Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hansen Vs Gore

This is interesting. Dr James Hansen, a world leading climatologist at NASA whose struggles against the Bush administration's effort to censor him are well known, also had some trouble with the Clinton administration.

From an interview at Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: So, before we go on to the Bush administration, where you did have the most trouble, can you talk about what happened during the Clinton years and how you were able to express or not your research?

DR. JAMES HANSEN: Well, the one particular event that stands out in my mind is when I wrote a paper called “Global Warming in the 21st Century: An Alternative Scenario,” in which I emphasized that it’s not only carbon dioxide, but other climate forcings—methane and black soot—and we need to address those also. And for some reason, the people in the White House didn’t like emphasis on the non-CO2 parts of the story, and I just—the press release just kept coming back, and I would try to change it, they would change it, and finally I gave up. I just couldn’t get a press release through the way I wanted it.

h/t DarkSyde

Hmm what's with soot ? I used the google and got this simple summary of (some of) Hansen's research on the topic

A new study found that emissions of soot, or black carbon, alters the way sunlight reflects off snow and may be responsible for as much as 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.


Hansen and Nazarenko used a leading worldwide-climate computer model to simulate the effects of greenhouse gases and other factors on world climate. The researchers incorporated into the model data from NASA spacecraft that monitor the Earth's surface, vegetation, oceans and atmosphere. The calculated global warming from soot in snow and ice, by itself, accounted for 25 percent of observed global warming in an 1880-2000 simulation. NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites allow daily monitoring of snow cover and reflectivity, helping scientists better understand the effects of soot on snow.


Being dumb, I had thought of black smoke as a source of global cooling as, when it is up in the air, it absorbs light where there is little blocking the infrared it emits from escaping (nuclear winter and all that). I didn't think sooty snow was important.

However, I note that there isn't snow everywhere. Soot coming from, say Guangdong Province will not end up on snow. I would still guess that black smoke over tropical oceans, while unpleasant, would reduce global warming.

Anyway, Hansen and Nazarenko's research suggests a cost efficient way to fight global warming, but putting electrostatic dust precipitators in large fixed sources of soot. I would guess that the target for this effort would be Russia not China. Difficult to deal with, but it is much easier to reduce particulate emissions than to reduce C02 emissions.

I may be slandering Gore, but I suspect that he was afraid that the research would lead people in the USA to conclude that we have already done our part. My guess is that the USA stacks up much better in particulate emissions than in CO2 emissions.

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