(On December 31, 2009, NASA finally provided the Competitive Enterprise Institute with the documents I requested from them with an FOIA in August 2007. My request asked NASA to release their internal discussions regarding errors of theirs materially effecting their temperature claims caught by Steve McIntyre. NASA had stonewalled my request for more than two years.)
Dr. James Hansen has an extraordinary history of alarmism and dodgy claims: He has testified in support of the destruction of private property in the name of global warming alarmism and referred to coal rail cars as the equivalent of Nazi death trains, all while insisting that any president named George Bush was muzzling him. He has proven himself a global warming zealot leading a taxpayer-funded institute.
On August 11, 2007, James Hansen emailed the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin:
As for the future in the US, you can look for the warming to become more obvious during the next decade or two.
However, observations and projections in the refereed literature which take into account the past decade of no warming, shifts in oceanic currents, and other, obviously dominant climate “forcings” have since turned the other direction.
Getting it dead wrong is close enough for government work, and it’s pretty clear that Hansen is only protected and still employed because he is a government employee who gets things wrong in a way that supports a politically favored agenda. Hansen’s nuttiness is acceptable nuttiness. He is a sacred cow despite years of questionable practices and avocations.
Spinning madly in his defense during the August 2007 kerfuffle started by Steve McIntyre, Hansen repeatedly dismisses that NASA had ever presented 1934 as being warmer than 1998. In the process, he serially refers to a 2001 paper with other NASA colleagues of which he was lead author.
Ruedy wrote to Hansen on August 23, 2007, apparently seeking to stop their office’s highest-profiled scientist from continuing to embarrass himself — and them:
The US temperature graph in our 1999 paper, based on GHCN data, shows 1934 0.5C warmer than 1998; 1998 was in 5th place behind 1921, 1931, 1938, 1953.
In the corresponding graph in our 2001 paper, now based on the carefully corrected [euphemism alert!] USHCN data, 1934 and 1998 are in first, 1921 in third place (NOAA who provided the USHCN data had 1998 slightly ahead of 1934).
The US table we had posted during all of 2006 showed 1998 and 1934 even at 1.24C (I got a copy from a journalist in Brazil, we don’t save the data).
In fact, the paper referenced here, Hansen et al. (2001), showed 1934 a whopping half a degree warmer than the next closest year, 1998.
After being embarrassed internally, Hansen says:
I think we want to avoid getting into more and more detail about ranking of individual years.
Yes. I suppose he would feel that way.
Not only was data maintenance not all that great a concern — despite NASA’s pronouncements of certainty and integrity, historical and otherwise — Hansen and NASA spent a good portion of August 2007 attempting to completely rewrite history. Particularly their own.
Ruedy emailed a NASA PR person named Leslie McCarthy, copying Hansen, on August 10, 2007. Ruedy advised McCarthy of the spin they would use to combat Steve McIntyre:
[McIntyre] concentrates on US time series which US covering less than 2% of the world is so noisy and has such a large margin of error that no conclusions can be drawn from it at this point.
The error Ruedy refers to is 0.5 Celsius, per Ruedy himself in his August 10, 2007, email to Kris French of National Geographic. In that email, Ruedy slurs McIntyre as a “global warming denier.”
Hansen emailed Dr. Donald E. Anderson, program manager at Earth Science Enterprise NASA Headquarters, on August 14, 2007:
If one wished to be scientific, instead of trying to confuse the public … one should note that single year temperatures for an area as small as the US (2% of the globe) are extremely noisy.
By this Hansen implicitly assesses NASA’s longstanding practice of touting temperature anomalies, U.S.-only and smaller than this, as being unscientific and designed to confuse the public. NASA had for years made great hay of U.S.-only temperatures as being somehow meaningful when a warming was claimed, even when that warming was less than the amount they now dismiss as meaningless. He pitched a directly contrarian perspective when U.S.-only temps threatened warming claims.