Whither Climate Change?

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By Bill Muehlenberg, June 23, 2013

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg

I have said before that much of modern environmentalism is little more than a secular religion and a pseudo-faith. It has become a leading cause to commit to, with faith often trumping fact. And those who do not go along with the orthodox line are treated as heretics and apostates, and treated accordingly.

Of course by now the facts are well and truly catching up with even diehard true believers who had failed to acknowledge the evidence. But you can tell the tide is turning when even mega-PC papers like the New York Times almost start to concede that the gig is up when it comes to global warming.

As Timothy H. Lee writes, “It appears that the new scientific consensus is also unraveling. This week, The New York Times ran its own article entitled ‘What to Make of a Warming Plateau.’ ‘As unlikely as this may sound,’ it began, ‘we may have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.’ Well, it wasn’t ‘unlikely’ to anyone living outside the global warming echo chamber.

And ‘lucked out’ is apparently its euphemism for ‘been completely, embarrassingly wrong.’

“Regardless, this amounts to a milestone mea culpa from one of global warming orthodoxy’s loudest trumpets: ‘The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the past 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’.”

He continues, “The same Times article assures us that carbon emissions cause a greenhouse effect: ‘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.’

“Presumably, the century of research disproving that claim is totally separate from the research that previously assured them of impending global warming cataclysm.

‘Rising temperatures,’ it wrote on June 16, 2002, ‘are not a topic of debate or distraction.’

“Meanwhile, this week the International Energy Agency announced that global carbon dioxide emissions increased 1.4% in 2012 to a record 31.6 gigatons.

Accordingly, carbon emissions have continuously increased to record highs, yet temperatures over the past two decades have flattened. Perhaps the prevailing climate orthodoxy at the Times will finally move from the front page to its more rightful place in the obituaries.”

The inability to think critically is a big problem here. The true believers prefer faith over critical analysis. Anthony J. Sadar, “a life-long atmospheric and environmental scientist and long-time college-science educator,” says that getting students to think critically is a vital task for all educators.

For example, consider the alarmist poster which begins with these words: “Scientists have warned that climate change could bring stronger, more destructive storms….” He tells his students to think critically here: “Each sentence can be evaluated literarily and scientifically.

“As literature, students could be challenged to examine the style, flow, and tone of the message. The highlighted first sentence could be assessed for its real substance: Who are these ‘scientists’ who have such a dire warning?
How many are we talking about, 2, 10, every scientist? Is the statement too nebulous to even have serious meaning, regardless of the one example of Sandy that follows?
Furthermore, phrases like ‘crashing down’ and ‘reign of terror’ could be parsed for their effect on eliciting deep emotions and inciting readers to ‘doing something to save the planet.’

“From the science perspective, how is ‘stronger’ and ‘more destructive’ actually determined, including considering measurement techniques, availability of historic records, increased population and property development, and the like? Further, what is meant by ‘largest tropical storm on record’? In reality, how extensive and extreme was the storm’s ‘reign of terror’?”

But exactly because global warming has become an article of faith for so many, we fail to see such careful thinking and analysis. British MP Peter Lilley recently spoke to this very matter. He begins: “G.K. Chesterton said that ‘when people stop believing in orthodox religion, rather than believe in nothing, they will believe in anything’. One of the ersatz religions which fills the void in recent years is belief in Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming. It claims to be based on science. But it has all the characteristics of an eschatological cult.

“It has its own priesthood and ecclesiastical establishment – the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; they alone can interpret its sacred scriptures – the Assessment Reports; it anathematises as ‘deniers’ anyone who casts doubt on its certainties; above all it predicts imminent doom if we do not follow its precepts and make the sacrifices it prescribes.

“What most clearly distinguishes the Catastrophic Global Warming cult from science is that it is not refutable by facts. As Parliament enacted the Climate Change Bill, on the presumption that the world was getting warmer, it snowed in London in October – the first time in 74 years. Supporters explained ‘extreme cold is a symptom of global warming’!

“The Met Office – whose climate model is the cult’s crystal ball to forecast centuries ahead – has made a series of spectacularly unreliable short term forecasts:
‘Our children will not experience snow’ (that was 2000, before the recent run of cold winters), a barbecue summer (before the dismal 2011 summer), the drought will continue (last spring before the wettest summer on record). Now they say that rain and floods are the new normal. But – hot or cold, wet or dry – global warming is always to blame.

“Alarmists are reluctant to admit that the global surface temperature has not increased for 16 years, despite CO2 emissions rising far more than predicted. They wave this inconvenient truth away with the non-sequitur that this decade is the hottest since records began, so the world is still warming.”

He concludes, “This cult enables adherents to feel morally superior at little personal cost. Buy a Prius or vote Green and save the planet. Unfortunately, costly renewables are driving many into fuel poverty and manufacturing jobs overseas. Action by Britain is pointless unless China, India and Africa join in. They are most vulnerable to climate change. But they are vulnerable because they are poor.

“They will remain poor until they harness energy like us. Requiring them to forego fossil fuels in favour of renewables costing several times more condemns them to remain poor. The cult requires sacrificing the poor to Gaia. As Professor Bruckner concludes: ‘save the earth, punish mankind’.”

But don’t just take my word for it. For starters, take the word of 31,487 American scientists who have signed a petition which states that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will, in the forseeable future, cause heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate.”