1,100 pages of predictions about what will happen, given various levels of carbon dioxide control, to business, agriculture, human health, communities in each state, sea levels, hurricanes, forest fires, energy, and defense within the next 82 years.
I wonder if anyone actually has read the second volume of the 1,500-page Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), which came out on November 23 and deals with climate change’s “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States” over the next 82 years.
The report says that now, right now, the United States must take sweeping measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. economy, environment, human health, and virtually every one of us is at risk of “substantial damage”—hundreds of billions of dollars in harm—“by the end of the century.”
That is correct. This is 1,100 pages of predictions about what will happen, given various levels of carbon dioxide control, to business, agriculture, human health, communities in each state, sea levels, hurricanes, forest fires, energy, and defense—to name but a few topics—within the next 82 years. And the conclusion is that, by then, without urgent and sweeping economic changes now, climate change will cause “growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth …”
The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch asks, about the most common initial proposal, a carbon tax: “So what carbon tax could keep temperatures in a low range? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that to keep temperatures only 1.5 degrees Celsius higher, a carbon tax ranging from $135 to $5,500 per ton by 2030 would be needed.
The highest end of the U.N. recommendation would mean a gas tax of … $49 a gallon.
“… A report meanwhile finds the highest end of the U.N. recommendation would mean a gas tax of … $49 a gallon.”
Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. But, in this case, do you gotta?”
Alarms are ringing throughout the media, with most leading mainstream publications already weighing in. A story in the New York Times said: “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”
For many stories, both lead and the “moral”—the latter a regular feature today of most news stories—is that the 4th NCA, put out by the Trump administration, “is at odds with the Trump administration’s fossil fuels agenda.” And that is true. But (it now goes almost without saying), misleading.
In fact, the report, one of a series mandated by legislation passed in 1990 and signed by President George H. W. Bush, was mostly produced during the Obama administration. It seems to have been waiting for a public comment period before publication. Also, many individuals representing the 13 government agencies involved in the report are holdovers from the Obama administration because Congress has been delaying confirmation of a slew of President Trump’s appointees. So, the awful irony experienced by the media is not so agonizing; this is essentially an Obama report.
And the White House in a statement dismissed NCA4 as “inaccurate.” Their own report!
Just a few days after the report’s release, reporters asked President Trump about the report. He said he had seen and read some of the report but “doesn’t believe it.” Just like that! And the White House in a statement dismissed NCA4 as “inaccurate.” Their own report!
Not entirely unexpected, though. NCA4 ordinarily would include a section of policy recommendations. In other words, the government reports that we are in for 82 years of bad weather and ought to say what should be done about it. But, on August 20, 2017, President Trump notified the 15-person Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment that they were dismissed. It was this panel that would have translated the NCA’s predictions into actionable public policy that individual states could implement to reduce emissions. So, there are no actionable recommendations.
Actually, as I understand it, there is no climate science, either. Volume One of the reports, released October 2017, was devoted to the scientific research; Volume Two fills its hundreds of pages with predictions of the impact of climate change, given different levels of countermeasures. Thus, Volume One summarized the science, stating that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”
Although Volume Two does not purport to make the scientific case, firmly stating that the issue already has been resolved, publication after publication has lauded the report’s “science.” An article in The Atlantic called the report “massive,” a “grave climate warning,” and a “huge achievement for American science.”
Well, it is massive, certainly, and the tone is grave. Vox described it as “dire,” the Hill as “damning” and as “sounding the alarm.”
With the report out just a few days, the scientific critics of global warming/catastrophic climate change have not made their full critiques. In one sense, there isn’t much point to doing so with this report. The “science” presented in Volume One already has been dissected at every level of sophistication and by scientists in fields from meteorology to climate science to astronomy to computer science.
Those criticisms of the predictions of “dire” climate change are mostly ignored by the massive science bureaucracy connected with and supported by the United Nations, the U.S. government, foreign governments, U.S. national laboratories, universities, and think tanks. They do not have to answer critics. The international funding apparatus keeps hundreds of scientists and science bureaucrats churning out these massive reports.
One of the best sources of steady scientific analysis on weather, climate change, and related topics is a site created by Anthony Watts called “Watts Up with That? (WUWT). It now is the #1 most-viewed site on climate change. In a first take on NCA4, WUWT noted that the report was released: “in time for the upcoming 24th Conference of Parties (COP-24) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Katowice, Poland. According to official announcements, this conference will additionally include ‘The 14th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1-3)’—international bureaucratic science at its best.”
WUWT, which covers weekly weather and actual storms, as well as looking critically at climate predictions for the remainder of the century, noted—just in passing—that the report was released virtually on the day that the U.S. Northeast experienced its coldest Thanksgiving in more than 100 years.
Making initial comments on the massive report (which critics must read in its entirely, whereas hundreds of scientists producing it almost certainly focus just on their particular section), WUWT noted that the series is mandated to provide scientific guidance on both human-caused and natural climate change. Its authors, however, have conveniently forgotten the part concerning natural climate change. NCA4 avoids discussing nature and substantiating its claims with physical evidence. There is no point, you see. Page one of the overview states “… the assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid.”
Get it? Nothing happening in the world’s climate is relevant any longer to predicting climate change. It is all about human beings and their actions from here on out. Specifically, it is about that ongoing human creation, the industrial revolution, which environmentalists believe is a catastrophe and must be reversed to save us. Don’t talk about the three great multi-thousand-year phases of the current Holocene climate epoch. Irrelevant. Talk carbon tax.
Nor is what is happening around the world, today, with the sole exception of human contributions to global warming and weather catastrophes relevant. WUWT points out that a major “prediction” (maybe “prophecy”?) of NCA4 is the devastating impact of climate change on agriculture and the food supply. For the United States, a core producer of that food supply is Midwest agriculture, where crop yields are growing very significantly.
Doesn’t matter. True, all the alarm is based on the premise that carbon dioxide levels have been increasing for at least a century and global warming is accelerating. But that crop yields keep increasing is irrelevant. We are talking about not the century behind, not the present, but the century ahead.
Well, says WUWT, but crop yields also are growing worldwide—including in the tropics. Places considerably warmer than the United States. There are four countries that produce the most food (as measured in calorie content). First is China, then India, then the United States, then Brazil. Two of those four largest producers are much closer to the equator than the United States and with generally warm, humid climates. Does this tell us anything useful about the possible future of agriculture in the United States if the globe keeps getting warmer? Brazil, which is largely in the tropics, has increased its agriculture production some 400 percent over the past 20 years and most of that increase is in southern Brazil. Relevant? Nope.
In its characteristically stubborn way, WUWT insists on bringing up the history of climate change, although NCA4 tells us the past is irrelevant to its predictions. (The predictions, by the way, rely on some 100 competing computerized “general climate models,” which have had little success in predicting temperatures in the next year or next decade; but, of course, we won’t know for a long time how successful their predictions for the next 82 years will prove to be—for that timespan, surely an incorrect 2020 or 2021 forecast will be but a minor blip.)
WUWT writes that “Humanity evolved in the tropics about 200,000 years ago during periods of extreme climate change. The current warm period, the Holocene Epoch, started about 11,700 years ago. According to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the earth has experienced three periods of climate change since emerging from the depths of the last Ice Age into the Holocene Epoch. Agriculture began during the Greenlanddian Age, the warmest time of the Holocene Epoch. Civilization began during Northgrippian Age, warmer than today, about 8200 to 4200 years ago. During the subsequent cooling, about 4200 years ago, humanity suffered, and cultures disappeared. These changes appear to be unrelated to carbon dioxide (CO2). Yet the [NCA4] report … declares that climate has been stable for 12,000 years and humanity is threatened by global warming from CO2?”
It is very convenient, you see, to be able to dismiss all present experience and all history and rely entirely upon programmed models.
It is very convenient, you see, to be able to dismiss all present experience and all history and rely entirely upon programmed models. The predictions of these models, upon which the dire warnings and forecasts of catastrophe are based, cannot be directly criticized. Only the models themselves can be challenged and that is a technical, complex business when you have 100 constantly modified computer programs. And so, the predictions are easily reported in the mainstream media, but to answer them directly, critics must talk about the complex models. From a public relations point of view, that is a losing game. Yet, to discuss what all observers do share—observations of the present and reports from the past—is dismissed as irrelevant,
The mainstream (liberal-left) media in reporting this most recent forecast expresses both rage (that the Trump administration has taken the United States out of the game) and panicked urgency. Is the panic just the usual alarm at 1,100 pages of bad news coming sometime in the next 82 years?
Perhaps, but, interestingly, evidence keeps popping up that reality could be rumbling down the road right at the heels of the climate science troops. You don’t see the news in the New York Times or on CNN, of course. But Investor’s Business Daily carried this story on May 16, 2018.
“NASA data show that global temperatures dropped sharply over the past two years…. Does that make NASA a global warming denier?
“Writing in Real Clear Markets, Aaron Brown looked at the official NASA global temperature data and noticed something surprising. From February 2016 to February 2018, ‘global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius.’ That, he notes, is the biggest two-year drop in the past century.
‘The 2016-2018 Big Chill,’ he writes, ‘was composed of two Little Chills, the biggest five-month drop ever (February to June 2016) and the fourth biggest (February to June 2017). A similar event from February to June 2018 would bring global average temperatures below the 1980s average.’
“Isn’t this just the sort of man-bites-dog story that the mainstream media always says is newsworthy?
“In fact, in the three weeks since Real Clear Markets ran Brown’s story, no other news outlet picked up on it.”
WUWT says much the same thing in a slightly different way: “No wonder the USGCRP* and the UN bureaucrats are so insistent ‘we have no time left’ to fight global warming/climate change. The public is catching on to the games these politicians and their supporters play.”
*The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a Federal program mandated by Congress to coordinate Federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society.