Wednesday, May 13, 2009

g.h.kirsch: Coming Up, the Weather

Events have forced those who earlier warned of global warming to modulate their hysteria and instead ring the alarm for catastrophic “climate change” instead.

Why the nuance? If anthropogenic CO2 was causing the atmosphere to warm, why not keep saying so?

Well because in fact, since about the time they'd put together the financing, bought the publicity and endowed the science to trot out “catastrophic global warming” the weather, as it will, has failed to follow the predictions.

Almost contemporaneous with global warming hysteria reaching its crescendo, cooling has ensued, making it necessary to change the message to fit the weather.

Now, indeed, not just unusual warmth, but any unusual weather event is a result of human generated carbon dioxide.

Much like earlier religions could explain all untoward events as the work of the devil, now we have a new breed of zealots ready to lay blame to all ugly and unfortunate weather events at the feet of humanity and their egregious and rapacious use of energy.

Till now, for thousands of years, people seemed to understand cold temperatures were detrimental to human welfare and warm temperatures beneficial.

Following the Medieval Warm Period when vineyards flourished in Britain and Greenland, the climate cooled slightly, from about 1300 to 1800, during a period known as the Little Ice Age.

In Greenland, the temperature fell by about 4°F. Although trivial, compared to an ice age cooling of 50°F, this was nevertheless sufficient to wipe out both the vineyards and the Viking colony there. Winter carnivals on the frozen Thames became popular.

In northern Europe it kicked off the Great Famine of 1315. Crops failed and it rained incessantly. Desperate and starving, parents ate their children, corpses were dug up for food and in jails, inmates set upon new prisoners and ate them alive.

The Great Famine was followed by the Black Death, arguably the greatest disaster ever. One-third of the human race died; terror, anarchy and catholicism prevailed.

Human civilization as we appreciate it is only possible in warm interglacial climates. Short of a catastrophic asteroid impact, the greatest threat to the human race is the onset of another ice age. The oscillation between ice ages and interglacial periods has been the dominant feature of our climate for the last million years.

The computer models that predict significant global warming from carbon dioxide cannot reproduce these temperature changes. This failure to reproduce the most significant aspect of terrestrial climate reveals an incomplete understanding of the climate system, if not nearly complete ignorance.

The failure of the computer model to predict the recent cooling trend, and the continuation of cooling inspite of dreaded increases in atmospheric CO2 gives all but the most fervent believers pause.

Global warming predictions by meteorologists are based on speculative, untested, and poor computer models. But our knowledge of ice ages is based on a wide variety of reliable data collected by geologists from the environment, including cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

It would be foolish not to listen to the geologists, and turn instead to the computer modelers. By reducing carbon dioxide, we risk hastening the advent of the next ice age. Even more foolhardy and dangerous is the Obama administration’s announcement that they may try to cool the planet through geo-engineering.

It is no exaggeration to state the onset of another ice age, even a little one, would mean the end of human civilization as we know it.

Earth’s climate is controlled by the sun. In comparison, every other factor, even the oceans containing orders of magnitude more heat than the atmosphere, is trivial.

The coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during the latter half of the seventeenth century, was marked by the nearly complete absence of sunspots. The sun now appears to be entering a quiet period. August of 2008 was the first month since the year 1913 that no sunspots were observed.

As of last week, the sun still remains quiet. Solar cycle 24 is, so far, a bust. We appear to be in a cooling trend. The extent of global sea ice is above the twenty-year mean.

We have heard much of the dangers of global warming caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the forces promoting cap & trade and new tax schemes on carbon emissions. But the potential danger of any warming from anthropogenic CO2 emissions is trivial compared to the risk of entering a new, if even minor, ice age.

Public policy decisions should be based on realistic appraisals taking both climate scenarios into consideration. We hardly need to cap CO2 emissions, let alone give the international banksters another franchise to suck the wealth out of the rest of us.

Al, go put on a parka. You're embarrassing all of us.