Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Big Heat or the Big Chill

People who believed in anthropogenic global warming still believe in anthropogenic global warming. Witness Mark Hertsgaard’s emotion-laden, semi-apocalyptic vision of his daughter’s overheated future. One wonders why, in the midst of what is supposed to be a scientific assessment, the author feels compelled to wear his heart on his sleeve. What place does moral exhibitionism have in a report about science?

In his words:

And as a father, I felt grief, fear, rage, frustration and, finally, a determination to resist. One emotion I never permit myself, however, is despair. For despair only paralyzes at a time when action is urgently needed.

Hertsgaard takes the recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as gospel truth. 

The grief and fear the IPCC report triggered in me stems from a central fact of our climate future: Everyone on earth below the age of 25 is already fated to spend much of their lifetime coping with the hottest temperatures our civilization has ever encountered. The laws of physics and chemistry—above all, the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many decades after being emitted—mean that even if humans stopped all carbon emissions overnight, global temperatures would nevertheless keep rising for at least 30 more years.

Now apply that calculation to the first great human disaster with a scientifically attributable climate fingerprint: the record heat wave that scorched Europe in 2003. It caused 71,499 excess deaths, considerably more than the number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam war. But thanks to the physical momentum of climate change, the record heat of 2003 will be routine before Chiara is my age. By 2050, Europeans will experience summers as hot as 2003 one year out of every two.

Of course, Hertsgaard does not mention that the recently departed winter was, in America the coldest on record. It’s usually not a good idea to read the future into one long, hot  summer.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph Christopher Booker begs to differ. Since opposition points of view deserve a full hearing, I offer Booker’s rejoinder to the recent IPCC report on global warming:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

They will be struck by the extent to which this scare relied on the projections of computer models, which then proved to be hopelessly wrong when, in the years after 1998, their predicted rise in temperature came virtually to a halt. But in particular they will be amazed by the almost religious reverence accorded to that strange body, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which by then will be recognised as having never really been a scientific body at all, but a political pressure group. It had been set up in the 1980s by a small band of politically persuasive scientists who had become fanatically committed to the belief that, because carbon dioxide levels were rising, global temperatures must inevitably follow; an assumption that the evidence would increasingly show was mistaken.

Five times between 1990 and 2014 the IPCC published three massive volumes of technical reports – another emerged last week – and each time we saw the same pattern. Each was supposedly based on thousands of scientific studies, many funded to find evidence to support the received view that man-made climate change was threatening the world with disaster – hurricanes, floods, droughts, melting ice, rising sea levels and the rest. But each time what caught the headlines was a brief “Summary for Policymakers”, carefully crafted by governments and a few committed scientists to hype up the scare by going much further than was justified by the thousands of pages in the technical reports themselves.

Each time it would emerge just how shamelessly these Summaries had distorted the actual evidence, picking out the scary bits, which themselves often turned out not to have been based on proper science at all. The most glaring example was the IPCC’s 2007 report, which hit the headlines with those wildly alarmist predictions that the Himalayan glaciers might all be gone by 2035; that global warming could halve African crop yields by 2050; that droughts would destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest. Not until 2010 did some of us manage to show that each of these predictions, and many more, came not from genuine scientific studies but from scaremongering propaganda produced by green activists and lobby groups (shown by one exhaustive analysis to make up nearly a third of all the IPCC’s sources).


Sam L. said...

Of course, Hertsgaard does not mention that the recently departed winter was, in America the coldest on record. It’s usually not a good idea to read the future into one long, hot summer."

Cold winters are proof, PROOF POSITIVE, of global warming, for there is nothing, NOTHING, global warming cannot do!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hertsgaard's unbridled "rage" is the sum total of everything we've come to expect from the climate change crowd. If it's not global warming, it's climate change. If we counter with the cold winter we just had, we're told weather isn't climate. If it's reflected to them that climate is astronomically complex, and that the doomsday scenarios are based on climatological models and not empirical evidence, we're called "climate change deniers," which is fast moving ahead of Holocaust deniers and pedophiles in the misanthropic sweepstakes.

Speaking of Armageddon, I wonder how much Mr. Hertsgaard concerns himself with unsustainable social spending, currency manipulation, Congress raiding the Social Security "trust fund" (or "lock box," as the pedantic moralizers Al Gore called it during the 2000 campaign), etc. Probably not much.

Not having heard of Mr. Hertsgaard, I checked out his brief Wikipedia bio, which points out he is an "environmental correspondent" for The Nation. I fully expect those at The Nation to harangue about the impending ecopalypse using speculative climate science while ignoring the very real empirical social impact of their economic fantasies. It's just more of the same. I guess evidence doesn't matter in either regard, so I would suspect he doesn't care about his daughter's future at all, outside of the continuation of her ideological inheritance. Think of the possibilities... she can become a rageaholic, too!

What climate change people refuse to acknowledge is how speculative their ecopalypse is. Taken further (at their word), they would have to acknowledge there is nothing we can do to halt or reverse the trend -- given their theories on CO2 as cause -- when China and India combine to put one new coal plant online every week. Taken even further than that, let's add a little speculation ourselves... Thought experiment: Let's assume the ideas the AGW crowd offers to mitigate rising temperatures CAN have efficacy in treating "global warming" and we accidentally reverse the trend? We'd risk global cooling, right? When last I noticed, cold means death. I'm confident these Malthusians wouldn't worry about such collateral damage. After all, they're out to save the Earth, not humanity. I wonder how Mr. Hertsgaard's daughter feels about that. I'm sure she's sufficiently "educated" to not consider such things.


Lastango said...

"What place does moral exhibitionism have in a report about science?"

"In his words:
And as a father, I felt grief, fear, rage, frustration and, finally, a determination to resist."


What place? The Moral High Ground. Folks who disagree with him are not positioned as attacking a caring father. Meanies!

Lastango said...

Oops... I meant "now positioned..."

(Oh, for the ability to edit)

Anonymous said...

Lastango, yet a better question might be: "What would Hertsgaard do with his life if he didn't have something to resist?" Who would he be if he didn't feel grief, fear, rage and frustration? Answer: he'd have to find something. These are the emotions that give purpose to his existence. He needs anthropomorphic global warming. What, pray tell, would he talk about otherwise?


n.n said...

Lastango, that is precisely his intention. Failing to acknowledge his limited skill to predict the future, he's attempting to convert the global warming cult into a religion by constructing a moral foundation for its treatment. This is how the fine line between science and philosophy is crossed and nullified.

Human beings respond to emotional appeals and egoistic incentives. Having failed with the latter, they are resorting to a progressive protocol, which begins with condemnation, and ends with empathy, in order to extort concessions. It's childish, but that's how some adults behave.

Think of the children! Abort your children.

Think of global warming! Don't forget to abort your children.

Make love, not war! Those children will not abort themselves.

Dan Pangburn said...

There are only two primary drivers of average global temperature change. They very accurately explain the reported up and down measurements since before 1900 with R2>0.9 (correlation coefficient = 0.95) and provide credible estimates back to the low temperatures of the Little Ice Age (1610).

CO2 change is NOT one of the drivers.

The drivers are given at

Dennis said...

Anyone ever notice how much a lot of issues like climate, gender equality, vegetarianism, gender identity, et al almost always turns into a religion with all its dogma and belief systems despite any facts to the contrary? Anyone who challenges those belief systems becomes an apostate and/or the enemy.
One's job and existence is threatened if they do not toe the accepted tenets of what has now become a religion. The fervor is not unlike any religious cult.