Jason Steorts is on the defensive about his National Review cover story on global warming “Scare of the Century.” Steorts’s article seeks to dismiss the conclusion of thousands of climate scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming is real, the result of human activity and, if unmitigated, will have grave consequences.
In his latest response to our critique, Steorts enlists James Hansen — the NASA climate scientist who was famously muzzled by the Bush administration for his outspoken views about the dangers of global warming — to bolster his point. Steorts quotes Hansen as saying “the IPCC scenarios are unduly pessimistic.”
There are reasons to believe that the IPCC scenarios are unduly pessimistic. First, they ignore changes in emissions, some already underway, due to concerns about global warming. Second, they assume that true air pollution will continue to get worse, with O3, CH4 and BC all greater in 2050 than in 2000. Third, they give short shrift to technology advances that can reduce emissions in the next 50 years.
In other words, Hansen’s article is a call to action. He argues that we can reduce the impact of global warming if we limit carbon dioxide emissions, control air pollution and adopt new technologies. Here’s how the same article begins:
Global warming is real, and the melting ice is an apt portent of potentially disastrous consequences… Study of these forcing agents shows that global warming can be slowed, and stopped, with practical actions that yield a cleaner, healthier atmosphere.
Steorts uses the same tactic when he notes that Hansen “looked at the instrumental record and predicted 0.75 degrees of warming by 2050.” Actually Hansen predicts that amount of warming if the growth in air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions can be stopped.
Steorts takes a couple of words from Hansen’s call to action totally out of context to argue that action is unnecessary. This isn’t a real argument, it’s a shell game.