back to article Climate change behind extreme weather, says NASA

James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has written a Washington Post op-ed in which he discusses a new climate study he says recent heat waves have “... virtually no explanation other than climate change” The study will be published on Monday, US time, in the Proceedings of the National Academy …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repent now, the end is near

    ...there is still time!


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is that why we have seen no summer in the UK?

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Hush, now.

        That's not climate change, unless it suits the narrative, when it is. So three cold winters with heavy snow in the UK aren't climate change but the lack of rain that led to the hosepipe ban - that's climate change.

        See the difference?

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Hush, now.

          But the climate is changing all the time anyway. If we have more "extreme" weather now than we did before, that is "climate change" because it is a change in the climate. It's a circular argument.

          Did they mean to say it is a result of Anthropogenic Global Warming (i.e. human caused increase in mean global temperature) instead of a result of "climate change". Because saying the latter is both meaningless and a kind of implicit strawmanning of AGW-skeptics by implying our position is that the climate never changes, which is not the position of any except a ill-educated fringe at all.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge

            Re: Hush, now.

            The article was wtitten by James Hansen, you can take it as read that when he refers to Climate Change he is referring to human-caused climate change

            1. Steve Crook

              Re: Hush, now.

              The alternative headline could have been "Hansen Says IPCC Wrong". Earlier this year the IPCC released a report where they said it was impossible to attribute any extreme weather event to man made climate change and that there was a lot more data required before any such determination could be made.

              It doesn't help that the paper is published in PNAS, where the people that write the papers also get to choose the reviewers, so it's not been peer reviewed in the accepted sense. In addition, Hansens high profile campaigning means we're long past the point where it would be possible to consider any remarks or papers to be genuinely objective.

            2. h4rm0ny

              Re: Hush, now.

              "The article was wtitten by James Hansen, you can take it as read that when he refers to Climate Change he is referring to human-caused climate change"

              Which unfortunately makes debate more confusing. Maybe it's not deliberate, but it has the effect of making what he says hard to argue with, because the way he phrases is it (as well as being a tautology) makes it sound as if anyone who disagrees with him disagrees that the climate changes, which is far from the case. It's like the "have you stopped beating your wife" sort of debating trick - slow your critics up and force them to start explaining something they shouldn't have to explain.

            3. Sailfish

              Re: Hush, now.

              The guy is a self-admitted warmist advocate, all the while receiving tons of money from tax-payers and questionable speaking fees. More at:


              Beside, he's a jerk, too.

  2. mememine69

    The big green liberal fear machine is pushing votes Romney's way.

    Get up to date girls!

    -Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.

    -Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier and a hero.

    -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.

    -Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death).

    IPCC:......"Climate change is real and COULD be a crisis."...... is not consensus, of anything let alone death by CO2 for my kids. Its a consultant's wet dream from the same world of science that gave us pesticides.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can we please, for once and for all, forget about idea that taxes are the solution for everything?

    1. Local Group

      Re: "forget about idea that taxes are the solution for everything"

      In the case of climate change, what we need is a stylish, but killer (in the good sense of the word) gas mask.

    2. Steve Crook

      Re: fee

      In principle, Australia's carbon tax was a reasonable thing if pitched at the right level. The plan was to ensure that there was no overall change in the tax burden, but to switch the emphasis to carbon so that companies would have a direct financial incentive to reduce their footprints.

      Of course, in a country that relies so heavily on coal and heavy industries that use the energy generated from it, it was always going to be a hard sell. Particularly when it came from a party that had promised categorically that there wouldn't be such a tax.

      It does seem that you need a politician to make a crisis out of a drama.

    3. Mips

      Re: fee

      If you do not agree that the polluter should pay then you are part of the problem not part of the the solution.

      Aynyway the guy was not saying MORE taxation but DIFFERENT taxation. If we tax fuel we can stop taxing something else.

  4. scarshapedstar

    No other explanation, eh?

    Well what about sunspots? Yeah, that's the ticket, also drinking makes you feel hotter and people drink more during a recession, so constroversy and stuff.

    (hey, Lewis, want me to deposit your Heartland Institute check while I'm at the bank tomorrow?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No other explanation, eh?

      Scientists acknowledge that the climate system here on Earth is so complicated as to be currently beyond the realms of our understanding. We truly do not really know what is going on and how it all works but we take highly educated stabs at it, and yet this man claims he can work out what's going on beyond doubt (his probability argument). I say he's up for a budgetary review come the election and he's nowt more than a f*cking charlatan out to secure his research funds.

      'We don't truly understand it but this is definitely what's happening'. What utter crap.

  5. vagabondo

    Hansen's got that backwards

    Climate is how we describe the normal/average/expected weather pattern. If the seasonal weather changes of a time (measured in centuries) then we have climate change. Climate does not change the weather. School geography has taught us for at least fifty years that urbanisation will change the local climate, and geology tells us that the Earth has experienced dramatic climate changes over millions of years. Whether man's efforts will have a global significant effect or not; there seems to be a lack of good evidence at the moment.

    However irrespective of climate change, it seems stupid to needlessly pollute our own environment for the short-term financial advantage of a few. It also seems sensible not too wastefully deplete finite resources, when they could be used more efficiently with little effort.

    1. Steelhead

      Re: Hansen's got that backwards

      Far too balanced and well thought-through for here!

      In future could you please reuse one of the following replies:



      B) Actually, climate change has been made up by a load of raving lefties and hippies who have smoked too much grass and want to turn the Earth into their own personal Gaia. The Earth isn't warming, it's all a conspiracy created by said lefties and, in fact, is cooling down!


      C) Climate is constantly changing (just look at the geological records), we have had ice-ages, hot spells and the thought that human beings can in ANY WAY change the world around them is simply obsurd. These so-called 'climate scientists' cleared obtained their PhD certificates from the back of a packet of Kellogs Cornflakes!

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Hansen's got that backwards

      "However irrespective of climate change, it seems stupid to needlessly pollute our own environment for the short-term financial advantage of a few."

      True, but then again it makes little sense to impoverish the masses to subsidise fuel sources that clearly do not, can not, and will not work here in the UK: wind is hopeless as it requires a fossil base load, and solar laughable this far North. Nuclear is the realistic option for us but that doesn't suit the green energy lobby. By going to the other end of the spectrum and supporting the green energy lobby we are impoverishing the working classes in order to also benefit the few financially in the short-term. The rich are always on a win-win, with politicians also feeding at the same trough with their vested interests and directorships, so let's try not to keep f*cking over the poor by making them choose between food and electricity.

      1. vagabondo

        Re: Hansen's got that backwards @Mark 65

        I was thinking of energy management, heat exchangers, and better insulation etc. rather than "alternative" energy.

        I do not think there is any rationale in using wind or photo-voltaic to supply the grid. They do seem more suitable for powering remote irrigation pumps; telephone boxes etc. Tidal power is the most attractive renewable in areas with sea-lochs and fjords. Nuclear would probably have been much cleaner and more efficient if it had been developed primarily as a power source, rather than a source of weapons-grade uranium with some electricity as a by-product.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hansen's got that backwards

      CO2 != pollutant -- despite what the politically motivated might say. You might as well call O2 a pollutant for all the sense it makes

      No-one disputes the notion of preservation of finite resources, incl. you and me.

      1. vagabondo

        Re: Hansen's got that backwards

        > You might as well call O2 a pollutant

        Of course it is! Where do you think O3 comes from?

  6. jake Silver badge

    For gawd/ess's sake, that's an OP-ED!

    He's speaking for himself, not for NASA!


  7. Thought About IT


    "In Australia, from where your correspondent types this missive, a carbon tax along the lines proposed by Hansen has proved extraordinary potent political poison."

    That just shows how extraordinarily effective the propaganda campaign of FUD (assisted by some leading lights here at El Reg) has been. As Professor Robert Manne says, "they have won a dark victory":

    "For the denialists to be “victorious” they do not need to "prove" that global warming is a "hoax". All they have to do is to "manufacture doubt", that is to say to create a substantial level of public doubt about the solidity of the science."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FUD

      FUD? Coming from Sceptics? No way! Shame on them. Don't they know FUD is the domain of the 'consensus'?

    2. itzman

      Re: FUD

      A Big Lie comment to an article about a Big Lie.

      1/. Extreme weather events are not getting more extreme or more common.

      2/. I am sure it was the IPCC who assured us that in any case weather was nothing to do with climate and vice versa.

      3/. It is not the skeptics (there are no deniers at all except those who deny the evidence that the climate isn't in fact changing very much at all) that are spreading the FUD - what is fearful about 'the highest probability is that nothing much is/will happen at all' ?

      No, the FUD is coming from the purveyors of high taxes, wind turbines and solar panels.

      "COULD result in.." "COULD power up to...."

      As justification for the most arrogant blatant and disgraceful campaign of marketing and rent-seeking I have ever seen in my considerable life.

      Ever since WWII there has been a realisation of just how much money people can be persuaded to accept on their tax bill if they are scared shitless. The Cold War. The War of Mutually Assured Destruction,. The War Against Communism. Star Wars, The War on Terror, and now the War Against Climate Change.

      Only this tome they have got the protestors on the side of the very thing they normally protest against. A master stroke of marketing.

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: FUD

      Propaganda campaign of FUD? No my friend, it's reality with regards Oz. The populous in Australia don't like tax hikes any more than the next man and they are particularly over-taxed as a nation. The carbon tax is a tax hike hence it is political poison, and especially so considering Gillard claimed at the election she would not introduce it then u-turned because she couldn't form a Government without the Green party. Australians like lying bastard politicians even less than tax hikes and lying bastard politicians that introduce tax hikes they said they wouldn't are never going to be popular or quickly forgotten. That's not FUD, that's life.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FUD


      Right there.

      It is supposed to be about science, not a religious holy war.

      If the science is sorted enough, honest enough, and accurate enough right thinking people will see through the propaganda either side puts out.

      However the people thinking like you, in some crazed religious zeal who seek to crush any discussion with the mighty light of your goodness shining out your bottom suppress actual science taking place just as surely as any oil funded thinktank, and set all my alarm bells ringing. That's what's so alarming about the IPCC stuff, and phil jones and co. Not that they were doing good or bad science, but they'd taken it on themselves to crush the dissent and suppress any discussion with secrecy and collusion and admitted as such.

      I read statements like this, and every pore of my analytical bordering on aspergers engineering mind wants to run screaming and treat you with distrust. We're engineers and thinkers on here because that is what the industry demands (except those people who thought up prince2, they're the spawn of the devil) , able to grasp concepts and with a fair grasp of stats etc. Please don't treat us like sheep or daily mail readers needing to be spoon fed what to think.

      Now, go away and learn how not to be such a zealot, and put your arguments concisely in engineering concepts.

      1. Thought About IT
        Thumb Down

        Re: FUD: Stop right there

        "If the science is sorted enough, honest enough, and accurate enough right thinking people will see through the propaganda either side puts out."

        So, you didn't read what Professor Robert Manne has to say about this then. It's impossible for scientists to fight propaganda with evidence, because by the time they've mustered that evidence, the propagandists have moved on. The AGW denialists don't have that problem, because they hardly have any evidence of their own to defend. For example, they made a huge amount of noise about releasing the raw data, so they could verify it, and have done nothing with it since they won that battle over a year ago. They just moved on to attacking the scientists. Disgraceful!

    5. NomNomNom

      Re: FUD

      WTF is a FUD? is it short for "fuddy duddy"? I dont even know what that means but I have heard it before. Hope it isn't racist...

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: FUD definition

        FUD = "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt". At the risk of criticism, I submit this Wonkypedia link for your edification:,_uncertainty_and_doubt

  8. -tim

    An end to fiat currencies?

    Carbon taxes seem to be a way to tie currencies to energy. That works great if you're in a country that has plenty of energy and not so good in others. If we look back at history, we can see Golgafrinchans learned using carbon for a basis for finance makes perfect sense.

    My coat is the one stuff full of leaves.

  9. paulc
    Black Helicopters

    Meanwhile... HAARP installations are on full power

    messing things up. We're in the middle of a weather war... both sides are messing with the weather to further their agendas

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile... HAARP installations are on full power

      Didn't you mean to use the "Joke" icon there? Surely you don't believe that nonsense?

  10. johnB

    But only to replace VAT

    I've long thought a carbon tax seems both rational & sensible - but only if it replaced VAT as a spending-type tax. Unfortunately, I just don't trust politicians sufficiently to replace VAT. On past form, it would be brought in as yet another additional tax.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Re: But only to replace VAT

      Already happening to me. I drive a Peugeot 107 and pay £20pa to tax the little git. My missus pays £160pa to tax her Avensis. Or more correctly, I pay £180pa and someone else gets to drive a nicer car.

  11. ideas

    1. if you were in a small room and started lighting a candle at a time, the room would become increasing hotter, besides creating some nasty stuff to breathe;

    2. when you burn fossil fuel, you are taking something that has the temperature of its surroundings and converting it to heat with carbon dioxide being released and releasing some contaminants that increases the risk of COPD, lung Ca, heart problems, etc.;

    3. when humans started the industrial revolution, they increased the use of fossil fuels exponentially over time for factories, for developing other fossil fueled powered devices like motor vehicles, planes, power stations, drones, etc., and moved from an agrarian society to large cities to suburbs;

    4. if you will glance at world growth charts on "motor vehicle" in wikipedia (, it provides a possible basis to believe the world has quickly grown extremely dependent on motor vehicles, which have motors that produce lots of heat from when they are started to when they cool off after running;

    5. I believe the Germans originally mass produced the VW as a people's car;

    6. I recently noticed that in India they are working hard on a car to run on compressed air that needs an electrical charge (, alternatively I noticedan expensive electric one with a range of 373 miles (, and there are probably a lot more ideas out there for elctrical vehicles;

    7. with the world/national economic slowdown and the need for another stimulus, which Republicans and Democrates had no trouble quickly doing in the middle of the last Presidential election with socialism for the 1%, when faced with housing bubble burst, banks ready to go belly up, and AIG on the verge of melting (all as a result of a massive, insured real estate fraud) and kick starting the auto industry through buying clunkers to stimulate the purchase of new primarily gasoline motor vehicles, change can come to possibly save this planet ( with this: (inter)nationalize the production of an inexpensive/free electrical vehicles with a replaceable battery pack to be charged by (inter)nationally produced solar cells installed on the south sides of roofs and/or sides of suitable buildings and parking lots (with community shared vehicles available for congested metropolitan areas); and

    8. this might show a concern for our neighbors and better stewardship of the planet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > if you were in a small room and started lighting a candle at a time

      We are not in a small room, we are on a planet that radiates heat into space.

      > production of an inexpensive/free electrical vehicles with a replaceable battery pack

      The electricity to run these cars needs to be generated, transmitted to your home, stored in the battery, extracted from the battery and converted into motion. Each and every step in the process has inefficiencies and as a result the whole process has an efficiency of less then 20%. Batteries also degrade with use so this efficiency will drop significantly as the battery ages.

      A petrol engine has an efficiency of between 25 and 30% and a diesel engine about 40%. The efficiency of the engines will not decrease significantly over the lifetime of the engine.

      Since most electricity is generated using gas or coal then switching to electric cars will result in more CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

      1. Wilco 1

        Electric cars are far more efficient

        It's easy to spread FUD if you don't know what you are talking about.

        Actually overall efficiency of an electric car is 80%, nowhere near the 20% you claim. Petrol cars do about 15% and diesel about 20% (diesels can reach 40% efficiency but only in huge engines such as used in ships).

        Since electric cars are so much more efficient, even if you used coal to generate the electricity, it would emit less CO2 than a diesel. In the UK for example, using an electric car saves 40% on CO2 emissions over its lifetime, even taking into account recycling the car and battery.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

          > Actually overall efficiency of an electric car is 80%, nowhere near the 20% you claim.

          Try reading it again. You are only talking about converting the energy in the battery into motion. That energy does not magically appear it has to be generated first, then transmitted to you home and finally used to charge your battery. Each and every stage involves efficiency losses. The end result is that less than 20% of the potential energy of that lump of coal used to generate the electricity ends up as motion in your car.

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

            Neither does the petrol magically come into existence at a petrol station, or does it? If you want to compare well-to-wheel for an electric car, then you have to do the same for petrol/diesel.

            Efficiency of pumping oil out of a well, transporting it, refining it, and transporting it again is at best 80%. Only about 50% of a barrel of oil can be turned into petrol (lower quality oil such as tar based oil does about 25%). So given a barrel of oil in the ground, at best you end up with a 40% of that at the petrol station, less than electricity generation efficiency (60% for a combined cycle plant).

            So well to wheel efficiency of an electric car is far better than a petrol/diesel car, which is why they emit less CO2 overall. With more low-CO2 generation the electric car efficiency improves even further.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

              > Neither does the petrol magically come into existence at a petrol station, or does it?

              And neither does the coal/gas/oil magically appear at the power station. Extracting and transporting costs are there whether you are extracting to generate electricity or to drive your car.

              > Only about 50% of a barrel of oil can be turned into petrol

              Actually it is only about 21 to 35% depending upon the crude oil. Petrol is one of many products extracted from crude oil. You also have:

              LPG - Used for heating, cooking, generating electricity to power electric cars

              Naptha - Used for paraffin, solvents, polish, lighter fuel...

              Kerosene - Used for heating, lighting, solvent, insecticide...

              Fuel oils - Used for shipping, heating, generating electricity to power electric cars.

              Lubricating oils - Used in electric engines, petrol engines....

              Paraffin wax - Candles, crayons, waterproofing, food...

              Asphalt - Used to surround weather stations

              Tar - Sealing, waterproofing...

              Petroleum coke - Used for fuel and in the production of aluminium, steel, titanium

              The current price of a barrel of crude (42 US Gallons) is about $100. Out of this barrel you will get 12.5 gallons of petrol. This should make the wholesale price of petrol $8 a gallon and yet the retail price is about $3.50. This indicates that petrol is simply a by-product and not the main reason for refining crude.

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

                Extraction and distribution costs are relatively low for electricity generation, around 12% for gas and 11% for coal. In the UK overall generation efficiency is 33% for coal, 42% for gas, and 32-35% for wind energy.

                That shows that even with coal, an electric car would beat a diesel: 80% efficient electric car * 33% coal efficiency = 26.4% vs 17.7% well-to-wheel efficiency of a modern diesel (according to That means 33% less CO2 emissions for electric cars even when powered with 100% coal.

                In the US about 50% of a barrel of oil can be turned into petrol, but then the amount of diesel you can get is much lower. In Europe refineries are tuned to produce much more diesel. You're right that the "waste" is useful in many other ways, but the bulk of oil is "wasted" in inefficient IC engines.

            2. DragonLord

              Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

              I believe that you are forgetting that very little of the rest of the barrel of oil is wasted, as it is used to make plastics and other hi-tech materials, road coverings, lubricants, and other fuels (aviation as an example) diesel also comes out of the same barrel. Additionally AFAIK almost 100% of the oil in the well comes out of the well with no spillage, and the cost of extraction is less than $20/barrel (pumped land based <$10) and with current prices of Brent crude at $101 that puts a minimum efficiency of %80 by price, given that most of that price is going to be man power, the actual efficiency in terms of energy is going to be much much higher.

              The reason for the huge efficiencies is the shear volume of oil that is being lifted and transported around the world, and the fact that the transportation costs are fixed to 2 million barrel chunks.

              Sod it, Someone else has done the maths ( for me, and the well to forecourt efficiency of petrol is %81 if the car is then 25% efficient then that gives us an end efficiency of 20.25% (someone else may want to check my maths) - Note that the source of the calculations assumes a gas fired turbine, and 50mpg for the car and only covers petrol cars. Given that modern cars can have fuel efficiencies far exceeding the quoted figures (esp. if they are diesel). Either way at worst a modern car is comparable to the efficiency of an electric, and at best 8% more efficient.

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

                You're very optimistic assuming 25% tank-to-wheel efficiency. It's typically 15% for a petrol car, so end-to-end efficiency would be 12%. Compare that to the 26% worst-case of an electric car powered by coal.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

                  > You're very optimistic assuming 25% tank-to-wheel efficiency. It's typically 15% for a petrol car.

                  25% is on the low side. Gasoline Direct Injection fuel systems (as used in Ford, Mazda, BMW etc) have increased the fuel to wheel efficiency to 35%.

                  1. Wilco 1

                    Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

                    No that is engine efficiency, not tank-to-wheel efficiency. If you just want to compare engine efficiency, an electric motor can be over 90% efficient. An ICE can never get anywhere near that.


        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

          > Petrol cars do about 15% and diesel about 20%...

          Now whose spreading FUD

          From wikipedia:

          "Modern gasoline engines have a maximum thermal efficiency of about 25% to 30% when used to power a car. "


          "Modern turbo-diesel engines are using electronically controlled, common-rail fuel injection, that increases the efficiency up to 50% with the help of geometrically variable turbo-charging system;"

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

            I was talking about cars, not just the engine. Peak engine efficiency is only obtained at a narrow rpm range, so you typically don't drive at maximum efficiency. And engine efficiency doesn't include transmission losses, gearbox and wheel losses. Tank to wheel efficiency is far lower than maximum engine efficiency.


            Petrol car: 14.8% tank-to-wheel efficiency

            Diesel car: 20% tank-to-wheel efficiency

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

              > And engine efficiency doesn't include transmission losses, gearbox and wheel losses.

              I guess electric engines have 100% gearbox, transmission, and wheel efficiency. How do they do it?

              1. Wilco 1

                Re: Electric cars are far more efficient

                An electric car gets ~80% efficiency based on 99% battery charge/discharge efficiency, 87% electric motor efficiency and 94% drivetrain/wheel efficiency.

                Unlike a ICE, an electric motor only requires energy when you drive/accelerate, and when you do it always works at maximum efficiency. This is why hybrids and start/stop can make a big difference.


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