I’m no scientist. Neither is Nobel Prize winning global warming alarmist and hypocrite Al Gore. Nor are the legions of global warming deniers who are pointing to a stretch of cold weather as “proof” that global warming is a myth.
We are, most of us, not qualified in any way, shape, or form to make any kind of technical or scientific judgment on most of the evidence relating to climate change unless we happen to hold an advanced technical degree and are able to examine that evidence in its totality and not pick and choose headlines that bolster one’s political position on the issue.
The idiocy inherent in the prospect of myself or 95% of internet commenters – right and left – trying to hold a scientific debate on a subject where almost all of us are not scientists and where most of the evidence is couched in the arcane and mysterious language of scientific disciplines for which the overwhelming majority of us barely realize the parameters of study is self evident.
Not that this matters because at bottom, we who are unable to examine the evidence on the same plane as climatologists, meteorologists, atmospheric physicists, environmental scientists, and a hodgepodge of chemists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scientists end up simply believing one side or the other. Like religious fanatics, the two sides argue dogma while rejecting the other’s “beliefs” as apostasy.
Considering the stakes, this is madness. And scientists are not helping matters any. Likening those who question the conclusion that global warming is caused largely by man and that it threatens civilization to Holocaust deniers is far beyond the pale of rational discourse. Similarly, those who use the term “climate Nazis” to describe global warming advocates have no place in this debate.
But because of the monumental importance of the issue, all of this matters little. Even though our opinions are half baked and ill informed, we scream at each other, accusing one side of being in the pocket of big business (or in thrall to the anti-science element in the Republican party) or the other side of blindly following a “scam” that seeks to destroy the American economy and promote a one world government.
Both sides have been guilty of laughable exaggerations. Every heat wave during the summer is trumpeted to the skies by warming advocates as “evidence” that the world is warming up. The ebbing of ice packs, glaciers, and snow pack on mountains, is fodder for the alarmists while every shred of evidence that might contradict the global warming scenario including core samples and faulty CO2 models becomes “proof” that global warming is a lie.
â€œEarthâ€™s â€˜Feverâ€™ Breaks: Global COOLING Currently Under Way,â€ read a blog post and news release on Wednesday from Marc Morano, the communications director for the Republican minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
So what is happening?
According to a host of climate experts, including some who question the extent and risks of global warming, it is mostly good old-fashioned weather, along with a cold kick from the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is in its La NiÃ±a phase for a few more months, a year after it was in the opposite warm El NiÃ±o pattern.
If anything else is afoot â€” like some cooling related to sunspot cycles or slow shifts in ocean and atmospheric patterns that can influence temperatures â€” an array of scientists who have staked out differing positions on the overall threat from global warming agree that there is no way to pinpoint whether such a new force is at work.
And lest you think only one side can’t tell the difference between “climate” and “weather,” here’s an oldy but goody from 2003:
NBC Blames Global Warming for European Heat Wave
It was inevitable. Whenever someplace in the world gets hot for a few days, sooner or later a network story will blame it on global warming.
NBCâ€™s Patricia Sabga won the contest on Wednesday night when she warned that â€œscientists attribute the extreme temperatures to whatâ€™s been described as a dome of hot air hovering over Europe, a summer weather pattern that may become the norm.â€ Sean Seabrook, identified on screen as a â€œmeteorologist,â€ then asserted: â€œScientists appreciate now that global warming is taking place and I think these occurrences of heat waves will become more frequent, so this may be a sign of things to come.â€
The climate is warming. This is indisputable. It has been warming since the end of the last ice age nearly 20,000 years ago. During that time we’ve had rapid warming spells that last centuries and cooling periods as well (the “Little Ice Age” in Europe from 1300-1800 had a huge impact on politics and society).
But overall, for this last post-ice age epoch the temperature has been rising. No one disputes this. The problem, of course, is the last 100 years or so of human industrial activity and the burning of fossile fuels. Many scientists see the “spike” in average temperature of .75 degrees C as directly related to the increase in CO2 emissions resulting from the burning of hydrocarbons. Others point to a peak of sunspot activity or ice core samples that show past rapid warming periods where there has been an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.
I have no clue who has the upper hand in this debate. Flat statements like “global warming is real” or “global warming is a scam” mean nothing when each side is contradicted by sound scientific evidence. This despite efforts by some in the global warming crusade who seek to end debate on the issue for political, not scientific reasons by trying to postulate that there is a “consensus” that catastrophe is ahead unless we reduce our emissions.
Whoever heard of ending debate on a question of science when there is credible evidence that challenges what has become conventional wisdom? What reputable scientist would agree with this nonsense? No one knows or can accurately predict what the weather will be like 100 years from now. Models that attempt to show a correlation between specific levels of carbon dioxide and temperature have been shown to be useless. No one knows what effect increased temperatures will have in the future. No one even knows if reducing emissions will effect the rise in temperatures one iota.
Closing off debate on climate change is not a question of science but of politics.
It is inevitable that politics would dominate the global warming debate because the solution proposed – reducing emissions – impact ordinary people’s lives enormously, perhaps even catastrophically. For some, whose agenda includes what can only be interpreted as the downfall of the capitalist system, the climate change debate is secondary to imposing their ideas of socialism and reduced influence of the nation state. Others may see a loss of profit and influence unless global warming is “debunked.” And when the cost to the US economy is measured in the trillions of dollars to “play it safe” and proceed as if global warming is the calamitous threat some say it is, the arguments for and against take on an urgency the demands attention.
And then there is the vast bulk of ordinary citizens – you and me – who are caught somewhere in the middle, forced to try our best to understand the debate by reading flawed analysis of both sides in a scientifically ignorant media. Even those few general interest science publications that lay people can read and understand are usually tainted by bias for or against anthropogenic climate change.
In the end, we are left believing one side or the other based largely on our political leanings and not on our scientific acumen. In a way, I envy those who can follow the debate on a technical level and are able to keep the spark of scientific inquiry alive by listening to all sides in this debate and evaluating evidence based on the facts while leaving politics on the outside.
If the only thing you take away from reading this is to have a little more respect for those who don’t agree with you on global warming, I will be content. Because at the moment, speaking for myself, I just don’t know. And the price of ignorance – on both sides – may be too much for us to bear.
I thought about doing this days ago but just never got around to it.
Those who say we shouldn’t only take the word of scientists on global warming are correct.
The problem is any 3 year old chimp can understand the conclusions drawn by various studies and models. But only scientists can examine the evidence those conclusions are based on and make a judgement as to their accuracy and efficacy.
Cooking the books of a statistical study on temperatures or overstating some key piece of evidence can only be discovered by those with the knowledge and training to do so. That is why all legitimate studies undergo peer review.
Anyone who relies solely on the conclusions reached by scientists without examining the evidence from where those conclusions came from is talking throught their hat and need not be taken seriously. That was my point that was poorly made that I am now clarifying.