So long, global warming. It’s been nice knowing you.
Many of us do not know the science well enough to have an educated opinion about global warming. Some of us admit it. Others do not.
The science notwithstanding, belief in global warming has always felt, to me at least, like a religious dogma. If true science requires skepticism, the dogma of global warming admitted none. Those who did not believe it are often accused of being like Holocaust deniers.
The rhetoric gave it away. The effort to threaten, harass and intimidate people into believing in global warming knew no limits.
Most scientists seemed to believe in it, so it had to be true. In fact, major scientists, like the emeritus head of climate science at MIT, Richard Lindzen did not believe it. Ivar Giaever, a Nobel prize-winning physicist quit the American Physical Society because he was distressed to see scientists pressured by politicians to favor of the dogma of global warming.
Politically, the hysteria over global warming felt like yet another effort to repeal the Industrial Revolution. If things were as dire as Al Gore believed they were, we would have to shut down all fossil fuel production and get along on wind and solar and biomass. Returning to the state of nature would probably mean less economic growth, less energy and more starvation.
Of course, we can’t. The cost is prohibitively expensive. And yet, global warmists in the administration are happily shutting down coal-fired plants, thus raising the price of electricity and imposing a grossly regressive tax on the population.
Global warmists did not much care about America. They did not much care about what would happen to those who made their living through coal. They did not much care about the cost of energy or the number of blackouts we would suffer.
They had transcended mere economic nationalism and had arrived at a higher form of pagan idolatry. They loved Nature; they were going to save Mother Earth.
What could be wrong with that?
If the cost of saving the planet was the sacrifice of human lives, a lot was wrong with that.
The global warmists cared so much about Nature that they had no caring left for human beings. The more fanatical among them believed that human beings were the earth’s biggest problem.
Of course, there was reason to force people to believe in global warming. There was reason to threaten, harass and intimidate them into signing on to this latest piece of pseudo-science. It made no sense.
We must keep reminding ourselves of the simplest of simple facts, one that you can grasp even if you know nothing about climate science. That is, there is no such thing as a scientific fact about tomorrow. You can hypothesize, you can predict, you can prophesize… but tomorrow’s weather and the next century’s climate are not and cannot possibly be facts!
As for the facts about the world’s climate in recent years, it turns out that the globe is not warming. The climate has been relatively stable for the past fifteen years. Now, as the United Nations is calling for a grand meeting on global warming, China, India and Germany have announced that they will not be attending.
The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietlydowngraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).
Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.
Climate scientists are worried. If there is no global warming their power, their influence, their authority and their grant money will vanish into the night.
So, they have been engaged in damage control:
First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or "hiatus"), but that it doesn't after all invalidate their theories.
Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.
When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was "wrong, completely wrong," and was "deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public."
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse's article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. "The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998," wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: "Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn't statistically significant."
If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: "The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more."
Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That's according to a new statisticalcalculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.
It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.
This might easily become a major embarrassment, so scientists have been hard at work explaining it away.
Last month two scientists wrote in Science that they had instead found the explanation in natural fluctuations in currents in the Atlantic Ocean. For the last 30 years of the 20th century, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung suggested, these currents had been boosting the warming by bringing heat to the surface, then for the past 15 years the currents had been counteracting it by taking heat down deep.
The warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, to quote the news release that accompanied their paper, "was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle." In other words, even the modest warming in the 1980s and 1990s—which never achieved the 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade necessary to satisfy the feedback-enhanced models that predict about three degrees of warming by the end of the century—had been exaggerated by natural causes. The man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.
Putting the icing on the cake of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades. So in their quest to explain the pause, scientists have made the future sound even less alarming than before. Let's hope that the United Nations admits as much on day one of its coming jamboree and asks the delegates to pack up, go home and concentrate on more pressing global problems like war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.
Thank God for the Atlantic Ocean. It will continue protecting us from the baneful effects of the global warming that may or may not exist.
Now we can worry, Ridley says, about disease, habitat loss and more than one billion people who have no electricity. Doesn’t that seem more sensible, and dare I say, more humane? Wouldn’t it be better if we concerned ourselves with the quality of life of suffering humanity than chase after phantoms like global warming?