James Hansen’s former boss, on James Hansen

Lawrence Solmon
FP Comment
January 28, 2009

James Hansen of NASA’s GISS has been the single-most influential scientist in the world in promoting the view that global warming represents a catastrophic risk to the planet. His former supervisor at NASA, Dr. John S. Theon, now publicly disagrees with Hansen’s work. In the correspondence below from earlier this month, Theon dismisses the validity of Hansen’s work, charges that some scientists manipulated climate change data, and formally joined the ranks of the deniers. He expressed his views to the Minority Office at the U.S. Environment and Public Works Committee.

—–Original Message—–
From: Jtheon [mailto:jtheon@XXXXXXX]
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:05 PM
To: Morano, Marc (EPW)

Subject: Climate models are useless

Marc, First, I sent several e-mails to you with an error in the address and they have been returned to me. So I’m resending them in one combined e-mail.

Yes, one could say that I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation. He was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). He thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.

My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.

With best wishes, John

# #

From: Jtheon [mailto:jtheon@XXXXXX]
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:50 PM
To: Morano, Marc (EPW)

Subject: Re: Nice seeing you

Marc, Indeed, it was a pleasure to see you again. I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that Global Warming is man made.  A brief bio follows. Use as much or as little of it as you wish.

John S. Theon Education: B.S. Aero. Engr. (1953-57); Aerodynamicist, Douglas Aircraft Co. (1957-58); As USAF Reserve Officer (1958-60),B.S. Meteorology (1959); Served as Weather Officer 1959-60; M.S, Meteorology (1960-62); NASA Research Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (1962-74); Head Meteorology Branch, GSFC (1974-76); Asst. Chief, Lab. for Atmos. Sciences, GSFC (1977-78);  Program Scientist, NASA Global Weather Research Program, NASA Hq. (1978-82); Chief, Atmospheric Dynamics & Radiation Branch NASA Hq., (1982-91); Ph.D.,  Engr. Science & Mech.: course of study and dissertation in atmos. science (1983-85); Chief, Atmospheric Dynamics, Radiation, & Hydrology Branch, NASA Hq. (1991-93); Chief, Climate Processes Research Program, NASA Hq. (1993-94); Senior Scientist, Mission to Planet Earth Office, NASA Hq. (1994-95); Science Consultant, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (1995-99); Science Consultant  Orbital Sciences Corp. (1996-97) and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab., (1997-99).

As Chief of several NASA Hq. Programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the  research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research. This required a thorough understanding of the state of the science. I have kept up with climate  science since retiring by reading books and journal articles. I hope that this is helpful.

Best wishes, John


Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and author of The Deniers.

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