Confessions of a Global Warming Skeptic

Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Essay | 1 comment

Confessions of a Global Warming Skeptic

The predictions were dire. Scientists warned of crop losses that were sure to doom billions to starvation, entire countries would be wiped out and the seasons as we know them would all but vanish. As familiar as these headlines sound, they are not from Al Gore’s latest “documentary” but come from febrile writings scattered across 1890s on through the early 1930s. The enemy in this case was not global warm..I mean, climate change, but was instead global cooling.

In the constant sniping of the global warm, er, climate change proponents against the skeptics, I have seen little attempt to actually explain the growing ranks of people who look askance at their claims.

What follows are a few of my own reasons to go “yeah, right…” whenever another hyper-ventilating newscaster reports the latest predictions of climate change or other future calamity.

We’ve heard this all before

or

Will they ever make up their damned minds?

In 1895 the New York Times famously reported, “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again.” Considering that a 500-year period called “the little ice age” only recently ended in mid-century, one can almost forgive the excess in reportage. Yet shrill headlines continued up through 1932, including this little nugget of restraint from the Chicago Tribune in 1912: “Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada.” The scientist, Yale professor Herbert Gregory, claimed that while large sections of northern continents would be wiped out “Australia had nothing to fear.” (Wallabies rejoice!).

Some 12 years later in 1924, the NYT had been following famed arctic explorer, Donald MacMillan who ventured north to collect proof of the new age. On Sept. 18, the Times stated, “MacMillan reports signs of new ice age.”


Even while talk of the new ice-age was still going on, others started whispering about a time of warming instead, much to the relief of Canadians everywhere. As early as 1929 predictions of global warming started to work their way into the headlines.

British “Steam Technologist” G. S. Callendar wrote an article in a 1938 issue of the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, titled: The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature. And while the title says it all, unlike his modern-day counterparts, he concluded that a slightly warming climate would be useful into extending growing periods and hold off future cooling trends.


What future cooling trends? Why those reported to have been happening from 1954 through the mid 70s of course. The Washington Post breathlessly reported on January 11, 1970:

Get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters–the worst may be yet to come. That’s the long-long-range weather forecast being given out by climatologists, the people who study very long-term world weather trends.

The Boston Globe informed their readers in April: Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century.

According to the LA Times on Oct. 24, 1971 a “New Ice Age” was coming and that it was “already getting colder.” And in an article from Newsweek, dated April 28, 1975, the situation is summed up:

Save the Penguins!

But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the
variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

And that brings us up to the current trends, originally referred to as “global warming” but later softened with the more generic “climate change” as embarrassingly wrong predictions piled up like bodies at a Game of Thrones wedding.

Famous for giving us 10-year countdowns, the UN, Al Gore, James Hanson and others have predicted ice-free polar caps, floods of “eco-refugees,” massive crop failures, low laying island nations vanishing (I’m talking about you Maldives!), wars, rumors of wars and pestilence of all types. The 10 plagues of Egypt are nothing compared to the following hit parade:

Entire north polar cap will be gone in 5 years (Al Gore, Dec. 2008)

The above, corrected to 2014. (Huffington Post)

By 2100, the sea level could rise as much as 20 feet (Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth)

Sea levels could rise about 17 inches by 2100 (UN IPCC report)

Fifty million people could become environmental refugees by 2010. (United Nations Environmental Program report, 2005)

In a few years, snow would be an uncommon event in the UK (University of East Anglia, March 2000)

America’s heartland would be devastated by horrific drought, causing food riots (UN IPPC Author Michael Oppenheimer, 1990)

Arctic summers would be “ice-free” by 2013 (BBC, Dec. 12, 2007)

But now seldom a week goes by without seeing one newspaper article titled something like “Scientists At a Loss to Explain the Past 18 Years of Climate Stability” and another proclaiming, “2014: The Hottest Year on Reco
rd!”

Get the picture? The unfortunate thing about the doomsday industry is what happens when a real, provable threat looms on the horizon? Will The Boy Who Cried Global Warm…er, Climate Change or whatever, be taken seriously again? Some of those who have ‘fessed up to their poor predictive abilities have claimed that while their predictions having been, well, off just a bit, but needed to help motivate an increasingly skeptical audience. Skepticism due to those selfsame exaggerated claims. And so continues the great feedback loop that eventually fades away in lieu of The Next Great Threat (and we really mean it this time!).

It’s the Science Stupid!

or

It’s the Stupid Science!

Among the Global Warmer…Climate Change believers you will hear phrases such as “it’s science!” or “just look at the facts!” shouted in the direction of the skeptics. So, just what is science?

Science is the process of posing a question and seeking an answer. This is done through collecting data and the interpretation of that data whether it is what the researchers were expecting or not. But the interpretation can only be as valid as the data itself. If it is incomplete, poorly assembled, or otherwise open to debate, the understanding of what it all means is also debatable.

One might say that science rests of skepticism, for skepticism in science is what propels discovery ahead through the next generations and forces current researchers to what should be higher standard of excellence. However, no scientist wants to see a lifetime of dedicated research voided when new discoveries or more promising theories are proposed.

So we see a lot of scientific evidence, trotted on out on a near weekly basis said to prove climate-change while failing to answer the question as to why the climate has been so stable over the past 17 years. Much of the entire climate change predictions are largely based on computer models that so far have been unable to predict the past. And for all of the breathless studies showing new evidence “proving” the earth is getting warmer due to human activity, you can find others by qualified researchers that discredit that notion.

So yes, while there is a lot of science dedicated to climate-change so far it remains frustratingly inconclusive and far to premature to stake risking the entire world’s economy on research that is at it’s best, highly speculative and contradictory. The climate models should predict the past as well as the future, and so far they have failed on that account. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a valid area of research. (Standard conservative whipping boy ahead…) The mainstream media preferring bad news to good is going to naturally side against the skeptics as being ill-informed at best or dangerous at worse. And any qualified scientists who dare to speak out against the established orthodoxy can face their own inquisition of sorts with their own jobs on the line. (Ample examples are available on the web, and not just from “shrill right-winger websites.”)

The Politics of Global…er…Climate Change

 So what’s driving these frenetic predictions? In the case of global..er…climate change, much can be traced back to the politics that it implies. And this is what is most insidious about the movement.

There’s a reason why the climate-chan..er..global warm…damn….climate change is so entrenched on the left side of the political tracks: It’s a world-wide man-made catastrophe in the making and only a single global force can attack it.

estoring_sanity_sign_-_The_end_isn't_nearIn the rulebook of the left, westerners live too well at the expense of the poorer nations, and this prosperity is a product of people being too free to pursue their own self-centered lives. Something about this falls into the sweepingly large bucket with “unfair” stamped on the side. Correcting this imbalance is a slow and tedious affair and largely rejected by the US populace whenever policy is ultimately saddled with the “it is just more fair this way” gambit. This direct approach rarely works, as people don’t like to be meddled with and government’s natural posture is to meddle “because it’s more fair that way.”

What climate-change does is to give a reason to meddle, a moral imperative. No more “it’s wrong to drive a $100,000 car when kids are starving in Swazium” to “it’s wrong to drive a $100,000 car* that pollutes the air that drives up the global temperature that can cause droughts in Swazium to starve even more kids.”

Swap out a $100K car with a top loading washer, a fireplace of any kind, hairspray, meat and meat byproducts, pets of any sort, travel of any sort, in short, everything anyone can do 24/7 is a potential target of the finger-in-the-face nannyism of the worst kind by the world’s most obsessive micromanagers. (Unless of course you belong to those deemed anointed with the clarity of vision needed to steer mankind towards a greener-leaner-sustainable future. Then you’re special and having 7 homes or a private jet or riding $7000 bikes…cough-johnkerry-cough…is okay. )

One need to go no more further than the recent stories on Jonathan Gruber’s incredibly condescending remarks about the American electorate, or President Obama’s infamous “bitter clinger’s” statement.

The anathema of this anointed class are conservatives who are of the opinion that those in government are no more or less special, no more or less intelligent or no more or less wise, then the first 100 people listed in the Fresno phone book. (Sorry Fresno, no insult intended.)

One time I was in a friendly argument with a true believer of the notion of man-made climate-change, and when the dust settled I realized that she really seemed to have wanted it to be true. If anthropogenic climate-change/global-warming is seen as such as threat, one might think the faithful would welcome any good news that suggests it might not be as bad as predicted. After all, were I to be diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer only to be told later that I didn’t have cancer after-all allowing me to live a full life, the last thing I would likely do is argue in favor of the former diagnosis.

And that’s why the whole climate argument is so interesting to observe, especially in what appears to be it’s waning days. People who seem to long for a disaster so as to prove their notion that humanity interferes with nature and hence should be tightly regulated, vs. those that see humanity as a participant in nature and that a people free of the meddlers are then free to do and to produce great things. And what that means is that the meddling class is not needed. And after all, that’s what the Al Gores of the world are most afraid of: being irrelevant.

In one of the closing scenes of Inconvenient Truth there was a photo of Mr. Gore that surprised me so much I had to go back over it again to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. The photo had Gore silhouetted against an image of a hurricane from space which was framed to encircle his head. Like a halo.

_________________

* Unless it’s a Tesla or Prius, or if your valet drives instead of you, then it’s ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Good post. I got here because I use http://www.wunderground.com/sky/ShowSky.asp and always wondered what it meant to be “powered by Distant Suns”. Well, now I know!

    I’m a global warming skeptic, so I’m delighted whenever I find a mainstream weather site with prominent links to Global Warming skeptics like you. One of the higher-ups (founders?) at Intellicast.com is a skeptic, and intellicast.com used to host an entire section with links to important skeptical papers, essays, etc. But I think they came under pressure and sadly, took most of it down. Hope that doesn’t happen here too!

    I’ve never had the stomach to watch Gore’s movie all the way through, so I missed the scene you describe with the hurricane halo. One is tempted to post a screen shot (I’m sure one could be found) but for the likelyhood that one of the true believers would try to harrass you with take-down notices and such…ah well.

    I liked your anecdote about the friend who so very much wanted the worst case scenario to be true. It reminds me of the phrase “waiting for the barbarians”, which IIRC I first encountered in Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy. In any case, the reference is to a Greek poem written in 1898 by Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης aka Constantine P. Cavafy. The poem takes place in an ancient, presumably fictional Greek city-state:

    What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
    The barbarians are due here today.
    Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
    Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
    Because the barbarians are coming today.
    What laws can the senators make now?
    Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

    Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
    (How serious people’s faces have become.)
    Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
    everyone going home so lost in thought?
    Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
    And some who have just returned from the border say
    there are no barbarians any longer.

    And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
    They were, those people, a kind of solution

    Source. Read the whole thing if you can.

    To your friend, the catastrophe promised by AGW/climate change is a kind of solution.

    I hope you keep blogging!

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