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Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses

17 October 2010

Summary:  As we tremble in fear at the forecasts of climate apocalypse in 2030, let’s not forget the horrific forecasts made in the past.  Such as this made in 1989 for conditions in 2010.

(1) James Hansen sees a flooded NYC in 2030

Stormy weather“, Suzy Hansen, Salon, 23 October 2001 — “Floods, droughts, hurricanes and disease outbreaks — an expert explains why climate changes give us yet another reason to find terror in the skies.”  Excerpt of her interview with Bob Reiss:

While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I {Bob Reiss} met Jim Hansen, the {NASA} scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?”

He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

Not only is Manhattan not flooded, but crime is way down.  Hat tip on this to Steve Goddard.

Update: Reiss later corrected his remarks in this interview, but correctly describes what Hansen said in 1989 in his 2004 book The Coming Storm: Extreme Weather And Our Terrifying Future:

… the reporter would ask the scientist {Hansen}whether, if he was right, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really doubled, anything down there would look different because of it by 2030. Would average people notice any changes?

Hansen would say, “There will be more traffic on Broadway. … Because the West Side Highway will be under water. You might see Dutch engineers down there to build dikes.”

(2)  NASA forecasts for 2006 and 2011

Arctic Meltdown“, NASA press release, 27 February 2001:

The Arctic ice cap is melting at a rate that could allow routine commercial shipping through the far north in a decade and open up new fisheries. … It was in 1906, after centuries of attempts, that Roald Amundsen finally navigated the North-West Passage through the sea ice north of Canada. Even today, only specially strengthened ships can make the trip.

But in 10 years’ time, if melting patterns change as predicted, the North-West Passage could be open to ordinary shipping for a month each summer. And the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia could allow shipping for at least two months a year in as little as five years.

The new routes will slash the distances for voyages between Europe and East Asia by a third, and open up new fisheries. The resulting boom in shipping could lead to conflicts, as nations try to enforce fisheries rules, prevent smuggling and piracy, and protect the Arctic environment from oil spills. To complicate matters, Russia and Canada consider their northern sea routes as national territory, while the US regards them as international waters.

… Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. “Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there,” he predicts.

Have faith.  Although their past predictions often have proved wrong, their current forecasts will prove to be reliable.

For more information about rising sea levels

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  1. Climate science articles which you might enjoy reading!, 18 January 2009
  2. An example of important climate change research hidden, lest it spoil the media’s narrative, 22 May 2009
  3. About that melting arctic ice cap, 17 April 2010
  4. Fear or Fail: about the melting Greenland ice sheet, 24 May 2010
  5. Today’s good news, about rising sea levels, 3 June 2010 — Esp note the links to articles and studies!
  6. It’s time to worry (again) about disappearing arctic ice, 8 June 2010
  7. Climate Armageddon postponed (again): the melting polar ice, 9 October 2010
  8. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century, 16 October 2010
  9. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses, 17 October 2010

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