A friend of mine from Facebook, who is also a frequent commenter here, noted two articles that are striking for the irony that emerges upon putting them side by side. First, there’s a post at “Watts Up With That?”, a climate change website written from a very scientific yet skeptical mindset. It appeared in late 2009, and notes that James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who is credited with getting the global warming hysteria kicked off back in 1988, has turned out to be way off base in some predictions he made. Blogger Anthony Watts, a meteorologist, writes:

In a 2001 interview with author Rob Reiss about his upcoming book “Stormy Weather” Salon.com contributor Suzy Hansen (no apparent relation to Jim Hansen) asks some questions about his long path of research for the book. One of the questions centered around an interview of Dr. James Hansen by Reiss around 1988-1989. [E]mphasis mine.

Extreme weather means more terrifying hurricanes and tornadoes and fires than we usually see. But what can we expect such conditions to do to our daily life?

While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the 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.” …

Does he still believe these things?

Yes, he still believes everything. I talked to him a few months ago and he said he wouldn’t change anything that he said then.

Of course, it’s 2011, and as far as anybody knows the West Side Highway is still navigable, and it doesn’t even require a rowboat. I’m not kicking Hansen about the predictions, however; anyone can get a prediction wrong, especially regarding something so enormously complicated as future climate and environmental trends. What is problematic, however, is that Hansen (and his political allies such as Al Gore, as well as allies in the religious left) have called for turning planetary society upside down in a fashion that would wreck havoc on the world’s economies in response to those predictions. Further, Hansen and his allies have decried the opposition to their world-changing plans, and the skepticism of their predictions, by calling those who disagree every name in the book. Former National Association of Evangelicals lobbyist Richard Cizik, for instance, has suggested that those who stand in the way of Global Warming Climate Change Orthodoxy and its plans for the world are setting themselves up for damnation by God. It turns out, however, that the catastrophists aren’t exactly Isaiah when it comes to prophecy, and are perhaps deserving of a certain amount of skepticism after all.

This all leads to an article from a senior writer at Livescience.com, and was picked up by Yahoo News:

Even if humans stop producing excess carbon dioxide in 2100, the lingering effects of global warming could span the next millennia. The results? By the year 3000, global warming would be more than a hot topic – the West Antarctic ice sheet could collapse, and global sea levels would rise by about 13 feet (4 meters), according to a new study.

Using a computer model, researchers looked at two scenarios – an end to humans’ industrial carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 and by 2100 – stretched out to the year 3000.

Even if humans were to stop emitting excess carbon dioxide – or if they figured out a way to completely capture it – the effects of global warming would continue to accumulate. That’s because previously emitted carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere and the oceans, unlike land, warm only gradually, according to one of the study researchers, Shawn Marshall, an associate professor of geography at the University of Calgary.

This reminds of a now apparently forgotten acronym that was very popular in the 1980s: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I’m not saying that this study is garbage, or even that it is necessarily inaccurate, just that when one uses computer models to predict the future, they inevitably offer results that are built upon the assumptions of the programmers.

That being the case, any study that uses models must be approached with at least some degree of skepticism, and in the case of one that seeks to forecast conditions 1000 years in advance (!), with enough grains of salt to deal with the next snowstorm. In fact, even as a non-scientist I feel pretty confident saying that there are so many variables that effect climate and planetary environment–variables so numerous and of such a multiplying effect that no computer model can possibly account for more than a fraction of them–that any attempt to predict conditions that far in advance are no more worthy of serious consideration than an examination of chicken entrails. And as a theological aside, the hubris expressed in the attempt to do so is truly breath-taking.

Nevertheless, despite the track record of the doomsayers, expect to see this study trumpeted by the Goracle and the other priests of the New Apocalypse.

(Hat tip: hsbgdmama.)