Politics

Reassurance for the climate change faithful: the end remains nigh

Reassurance for the climate change faithful: the end remains nigh

Remember Harold Camping?  He was a popular figure in the news, around the middle of 2011, because he said the end of the world was at hand.  In fact, he had a very specific date and time in mind: 5:59 PM on May 21, 2011.  When the world remained stubbornly in existence on May 22, he issued an updated doomsday warning for October 21, 2011.  Spoiler alert: the world didn’t end on that day, either.

Undaunted, the doomsday prophet explained to his dejected followers that he was actually right about doomsday – he was just mistaken about how long it would take.  Armageddon was a long, slow process that did indeed begin when he said it would.  (On October 21, 2011, that is.  He admitted that his math was off on the first doomsday calculation.)  God has been destroying the world very slowly ever since, and one of these days we won’t be able to ignore it any more, and we’ll all have to admit that Harold Camping was right all along.

Meanwhile, his spirit is alive and well in the Church of Global Warming, which has been wrestling with the teensy little detail that all of their models and predictions were one hundred percent wrong, and there isn’t any global warming at all.  This week, the New York Times brought Harold Camping’s message of slow annihilation to the climate-change faithful, reassuring the flock that all those “deniers” would soon choke on their super-heated (or maybe flash-frozen) words.  The absence of warming is proof of warming, the Apocalypse only misfired because wretched humanity got incredibly lucky, and soon Gozer the Traveler will return in the form of a giant Slor.  Many Shuvs and Zuuls will know what it means to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.

The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.

But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on.

It only sounds “unlikely” to the hustlers and fanatics who bought into Al Gore’s crackpot ideas and all those fraudulent hockey-stick graphs.  The “practitioners of climate science” (what an odd turn of phrase!) don’t want to understand what’s going on.  They want to hammer what’s going on into their pre-existing ideological convictions, because the actual process of real science – testing hypotheses against data and admitting error – is unbearably painful for them.

As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El Niño weather pattern.

That’s cute, since global warming cultists are the grand masters at cherry-picking dates and ignoring inconvenient data, such as warm periods earlier in the 20th century, and in pre-industrial times.  (The Times piece does eventually get around to mentioning the warm period of the 1950s through 1970s, admitting that “scientists do not fully understand that one either.”)  These are also the people who scream that every hurricane, tornado, derecho, blizzard, warm summer, cool summer, warm winter, and cold winter is proof of “climate change.”  Long diatribes about statistics are how they change the subject from the absolute failure of their climate models to predict the climate.  Spectacular weather events are how they frighten the little people into taking them seriously.

Check out this little blast of hyperbole, followed by a tortured admission of error:

We certainly cannot conclude, as some people want to, that carbon dioxide is not actually a greenhouse gas. More than a century of research thoroughly disproves that claim.

In fact, scientists can calculate how much extra heat should be accumulating from the human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, and the energies involved are staggering. By a conservative estimate, current concentrations are trapping an extra amount of energy equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding across the face of the earth every day.

400,000 H-bombs?  Is that hotter than the innards of a giant Slor?

So the real question is where all that heat is going, if not to warm the surface. And a prime suspect is the deep ocean. Our measurements there are not good enough to confirm it absolutely, but a growing body of research suggests this may be an important part of the answer.

Exactly why the ocean would have started to draw down extra heat in recent years is a mystery, and one we badly need to understand. But the main ideas have to do with possible shifts in winds and currents that are causing surface heat to be pulled down faster than before.

The deep-ocean theory is one of a half-dozen explanations that have been proffered for the warming plateau. Perhaps the answer will turn out to be some mix of all of them. And in any event, computer forecasts of climate change suggest that pauses in warming lasting a couple of decades should not surprise us.

Well, that’s a refreshing dose of humility… something completely absent from the absolute certainty of the cult’s doomsday predictions over the last three decades.  They weren’t talking about complex eco-systems that interact in a way mankind does not currently understand.  They were 100 percent certain that human activity was destroying the global climate, and only incredibly expensive corrections to human activity could stop it.  Note that little straw man at the beginning about the triumphant establishment of carbon dioxide as a “greenhouse gas” after a century of research.  That was never the point under contention.  The debate was about the scope of human alterations to global climate through the production of such gases, which also exist in nature, as any tree could tell you.

The global warming cult can take comfort in knowing that their junk science is still taken very seriously by left-wing politicians, who view it as a fantastic tool for exerting power and foreclosing dissent.  No one can be allowed to argue with those who would save the Earth, right?  And good old Al Gore is back in the news, complaining at an environmental conference this week that scientists “will not let us link record-breaking” tornadoes to climate change.  Harold Camping would understand his frustration.

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