The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Boulder

As the UN Climate Conference grinds on, attendees are presented with a horror film in which a little girl clings to a tree, set against angry skies, as the earth’s waters rise to drown her. Funny, I’ve attended dozens of scientific conferences and never has the assemblage been presented with such hyperbolic nonsense.

Have AGW believers jumped the shark? It could be happening.

AGW believers are fond of attacking those who desire a more scientific and objective approach to the problem. They call us “deniers.” But as the ClimateGate revelations mount, it seems that the true believers (with some notable exceptions, such as George Monbiot) are the real deniers.

When faced with the reality that much of the data and many of the models that have been used to make their case have been doctored, they cover their ears and eyes as if nothing has happened.

“What about vanishing ice sheets?” they exclaim.

When I lived in Connecticut, there was a huge (I do mean huge, half as big as a small house) boulder in the field next to my house. It got there when a glacier (ice sheet) that covered Connecticut during the ice age receded. But gee, there were no cars, or trucks, or power plants or people in Connecticut at that time. Oil hadn’t been discovered, and yet the ice sheet receded not by a few hundred miles but by thousands of miles. The boulder was left behind.

Sure, the climate changes. It always has changed. It always will change. The boulder is simple proof. But that’s not the issue.

The question—which is far from “settled”—is whether human output is a significant factor. AGW proponents believe it is, but base that belief on the “hockey stick” representation of paleoclimatological data that have now been shown to be less than honest. A few of the true believers, much to their credit, see the problem and have stepped back to ask for clarification. But the majority continue with their fanaticism.

For those old enough, Mona Charen revisits another environmental religion of 40 years ago:
The same people whose hair is on fire now about climate change have dressed up in fright masks before. Thirty years ago, they were (no joke) enormously agitated about the coming new ice age. From these same precincts (the Club of Rome, 1972) we were warned that the world was rapidly running out of oil, gas, aluminum, lead, zinc, copper, tin, and uranium. (We didn't.) At the same time, all of the smart people were absolutely convinced that overpopulation was the greatest threat to the globe and to humanity itself. Paul Ehrlich, author of "The Population Bomb," offered in 1980 that "If I were a gambler, I would bet even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." That same year, the Carter administration issued a global forecast predicting that "the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically ... and the world's people will be poorer in many ways than they are today." Um, no.

The scaremongers' track record is poor. For people who seem to worship Mother Earth, they are oddly arrogant about their ability to understand complex systems like climate. Every day brings new discoveries about the incredibly complicated interplay of oceans, atmospheric gases, algae, wind, plants, animal excretions, solar radiation, and so forth.

As a young engineering student, a professor told us, "Before you can solve a problem, you’ve got to understand it.”

Because we don’t yet understand the climatic system in enough detail, it’s the height of hubris to think that we can solve it. Worse, the solutions that have been proposed may do nothing to affect the earth’s climate in any substantive way, but may have a profound negative impact of the world economy.

Update (12/08/09)

For those who are more technically oriented, I'd suggest a detailed discussion of some of the science here. Among many worthwhile points, the paper lists no fewer than 18 variables that all contribute to climatic change. Bottom line, there has been no credible research that can accurately measure the human component in climate change. It could represent 1 percent or 50 percent. It is irresponsible to define major policy initiatives that focus on CO2 when we have no idea what the percentage is. Here's why.

Let's say that CO2 contributes 5 percent to global warming (that's a guess, but it's no less accurate than the best science to date), and we reduce emissions by 50 percent (a major achievement). We've reduced warming by 2.5 percent. If temperatures are projected (by questionable doomsday models) to rise by 6 degrees in 100 years, the net effect of a 50 percent CO2 reduction would be 0.15 degrees over 100 years or 0.0015 degrees annually. Is that worth 1 trillion dollars and potential damage to the world economy? Is it worth the hysteria currently be promulgated those who have adopted AGW as a religion? I think not.