Justin Gillis, in the magisterial New York Times, explains that climate science predictions of dramatic warming were wrong and climate scientists do not know why, but the failures of their theory don’t really matter. “More than a century of research thoroughly” proves that they are right.
It must be “natural variability” and the felicitous intervention of “deep ocean” cooling or the blocking of sunlight by air pollution in China or any of half a dozen explanations recently invented. But the basic science remains certain and established and agreed upon, even if none of its predictions have actually come through. One of these days, Gillis assures us, whatever is stopping the correct theory from working will just stop, and Sha-zam!, we will get: “an extremely rapid warming of the planet.”
Just keep believing.
As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.
The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.
But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.
As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.
Read the whole thing, and hold on to your chair as you laugh.
Harry Binswanger, in Forbes, commences what, after years and years of demonstrable non-warming, is likely to becoming a growing chorus of mockery of the greatest scientific fraud in human history.
I’ve grown old waiting for the promised global warming. I was 35 when predictions of a looming ice age were supplanted by warmmongering. Now I’m 68, and there’s still no sign of warmer weather. It’s enough to make one doubt the “settled science” of the government-funded doom-sayers.
Remember 1979? That was the year of “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, of “The Dukes of Hazard” on TV, and of “ Kramer vs. Kramer” on the silver screen. It was the year the Shah was forced out of Iran. It was before the web, before the personal computer, before the cell phone, before voicemail and answering machines. But not before the global warming campaign.
In January of 1979, a New York Times article was headlined: “Experts Tell How Antarctic Ice Could Cause Widespread Floods.” The abstract in the Times archives says: “If the West Antarctic ice sheet slips into the sea, as some glaciologists believe is possible, boats could be launched from the bottom steps of the Capitol in Washington and a third of Florida would be under water, a climate specialist said today.”
By 1981 (think “Chariots of Fire“), the drum beat had taken effect. Quoting from the American Institute of Physics website: “A 1981 survey found that more than a third of American adults claimed they had heard or read about the greenhouse effect.”
So where’s the warming? Where are the gondolas pulling up to the Capitol? Where are the encroaching seas in Florida? Or anywhere? Where is the climate change which, for 33 years, has been just around the corner?
A generation and a half into climate change, née global warming, you can’t point to a single place on earth where the weather is noticeably different from what it was in 1979. Or 1879, for that matter. I don’t know what subliminal changes would be detected by precise instruments, but in terms of the human experience of climate, Boston is still Boston, Cairo is still Cairo, and Sydney is still Sydney.
After all this time, when the continuation of industrial civilization itself is on the table, shouldn’t there be some palpable, observable effect of the disaster that we are supposed to sacrifice our futures in order to avoid? Shouldn’t the doom-sayers be saying “We told you so!” backed up by a torrent of youtube videos of submerged locales and media stories reminding us about how it used to snow in Massachusetts?
Climate panic, after all, is fear of dramatic, life-altering climate changes, not about tenths of a degree. We are told that we must “take action right now before it’s Too Late!” That doesn’t mean: before it’s too late to avoid a Spring that comes a week earlier or summer heat records of 103 degrees instead of 102. It was to fend off utter disaster that we needed the Kyoto Treaty, carbon taxes, and Priuses.
With nothing panic-worthy–nothing even noticeable–ensuing after 33 years, one has to wonder whether external reality even matters amid the frenzy. (It’s recently been admitted that there has been no global warming for the last 16 years.) For the climate researchers, what matters may be gaining fame and government grants, but what about the climate-anxious trend-followers in the wider public? What explains their indifference to decade after decade of failed predictions? Beyond sheer conformity, dare I suggest a psychological cause: a sense of personal anxiety projected outward? “The planet is endangered by carbon emissions” is far more palatable than “My life is endangered by my personal evasions.” Something is indeed careening out of control, but it isn’t the atmosphere.
Jim Geraghty, in his emailed Morning Jolt, was today in a mood to fight back against the community of fashion’s blame game.
One of my nuttier ideas was taking a Twitter conversation between Cam Edwards and Kurt Schlicter envisioning a rightward sitcom answer to HBO’s “Girls” entitled “Dudes” and trying to turn it into an actual script.
At one point, I had a character in that script rant:
I’m a married middle-aged guy with a house in the suburbs who goes to work, pays his taxes and takes care of his kids. When the hell did I turn into the villain in society? Chris Brown still walks the streets! In the time it’s taken me to finish this sentence, “Shawty Lo” has impregnated three more women and Kim Kardashian’s been on four more magazine covers! I think one of ‘em’s a fishing magazine!
Yet somehow Madison Avenue considers me to be their go-to stereotype as a doofus, I’m the butt of every joke, sneered at for unsophisticated tastes, dismissed as a relic of a fading past, accused of not paying my fair share in taxes and insufficiently globally conscious because I’m only taking care of what’s directly in front of me instead of glaciers or the Gaza Strip. How am I the problem in the world today? What the hell did I ever do?
I remember a comment from Mark Steyn a few NR cruises ago, and I’m going to paraphrase it now: “Americans are first citizens of a global superpower with no interest in conquest. We don’t want other territory, we don’t seek to subjugate other nations, we’re not trying to wipe out any culture we deem inferior. And yet through the rhetoric and of the environmental movement, you, driving your SUV and drinking your Big Gulp and eating your Big Mac, are accused of literally destroying the planet! Not even history’s most brutal dictators faced an accusation on that scale!”
Our political culture and our popular culture are the one-two punch contending that you, ordinary American, going to work or looking for work or looking for better work and just taking care of your families, have somehow become the root of the biggest problems facing the country. It’s your fault.
In Friedrich Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans, when the enchantress Joan of Arc preaching her visions and prophesies, inspires the French Army to heroic efforts and panics the English into flight, the dying English commander Talbot complains:
„Unsinn, du siegst und ich muß untergehn!
Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.
Erhabene Vernunft, lichthelle Tochter
Des göttlichen Hauptes, weise Gründerin
Des Weltgebäudes, Führerin der Sterne,
Wer bist du denn, wenn du dem tollen Roß
Des Aberwitzes an den Schweif gebunden,
Ohnmächtig rufend, mit dem Trunkenen
Dich sehend in den Abgrund stürzen mußt!
Verflucht sei, wer sein Leben an das Große
Und Würdge wendet und bedachte Plane
Mit weisem Geist entwirft! Dem Narrenkönig
Gehört die Welt.
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world.
James Delingpole is feeling a lot like John Talbot these days, listening to the leaders of the world spouting nonsense about Climate Change.
As regular readers will know I’m in such a continual state of foaming fury about the idiocies of the world that I sometimes go over the top. “Truly, there aren’t enough bullets”, I’m wont to cry in exasperation. ...
[T]hat’s me, completely buggered then. Maybe, since words are my stock in trade I should end it all now.
Problem is, every time I look at the internet or read the newspapers or watch something on TV I’m yet again reminded by just how right I am to feel the way I do. Truly, there really aren’t enough bullets.
By way of further proof, I give you two speeches made by politicians this week: Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey’s speech to the Royal Society; President Obama’s State of the Union Address.
Both were on the subject I try to mention as little as possible on Bogpaper because I don’t want to sound like a one-trick pony. Suffice to say that in both cases, both men were talking unutterable bollocks on a subject on which I know quite a bit: certainly a hell of lot more than they do.
And it wasn’t just disputable bollocks. It was unquestionably, demonstrably wrong bollocks. Almost every statement each of these politicians made was a flat-out untruth. They made scientific claims which were not remotely backed up by hard evidence.
Now whether they were themselves deliberately lying or whether they were merely badly misinformed we shall never be able to prove. But it really doesn’t matter, the more important point is this: this week two politicians in positions of enormous power made keynote speeches which will have a major impact on people’s lives. What they said was wrong in almost every way: yet serious public policy is going to be based on it.
Stupidity doesn’t always win, of course. It just wins most of the time.
A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward.
The Chronicle of Higher Education’s short posting warning that Heartland Institute was paying experts to develop school curricula and other public presentations casting doubt on Anthropogenic Global Warming received the most attention.
The Guardian’s environmental blog was particularly gleeful, trumpeting the news that “Leaked Heartland Institute documents pull back curtain on climate scepticism.”
Megan McArdle, at the Atlantic, looked closely, however, and concluded that the most scandalous of the leaked documents was almost certainly a fake.
The textual analysis alone would make me suspicious—but the fact that the document was created much later, using a different method, with different formatting—makes me fairly sure that while the other documents are real, this was written after the fact, by an author outside of Heartland. If there were any way to get conclusive proof, I’d bet heavily against this document being real.
McArdle later discovers that another blogger’s commenter ran a pdfinfo script over the suspicious document, and lo-and-behold! found it had been created in a different (West Coast) time zone from the others.
Why did they fake it?
[T]he quotes were punchier, and suggested far darker motivations than the blandly professional language of the authenticated documents—and because it edited the facts into a neat, almost narrative story.
The thing about both the Soviet Union and Adolf Hitler’s Germany was that the enemy was plain in view. We knew these guys were bad, they had black uniforms, they had swastikas, they had tanks – they were obviously the bad guys, they wanted to destroy us. What makes the modern environmental movement so dangerous is that it masks its intentions behind this cloak of cuddly, touchy feely, polar bear-hugging, Nobel Prize-winning righteousness. ...
What could be nicer than trying to save those cuddly little polar bears from melting due to our wanton greed and selfishness? It gels with a sense that I think grew in the affluent ‘90s, when people began asking themselves questions like, Shouldn’t there be limits to growth? You know, isn’t there more to life than consumption?
So, you have this alliance of ordinary people, of kids who’ve been brainwashed at school, of the big corporations which wanted to get in on the act by greenwashing their image, of powerful NGOs like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, of politicians wanting to be seen to take action in matters of public concerned. So what you have is this unstoppable bandwagon, all pushing this agenda based on the flimsiest of junk science.
Warmist whackjob Byron Kennard has a modest proposal for reducing entitlement spending on nursing home care for decrepit baby boomers.
I call on boomers to imitate the example of the Inuit, a tribe who occupy Greenland and Northern Alaska. In olden days, when food ran short, elderly Inuits who felt they were a burden on their community would wander off by themselves into the wilderness where they would perish of their own accord. ...
• A hero’s journey, in the mythical sense, is the highest goal to which humans aspire.
• There’s something about being alone in the wilderness that evokes humanity’s most intense, sublime experiences.
• Preservation of wilderness is of paramount importance to the future well-being of the planet.
My proposal builds on all this. It provides a strong new rationale for preservation of wilderness areas. After all, if aging boomers are to wander into the wilderness to die, there must be wilderness to wander into. But, of course, nobody wants suicidal seniors flooding into existing parks such as Yellowstone or Yosemite that are already crowded with vacationers looking for a good time. So my proposal calls for expanded wilderness protection in order to accommodate large numbers of nearly-dearly departed boomers. Think of this as the ecological dividend of your sacrifice.
Now, despite my emphasis on volunteerism, I’m realistic enough to know that economic incentives are what really count. Accordingly, my proposal includes a prod to encourage any boomers who are reluctant to “step up to the plate.” Cutting off their income ought to do the trick.
Under my proposal, Social Security payments would end automatically when beneficiaries turn 90. This sounds harsh, I know, but frankly, isn’t it reasonable to assume that by age 90 your overriding concern will be death with dignity? Well, anyway, that’s what it ought to be if you guys have any taste or gumption or healthy sense of self.
At present, most really old people lie terminally bored in rest homes watching Law and Order re-runs for the hundredth time—a fate worse than death. Most actually expire hooked up to expensive machines in overcrowded, unsanitary hospitals.
Hey, boomers, wouldn’t you rather bid life farewell on your own terms, in the great American outdoors, surrounded by scenic wonders, communing with nature? Sure you would!
Here’s the icing on the cake. As things stand now, you guys are going to exit life’s stage amid catcalls of derision from the younger generations you’ve screwed. But as followers of the Inuit’s honorable tradition, you’ll stride offstage to thunderous applause from a grateful posterity. And think how proud Mom and Dad would be.
It’s kind of hard to tell how much, if any, of this is tongue in cheek when it comes from someone with Kennard’s political views. His lot has a record of really implementing these kinds of ideas.
Princeton Professor Russell H. Nieli offers a serious critique of the establishment of AGW as orthodoxy on American university campuses and in the MSM. His list of issues is quite good, and so is his conclusion.
MIT’s Richard Lindzen, a long-time skeptic of the Gore-Hansen Model of global warming, has explained how the serious challenge to American scientific and military dominance posed by the Soviet launching of the Sputnik satellite in the 1950s sent a clear message to the American scientific community that has stuck with it ever since. After Sputnik, says Lindzen, it became clear that the way to gain status, prestige, and, above all, government funding for one’s scientific research, was through the medium of public fear and crisis creation. A similar dynamic was at work earlier, he says, in the creation of the Manhattan Project, which was originally established as a counterweight to what was believed to be an advanced Nazi atom bomb project. The threats and crises for which the government will shell out big money may be entirely real, of course, and not in need of any exaggeration or hype. But they may also be bogus or grossly inflated, a condition that Lindzen thinks accurately describes current global-warming concerns of the Gore-Hansen variety.
The New York Times science editor John Tierney offers a similar take on the global warming issue, stressing both the self-interest of scientists involved in crisis mongering and the more general, herd-like conformism that afflicts scientists along with everyone else. “I’ve long thought that the biggest danger in climate research,” Tierney writes, “is the temptation for scientists to lose their skepticism and go along with the ‘consensus’ about global warming. That’s partly because it’s easy for everyone to get caught up in ‘informational cascades,’ and partly because there are so many psychic and financial rewards for working on a problem that seems to be a crisis. We all like to think that our work is vitally useful in solving a major social problem—and the more major the problem seems, the more money society is liable to spend on it. … Given the huge stakes in this debate—the trillions of dollars that might be spent to reduce greenhouse emissions—it’s important to keep taking skeptical looks at the data. How open do you think climate scientists are to skeptical views, and to letting outsiders double-check their data and calculations?” (John Tierney).
The last sentence was an oblique reference to attempts by many climate scientists to suppress skeptical voices, which was so clearly in evidence in the scandalous Climategate emails. A commentator on Tierney’s blog adds the following valuable insight: “To survive, most workers in scientific fields must follow the grant money. If all the grants this year are for work on the crisis du jour, then that’s the work which gets done. The annoying fact is that somebody pays for science. The ‘somebody’ may be an Evil Oil Company, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, or anyone else with bags of money. We shouldn’t be too amazed when we find that the ‘somebody’ tends to get the science he or it wants to see.”
That money, power, vanity, and prestige may influence a scientific debate—or non-debate in the case of global warming—should not be very surprising. As I have said, scientists and scholars are human beings and prone to all the foibles and distortions of the human condition. This was the great insight of the mid-20th century “sociologists of knowledge,” and before them of most Calvinists and other discerning Christians (including most notably James Madison in Federalist No. 10).
But I think there is an additional element here that is less talked about but probably as important as the kinds of issues Lindzen and Tierney bring up. This is the attraction of global-warming orthodoxy not as a falsifiable scientific theory or source of research funding but as a substitute religion that engages all the energies and capacities to enhance meaning in life that an earlier generation of secular scholars and scientists often found in various brands of socialism or psychoanalysis. With the general decline and discrediting of both Marxism and Freudianism over the past thirty years radical environmentalism in various forms has taken their place in the lives of many secular intellectuals as a source of existential meaning and purpose. The insular, defensive, cult-like behavior displayed by so many global warming advocates when they are confronted with the concerns of informed skeptics reinforces such an interpretation and explains their refusal to debate dissenters. True believers have no converse with heretics. And such cult-like behavior reinforces one final suspicion: like socialism and Freudianism, global-warming alarmism may prove in time to be a God that failed.