It was the moment when global warming hysteria first grabbed the world’s headlines: the day in June 1988 when a visibly perspiring Dr James Hansen testified before a Senate Committee – and a credulous media – that the “earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements” and that this was attributable to the “greenhouse effect.” (H/T Climate Depot)
According to a subsequent interview given by the environmental activist who chaired the committee, Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado (a big ally of Al Gore’s), a great deal of its success was down to smoke and mirrors.
Here’s what Wirth confessed in a 2007 PBS interview:
What else was happening that summer? What was the weather like that summer?
Believe it or not, we called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6 or June 9 or whatever it was, so we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo: It was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it. It was stiflingly hot that summer. [At] the same time you had this drought all across the country, so the linkage between the Hansen hearing and the drought became very intense.
And did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?
… What we did it was went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right? So that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room and so when the, when the hearing occurred there was not only bliss, which is television cameras in double figures, but it was really hot. …
So Hansen’s giving this testimony, you’ve got these television cameras back there heating up the room, and the air conditioning in the room didn’t appear to work. So it was sort of a perfect collection of events that happened that day, with the wonderful Jim Hansen, who was wiping his brow at the witness table and giving this remarkable testimony.
Sounds plausible. It’s how these people roll. But now Wirth has been browbeaten by the Washington Post into retracting his 2007 confession. Apparently it was all just a figment of his imagination.
Over the years, the testimony presented at that hearing has been identified as a key turning point in public understanding of the climate issue. Some myths about the hearing also have circulated over the years, including the idea that windows were left open or the air conditioning was not working. While I’ve heard that version of events in the past, and repeated it myself, I’ve since learned it didn’t happen. So let’s put those stories to rest and instead focus on the substance of the hearing — the brave and prescient testimony of Dr. Jim Hansen. Twenty-five years later we know he was absolutely correct, and that policymakers in the United States and around the world need to initiate far-reaching actions to address this enormous challenge.
Wow! What a piece of work this man is! Don’t you just love the way he sniffily talks of these “myths” which “have circulated over the years” as if, somehow, they sprung up mischievously in the ether, quite unconnected with anything he ever said to anybody, in, say, a 2007 PBS interview…
Then we get a semi-confession, in that phrase “repeated it myself”. (Repeated?, Senator. No. If the WaPo has it right, you invented it. So less of the false modesty, please.)
Then we segue with typical politico bait-and-switch to an entirely irrelevant paean to the integrity and brilliance of Dr Jim Hansen. Truly, this senator could give a greased pig a run for its money…
Hansen has kindly confirmed that his (supposedly) good friend and ally Wirth is a liar:
“I love Tim and his wife Wren, but he just made these up later to make it seem interesting.”
(Whoops! Sounds like that’s Hansen off Tim and Wren’s organically-sourced Kwaanza card list)
But isn’t calling someone out for lying a bit rich when you’ve a track record like Hansen’s?
Hansen – let the records show – was the activist scientist who first developed the fine art of “adjusting” the global temperature datasets in order to encourage them to give the “correct” picture about global warming.
As Christopher Booker recounts in his The Real Global Warming Disaster in 2000 NASA GISS (under Hansen and the man who now runs it Gavin Schmidt) carried out wholesale ‘corrections’ to the raw data, resulting in “recent winter temperatures being adjusted upwards by a whole degree C, and annual temperatures by 0.8 degrees.”
These adjustments were spotted by Steve McIntyre (Destroyer of the Hockey Stick), who politely wrote to GISS to alert them to what he had uncovered. Mysteriously, almost immediately afterwards, the GISS website posted a revised version of what it had previously claimed were the top ten hottest years.
“The new list was indeed startling. Hitherto Hansen and Schmidt’s website had been showing 1998 as the hottest year on record, with five of the warmest years ever recorded having been since 1990. Now 1998 gave way to 1934 as the hottest year since the record began in 1880. Four of the warmest years were now shown as having been in the 1930s, remembered in America as the time when drought and intense heat had reduced millions of acres of the Middle West to a dustbowl. The only year since 2000 to feature in the new ‘top ten’ was 2006, which now came fourth behind 1921”
“Considering the importance which had been attached to the belief that 1998 was easily the hottest year ever recorded..this represented something of an earthquake in perception.”
And these people wonder why no one takes global warming seriously….