Commentary: Hansen Draft Paper: Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change

by Dr. Martin Hertzberg

As the saying goes:

“If all you have in your hand is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”.

It is hopeless to expect that Hansen could possibly analyze data objectively – all he has in his head is “CO2 climate forcing” and everything else has to be “forced” into that ridiculous paradigm. It makes no difference to him that the predictions of his past half-baked computer models based on “CO2 climate forcing” were completely wrong.

It is not worth my time (or anyone else’s in my opinion) to try to critique the entire paper, but the final paragraph on his p. 11 stands our like a sore thumb. In it he states:

” Earth orbital (Milankovic) parameters have favored a cooling trend for the past several thousand years, which should be expected to start in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). For example, Earth is now closest to the sun in January, which favors warm winters and cool summers in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Those statements are typical of the misunderstanding in the popular literature of the Milankovic cycles. Since we are now further from the sun in the NH summer, he argues that the NH should get less solar insolation in the NH summer thus “favoring the growth of glaciers and ice-caps in the NH”. So why then we may ask are we now in an Interglacial Warming? What Hansen fails to realize is that when we are further from the Sun in NH summer we move more slowly in orbit, and are therefore exposed to the summer sun for a longer period of time.

From the graphs in the web-site , one can calculate that in 2010 the NH summer half of the earth’s orbit from the Spring Equinox to the fall Equinox lasts 186.1 days. The NH winter half of the orbit lasts 179.0 days. So the summer half gets 7.1 more days of solar insolation than the winter half. (Go to your calendar and count!)

Exposure time in this case is more significant that daily insolation caused by our further distance during the NH summer. And that is why we are in an Interglacial Warming and why Hansen is completely wrong in arguing that we should be “favoring the growth of glaciers and ice-caps in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Now some 10,000 years ago, because of the precession of the Equinoxes, summer and winter would have nearly flipped but with not much change in the earth’s orbital eccentricity. From the same web-site, in the year 8,000 BC, the NH summer half of the earth’s orbit lasted 178.5 days while the winter half lasted 186.6 days, so that the winter half exceeded the summer half by 8.1 days.

So 10,000 years ago the earth was further from the sun during NH winter and it spent a longer time on the winter half of the orbit, thus both effects re-enforced each other to give us a marked Glacial Cooling. (Actually the peak in that Glacial Cooling occurred several thousand years earlier than 8,000 BC.) Today, while we spend a longer time during the NH summer half of our orbit, we are further away in the summer, so the effects tend to cancel, but the longer time exposure is more important than the further distance.

The following discussion from my Chapter 12 of our recently published book  “Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory” is a more general critique of the Hansen paper. Simply substitute “Hansen” for “Gore”.

“The Legend of the Sky Dragon and Its Mythmakers

There is a simple way to tell the difference between propagandists and scientists. If scientists have a theory they search diligently for data that might actually contradict the theory so that they can fully test its validity or refine it. Propagandists, on the other hand, carefully select only the data that might agree with their theory and dutifully ignore any data that disagrees with it.

One of the best examples of the contrast between propagandists and scientists comes from the way the human caused global warming advocates handle the Vostok ice core data from Antarctica (6). The data span the last 420,000 years, and they show some four Glacial Coolings with average temperatures some 6 to 8 C below current values and five Interglacial Warming periods with temperatures some 2 to 4 C above current values. The last warming period in the data is the current one that started some 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. The data show a remarkably good correlation between long term variations in temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are at a minimum during the end of Glacial Coolings when temperatures are at a minimum. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are at a maximum when temperatures are at a maximum at the end of Interglacial Warmings. Gore, in his movie and his book, ?An Inconvenient Truth?, shows the Vostok data, and uses it to argue that the data prove that high atmospheric CO2 concentrations cause global warming.

Is that an objective evaluation of the Vostok data? Let?s look at what Gore failed to mention. First, the correlation between temperature and CO2 has been going on for about half a million years, long before any significant human production of CO2, which began only about 150 years ago. Thus, it is reasonable to argue that the current increase in CO2 during our current Interglacial Warming, which has been going on for the last 15,000 ? 20,000 years, is merely the continuation of a natural process that has nothing whatever to do with human activity. Gore also fails to ask the most logical question: where did all that CO2 come from during those past warming periods when the human production of CO2 was virtually nonexistent? The answer is apparent to knowledgeable scientists: from the same place that the current increase is coming from, from the oceans. The amount of CO2 dissolved in the oceans is some 50 times greater than the amount in the atmosphere. As oceans warm for whatever reason, some of their dissolved CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, just as your soda pop goes flat and loses its dissolved CO2 as it warms to room temperature even as you pour it into the warmer glass. As oceans cool, CO2 from the atmosphere dissolves back into the oceans, just as soda pop is made by injecting CO2 into cold water.

But the real ?clincher? that separates the scientists from the propagandists comes from the most significant fact that Gore fails to mention. The same Vostok data show that changes in temperature always precede the changes in atmospheric CO2 by about 500-1500 years.

The temperature increases or decreases come first, and it is only after 500-1500 years that the CO2 follows. Fig 3 shows the data from the termination of the last Glacial Cooling (Major Glaciation) that ended some 15,000 ? 20,000 years ago through the current Interglacial Warming of today. The four instances where the temperature changes precede the CO2 curve are clearly shown. All the Vostok data going back some 420,000 years show exactly the same behavior. Any objective scientist looking at that data would conclude that it is the warming that is causing the CO2 increases, not the other way around as Gore claimed. I am indebted to Guy Leblanc Smith ( for granting permission to use Fig. 3 as it was published in Viv Forbes? web-site .

It is even more revealing to see how the advocates of the human-caused global warming theory handle this ?clincher? of the argument. It is generally agreed that the Vostok cycles of Glacial Coolings and Interglacial Warmings are driven by changes in the parameters of the Earth?s orbital motion about the Sun and its orientation with respect to that orbit; namely, changes in the ellipticity of its orbit, changes in its obliquity (tilt relative to its orbital plane), and the precession of its axis of rotation. These changes are referred to as the Milankovitch cycles, and even the human caused global warming advocates agree that those cycles ?trigger? the temperature variations. But the human caused global warming advocates present the following ad hoc contrivance to justify their greenhouse effect theory. The Milankovitch cycles, they say, are ?weak? forcings that start the process of Interglacial Warming, but once the oceans begin to release some of their CO2 after 500-1500 years, then the ?strong? forcing of ?greenhouse warming? takes over to accelerate the warming. That argument is the best example of how propagandists carefully select data that agrees with their theory as they dutifully ignore data that disagrees with it. One need not go any further than to the next Glacial Cooling to expose that fraudulent argument for the artificial contrivance that it really is. Pray tell us then, we slayers of the Sky Dragon ask, what causes the next Glacial Cooling? How can it possibly begin when the CO2 concentration, their ?strong? forcing, is at its maximum? How can the ?weak? Milankovitch cooling effect possibly overcome that ?strong? forcing of the greenhouse effect heating when the CO2 concentration is still at its maximum value at the peak of the Interglacial Warming? The global warmers thus find themselves stuck way out on a limb with that contrived argument. They are stuck there in an everlasting Glacial Warming, with no way to begin the next Glacial Cooling that the data show.

But one has to be sorry for Gore and his friends, for after all, they are in the global warming business. Global cooling is clearly someone else?s job!”

I can think of nothing more inappropriate and insulting to Milankovic than having Hansen speak at a Symposium in his honor.