Monthly Archives: May 2012

Quo Vadis climate change?

Guest Post by Professor Will Alexander*

Poverty reduction vs climate change

Doctor Aids Starving Ethiopian Child

Doctor Aids Starving Ethiopian Child

‘Shadow of hunger’ June 2008. Member of Doctors Without Frontiers carrying a child to the intensive care unit for starving members of the population of southern Ethiopia where more than four million people were starving. Beeld 13 June 2008. How can I remain silent?

You might have noticed that the phrase poverty reduction is in the process of overtaking climate change as the issue of major international concern. The phrase sustainable development is also losing ground. It never was implementable and now the UN organisers of Rio+20 are struggling to get an international agreement on its objectives.

All of this is because climate change was used as a weapon by the affluent nations of the West to maintain their supremacy over the world’s rapidly developing nations. The Kyoto Protocol was one of the mechanisms to achieve this objective. Another was promises of substantial economic aid (with conditions attached) to enable the developing nations to abandon the use of cheap coal to more expensive electricity generating methods such as wind turbines, solar panels and biofuels. Nuclear energy was the only economically viable large scale alternative but the public were worried because of its linkage with nuclear weapons and the consequences of nuclear fuel leakages and destruction of the power stations such as happened in Japan.

Despite these pressures, the use of coal continues to expand worldwide including here in South Africa. Now the world sees the almost universal use of shale gas as the alternative source of energy for the future. Here in South Africa the authorities have just given the go ahead for shale gas exploration after a long hesitation based on environmental considerations.

Economic turmoil

Unfulfilled promises of economic aid have been a characteristic of meetings of high-level wealthy nations under the leadership of the G8 nations. The establishment of the notorious and grossly misleading Stern Review was an outcome of the G8 meeting at Gleneagles in 2005.

The African countries have repeatedly stated that they require trade not aid. This fell on deaf ears in the Western countries but there has been a rapid growth of bilateral trade between the African and the developing Eastern countries, particularly China, India and South Korea.

As I write, the EU nations are in economic turmoil. Any thought of large scale financial assistance to the developing countries to control their emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other undesirable gases is out of the question.

As a consequence, we now see the IPCC changing its tactics from mitigation (prevention) to adaptation. This is described in the IPCC’s recent special report. Note that they are in deep water because accommodating climatic extremes — mainly floods and droughts — has been a function of the civil engineering profession since the beginning of civilisation thousands of years ago.

Computer programs

In passing, the first civilian use of mainframe computers was for the electronic storage and processing of hydro-meteorological data. Appreciating this, IBM allocated two senior mathematicians (Mandelbrot and Wallis) to become involved in advanced hydrological analyses. They published many reports that are still valid today.

I have had the unusual privilege of being directly involved in the transition from mainframe computers that occupied several adjacent rooms in the Department of Water Affairs; to desktop microcomputers; to personal computers; to laptops and now to handheld tablet computers that are far more powerful than the mainframe computers of old. My first personal computer was a Sinclair ZX 81, followed by BBC microcomputers with their excellent version of BASIC. The IBM compatible PCs were late on the scene but soon dominated the markets. I wrote all my own computer programs. Initially the outputs were to Epson dot matrix printers. I still have my Sinclair and BBC computers in my garage. I am uncertain what to do with them.

Global warmers are babes in the wood when it comes to developing computer programs to model natural processes. They fail to appreciate that the greater the number of variables in the model, the greater the level of uncertainty in the output. They believe the opposite. I discussed this issue in my invited Stander Memorial lecture that I titled The case of the multidimensional watermelon. I discuss alternative forms of process modelling in my handbook on analytical methods.

Today there are half a dozen or so huge computer systems that we are told are capable of analysing climate on a global scale. There are two problems. The first is that the alarmist predictions produced by the models have failed to eventuate. The second and more important is that their outputs are not in a format that can be used for practical applications such as two-dimensional flood magnitude/ frequency relationships and three-dimensional drought magnitude/ frequency/ duration relationships. The next step is the determination of human and structural vulnerability to floods and droughts. The final step is the development of measures to reduce the impact of these events.

All of this is far beyond the knowledge and experience of climate change scientists. So why should we take any notice of them? The reason is that they have infiltrated the South African authorities by linking climate change with postulated environmental damage which has popular and consequently political interest. They have diverted attention away from the very real water resource management problems that lie ahead.

Chickens coming home

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Last week our Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs addressed the media ahead of the budget vote in parliament. The following is a summary.

South Africa needs to spend R573bn over the next decade on water covering everything from maintenance and new infrastructures to operations. To do this it will need the private sector’s help. Quite independently, there were television news items showing riots in parts of South Africa arising from lack of potable water supplies and deteriorating water infrastructures.

The future

I shudder when I consider how the South African authorities will cope with widespread droughts such as those of the 1980s and widespread floods such as those of the 1970s. There is nobody in authority with this experience. There will be chaos in this part of the world when (not if) the next round of widespread, severe droughts occurs. The authorities and even our research institutions are totally unprepared for this. The news media will not have difficulty in identifying the culprits for our unpreparedness.

The following is what I propose doing to help in the decision making process DV.


I will place four comprehensive reports on my website as soon as we can get it going. These are:

Handbook on analytical methods for water resource development and management (2012). This extensive document covers the whole field.

Climate change and its consequences — an African perspective. (2006). I deal with and dismiss all the major claims made by South African global warmers.

Risk and Society (1999). My detailed United Nations commissioned study on natural disasters.

Structural and non-structural aspects of flood risk reduction. This is a detailed report on this subject.


Climate change nonsense (submitted).

Unverified hypotheses (abstract submitted).

Drought management (abstract submitted).


Drought risk reduction

Flood risk reduction

Natural disaster reduction

Humanitarian concerns

This is an ambitious programme. I will do my best to accomplish it. The lives and livelihoods of millions of people on the African continent and elsewhere are at stake.

*Will Alexander is Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil and Biosystems Engineering, University of Pretoria; Fellow, South African Institution of Civil Engineering; Member, United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, 1994 – 2000


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Top Scientists Vent on NASA’s Sub Prime Greenhouse Gas Hoaxer

Climatologist James Hansen is under sustained attack accused of global warming fraud at a time when the powerful science journal, Nature admits “research is riddled with systematic errors.”

Hansen, Sagan and Venus with Magellan Probe

Hansen, Sagan and Venus with Magellan Probe

The Nature article (May 9) marks a defining critical moment as a slew of top scientists openly attack climate activist, Professor James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS). Since the 1980’s Hansen has been at the forefront of claims that human emissions of carbon dioxide are “catastrophically” warming our planet. For his ceaseless alarmism Hansen has been named and shamed by, among others, the U.S. Government’s premier extreme weather expert, Martin Hoerling (of sister U.S. Government agency, NOAA) who calls Hansen’s science “patently false” and “policy more than it is science.”

As Nature states, “Alarming cracks are starting to penetrate deep into the scientific edifice.” Although the article baulked at naming and shaming Hansen, the beleaguered spokesman of climate alarmism nonetheless immediately rushed to defend himself in an OpEd in The New York Times (May 10). But Hansen was then summarily shot down the following day when a damning set of doctored graphs was released implicating him as fraudster-in-chief of the U.S. and global temperature records – all perpetrated while Hansen was pocketing millions for his sub-prime science.

Another salvo against the NASA GISS boss then appeared on the world’s leading science blog, WUWT. Here Hansen and others are denounced for ignoring facts that prove the greenhouse gas theory doesn’t fit the data at a time when independent researchers are also demonstrating that natural factors better explain our ever-changing climate.

But as the wider scientific community is turning up the heat on Hansen, future generations will examine his leading role in promoting as “settled science” the now discredited greenhouse gas theory (GHE). Indeed, as retired former U.S. Navy meteorologist, Dr. Martin Hertzberg laments, “prior to the 1970’s no mainstream science journals considered the “greenhouse effect,” let alone the theory that human emissions of CO2 had any influence on the weather.” Indeed, it can be shown that back in 1967 Hansen claimed (when he was a fringe theorist) that if there was a GHE it was likely induced by dust (aerosol particulates). [1.]

Hansen was pitching his “Dust Insulation Model” (DIM) to anyone and everyone after obtaining his PhD from the University of Iowa and starting work at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Of course, scientists all agree that our sun is the overwhelming source of our planet’s heat. But what Hansen’s DIM science proclaimed was that atmospheric dust particles (or aerosols) act in conjunction with solar energy to cause additional global warming.

In the 1970’s such disaster science became the rage inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky, a leading advocate of Catastrophist ideas as opposed to the prevailing Uniformitarian notions. Hansen, as a disciple of Velikovsky, was crying about an impending ice age on Earth while at the same time speculating that dust aerosols in the atmosphere of Venus caused a “runaway greenhouse gas effect” on the hot planet.

But then television science celebrity and fellow catastrophist, Carl Sagan, won fame with his claims about a “runaway greenhouse effect” on Venus all due to carbon dioxide. Sagan speculated that the same could happen on Earth. So Hansen saw his opportunity and grabbed Sagan’s coat tails and quietly abandoned his DIM dust theory.

But while Sagan baulked at wholesale acceptance of Velikovsky’s ideas Hansen embraced them despite there being no evidence of any “runaway” GHE for Venus (with it’s 98 percent CO2 atmosphere) without showing any evidence to demonstrate CO2 actually caused atmospheric warming. This was especially puzzling when considering the fact that the atmosphere of Mars, like Venus, was almost entirely CO2 – yet that planet was freezing cold. While on Earth there is virtually no atmospheric CO2 to speak of (less than 0.04 percent!).

But over time James “Boiling Oceans” Hansen honed his doomsayer act into a fine art as evidenced by his book, ‘Storms of My Grandchildren‘. In Chapter Ten Hansen uses his climate crystal ball to foretell, “if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.”

But a recent paper by Hansen shows how he can flip-flop about the climate forcing properties of aerosols when it suits. Returning to his old DIM science idea Hansen now says aerosols are part of the control knob for a planet’s energy content. But contrary to what he claimed before, he now says they cause cooling, not warming. And their impact is whatever magnitude Hansen needs to prop up his runaway GHE musings.

Thus in Hansen’s world aerosol forcing is the fudge factor needed to keep the funding dollars flowing in. In his world there is no actual research into aerosols going on – just modeling – all a guessing game. As such, Hansen’s models will deliver exactly the right results he needs to justify the model’s behavior – a scientific shell game – a blatant tautology and a veritable obfuscation for the public.

That Whatchamacallit Greenhouse Gas Effect

But an even more worrying aspect of Hansen’s science is his astonishing claim that Earth receives an additional 33 degrees Celsius of heat due to the so-called greenhouse gas effect. Hansen and fellow GHE believers say this additional 33 degrees is due to our atmosphere creating a “blanket effect” so that Earth is “warmer than it would otherwise be.”

But independent scientists have shown that this “blanket effect” warming is bogus, being merely the product of a statistical trick – all achieved by Hansen crassly opting to model Earth as a flat disk. As such Hansen is a true “flat earther” – ironically this is the charge he and other alarmists make against skeptics all the time. Critics claim that by “simple physical analysis” it can be shown that treating Earth as a flat disk rather than as a 3-Dimensional rotating sphere Hansen hid a gross calculating “error” – the mixing of two incompatible mathematical variables – scalars and vectors (as explained below).

But from 1975 to 1998 when a warming trend seemed in lock step with rising levels of atmospheric CO2, no one seriously scrutinized Hansen’s assertions and calculations. But since 2003 the correlation between global temperatures and CO2 was broken and global cooling began. Then, as any good scientist knows – when there’s no longer any correlation you must then begin to question claims for causation.

Thereafter, NASA’s top climatologist Hansen was under increasing scrutiny and exposed as a poor climate prophet. Among his many failed prophesies were his claims that by 2006 Earth will be at its “warmest for 100,000 years” and by 2030 melting ice caps would cause a sea level rise halfway up the side of Manhattan Island.

Sad for Hansen (but good for humanity) is the HadCRUT evidence that shows temperatures are almost back to where they were when Hansen gave his infamous “sweaty” testimony before Congress in June 1988. Better yet NASA data proves sea levels are falling – not rising as Hansen predicted. In November 2009 the Climategate scandal erupted, igniting fears of a data fraud after independent scientists were unlawfully blocked from seeing how those official – and now failed – climate models were programmed. Hansen and other Velikovsky disciples were accused of trying to cover up their failings.

Now in disarray, Hansen has had to contradict his prior warming claims about aerosols to state that aerosol-emitting industrial China by chance was creating exactly the right amount of particulates to counterbalance the global warming effects he predicted from CO2. To further bolster his claims Hansen resorted to fiddling yet more temperature data but was caught again – this time rigging the numbers for Iceland. But the scam is no longer being bought by the public and anger mounts as the realization sets in that trillions of tax dollars have been wasted from apparent climate criminality.

Alarmists are now reduced to scavenging among less apocalyptic forecasts made in a Hansen paper published in a 1981 edition of ‘Science‘. [2.] But even in that paper Hansen is exposed as either incompetent or dishonest. In it he claims carbon dioxide absorbs in an atmospheric “window” from 7 to 14 micrometers – which transmits thermal radiation emitted by the earth’s surface and lower atmosphere. But the scientific reality is that carbon dioxide only has an effect on the atmospheric window centered on 14.77 microns with a range from about 13 to 17 microns – not from 7 to 14 micrometers. So how did “peer review” miss that Hansen howler?

Flat Earth Physics Mixes Vectors with Scalars

But a bigger gaffe is Hansen’s claim that “Earth absorbs only 240Wm^2, averaged over the surface of the planet.” In this number fudge Hansen applied a bogus averaging technique to illuminate a flat Earth by a constant frigid twilight. As such he deliberately omits to account for the fact Earth is a rotating sphere subject to the constant heating and cooling effects of night and day.

But is that a very big deal? You bet it is. That’s if you believe experts in thermodynamics (that branch of science specifically dealing with heat and energy transfer). Thermodynamics experts say it’s impossible to acquire anything meaningful by attempting to average the Sun’s irradiance. They say Hansen’s flat Earth physics can never work and there is no need to factor in any GHE to correctly calculate Earth’s energy input and output.

One such independent scientist detailing the errors is Joseph E. Postma, an astrophysicist with the Canadian and Indian space agencies. [3.] Postma and his colleagues at Principia Scientific International (PSI) demonstrate that the trick of making Earth a flat planet with 24 hours of weak and frigid sunlight is done to create what is called a blackbody radiation balance. This is where scientific validity stops because advocates of Hansen’s failed science then go on to equate that blackbody radiation balance with the temperature found at the surface of the Earth, which is a scientifically ludicrous comparison. By crudely hammering down the geometry of Earth from a time-functioning rotating sphere into an immovable flat disk, Hansen acquired what is termed a “static equilibrium” for both temperature and energy balance on Earth. By doing this GHE theorists made our planet (impossibly) behave like a “superconducting” blackbody with a constant temperature.

But as thermodynamics experts say, this is utterly wrong. Earth cannot be treated as a flat disk with a freezing cold Sun shining on it. Why, even common sense tells us that Earth has no average temperature. So, in this age of super-computers, why do climate scientists prefer to model with flat-earth physics?

Critics believe GHE modelers did this to avoid factoring in the uncomfortable truth that radiation is not the only component in Earth’s heat equation. Quite the contrary, they say the processes of convection and conduction are huge forces at work whereby our oceans temper the extremes of hot and cold so we don’t suffer the full impact of the kind of night and day temperature extremes seen on our moon. Thanks to our “wet” planet we see not heat “trapping” but rather “temperature moderating” and Hansen has his models wrong all along.

Junk Science – Bananas Added to Apples Equals Banapples

So where precisely did Hansen get it so wrong? Former NASA Apollo mission engineer Dr. Pierre R. Latour puts his finger on it: “Hansen subtracted a radiation temperature vector (it is an energy beam with direction) from a thermal temperature scalar (molecular kinetic energy intensity without direction), which are two different phenomena.” [4.]

What this means in effect is that Hansen mixed the scientific equivalent of bananas with apples to make banapples. As such Hansen fatally subtracted a vector (banana) from a scalar (apple) – that you cannot do. Postma’s paper shows precisely how the “vector minus a scalar” gaffe is completely avoidable if Earth is modeled as it actually operates – as a rotating sphere (not Hansen’s flat disk) with actual energy input calculated for the variations of night and day.

By modeling Earth in three-dimensions instead of Hansen’s flat disk planet Postma and his colleagues proved there was no need for Hansen to concoct an unfeasible extra 33°Celsius “greenhouse effect” to simulate Earth’s energy budget. As such, with no need for any GHE fudge factor, this in turn means that there is no scientific basis for attributing any global warming to carbon dioxide.

With so many of these uncorrected Hansen “errors,” more than 50 former NASA specialists including Astronaut and Physicist Walter Cunningham of NASA’s Apollo 7 have come out to denounce such junk science. Cunningham laments, “Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him.” While Hansen’s former supervisor, Dr. John Theon, declared Hansen has “embarrassed NASA.”

Now that Nature has tacitly endorsed esteemed former Apollo legends and independent researchers in their quest against junk science, Hansen is likely to be further marginalized and will struggle to cling to his high office. Thus Velikovsky’s catastrophe theorists and their dubious post-normal methods will be supplanted by a new breed of scientists adhering to the traditional scientific method. Then policymakers and the general public will fully understand that our planet’s ever-changing climate is driven not by humans but by natural variability – as measured on a decadal or centennial scale.

[1.] Hansen, J.E., and S. Matsushima “The atmosphere and surface temperature of Venus: A dust insulation model”Astrophys. J. 150: 1139–1157 (1967) Bibcode 1967ApJ…150.1139H. Doi:10.1086/149410.

[2.] Hansen J., Johnson D., Lacis A., Lebedeff S., Lee P., Rind D., Russell D., SCIENCE 28 August 1981, Volume 213, Number 4511, Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

[3.] Postma, J.E., ‘Copernicus Meets the Greenhouse Effect (September,2011) Principia Scientific International.

[4.] Latour, P.R.,That Bogus Greenhouse Gas Whatchamacallit Effect (January, 2012)


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