James Hansen’s New Opinion on Venus Syndrome

James Hansen has published a new paper on climate sensitivity. Thanks to Joe Romm at Climate Progress for the link.

The part most interesting to me was section 7 d), titled “Runaway greenhouse”. That section says that it is impossible for humans to cause Venus syndrome (evaporation of all the oceans).

That is in direct contrast to what Hansen wrote in “Storms of My Grandchildren” in chapter 10, titled “Venus Syndrome”.

That chapter ends like this:

“I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.”

I used to think Hansen knew what he’s talking about. I may have been wrong.

Anyway, if that new opinion is correct, that would be great news. Humanity would be unable to completely fry the planet. All we could do would be raise temperatures by an average of 25 degrees, which probably would lead to some exciting new opportunities for farming in the Antarctic, but fall way short of the level of damage required to kill all of humanity.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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