Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Edinburgh Medal

Dr James Hansen was presented with the Edinburgh Medal last night in the City Chambers.

The public presentation in the Council Chamber was far from full.  The formal proceedings constituted an uncritical acceptance of what Dr Hansen had to say with the cheerleader being Ms Dana Linnet, Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Edinburgh.

The talk itself was almost identical to his recent TED talk.  He added his comment (reported here yesterday) that he and 'science' seem to be losing the public debate.

Another addition at the end was his account of a recent paper he has written the journal publication of which is being delayed.  He suggested it was because he had included a call for 'action' in the paper.

This fitted a theme.  Although in one sense he is a member of the global warming 'establishment', a recurring burden of his presentation was to cast him as a lonely outsider fighting.   Those sounding an alarm have indeed  captured policy, scientists and public opinion.  Dr Hansen wants the response to be much more urgent and far reaching.  In that sense he is an outlier.

One example was his reference to sea level rise.  The IPCC report of 2007 suggested a sea level rise of 18-59cm this century.  Not mentioning that figure he said 'most scientists' believe it will be over one metre and he thinks it will be 'up to five metres or more'. Others think even the IPCC suggestions are alarmist.

Thankfully, as Dr Hansen acknowledges, the indications are that the tide is turning against his rather extreme views. This report of former NASA scientists' concerns is one of the most recent indicators that his litany of disaster predictions is going out of favour.


  1. Sadly this does degrade all the previous recipients of the "Edinburgh Medal", and damages the prestige of the entire City.

  2. Um, I think it only does if you let it. This is a controversial topic. Unfortunately for Cameron, having read his log here he loses my vote today. Actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change and wide resource depletion - largely driven my the ignorance or greed of humankind - or maybe both - are I believe of the highest priority for moral persons today.

  3. argh "my" should read "by" above - typos seem to get everywhere "log" should also read "blog" - the dangers of the internet... and I probably should have made clear my first phrase was in response to Axel's concern about degrading previous recipients...

  4. Hansen's view of being a lonely outsider do not accord with the evidence of this medal. In a similar vein the NASA GISS surface temperature record that Hansen manages, show worrying signs of manipulating raw data to confirm his previous model predictions. Along with recent arrests, this all indicates an activist who uses his science to support pre-determined policy conclusions.