Next up on my list of writing projects was a piece on fracking but the recent cold snap bumped this one to the top of the list.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog you are well aware of my long skepticism of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) now referred to as “climate change”. I’ve taken some significant amount of ridicule for that view over the years, particularly from the readers of “The Vancouver Sun” where I offered some thoughts on the subject after the intellectual dishonesty at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was exposed.
So, it brought me no small measure of satisfaction when the expedition to the Antarctic to study the impact of global warming found itself stuck in the sea ice. The ice breaker sent to rescue them also got stuck and then the US sent a huge ice breaker to try to free both ships. True to form, of the first 41 news reports on the incident, 40 of them failed to mention what the Hell they were doing down there and simply referred to them as “tourists” or “scientists”. According to the expedition leader’s website, Professor Chris Turney of the U. of New South Whales, they were there to study the effects of global warming on sea ice. You would think that the media would be unable to resist this rich irony, but of course you would be wrong. They have too much invested in the global warming story.
The news services, however, cannot ignore the cold spell that is now breaking 100 year old temperature records all over the North American continent. Of course, they can cry that this “polar vortex” is just a very unique phenomenon and has in no way disproved global warming, er, climate change. This is the thesis of Jason Samenow, the weather editor of the Washington Post, who has made a career out of pushing the global warming story. It is true. You can’t predict what’s going to happen a hundred years hence by a single weather event. However, whenever a nasty event like a heat wave, tornado, hurricane or drought strikes somewhere on Earth these same guys and gals are loudly blaming it on global warming. Some yahoos have even tried to blame the polar vortex on AGW.
Dr. Roger Pielke of the U. of Colorado is a professor of Environmental Studies and he testified before Congress on December 11, 2013 that hurricane landfalls since 1900 have NOT increased, nor are they more intense or causing more damage. His studies also show the same is true for floods, droughts, tornadoes and forest fires. There is simply no evidence that these extreme weather events have increased in the last couple of decades. Did you see that on NBC Nightly News?
No? Maybe you saw this one? A sea level study by Lennart Bengston, a Swedish researcher using satellite data from the U of Colorado concludes that sea levels have risen an average of 3 mm/year over the last 20 years. This slow increase in sea level continues a trend begun at the end of the last ice age and the rate has not increased in the last 20 years.
To put this in perspective let’s do a little metric conversion arithmetic. There are 2.54 cm in one inch or 25.4 mm. So 3mm equals about 1/8 inch rise in sea levels per year. In 100 years that comes out to about a foot or so…just a tad lower than the 20 foot prediction in Al Gore’s Academy Award winning 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth”. But hey, Al’s made some $200 million dollars since losing his bid for the Presidency. Perhaps winning the prize for Purveyor of Apocalypse of this decade and pocketing the $200 million will be sufficient consolation?
There have been many predictors of the coming Armageddon who have cashed in on the gravy train. After all, nothing sells newspapers and magazines or loosens the purse strings of governments and rich donors like the end of life on our fragile planet. No one wants the facts to mess up a good story or to obstruct the government grants to universities and think tanks to study the problem. The US has doled out billions to energy related start-ups (mostly to large donors to Obama and the Democrats) for wind or solar farms, electric car developers and solar panel manufacturers. Most have gone tits up.
We also recently learned that the Obama brain trust has given $4.7 billion between 2010 and 2012 to other countries to battle global warming! Draining the public treasury to do battle with a ghost like AGW is one thing but the war on carbon has more dangerous implications when mandated policies like closing down coal fired electrical generating plants and putting unnecessary restrictions on drilling or pipelines is added to the insanity. As this unusual cold snap is demonstrating, electrical grids are dangerously close to their limitations during prolonged frigid periods. Closing power plants because you hate coal and nuclear is simply irresponsible.
It doesn’t seem to matter that past dire warnings of the coming apocalypse have proven hopelessly wrong, the gullible public always falls for the next one. Recently we had the Y2K computer crisis. Some smart computer nerds made a bundle on that one. And what about the Mayan Calendar 2012 scare? Hard to dispute the Mayans were pretty clever dudes for their day. But I did wonder how smart they could be if they sacrificed their prettiest virgins to make it rain? Just sayin’. Here in more enlightened times we just sacrifice tax dollars and economic prosperity.
Nor does being hopelessly wrong about predictions that the world is coming to an end seem to adversely impact a reputation or income. Take Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor of biology who in 1968 appeared on Johnny Carson to promote his book “The Population Bomb” predicting mass starvation in the next 20 years due to overpopulation. This is, of course, the same crap espoused by Rev. Thomas Malthus in 1798.
The population of the earth in 1960 was 3 billion people at the time and Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers professors John Holdren and John Harte, among others jumped on the bandwagon. They predicted that growing populations would outstrip the food supply and the world would soon run out of everything including oil, copper, iron, tin, etc. This became the “settled science” of the period and governments and journalists called for action to control population growth and resource consumption. The guys selling this apocalyptic vision made a bundle selling books, making speaking fees and with cushy university jobs. Politicians of all stripes jumped on the bandwagon. By 1970 Earth Day had kicked off the modern environmental movement and Nixon created the EPA.
Of course, there were skeptics most notably Julian Simon, an economist and business professor at the U of Illinois. Simon believed that technology and human ingenuity would prevail and that resources were not finite. This led to a very public battle between the two… essentially the apocalypse camp and the optimist camp. Simon proposed a bet with Ehrlich that soon became very public. Simon offered to let Ehrlich pick any five commodities (he chose chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet that these would not increase in price in the next decade. If they were to become scarce they would obviously increase in price. Ehrlich was assisted in selecting the five by Holdren and Harte.
So, how did the bet turn out? Not good for Ehrlich. All five commodities were LESS costly. (This is all detailed in the book The Bet by Paul Sabin.) What about the mass starvation that was predicted by these guys in 1968? The earth’s population has more than doubled since then and the only starvation is caused by war and political repression. Improved farming practices, seed genetics and mechanization has vastly improved yields. Besides, the UN among others are predicting that the earth’s popu-lation has peaked and will be declining in the coming decades.
Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers were hopelessly wrong about everything so their credibility as prognosticators should be over, right? Wrong! Like the guy on the street corner with the sign, “Repent. The world ends on July 14th!” When it doesn’t happen he simply changes the date.
Ehrlich is still a Harvard professor and much in demand for his opinions on the serious threat of global warming.
John Holdren who seems to never have been right about anything, is now Obama’s“Science Czar” and helps shape their climate change agenda. John Harte, now a professor at Berkley has written a book called “Climate Shock”.
Ya gotta give it to these guys and their guru, Al Gore; they’re pretty good at riding the latest apocalyptic fad to the bank.