Sunday, June 23, 2013

Good-bye, Global Warming

No one seems to know who first said it first, but we do get the government we deserve. It may not be the one we thought we were voting for, but that is the peril of democracy.

The American people, Ross Douthat reports, want their government to deal with jobs, the economy, entitlements, health care costs… you know, the nation’s most important problems.

The Obama administration is focused on gun control, immigration and climate control.

For their part, Congressional Republicans have been busy trying to destroy themselves over immigration.

Douthat calls it “the great disconnect” and he explains that the Obama administration has gotten caught up in the kind of fashionable liberal thought that is associated with New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Apparently, Obama has dispensed with calls for social justice and has glommed on to the favorite causes of the lefty 1 %. Would you reject a chance to belong to the new American aristocracy?

Douthat describes what he aptly calls Bloombergism:

… gun control, immigration reform and climate change aren’t just random targets of opportunity. They’re pillars of Acela Corridor ideology, core elements of Bloombergism, places where Obama-era liberalism overlaps with the views of Davos-goers and the Wall Street 1 percent. If you move in those circles, the political circumstances don’t necessarily matter: these ideas always look like uncontroversial common sense.

For those of you who do not inhabit the great cosmopolitan metropolis I would point out that as Mayor Mike completes his twelve year term, minority youth unemployment is over 40%, but we are supposed to be consoling ourselves with rent-a-bike stations that have popped up around the city.

If you buy a subscription you can take one of these shiny new silver and blue bicycles out for a ride. You can return it to any rent-a-bike station you choose. It beats taking the subway to work.

Don’t you dream of riding a bicycle through the streets of Manhattan during rush hour traffic? Don’t you want to arrive at work sweaty and unkempt after having sucked up the carbon monoxide and other pollutants that cling to New York’s streets?

While the mayor agonizes over Big Gulps his crack scientists ignored the fact that exercising on New York’s polluted streets will cause you to absorb so many toxic chemicals that it will neutralize the value of your exercise. 

The Obama administration attack on global warming also seems poorly timed. All major newspapers have reported that the climate has not warmed during the past fifteen years. We humans have spewed massive amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere during this time and the climate has shrugged.

These facts have embarrassed the global warming crowd. It has called on its minions to keep the faith, because the global climate apocalypse is nigh.

As I have occasionally noted, the global warmists are more prophets than scientists. There is no such thing as a scientific fact about what will happen tomorrow, to say nothing of what will happen a century from now. To think otherwise is to be ignorant of science.

The Democracy in America blog in The Economist reports on the latest research:

GLOBAL warming has slowed. The rate of warming of over the past 15 years has been lower than that of the preceding 20 years. There is no serious doubt that our planet continues to heat, but it has heated less than most climate scientists had predicted. Nate Cohn of the New Republic reports: "Since 1998, the warmest year of the twentieth century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming; they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections".

Mr Cohn does his best to affirm that the urgent necessity of acting to retard warming has not abated, as does Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, as does this newspaper. But there's no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.

The Economist blogger does accept that global warming might heat up again, but he rcommends that we also consider the effects of the policies that have been proposed to fix the problem:

Dramatic warming may exact a terrible price in terms of human welfare, especially in poorer countries. But cutting emissions enough to put a real dent in warming may also put a real dent in economic growth. This could also exact a terrible humanitarian price, especially in poorer countries. Given the so-far unfathomed complexity of global climate and the tenuousness of our grasp on the full set of relevant physical mechanisms, I have favoured waiting a decade or two in order to test and improve the empirical reliability of our climate models, while also allowing the economies of the less-developed parts of the world to grow unhindered, improving their position to adapt to whatever heavy weather may come their way. I have been told repeatedly that "we cannot afford to wait". More distressingly, my brand of sceptical empiricism has been often met with a bludgeoning dogmatism about the authority of scientific consensus.

Yes, indeed. It is certainly the case that scientific facts are not determined by taking a poll of scientists. The fact that scientists are promoting global warming as dogma ought to provoke more than a goodly amount of skepticism.

Scientists are perplexed and puzzled by the new data, but not as much as the policy makers who follow the lead of the 1%ers whose class consciousness requires them to adhere strictly to the same dogmas and to indulge in the Bloombergian version of noblesse oblige:

As a rule, climate scientists were previously very confident that the planet would be warmer than it is by now, and no one knows for sure why it isn't. This isn't a crisis for climate science. This is just the way science goes. But it is a crisis for climate-policy advocates who based their arguments on the authority of scientific consensus. 

When it comes to global warming, the new aristocracy is trafficking in a big lie. The  Economist blogger explains:

If this is true, then the public has been systematically deceived. As it has been presented to the public, the scientific consensus extended precisely to that which is now seems to be in question: the sensitivity of global temperature to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Indeed, if the consensus had been only that greenhouse gases have some warming effect, there would have been no obvious policy implications at all.

The blogger concludes:

The moralising stridency of so many arguments for cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and global emissions treaties was founded on the idea that there is a consensus about how much warming there would be if carbon emissions continue on trend. The rather heated debates we have had about the likely economic and social damage of carbon emissions have been based on that idea that there is something like a scientific consensus about the range of warming we can expect. If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems it may be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal. 


Anonymous said...

Question: Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?

That whole notion seems strange. CO2's power is portrayed by climate scientists as simply hegemonic... we talk about almost no other climate factors. Does anyone else find this strange? We can't predict what weather phenomena will do within minutes or hours, yet we are told we can predict what the Earth's climate will be decades from now. It doesn't pass the reasonable test.

On the scientific front, alarmists have been saying "science says..." about climate change for some time now, and their doomsday predictions have not come to pass. It doesn't sound like science, it sounds like speculation, and this kind of "scientific" speculation carries significant costs, including losses in jobs, a subject which the Obama Administration has treated as a peripheral matter 5 years.

We human beings are not powerful in the scale of global climate. The Earth is not fragile, and it shows us this time and again, like the global temperature data has the last 15 years.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

I second your idea-- it's more than passing strange that people keep saying that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

Anonymous said...

So... if it seems strange, why would we continue to hear this cacophony over and over and over again? Pardon my cynicism, but I say follow the money. Who gets the research money? Where does the tax money go? Do we penalize CO2 as a dangerous substance? If yes, what will we use those penalty monies for, and what will happen with human behavior? What are the consequences of reducing CO2? No one is talking about these things! It's maddening.

We are making progress toward nuclear fusion power, which will render this all moot. What's the next scientific warning? Too much steam in the cooling process? Too much H2O?


Sam L. said...

Consensus: Reminds me of the old joke/story wherein an elementary school teacher asks the kids how can we tell if this animal is a boy or a girl. Finally, one kid says, "We could vote."

Anonymous said...

"As the concentration of carbon dioxide increases, people start to experience carbon dioxide intoxication, which may progress to carbon dioxide poisoning and sometimes death. Elevated blood and tissue levels of carbon dioxide are termed hypercapnia and hypercarbia." CO2 poisoning is reasonable or unreasonable?

CO2 is a heat trapping greenhouse gas which has had lower than present concentrations for very very long time scales.

There are many forms of natural polution which have to do with the measurement of some quantity and the consequences, not with any "absolute truth" about the substance or quantity.

The theory of lead polution from burning leaded gasoline took 20 years to confirm ... lead was accumulating in the North Pole in concentrations not seen in the ice core drillings.

The theory of ozone depletion took decades to confirm. The ozone hole in the South Pole grew larger year after year.

Humans were causing lead to accumulate and ozone to deplete with potentially significant ethical and moral consequences. The CO2 concentration may or may not be a dominant factor impacting global warming ... there are more variables in this model so there may always be reason for doubt. But the warming effect of greenhouse gases is less subject to doubt.

Dennis said...

The real science does NOT show much of what the AGW believers try to intimate. It was never science. When they start producing computer models that can predict the pass then we might give those models some interest. The problem with models is that someone has to determine what attributes are important, how those attributes are weighted, what attributes are discarded, et al. By the time one builds a computer model it has been corrupted by the people who built it with their suppositions. NOTE: that many of these models use time periods that fit their suppositions and ignore time periods that do not. It is why one sees such an odd inclusion of data points.
Yes there is global warming and there is also global cooling. The closes that AGW alarmists get to anything resembling a science is the Science of Theology.

George Boggs said...

I always chuckle when I read about the "consensus". When Copernicus and Galileo were publishing their work, the "consensus" model was the Ptolemaic system that had been successful for a thousand years.

"Consensus scientific progress" is an oxymoron.

Anonymous said...

According to Mr. Obama's reported statement today, I am a member of the Flat Earth Society.

Where do I go to pick up my membership card?