I was finishing up my U.S. Senate testimony for 1 Aug when a reporter sent me a PNAS paper by Hansen et al. (2012) embargoed until after the Hearing. Because of the embargo, I couldn’t comment about Hansen et al. at the Hearing.
This paper claimed, among other things, that the proportion of the Northern Hemisphere land area (with weather stations) that exceeded extreme summer hot temperatures was now 10 percent or more for the 2006 to 2011 period.
For extremes at that level (three standard deviations or 3-sigma) this was remarkable evidence for “human-made global warming.” Statistically speaking, the area covered by that extreme in any given hotter-than-average year should only be in the lowest single digits … that is, if the Hansen et al. assumptions are true – i.e., (a) if TMean accurately represents only the effect of extra greenhouse gases, (b) if the climate acts like a bell-shaped curve, (c) if the bell-shaped curve determined by a single 30-year period (1951-1980) represents all of natural climate variability, and (d) if the GISS interpolated and extrapolated dataset preserves accurate anomaly values. (I hope you are raising a suspicious eyebrow by now.)
The conclusion, to which the authors jumped, was that such a relatively large area of recent extremes could only be caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect. But, the authors went further by making an attempt at advocacy, not science, as they say they were motivated by “the need for the public to appreciate the significance of human-made global warming.”