Now This Is Interesting: A Climate Prediction From 1981

It is very much worth checking out an item on Real Climate, from two Dutch scientists. They have found a paper by James Hansen and others from 1981, before climate change was even an occasion for political disagreement.

Hansen is now famous in the world of climate studies, and infamous to the world of the right wing, but back then he was a 40-year-old researcher who came up with a projection of how rising CO2 levels might affect global temperatures. Science lives for the "falsifiable hypothesis" -- a claim that can be tested against the evidence -- and that is what the paper by Hansen and his colleagues offered up. Three decades later, his worst-case projections were matched against what has happened since then. You should read their full findings, but this gives you the idea:

HansenProjection.jpg

As the Dutch scientists say at the end of their Real Climate post:

To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%...  It is also a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test. The "global warming hypothesis" has been developed according to the principles of sound science.

Reading this cannot make you feel good about our current politics. (Thanks to EG for the tip.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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