be known as ‘nature’?

If you get to any of these events, why not send us a review…

47 comments on “James Hansen and other talks”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    Pity the next generation, who are going to pay a horrendous price for current profligacy.

  2. John D 2

    It’s a shame that “Death Trains” Hansen isn’t visiting the West Coast. Maybe Pike River. Go down a treat it would.

  3. jaymam 3

    On a TV1 interview Hansen said that “the Arctic is melting”. What is the evidence for that? Please be very specific. Has all the ice gone at any time? If not, how many square km of ice was left at the minimum in recorded history, and what was the date of that, and how long is the recorded history of Arctic ice extent?

      • John D 3.1.1

        The arctic has had previous periods of low ice within the last 100 years, has it not? Is there anything unusual about the current situation?

        • NickS

          Nyet, via proxies in Greenland it’s likely that while extent of the ice does vary, the current reduction in area + sea ice thickness is unprecedented in recent history. Because over the last 50 years we’ve seen that ice pack that last through the summer has become much thinner, typically the summer ice pack is many meters thick, made of years of accumulated ice, but also the thickness of winter pack ice has also decreased.

        • lprent

          It isn’t lowered area of ice that is at issue, it is the lowered ice mass that is of interest. Even an idiot would realize that a reduction in wide areas of 3 or 4 metre thick ice mass to 1 metre thick mass is of a hell of lot significance than the same area of a 0.5m thick reducing to open sea in terms of cold. Figure out the required energy levels (somehow I suspect that may be beyond you.. but..)

          There hasn’t been such a large reduction in ice mass in the arctic during any period that it has been measured. It is likely that there hasn’t been such a mass wasting for at least the last few thousand years. The most recent major arctic warm period around 1000AD doesn’t even come close to the same levels of mass wasting when you look at the seafloor drilled sediment record.

          I suggest that you might want to read some real earth sciences (you know that type that looks at useful statistics like cold mass) rather than fools cherry picking completely irrelevant statistics (which is what you appear to have been reading).

          • John D

            Are you specifically referring to me, lprent, or is your arrogant patronising response directed at someone else?

            • Macro

              Can’t foot it any longer over at Hot-topic I see John, so you call in here to peddle your nonsense. You know (well you should know by now, you have been given more than enough info, more times than I care to count) that the Arctic is loosing mass at a pace that will see it ice free this century. When are you going to take up Mike’s offer by the way?

              • NickS

                Heh, I didn’t twig he was that John D, cheers for that Macro, if John sticks around I’ll be merrily playing google-bat via hunting down prior responses to his claims which he’s ignored.

              • John D

                I have been banned from Hot Topic.
                Apparently, I made an offensive comment.

                And no I won’t be taking up Mike’s offer. I am quite capable of reading without someone from the “University” of Otago giving me their world view.

            • lprent

              Observation will give you the answer. After reading your comments at hot-topic for a while I’m aware that you prefer bullshit rather than actually doing the work of looking at the observations. I wasn’t aware that you were too lazy to actually observe evidence yourself.

              However I will give you a hint, look at what comment the reply was to.

      • jaymam 3.1.2

        “http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ – See especially Figure 3”

        Why not figure 2 that shows that 2011 ice extent is greater than 2007 & 2008, while CO2 level continues to increase and therefore has NO EFFECT on ice extent.
        And there’s currently 12,000,000 square km of Arctic ice. The alarmist media try to give the general public the impression that there will be no ice left. Typical alarmists wanting more funding as usual.
        That’s all this is about – funding for alarmist research.

        I don’t trust your other links.

        • r0b

          No matter what you are shown, no matter what you read, you will keep believing exactly what you want to believe. So it goes.

  4. joe90 4

    Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth?.

    To validate the Anthropocene, all these changes will be measured against the range of variation in our current geological period — the Holocene epoch — which began some 12,000 years ago as Earth emerged from the last ice age.
    “Human influence on the global environment must push the Earth system well beyond the Holocene envelope of variability,” said Steffen.
    By one key measure, at least, we already have: the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere — measured in parts per million — remained in a narrow range of 260 to 285 for nearly 12,000 years. Today is stands at 390 ppm, and is sure to rise considerably higher in coming decades.

    • terryg 4.1

      indeed we are. To any RWNJ that foolishly attempts do dispute this – google “mountaintop removal”.

      If that aint reshaping the earth, nothing is.

    • NickS 4.2

      We’ve been reshaping this planet to our liking ever since we busted out of Africa. It’s just changed in intensity as population density increased until the tipping point where agriculture and town/city organisation took hold and large scale land change occurred and increased slightly. Although hunter-gather societies did have some large scale impacts r.e. Australia’s Aboriginals use of fire changing the forest structure to include more fire-tolerant eucalypti.

  5. comments from an informed friend, on the Hanson interview

    I Listened to Hansen’s interview with Kim Hill [Details] . Here are a few notes.

    He gave an excellent scientific outline of climate change.

    He is pro carbon tax, but did not consider the problems.

    Climate change is the moral issue of the 21st century….. No, it is part of a big picture including overpopulation, water and food shortages, end of oil, species extinction due to settlement, war. Much of that is under way and the storm will break by 2030 so he is dodging the big question.

    NZ greenhouse gas emissions went up by 20%. Energy greenhouse gas emissions went up by 70%.

    NZ could become carbon neutral. NZ has enormous potential…………. Kim Hill knew better than that. He does not know, he is another oversees expert taking on establishment crap.

    Economic growth is possible. Need to have economic incentives to get change………… He is miles from recognising that economic growth must stop.

    Just 5% per year reduction will do the job………………. Pull the other leg.

    His talk of efficiency had no numbers.

    China has been largely successful in limiting its population…………….. He is far from recognising the overpopulation problem NOW.

    Have to be optimistic……………….. The usual cop-out.

    I was not impressed. I will raise the big question (just part of a storm we are in now) if possible at his talk. I hope others will speak out – on NZ 70% increase in energy emissions for example.

    I was going to go to his talk in Wellington last night, but after listening to him on the radio, I realized he was another ‘hope addict’ who didn’t understand the insurmountable apathy of the pig ignorant masses and their masters … we are so fucked

    • John D 5.1

      “A hope addict”
      Haven’t heard that one before. Time to find those old Joy Division albums and a bottle of Whisky?

    • John D 5.2

      Robert, upon reading your nihilist diatribe once again, it appears that you actually buy into all this bullshit.

      We are not “fucked” as you so eloquently put it. Why don’t you read Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist” and understand that we are living in the most prosperous and exciting time in human history.

      • NickS 5.2.1

        Unfortunately Ridley’s lost it, as he seems to think a technological quick fix will save our collective arses from overexploitation of renewable resources and our unwillingness to switch away from fossil fuels. Then there the little problem of his views on climate change, which are frankly full of shit, since he takes up Lomborgs claims while not even bothering with the extensive criticisms it’s received from economists and climate change researchers.

        And while Ridley is quite right that the market can be a very powerful tool, presently markets are focused exclusively on short terms gains, discounting long term negative costs of inaction and the consequences of present industry. Making them effectively blind to the on coming crises of key economic resources become extremely scarce and putting the brakes on economic growth. If anything, markets are only ever a short term solution, or a means of filling in small gaps in long term policy frameworks.

        Also, Ridley lies through his fucking teeth on climate change:

        • John D

          You send a response to Ridley from a website called “Watching the Deniers”?

          You expect me to take you seriously? Anyone who using the “D word, in my opinion, has no credibility whatsoever.

          • NickS

            Translation: WAAAAAAA!

            Generally in order to tell a website’s content is crap, you generally have to read it first.

            As for denialism, after years of dealing with moronic creationists and watching the intelligent design crowd blather, along with HIV denialism, the term defines specific failures in arguments put forward by denialists.

            Of which the easiest one is ignoring evidence to the contrary and the most amusing one is the structural incoherence, in which even at the level of the individual, their arguments oft contradict when looked at in totality, even more so when you look at particular clades. And with WTD’s review of Ridley’s book, compared with other reviews, he is spot on on the various serious errors and out right lies Ridley makes on climate change in that book.

            But by all means, feel free to debunk that two part review with teh peer reviewed science and quotes out of Ridley’s book.

            Lastly, most of us only make use of the term when there’s a history or large body of bullshit, recognising that ignorance doesn’t equate to denialism unless the person refuses to accept the evidence that counters their claims over time. While the boundary between denialism and scepticism can be fuzzy, the above for me is the main indicator, as part of being a sceptic is the capability to accept strong, coherent evidence and that is quite possible to be sceptical about climate change until you bother reading up on due to fact that for most it is a highly non-intuitive subject area.

            • John D

              Nick S.

              I read “Watching the Deniers”

              This guy is a bullshit artist.

              I can understand science, and I can recognise BS. This is 100% pure BS, like most of the shite that passes as “science” in the climate blogosphere.

              I am sure that you and your fellow nihilistic self-haters will find some derogatory words for me.

              • NickS


                You’re one of the denialist twits the regularly get cluebatted over at Hot Topic, per Macro’s post up thread, thus I now see no reason to take you as anything other than a prime twit-head.

                Also, I find it most amusing that you claim much of the climate-sphere is bullshit, when the keystone blogs are primarily run by climatologists and associated professionals and those with a high level of general knowledge about climatology who like translating for the rest of us. But with what you are, it’s thus unsurprising to see that you claim those blogs are teh wrongzors with out providing comprehensive evidence from teh scientific literature.

                I am sure that you and your fellow nihilistic self-haters will find some derogatory words for me.


                Yeap, because realising that climate change presents very significant threats to current economic systems (and the ecological services they require) that sustain billions and wanting thus to mitigate and contain those threats equals “nilistic self-hatred”. Projection much?

              • lprent

                I must admit that the science grads here do like to torment bullshit artists, especially when they talk about science. You look like one. So far you haven’t managed to do anything except denigrate others with fuck all in evidence apart from a attitude and the typically stupid attitude of the truely ignorant. Appealing to authority rather than understanding the subject is really really not a way to earn respect here.

                Look at your behavior. When challenged you fall back on the usual trait of the terminally incompetent. You claim that everyone is calling you names when they simply and clearly describe how they see you. Classically you like to hand shit out whilst getting upset when others call you on it. A typical bullsit artist with bully tendencies. It really doesn’t work around.

                I may think that Robert above is more than slightly obsessive. But he does run a good argument, usually knows his stuff, and is prepared to argue (at length). He isn’t too bad to keep around. You on the other hand tend to remind me of other previous wastes of bandwidth.

              • RedLogix

                No we are well past derogatory words John D.

                You’ve picked your position on climate change a long time ago and no science, no fact, no observation will change it ever. You will likely go to your grave believing the scientists to have conspired in a massive, multi-generational, multi-institutional, global scam for their own nefarious purposes. At this stage anything that challenges this belief will be vigorously resisted… because you have so much invested in it.

                That’s ok. People are like that; if you’ve been around the blogs long enough you’ll see people behaving like this all the time. Of course in real life people are not always so fixed in their minds; humans are far more adaptable than this. We have after all survived for 3m or more years because of our capacity for rational thought… for while we tend to cling to preconceived ideas and patterns because we found them useful in the past… we also have the power to choose new patterns to meet new realities.

                But usually this kind of fundamental change has to be forced upon us by dire circumstance… like the alcoholic who has to truly hit bottom before they begin to make better choices.

                Unfortunately when it comes to climate change, this primitive model of behaviour will almost certainly fail us most spectacularly.

                • John D

                  Great essay RedLogix. And beautiful projection too.

                  What makes you think I don’t do science? Do you read Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, or know Post Normal Science?

                  Do you understand the concept of the null hypothesis, falsifiability, of the scientific method?

                  • lprent

                    What makes you think I don’t do science?

                    Your lack of understanding about how it operates for a starter. You treat it as if it was some kind of magic that if you shout loud enough, the physical laws will change and conform to your half arsed logic. I guess that is why you don’t like observing or looking at evidence – you might have to start thinking rather than pathetically appealing to authority yet again.

                  • NickS


                    You think you know the meanings of those terms, but I do not think you do.

                    But I’m bloody tired and not particularly willing to point out the very obvious problems with the concept of Theory-Ladenness of Observations in relation to science in general (big implications when applied, which are at odds with what’s observed) and climate science. aka essay time, aka trawling through net archives of HAPS papers and blog posts from philosophers of science.

                    And during 2 years of History and Philosophy of Science, while we did deal with Post Normal Science, because it’s based on Kuhn’s already rather flawed description of Normal Science (tell a post-grad their puzzle solving and watch out for the fist of +10 aggravation) and Paradigms (Damn thee Hegel, Damn thee) it’s crippled out of the gate. And about as useful a description of science as normal as Poppers early work (latter stuff gets into evolution-like descriptions of knowledge accumulation/discovery, aka evolutionary-epistemology*) which missed social aspects and stuck to physics as the exemplar, instead of say looking at biology.

                    On Null H + Falsifiabilty, you probably not only don’t know how to H-test (pro-tip, it’s all statistics with climate science) but also probably have a really naive understanding of falsifiability. So much so, I hypothesise that the formulation you might provide would also make evolutionary biology non-scientific, along with a strew of other subjects that are well accepted.

                    *Even more fun when you’ve actually done evolutionary bio + ecology, because then you realise the flaws in the metaphor, still works though and provides a much better base to start of describing how science works in my opinion.

                    • John D

                      I just love it when drunk people try to challenge me.

                    • NickS

                      The wonderful thing about email subs, is that they give you unedited posts straight into your inbox:

                      I just love it when drunk pseudo-intellectuals try to challenge me.

                      How cute, and utterly banal. Perhaps you should have just jumped to “have you stopped beating your wife yet” level of fail-counters, as those are far more amusing.

                      And if I’m drunk, I’m drunk on citalopram and memories of old history philosophy of science lectures in which we looked at the terms you threw about so nonchalantly and looked at and comprehended the limits and relevance of them. Something I would think you’d have some difficulty with given your inability to even touch on the issues I mentioned above.

                      Also (* to avoid spam engine triggering, poop used for same reason):

                      It’s OK. lprent, because I accept that you are morally, genetically, and intellectually superior to me. I will remind you that when you are loading me onto the train. I will look you straight into the eye and call you out, you narrow minded left**t poop-eater.

                      And so John is revealed as a colossal douchebag, willing to disingenuously use the holocaust for masturbatory purposes. I except him to also him to think along the lines of “white cis-dudes are so totes oppressed by teh gays, ladies and uppity Maori”. Though that may be a trite stereotypical.

                    • John D

                      The wonderful thing about email subs is that I now know that you are on anti-depressants.

                      Actually, I don’t want to mock you, because depression is a very serious illness, and I have lost friends from this.

                      Seriously though, mate, this is not a blog for those of a depressive nature.
                      Take some time out, enjoy the sunshine, and say hi to a few strangers.

                      I actually really mean this.

                      Take care bro

                    • NickS

                      I so do love insincere and condescending ablist bs that assumes the depressed can’t handle political blogs, let alone science…

                  • NickS

                    And in answer to your post that the spam-filter’s new “stupid-eater” plugin ate, the primary H0 would be that there is no increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and other environs over the last 2000 odd years which is statistically significant.

                    Then there’s a bunch of nested H0‘s that apply to each HA set and so on and so on, of which the H0 I’d actually like you to how is true is “CO2 does not absorb and re-emitted infra red photons in such a way that slows heat loss from the atmosphere”.

                    (fingers crossed sub/sup tags work, edit; nyet, bollocks, I can has sub/sup function for pretty look molecular formulas and terms please?)

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    What makes you think I don’t do science?

                    I think it was the complete denial of the facts that gave it away.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    John D

                    How much exxon mobil pay you to waste our time?

                    • NickS

                      Heh, I’m just killing time waiting for The Witcher 2 to finish up downloading. I forgot to change my region on GOG however so I’m stuck with the censored version 🙁

                      Stupid Australian government.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Oh noes that sucks. I loved the original Witcher, will get the sequel before long. Funny hypocritical American morality.

                    • NickS

                      The Australian version isn’t the same level as the American one, just one quest is affected 😉

                      But yeah, not even the Aussie Censors Board touched the first one, which while it had it’s flaws, was bloody brilliant in these days of Mass Effect/ME2/DA2, with planet sized plot holes and black/white morality and straight forward consequences.

                      Btw, get it off Good Old Games, instead of retail or steam, as they give you free games to make up for the US$70 price tag and they’ve got all sorts of kick-arse old games, including some of the really old RPG’s 😀

                  • terryg

                    I am not a scientist. I dont/havent read Karl Popper or Thomas Kuhn, and dont “know” Post Normal Science. I’m just an engineer, and design/implement complex thermal and control systems. But I do understand the null hypothesis, falsifiability and most importantly of all, how to take a calibrated measurement.

                    Do *you* understand thermodynamics and heat transfer at all? first-order thermodynamic models would be a start. Have you even read an undergraduate heat/mass transfer text, such as:

                    Fundamentals of heat and Mass Transfer, 4th ed. Frank P. Incropera, David P. deWitt

                    its only a start of course, but even first-order thermal models are sufficient for e.g. undergrad students at MIT (the real one) to replicate the broad findings of AGW science.

                    you havent said *anything* at all on this thread other than “yah bollocks”. based on your posts, its not clear you know anything at all.

                    you can whine all you want about Dr. Mann’s hockey stick graph, but thats irrelevant. It would be way better if you can debunk actual sea temperature measurements – we’ve got a lot of those, and guess which hypotheses they support?

                    or how about explaining why the the stratosphere cooling as the troposphere warms?

                    • RedLogix


                      Seems we are in similar lines of business. If I recall correctly the only subject I ever got an A+ in was Thermodynamics…. and that was a regretably long time ago.

                      But otherwise +1.

                    • terryg



                      This isnt the appropriate venue to blather on about really fun stuff, as is my wont – but the open thread will do nicely, or you can email me direct at slingshot…..


  6. joe90 6

    A new video from Peter Sinclair’s Crock of the Week series.

    The “Temp Leads Carbon Crock”

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