In 1988, NASA’s James Hansen predicted a huge increase in heat and drought.
If you liked last summer’s record temperatures, you’re going to love the 1990s, says James Hansen, the NASA scientist who, during congressional hearings on the Midwestern drought, linked greenhouse warming to the heat wave. Last summer was a preview of the average summer 10 years from now, and the hottest summers during the ’90s will be even hotter and drier than the one we just struggled through, he says.
If we do nothing to cut down on pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, temperatures in 2050 will be 6 to 7 degrees higher than they are today. Washington, D.C., for instance, would go from its current 35 days a year over 90 degrees to 85 days a year.
– James Hansen 1988
He got all of his forecasts exactly backwards. The number of hot days in the DC area peaked in 1911, and have been declining ever since.
The number of hot days in the Midwest peaked in 1936, and have been declining ever since.
The last really dry year in the Midwest was 1988, and recent years have been record wet.
Hansen made temperature forecasts for three emissions scenarios. Scenario A was increasing emission growth rates. Scenario B was decreasing emission growth rates. Scenario C was no emissions after the year 2000.
“We have considered cases ranging from business as usual, which is scenario A, to draconian emission cuts, scenario C, which would totally eliminate net trace gas growth by year 2000.”
So how did Hansen do? The graph below shows the five year mean of lower troposphere temperatures measured by satellite.
The next graph overlays the satellite lower troposphere temperatures in red, on Hansen’s 1988 forecasts – at the same scale and normalized to the early 1980’s. Lower troposphere temperatures have tracked Hansen’s zero emissions scenario.
The press quite predictably responded to Hansen’s massive failures, by declaring them to be correct.