It is a sign of our times, however, that the one topic of conversation once reliably safe and boring—the weather—is now more treacherous than an abandoned mine field.
What leads an objective non-scientist, examining the arguments, to reject “global warming,” a.k.a., “Big Climate alarmism”?
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I had dinner with a long-time friend of hers and her boyfriend. My wife had been friends with this woman for years, but never introduced me. Now, it seems, the woman wanted to meet me and to bring along her boyfriend. My wife warned me that they were “very Left,” “big Sanders supporters, now Hillary supporters,” and “politically correct.” I hoped that the restaurant’s cuisine would be endlessly fascinating material for conversation, but, just in case, I boned up on Jane Austen’s novels.
It is a sign of our times, however, that the one topic of conversation once reliably safe and boring—the weather—is now more treacherous than an abandoned mine field. (Let’s not get into that.) The global warming/climate change Gestapo (just kidding, will explain) sought out the ugliest epithet of modern times—Holocaust denier—and tailored it to fit their intellectual adversaries. It reflects, I suppose, their scientific temperament of openness to challenge and maintaining an atmosphere of objective discourse. About as much as if I, observing their bully boy tactics toward all opponents, referred to them as the Gestapo of global warming. But I don’t.
I don’t recall how global warming infiltrated into our dinner conversation. But consider: Global warming/climate change activists now view the threat as of the same magnitude as the rise of National Socialist (Nazi) aggression in the late 1930s—the basis for an article recently emblazoned across the pages The New Republic by William McKibben, one of the leading global warming/climate change activists in the world. Therefore, they believe that its implications are overwhelming in science, politics, economics, the 2016 election, health, education, agriculture, urban planning, discussion of any extreme weather, travel, population migration…
I knew that Jane Austen would be a winner!
No such luck, we were onto global warming. “Oh, so you’re a denier?”
“Well, there are no deniers…”
With infinite weariness, a look of oh-God-it’s-one-of-them: “Which means?
“I agree that the Earth’s mean global surface temperature was slowly increasing from about 1880 to 1998. I agree that the climate is constantly changing and requires vigilance and preventive measures based upon real threats such as cold snaps, drought or flooding, hurricanes… I agree that carbon dioxide and certain trace gases in the atmosphere contribute to a greenhouse effect, trapping heat from the sun within our atmosphere. I agree that since the Industrial Revolution, around 1740, average mean Earth surface temperatures may have increased as much as .7 of a degree Celsius and this contributes to the greenhouse effect.
“Did you know that when they say 97 percent of scientists agree with global warming, they mean only that they responded ‘yes’ to those statements? So do I.”
How have the global warming/climate change alarmists convinced much of the public—and of course the mainstream media, but that’s a given—that this multi-decade, sometimes multi-century prediction of the Earth’s weather, down to a degree or two, is as irrefutable, as undeniable, as the most studied and described event of the 20th Century?
My wife, kicking me under the table: “Walter, give someone else a chance to speak.”
My wife’s friend, no dummy, just looking at me, waiting, thinking: What the HELL scam is this?
I say: “But I don’t see any cause for alarm. Science and its predictions are all about how much, how fast, compared with what? The scientific ‘consensus’ is not about that.”
The latest “weather predictions” have moved from telling us we should bring an umbrella, when we go out, to telling us we should moth-ball industrial civilization’s dominant sources of power—of all economic production, transportation, heating and cooling, and everything else—on the basis of a long-term weather prediction.
My wife’s friend says, eyes closed, “I don’t want to discuss it, anymore.”
Who would? Would you want to lend an ear to a guy who denied the Holocaust—an historical event proven in court (at Nuremberg), attested by thousands of victims, documented by literally thousands of historians, and with known and visited sites of its hideous crimes against humanity?
How have the global warming/climate change alarmists convinced much of the public—and of course the mainstream media, but that’s a given—that this multi-decade, sometimes multi-century prediction of the Earth’s weather, down to a degree or two, is as irrefutable, as undeniable, as the most studied and described event of the 20th Century? And in doing so, deliberately envenomed a debate over the predictions of climate science—the weather?
My wife’s stricken friend barely could squeeze out another strained question: “And the Australian reefs?”
Time for some disclosure. I had followed the global warming/climate debate, and even written articles about it from the start, but over the summer my study had intensified. In particular, I had been studying a book, Climate Change: The Facts, published by the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, Australia, in 2010, with a new and updated edition in 2015, bringing together scientists, economists, journalists, and even politicians to articulate, analyze, and document the dissent from the global warming dogma. Arguably, the two nations most affected, so far, by the global warming lobby have been the United States and Australia. They are not alone, though; the United Kingdom has committed itself to economically crushing “de-carbonization” policies, as has the European Union, that suggest spread-eagled submission to the frank propaganda of Big Climate alarmism. change.
The Australian Great Barrier Reef, a veritable poster child of the greens, has actually disappeared during glacial events [in other words, far more extreme climate stress than anything at present] more than 60 times in the past three million years and reappeared after every one of these events.
I will link several times to Climate Change: The Facts because, although it is just one book, it brings together scientists, economists, science writers, government policy analysts, and politicians from several countries and many institutions. Any serious statement of the case against global warming/climate change as a certain looming catastrophe, requiring an effort on the scale of the United States mobilization for World War II (McKibben in The New Republic), would make reference to most of them. The original edition, published by the Institute of Public Affairs, and available on their site as a PDF, is here. An updated version (linked above) by the same editor, Alan Moran, is available, too. And so…
I knew about the reefs—in particular, the Great Barrier Reef, a gigantic underwater ecosystem, the size of some nations, that is the genial host to aquatic plant and animal species, and, in passing, a huge Australian tourist attraction. Summarizing a lot of specific information, I said, “The reefs have been declared under attack, destroyed, forever lost to humankind because of global warming, and the same thing happened just recently. They come back, as they’ve always come back. I can send you the reference.” (Ian Plimer chapter, “The Science and Politics of Climate Change,” in Climate Change: The Facts. Plimer is emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne.)
My wife’s friend, shaking her head with almost agonized patience: “No, no, they aren’t coming back…ever…” It was heart-breaking to see her.
The problem is that the “warmers” will refer to some conclusion from the tidal wave of alarming reports floating through the mainstream media, and the sceptic, however well-informed, must decide either merely to assert the contrary in an “It is! It isn’t!” debate or actually refer to evidence.
But there, at the table, with the requirement to be easy and social, what do you do?
The Australian Great Barrier Reef, a veritable poster child of the greens, has actually disappeared during glacial events [in other words, far more extreme climate stress than anything at present] more than 60 times in the past three million years and reappeared after every one of these events. One of the experts on the reef, for example, predicted in 2009 that it would suffer irreparable damage. A few years later, with rare honesty in this field, he was rejoicing at the reef’s remarkable recovery. It happens over and over. (Andrew Bolt chapter, “False Prophets Unveiled,” in Climate Change. Bolt is one of Australia’s leading journalists.) McKibben’s begins with a war-correspondent-like urgency about territory seized, invasion routes, crushing losses, and areas bombed out. All by the encroaching global warming/climate invader. This list of “defeats,” by the way, is his only reference to the “case” for Big Climate alarmism; the rest of the article is a plan for mobilizing America by imposing a completely centralized command economy (rather as Hitler did in Germany, actually). I say that because the proposal goes far beyond the WWII mobilization by shutting down America’s largest, most fundamental industry—fossil fuel energy—and devoting every economic resource to creating hundreds of gigantic solar, wind, and “carbon capture” facilities.
At any rate, one of his “bombed areas” is the Great Barrier Reef, which, he writes, from the air is not green but “white as bone yard.” Great image; the man can write. The reference to “bone white” is that the chief threat to the reef is seen as “bleaching” of the plant life. In fact, this happens in relatively minor areas of this gigantic reef; it always has—and still is—soon reversing itself.
But cite all this—chapter and verse—to a morally exhausted warmer trying to enjoy her dinner. (Her appetite did hold up remarkably well—not what you would expect when your country is being invaded and is losing to the enemy.) She had one final, incredulous question: “And so you don’t agree that we are making the oceans acidic and destroying them?”
I mean, this could be the last time we can enjoy a $39.95 striped bass fillet with miso sauce!
“No,” I said. It was painful. Our guests were looking at me, shaking their heads.
The world’s oceans never, ever, have been acidic. That is ignorance. The only question has been the PH level—the alkalinity—of the oceans and that has changed by virtually unmeasurable amounts over eons. There are ocean dynamics, including gigantic gullies that open on the ocean floor, that powerfully refresh the alkaline composition of the ocean. (Ian Plimer chapter, Climate Change.) Mere human activities cannot shift the PH of the oceans over centuries. Let’s worry about overfishing, dumping trash, and unnecessarily endangering species. It is just that the strike forces of Big Climate alarmism, the multi-multi-billion-dollar “environment biz,” no longer pay much attention to these problems. Because they can be addressed to human benefit without shutting down the engine of the world’s economy.
“What do you think about spanking?” asked the boyfriend, with a smirk. He added, “Just to change the subject.”
The next day, my wife reported, grimly, “I doubt they ever will want to go out with us, again.” If you reside in the Tri-State area and seek social engagements, do let me know.
But I set out to describe why I am a denier. You know, by now, that means someone who accepts the reality of the physics and chemistry of global warming, the recent warming record, and the anthropogenic origin of some warming. There are no “climate change deniers.” Without the “greenhouse effect” catalyzed by CO2—that overwhelmingly is not generated by human activity—the Earth would be uninhabitably cold. This is not in dispute; our atmosphere holds in the heat of the sun that makes Earth livable. The warming trend, so far, has stimulated a vast greening of the planet because CO2 is a non-toxic, non-irritating, non-polluting gas that is plant food. Humans breathe it out, plants take it in:
“From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25… The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”
We “deniers” accept that since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution—itself viewed as the ultimate evil, the original sin, by the Big Climate alarmists—the mean global temperature at the Earth’s surface has risen about .7 of a degree Celsius. We “deniers” accept that since around 1880, and up through 1998, there was a warming trend in the average mean temperature at the Earth’s surface. Yes! Warming!
But if this warming did occur, couldn’t it unleash unlimited climate catastrophe—drought and famine, floods, rising sea levels awash over whole communities, wildfires sweeping over whole countries, constant ever-more-powerful hurricanes, bleaching of the reefs? No one had the slightest idea, so speculation was limited only by imagination—and still is.
As this short-term trend emerged, the Big Climate alarmists seized upon it. Most were already of the New Left and specifically the burgeoning environmental movement. They urgently needed something to do. Real, measurable pollution had improved drastically in our cities, improved in every way. The worldwide alarm briefly raised by the “Club of Rome” and its famous report that the Earth’s natural resources, especially fossil fuels, were being depleted at a catastrophic pace, had become ridiculous in light of new discoveries of oil and natural gas. Billions and billions of dollars had flowed into environmental organizations to conserve “natural” land and endangered species. Damn! All of it had been accomplished and capitalism (in an attenuated form), economic growth, technology, and the flow of consumer goods continued! What to do?
If projected, with a suitable acceleration for economic growth, the warming trend up to 1998 could result in ever-higher average mean temperatures at the Earth’s surface. As much as 2, 3, or 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st Century, maybe by 2050. Couldn’t it? No one knew. But if this warming did occur, couldn’t it unleash unlimited climate catastrophe—drought and famine, floods, rising sea levels awash over whole communities, wildfires sweeping over whole countries, constant ever-more-powerful hurricanes, bleaching of the reefs? No one had the slightest idea, so speculation was limited only by imagination—and still is.
Our age is entranced by apocalypse, global calamity, and that is about all the media feel sure they can sell. Faced with a calamity for humankind and the Earth, governments would have to take over the economies of the world—as the Left had always wanted, anyway—to make things right. Here, in the recent New Republic, is the leading advocate of Big Climate alarmism saying exactly that. You want socialism, maybe National Socialism? Well, Bernie Sanders was a mere piker.
Some 100 computer models to project long-term climate change have been developed with literally billions of dollars from the U.S. and other governments. Not to be unkind toward aspiring young scientists, but, if you bought into the “warmer” premise, your proposal could reap three years of research support—salary, laboratory, assistants, equipment, and travel to a dazzling array of world conferences. Plus, about 50 percent of the grant went to your grateful university or research center for overhead expenses. No grants are made to support research into hypotheses that, if demonstrated, would contradict or undercut the global warming/climate change dogma. That is, no grants. Period.
At first, it was all about these models. The global-warming movement relies upon long-term weather forecasting. What? Predictions of next weekend’s weather are at best chancy? No, this is prediction of the weather and all its effects in 2050 and 2100—along with demands to governments that economies, today, be shut down and reinvented according to forecasts of the efficacy of wind power, solar power, but, more to the point, doing without.
It has been said that opinions about global warming, and the resultant policy prescriptions, must be left to scientists. Global warming is a scientific judgment based on complex computer models. So just butt out!
Well, some 90-plus computer models of the climate, created at the cost of hundreds of millions, failed to predict that 1998 would be the “hottest year” on “record.” That is a problem. These computer models ALL were making predictions 30, 50, 100 years into the future and reporting the alarming news that increases in average mean temperature at the Earth’s surface were inevitable and would bring down upon industrial civilization—the arrogance of mankind turning Nature to his needs—apocalyptic collapse. After 1998, as 15 years went by with no new higher temperature record, something had to change. The facts had changed, so what would you do?
Change your name but keep the Big Climate alarm theory. “Global warming” is now used far less often. The new term is “climate change” or “extreme climate change” or “Big Climate alarmism.” The new topic isn’t warming; it is that every extreme weather event that occurs—droughts, crop failures, flooding, hurricanes, heat waves, spreading tropical illnesses, wildfires, bleaching reefs—are…what?
Caused by global warming? No, only the careless get into that trap because none of the models can or do predict extreme weather events attendant upon long-term warming. No, the precise formulation for when a radio or TV station calls in an environmental scientist to comment on the hurricane or flood or spread of the Zika virus is “it is not inconsistent with what we would expect from global warming…” As someone pointed out, this means nothing. Extreme weather events are not inconsistent with what we would expect if God were punishing mankind for his sins—but that proves nothing about the theory that God exists and has it in for us.
Well, that brings us to the year 2014 and the New York Times cheering on page one that the “hiatus” in global warming had ended. What was this about? Well, only two of the models for long-term weather forecasting had even been “consistent with”—never mind predicting—the halt in global warming after 1998. In other words, the steady, relentless, and terrifyingly rapid global warming predicted by the models took a long vacation after 1998.
Finally, reported the Times, with obvious relief, that had changed. The first headline devised by the Times editors, was that the average mean temperature at the Earth’s surface in 2014 was “the highest in recorded history.”
Wow, the highest in recorded history! Unprecedented! Like going back to maybe… Sumer?
Within a day, the headline had been changed. 2014 had the highest temperature in the “recording history” of global temperature taking. That meant back to 1880, not 6,000 years to records from ancient Sumer, because 1880 was the first year an acceptable recording of global temperature had been made. Okay, so, not “recorded history,” just about 130 years. That span doesn’t mean much in the history of climate going back hundreds, thousands, and millions of years—except if you can tie the temperature rise to carbon dioxide emitted and accumulating since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1740. That is the entire premise of the global warming/climate change movement.
But the proof, as we have seen, is not so easy even for a thousand scientists working on 10,000 papers for 50 years. I will get to those numbers later.
For example, the centuries from 1400 to 1700 were the “Little Ice Age.” It was a tough time for humans, but, then, as even “deniers” admit, Earth’s climate changes constantly, and, to cope with climate change, such as steadily recurring ice ages, will require all the adaptability and preparation available to the human race. Climate scientists who, up until recently, studied the sun for changes in global temperature by reference to its orbit, axial tilt, distance from Earth, and sunspot activities, used these solar changes to explain the beginning and end of the Little Ice Age. (Willie Soon chapter, Climate Change. Dr. Soon, an astrophysicist who worked for decades at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics Laboratory, was hounded out of his position by Greenpeace.) When warming began in the 1880’s, they attributed it to a rebound from the Little Ice Age back to the temperatures that prevailed before it—and were far warmer than today’s.
Well, jeez, but at least 2014 ended that nasty, unaccountable cooling period, right? It turns out that the best recording of 2014 is that the global average mean temperature had increased a recorded 0.01 of a degree Celsius. Unfortunately, for the Big Climate alarmists, the margin of error in the recording system that reported this result was 0.05 of a degree Celsius—that is, five times larger than the record temperature increase. This was meaningless.
Climate scientists who, up until recently, studied the sun for changes in global temperature by reference to its orbit, axial tilt, distance from Earth, and sunspot activities, used these solar changes to explain the beginning and end of the Little Ice Age. When warming began in the 1880’s, they attributed it to a rebound from the Little Ice Age back to the temperatures that prevailed before it—and were far warmer than today’s.
At last, in 2015, the National Centers for Environmental Information could report a warmer year than 1998, indeed the warmest year in 136 years, 0.90 of a degree Celsius above the 20th Century average, and edging out 2014 by 0.13 degree Celsius—although a NASA press release called it “shattering” the mark set in 2014. At last, the 17-year vacation taken by “global warming” was over—maybe. As the report went beyond the headline, however, it said that in 2015, as in 1998, an extremely strong El Nino activity—the warming phase of a recurring climate pattern over the southern Pacific Ocean—had been at work. There is no known connection between El Nino and CO2 emitted by human activities.
Big Climate alarmists have high hopes for 2016, reporting one “hottest month” after another as the year goes on. With any luck, for the activists, 2016 will take us back on the road to climate catastrophe.
In my next article for Savvy Street, I will offer a concise list of the reasons that make me a “denier” that climate changes should alarm us—and panic us into yielding what is left of our economic freedom, industrial strength, and prosperity to an economic dictatorship that promises to save us.
To create such a list is not easy, given the sprawling, ever-changing, opportunistic advocacy of the Big Climate alarmists. Meanwhile, pick up a copy of Climate Change: The Facts. Maybe we can discuss it over dinner. My wife would be impressed that someone still wants to have dinner, with us.