Sunday, September 20, 2020

Stop Shooting Polar Bears

Some of you remember Sgt. Joe Friday. Most of you probably don’t. Anyway, his famous tagline was: Just the facts, Ma’am.

When it comes to climate change hysteria the last thing anyone really wants to discuss are the facts. Considering the Senile Joe Biden has just called President Trump a “climate arsonist” we ought to take a look at the truth behind the hyperbolic rhetoric. 

We might also ask ourselves why eight years of Obama-Biden did not decisively move to save the earth. And we might ask whether the wildfire situation in the American West would have been significantly impacted if President Trump had continued to be part of the Paris climate accords. These notions are absurd to the point of risible.

Now, we have the Manhattan Contrarian blog, written by Francis Menton. In a recent post Menton puts some of the most apocalyptic assertions about climate change to the test (via Maggie’s Farm). And, as an add-on I will offer some of Jonathan Ford's remarks from a recent review about climate change in the Financial Times-- a sane and sober publication, if ever there was one. It is certainly not a right wing scandal sheet.

Menton begins with an idea proposed by Karl Popper decades ago. That is, we can only count a theory as scientific truth if it is falsifiable. That is, if an experiment or an experience might falsify or verify the theory. Popper was talking about Freud’s theory. He was explaining that since Freud never admitted that any fact could falsify his theory, psychoanalysis was not science. It was pseudoscience. Fancy that.

Anyway, Menton addresses the question of whether climate change-- caused by the fact that too many humans are exhaling-- can have caused the Western wildfires.

But suppose we are willing to open the door at least a crack to the idea that the proposition at hand — that warmer temperatures resulting from human burning of fossil fuels have brought about a great increase in wildfires in the West — could potentially be falsified.  Suppose further that we accept as given that temperatures in the relevant regions have increased at least a smidgeon during the era of human greenhouse gas emissions; and even further that we accept for these purposes the proposition that the human emissions caused the temperature increase.  There remains this completely empirical question: has there actually been a meaningful increase in the extent of wildfires over some relevant time period?

And the answer, of course, is that readily available data show that, notwithstanding an active wildfire season in the Western U.S. this year, the trend in wildfires over the relevant time, both worldwide and in the Western U.S., is strongly down, not up.

So, the world has been warming. The climate has been warming. But, it turns out that there have been fewer, not more wildfires. Apparently, it is not all Donald Trump’s fault.

In short, readily available empirical data completely refute the proposition that the Western U.S. is suffering some huge increase in wildfires brought about by human-caused climate change.  But of course, another approach is to ignore any and all empirical evidence, and repeat the mantra of “climate apocalypse” over and over again until people come to believe it.  It is a proposition that must be, and therefore is, “permanently immunized from falsification.”

A useful point. The masters of propaganda, most of whom want to repeal the Industrial Revolution and have us returning to the state of nature, have repeated their belief so often that people take it for fact.

Writing in the Financial Times, Jonathan Ford also addresses the wildfire issue, in his review of a new book by Bjorn Lomberg:

... Lomborg challenges other frequent claims such as the one that wildfires are massively increasing, pointing to satellite data showing that the amount of land burnt has fallen by a quarter in the past two decades. As for extreme weather and the rising cost of flood damage he notes that as a percentage of gross domestic product, US flood losses today are a tenth of what they were in 1903 — at just 0.05 per cent.

And then there are the polar bears. Pity the poor polar bears. We had it on no less an authority than the crazed sex poodle, Al Gore, that climate change is exterminating the polar bear population.

Ford explains:

In his 2006 climate-change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore raised just such a spectre. And two years later, following a fierce campaign by environmentalists, the US government declared the polar bear “threatened”.

Yet there was something wrong with this picture. There was no real evidence that polar bear numbers were collapsing. According to estimates compiled by the Polar Bear Specialist Group, part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, bear numbers have actually been going up — from roughly 15,000 in 1970 to about 26,500 today.

It’s a fallacy explored by Bjorn Lomborg in his book, FalseAlarm. The main threat to polar bears was not changing climate, he claims, but (now curbed) wild hunting. “If we want to protect [polar bears], rather than dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions to try to tweak temperatures over many decades with a clearly uncertain impact . . . our first step should be to stop shooting them,” he writes. 

There you have it, the solution to the polar bear problem. Stop shooting polar bears.

Another interesting calculation concerns cost-benefit analysis. Take New Zealand. Everyone on the left is thrilled to see an overgrown college coed leading the nation of New Zealand. If Jacinda can do it, so can anyone else. As it happens her administration is all in with national economic self-destruction-- in the name of reducing greenhouse gasses. But, how much will that really help the climate?

Ford writes:

Lomborg estimates that it will cost New Zealand between 16 and 32 per cent of GDP annually to hit its declared net-zero target in 2050 — or $12,800 for each citizen. And all that to deliver a reduction of 0.004 degrees Fahrenheit in global temperatures in 2100, according to the standard estimate by the UN climate panel. “Sooner or later,” he writes, “a politician is successfully going to argue to dump the net-zero promise that will deliver zilch in a century, and instead double spending on things like health, education and environment, and get some tax reductions.”

As for the transcendent virtue of renewable energy sources, that too has been seriously oversold:

Renewable energy isn’t likely to be the world’s saviour. It has actually been falling as a share of global energy — from 25 per cent in 1900 to just 11 per cent today. And most of that isn’t fashionable “new” renewables such as wind and solar, but traditional fuels such as wood and dung fires. Pushing poor countries into adopting wind and solar isn’t just counter productive; it’s immoral, preventing them from achieving higher levels of development through the only means we know how — the burning of fossil fuels.

One understands that while the Western world is off on an extended guilt trip over fossil fuels, other nations, like China, are building more and more coal-fired and nuclear power plants. What do they know that we don’t? Or is it simply a Communist plot?


urbane legend said...

The idiocy of the "save the world" types is sometimes laughable. They hate fossil fuels, protesting their use over the internet and in public. They do this without any thought to the chemicals synthesized from fossil fuels that make chips for cell phones and laptops possible. Synthetic fabrics, plastics, any number of drugs; none of these, or a great many other things we take for granted today would exist without fossil fuels.

One of the most ironic events ever took place in 2015 in Seattle. Hundreds of kayakers filled Elliott Bay to protest the arrival of a Shell oil drilling rig bound for the Artic. Kayakers! Kayaks made of a plastic derived from the production of fossil fuel. And they wonder why people drive SUVs. I do, and love it.
Kayaks in the bay

Finally, if rising oceans threaten to drown us all, why do people still build on beaches? Why did the Great Healer buy a mansion on Martha's Vineyard if it will soon disappear underwater?

trigger warning said...

Funny how Goebbel Warming wildfire activity seems to stop at the border...

Giordano Bruno said...

I didn’t know I could get permission to shoot polar bears. Do I have to know someone in an Indian tribe?

Dr. Mabuse said...

My 56-year old sister is a fervent believer in "climate change" (formerly "global warming"), as well as all sorts of other Lefty boogiemen. I don't argue with her, because she's my last remaining blood relative, and the last time we discussed a controversial subject, in 2016 (guess who THAT was!) she didn't speak to me for 3 months. So she doesn't really know my true opinion on this or pretty much any other knotty topic, and that works out fine, as we live at opposite ends of the continent.

One thing she constantly says is that she KNOWS that the climate has changed from the way it was 20 or 30 years ago. It's much hotter now, she knows from actual personal experience. After our last conversation along these lines, something occurred to me; something else has changed in 30 years: US. Thirty years ago, she was in her 20s, young and healthy and lively. Hot weather is insignificant to someone with those advantages. Now she's middle aged, worried for her future, and sensitive to disruptions in comfort that wouldn't even have registered when she was young.