Where I live, in East Hampton on the eastern end of Long Island, the town’s governing board’s highest priority for this hamlet of 20,000 souls is to stave off catastrophic climate change.
We are not unusual, New York State under Governor Andrew Cuomo spews forth program after program for towns statewide to “join”—spend tax money on—to “save our planet.” Often, East Hampton joins early, proclaimed a “leader” among hundreds, then thousands, of towns that participate.
Here in East Hampton, for example, we are panicked about the reported “islands” of floating plastic in the South Pacific (one of those myths like the ancient Isle of the Blessed—except all such contemporary phenomena are identified as harbingers of the death of Earth).
We can be confident, here, that any media tocsin-banging alarm in the national media will be a story and an editorial in the locally legendary East Hampton Star, our weekly newspaper founded in 1885. Because the Hamptons are the second-home of choice for thousands of New Yorkers prominent in journalism—print and electronic—the Star has a readership unexpected for a small-town newspaper.
Unfortunately, East Hampton is also bustling with heavyweight (or tireless-tongued) environmentalists from organizations such as The Nature Conservancy—to name only one. They are a penumbra of town government—not at the center, but always there and always seen.
It is the Star’s policy to publish all letters not libelous and of virtually any length. It is a distinctive and commendable policy.
In the tradition of the “New Intellectual,” I am making my ideas known on my own turf in a series of letters to the Star. It is the Star’s policy to publish all letters not libelous and of virtually any length. It is a distinctive and commendable policy, in my view, reassuring the letter writer that he neither wastes his time nor is embarrassed by a few maliciously selected fragments of his argument that appear in print. It is satisfying to write to the Star and in less than a week see your ideas in full.
I have written letters to the Star about climate change. Like local government, the Star treats local policy toward climate change as the most perfervid environmentalist would wish it to be treated: tantamount to war for national survival.
Three letters in the series have appeared. They can be accessed for free in the Star. Replies to my views have been infrequent but followed a pattern I have come to know: attack on my sources as lackeys of the fossil fuel industry, declaration that the “science” of global warming was settled long ago, reference to the “consensus” of scientists, and asserting that in this matter we are taking the fate of our grandchildren in our hands.
My fourth and most recent letter was not published. I may have worn out my welcome, for now. Admittedly it would have been the fourth long letter in a row to appear.
I offer the letter, here, for the sake of information it provides, as insight into local environmental politics, and as an example of counterattacking the environmentalist onslaught wherever it appears.
January 10, 2019
To the Editor:
The Star greeted the New Year with a front-page feature story on the theme “the reality of climate change.” Actually, do you know anyone who doesn’t believe “climate change” is real? Who, for example, debunks the idea of ice ages?
And man-made global warming is real, too.
It is false, though, that “97 percent of scientists” (as President Obama wrote) “agree on manmade global warming.” (The President did not mean “scientists,” by the way, but “climate scientists” to which that statistic is applied.) Probably 100 percent of climate scientists, along with so-called “climate deniers,” “agree” manmade global warming is real.
Return to the article by Chris Walsh, who has done a creditable job of reporting the dominant climate orthodoxy. Mr. Walsh quotes the East Hampton town supervisor as saying that a 1979 report of the National Academy of Sciences officially confirmed (“put to bed”) global-warming science.
Life would not exist if earth’s atmosphere did not retain heat.
If so, that scarcely was necessary. Life would not exist if earth’s atmosphere did not retain heat. 1) The gases in the atmosphere trap that heat. 2) Mankind and all animals contribute to those trace gases just by living (e.g., breathing out). 3) Since the Industrial Revolution such activities as burning fossil fuels have made humans much larger contributors to atmospheric carbon. 4) Since 1888, the first year for which any adequate global temperature measurement record exists, human carbon production has steadily increased. During that period, global average temperature has risen about eight-tenths of one degree Celsius.
That is what the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded: those four propositions. Period. In the past few years, a couple organizations have done surveys of hundreds, then thousands of scientific papers on climate change. They asked of each paper: Does it agree with those four points? Conclusion: yes, about 97 percent agree. I think they are low-balling it. The remaining papers did not comment one way or the other; they were about something else.
And so, the NAS put the subject to bed and now 97 percent of climate science papers agree. And I agree.
That is why I insist on saying: I am questioning “catastrophic global warming” and “climate catastrophe.” Nothing in the NAS report and nothing in the 97 percent consensus addresses anything about 1) the rate of expected global warming, 2) the consequences today of global warming, 3) the long-term effects of climate change, or 4) the need to reduce use of fossil fuels or to substitute “clean” energy. Nothing.
The citing of the “97 percent” consensus, or the NAS report, is totally irrelevant as evidence for alarming climate change.
The citing of the “97 percent” consensus, or the NAS report, is totally irrelevant as evidence for alarming climate change.
Few people, I find, have a perspective on the climate change debate. Or on carbon emissions. The earth’s entire atmosphere is more than 600,000 billion tons. The four-tenths of one percent (0.04%) of the atmosphere that is carbon dioxide is less than 3,000 billion tons. The oceans contain 37,400 billion tons of carbon and land biomass 2,500 billion tons. Each year, human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are about 35 billion tons; this is 3.4 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Of that, forty percent is believed to be absorbed back into the sea and land in the natural carbon cycle. The rest remains in the atmosphere, accumulating. That is alleged to be “the problem.” The hypothesis is that it is causing the warming of the earth’s atmosphere to accelerate dangerously.
In percentage terms, the fossil-fuel contribution of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is vanishingly small. The argument is that this added amount “forces” global warming. That is based on the observation that since reliable global temperatures have been recorded (1888), the global temperature has increased that previously cited eight-tenths of one degree Celsius. During the same period, as the industrial revolution has accelerated and gone global, man-made carbon emissions have steadily increased.
Until the “global warming” hypothesis was popularized, the dominant explanation of long-term climate change was in terms of the changing activity of the sun (e.g., sunspot activity) and its effect on the earth. Scientists advancing that theory today are ostracized, to say the least.
Climate catastrophe sceptics argue that during long periods, atmospheric carbon has been much higher and life on earth has flourished. Until the “global warming” hypothesis was popularized, the dominant explanation of long-term climate change was in terms of the changing activity of the sun (e.g., sunspot activity) and its effect on the earth. Scientists advancing that theory today are ostracized, to say the least.
Predictions of the “end of civilization as we know it”—and the urgency of WWII-type total government control of the economy—all arise from (or orbit around) work of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC). And all of that is based on complex computer models of climate change. About these, no consensus exists. They are debated literally daily by scientists. (It is useful to check in on the site “Watts Up with That?” to see what the dissenters are saying. It is the world’s most-viewed climate site.)
The real debate is about how much warming, how fast, how it will affect weather such as storms, how much it will raise sea levels. A few examples of dissent from the climate catastrophe orthodoxy just in 2018:
In January 2018, the journal Nature published a study concluding that the Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100. That voids the worst-case UN climate change predictions, reducing the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half.
In June, NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally reported a new study showing, once again, the eastern Antarctic ice sheet is gaining enough ice to offset losses in the west. Losses in the Antarctic ice sheet are the dominant factor cited in U.N. reports predicting dangerous long-term sea-level rise.
In September, a study of the Australian Great Barrier Reef, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, reconstructed temperature-induced bleaching patterns over 381 years (1620-2001). The findings are at odds with claims that mass coral bleaching is a recent phenomenon related to climate change.
In November, a study published in the journal Nature concluded that the number and intensity of U.S. hurricanes have remained constant since 1900. There has been “no trend” in the number and intensity of hurricanes hitting the continental U.S.—nor in the normalized damages caused by such storms over the past 117 years. In the article’s own language: “Consistent with observed trends in the frequency and intensity of hurricane landfalls along the continental United States since 1900, the updated normalized loss estimates also show no trend.”
In December, Judith Curry, Ph.D., an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, released a report concluding that a catastrophic rise in sea levels is unlikely this century, with recent experience falling within the range of natural variability over the past several thousand years.
Do I hear readers muttering: “What? Are you making up all this? I read or hear about climate catastrophe almost every day: fearsome temperature change, sea-level rise washing away towns and cities, unprecedented hurricanes, awful effects on coral reefs …
It’s true. That is all that the mainstream media reports. With the relentless pressure of the hundred-billion-dollar environmental movement, especially Greenpeace, and with government funding available only to climate scientists securely “on board” with catastrophic climate change, we are faced with a powerful self-perpetuating scientific orthodoxy.
As Mr. Walsh’s article noted, the New Year saw a media milestone: “NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ devoted its entire program on Sunday to discussions about climate change, and pointedly did not include voices from the tiny minority of climate scientists who deny its existence.” (We have seen the provenance of that stuff about “a tiny minority of scientists who deny its existence.” No one denies that the climate changes or that there is man-made global warming. What NBC is excluding are scientists who dispute the “climate catastrophe” party line.)
Mr. Walsh’s article reports observations around East Hampton such as sea-level change, beach erosion, and tick infestation. Just be aware that none of these observations is evidence pro or con for global warming or climate change. Instead, observers of these phenomenon turn to global warming and climate change for explanation—because those theories are on everyone’s mind. If global theories are true, then some of the observed phenomena may represent instances. But only existence of the theories causes us to project changes seen today over the long term and to worry about consequences.
For example, bites by ticks infected with Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Fever have increased with the population of deer and their proximity to densely settled areas. With environmentalism, hunting is declining; towns hysterically resist any “culling” of deer populations. But the incidence of tick problems is now confidently referred to as a long-term climate hypothesis.