Thursday, February 18, 2010

Global weirding, anyone?

A news report has it that grandsons of Senator Imhofe, a vocal skeptic of global warming, are building an iglo in DC to be called "Al Gore's House." Of course, the idea is silly, but still it might help Gore's cause if he lived in a less elaborate, more energy-efficient dwelling than the mansion he currently occupies.

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.)"



Blogger Burk said...

Hi, Wayne-

I realize that for those near the end of life, there is little to gain or lose through climate change. It is a long-term issue. But it would be helpful if you at least left ideology out of the equation.

The evidence continues to pour in, as it has for over a decade, that global warming is taking place (see the ClimateProgress blog for chapter and verse). So if all those indicators were to reverse.. the hockey stick graph of world-wide temperatures, the movement of species ranges northwards, sea level rise, etc... then certainly those of us thinking about the future would change our tune. Ditto for connections between human activities (CO2 emissions) and this warming, drawing on basic physics as well as its close correlation in time.

None of this data as been affected in the least by the "fudging" you refer to- it is a total non-issue, though it has been seized on by FOX and friends as an ideological stick. Indeed, climate change skepticism seems in the media to have become the new smoking ... a way to seem cheaply rebellious against the politically correct "man".

Well, either you want to bequeath a better world, or you don't.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

Like the childless, bisexual Lord Keynes, I am accused of taking no thought for future generations. If so, I am in good company. I also recall Thomas Jefferson: "the earth belongs to the living."

The hockey-stick graph chart has been thoroughly disproven, has it not?

Some g-w enthusiasts seem to cling to their own form of fundamentalism, intolerant of the least subtraction from the litany. Surely, the g-w thesis can survive the loss of the hockey-stick fabrication. Or can't it?

And where has this sea-level rise been documented? I keep looking for it in my travels and never detect it. Admittedly, it might help us all if Wall Street were to disappear. But alas I was there last week (inspecting it from my perch in one of Brooklyn's finest waterfront restaurants) and saw no signs of the Deluge.

Which nations, by the way, have so far disappeared beneath the waves? Again, I can think of some useful candidates--"they never would be missed"--but alas any hopes there too are likely to be disappointed.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Burk said...

The hockey stick graph remains fully valid:



More importantly, the basic physics remains in place as well, which means we could't help but see warming of this sort, given the emissions being put out.

Ditto with sea level rise, which is going up, not down, about 20 cm (8 inches) vs 1900. What, you haven't noticed this? People in New Orleans have.

Hopefully we can get the basic facts straightened out.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

As I recall, much of New Orleans has long been under sea level. Flooding there was a consequence of human error in neglecting to maintain the levees, not a comprehensive rise in water levels on the shores of the Caribbean. That rise would have made no difference, even had it occurred.

Btw, I never watch Fox News. My suspicions were aroused by inconstencies I noted myself in the g-w hyperventilations.

Once so cunningly wrought, the apolyptic tapestry is now unraveling. The political consequences are devastating the global-warming church. See Bill McCubbin's latest pathetic piece on Copenhagen in the NY Review.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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3:56 AM  

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