Global weirding, anyone?
Here in the Northeast of the US we have had record snowfalls. DC's local government proved unable to cope--nothing new there--and the government shut down for a week. In Gotham City we scarcely noticed.
Global-warming skeptics have used the news, coming on the heals of revelations of fudging of evidence, to suggest that we are dealing with a hoax. Of course one cold winter, or one mild summer, in some parts of the world are not evidence of anything. There is a difference between weather and climate.
Paradoxically, though, for their part some global-warming mavens have cited the severe weather as evidence of their theory. Tails I win, heads you lose. Global warming, you see, will make for all sorts of crazy gyrations, including some especially cold winters. The ever-jejune Tom Friedman of the NY Times has been pushing a term he purloined from Hunter Lovins: "global weirding." Whether it gets colder or warmer, it is all due to global warming. As we used to say in the sixties, "crazy, man!"
In my view, the weirding more properly refers to the two extreme types of discussants: those like Imhofe who argue that nothing is happening at all; and those who predict an apocalypse, say, ten minutes from now.
One current mantra among the g-w advocates is their insistence that despite the recent charges of massaging of evidence "nothing has changed; the science is just the same." Well, there are probably going to be further revelations about fudging. G-w adepts will have to stay on the defensive.
The g-w folks need to answer this question. What evidence would cause them to abandon, or at least moderate their claims? My sense is that for these true believers no evidence would count. For its more fervent adherents, global warming amounts to a church, with a quasireligious set of beliefs. By definition, these cannot be falsified.
More moderate advocates of addresssing climate change should be able to see that this intransigeance is hurting their cause. They should recognize that mere iteration of the mantras is not working. They may still, in their view, hold the high ground on the science front, but they are losing the political battle. Most fair-minded observers now grant that in the US--and other major polluting countries--the cause of meaningful legislation on this matter is dead.
UPDATE (Feb. 28). Today the NY Times has published an op-ed by Al Gore, which is pretty much the same old same old. Yesterday, however, the Daily Telegraph of London published a blistering piece by a leading critic of the global warming church, Christopher Booker. This piece says in part:
"The chief defence offered by the warmists to all those revelations centred on the IPCC's last 2007 report is that they were only a few marginal mistakes scattered through a vast, 3,000-page document. OK, they say, it might have been wrong to predict that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035; that global warming was about to destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest and cut African crop yields by 50 per cent; that sea levels were rising dangerously; that hurricanes, droughts and other "extreme weather events" were getting worse. These were a handful of isolated errors in a massive report; behind them the mighty edifice of global warming orthodoxy remains unscathed. The "science is settled", the "consensus" is intact.
"But this completely misses the point. Put the errors together and it can be seen that one after another they tick off all the central, iconic issues of the entire global warming saga. Apart from those non-vanishing polar bears, no fears of climate change have been played on more insistently than these: the destruction of Himalayan glaciers and Amazonian rainforest; famine in Africa; fast-rising sea levels; the threat of hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves all becoming more frequent.
"All these alarms were given special prominence in the IPCC's 2007 report and each of them has now been shown to be based, not on hard evidence, but on scare stories, derived not from proper scientists but from environmental activists. Those glaciers are not vanishing; the damage to the rainforest is not from climate change but logging and agriculture; African crop yields are more likely to increase than diminish; the modest rise in sea levels is slowing not accelerating; hurricane activity is lower than it was 60 years ago; droughts were more frequent in the past; there has been no increase in floods or heatwaves.
"Furthermore, it has also emerged in almost every case that the decision to include these scare stories rather than hard scientific evidence was deliberate. As several IPCC scientists have pointed out about the scare over Himalayan glaciers, for instance, those responsible for including it were well aware that proper science said something quite different. But it was inserted nevertheless – because that was the story wanted by those in charge.
"In addition, we can now read in shocking detail the truth of the outrageous efforts made to ensure that the same 2007 report was able to keep on board IPCC's most shameless stunt of all – the notorious "hockey stick" graph purporting to show that in the late 20th century, temperatures had been hurtling up to unprecedented levels. This was deemed necessary because, after the graph was made the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 report, it had been exposed as no more than a statistical illusion. (For a full account see Andrew Montford's The Hockey Stick Illusion, and also my own book [Christopher Booker,] The Real Global Warming Disaster.)"
Labels: Global warming