I’ve always thought the notion that man could appreciably change the climate the height of arrogance, a King Canute-like narcissistic vanity that man is so powerful he can harness nature. For one thing there are so many variables that affect our weather. For another, I have no idea what’s the optimum temperature and whether that optimum should apply in all places all year long .
I believed this in the 1970’s when one of my professors argued that we were approaching a new ice age (which fortunately never occurred), and I believed it when others were suggesting we were all going to die as heat soared around the globe. Surely you remember New York City was supposed to be underwater by now, and the poles would soon be ice-free with nowhere for the cute polar bears to go. (Actually they’re thriving despite summer ice thaws .
Since none of this has yet happened, you’d think the notion of amassing an army of weather crusaders richly endowed by first-world treasuries would be laughed out of existence by now. But they’re still at it.
Nineteen years ago, in its initial report on climate the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conceded that modeling climate (“a complex system”) was an impossibility:
Balancing the need for finer scales and the need for ensembles” of the Working Group 1 report “In climate research and modeling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.
Computer and observational capabilities have likely improved since then, and the subsequent IPCC reports have dropped this caveat, but I think the admonition is still true and warrants more attention than it ever received. There’s simply a great deal we don’t know about the forces involved in determining weather. Solar radiation and magnetic activity, storms, cloud cover, ocean currents, to name a few chaotic systems that determine climate. All bring to mind Heraclitus’ observation that everything is in a state of flux, everything it seems but the vast web international organizations, people and money who profit from keeping disaster hysteria upon this thinly-evidenced myth of human control of climate alive. People who advocate models not based on real-world evidence are just as fraudulent as those who promoted models which were clearly manipulated to support the notion that fossil fuels were going to fry us and cause huge rises in ocean levels.
Tomorrow is Earth Day -- canceled on the Mall in Washington, alas, but still happening digitally -- and the media is once again girding its loins to prepare us for the latest hysteria-induced crusade—this time a crusade against ourselves, not a mysterious virus. Four hundred media outlets are linking up with something called Covering Climate Now --"a global journalism initiative committed to more and better coverage of the defining story of our time" -- to promote the notion that we can and must change in order to save the planet from changing its climate. This 50th day anniversary of Earth Day comes as people already are chafing under restrictions imposed in significant part by—you guessed it—models based on inadequate factual bases.
We still aren’t sure exactly how the Wuhan virus spreads or how to limit its reach. We still aren’t sure if masks and gloves effectively retard its spread. We still aren’t sure how long the virus stays on surfaces. We still aren’t sure whether allowing it to spread while simply protecting the most vulnerable is better than locking everybody up and tanking the world economy. We still aren’t sure that the measures we take will not hurt more people around the globe than we save. What I suspect is that people already rebelling against the strictures imposed on the basis of Wuhan virus mortality models ought to be wary of following yet more models concocted by people sitting at their computers making assumptions without sufficient evidence .
In other respects it’s a bad time for this continued first-world folly. The Wuhan-induced shut down has resulted in a glut of oil which as of yesterday was selling at a negative—the market had to figure in the storage costs of what was already available. Sellers were paying to get it off their hands. Which raises these questions:
- With oil priced at a negative rate, how are you going to persuade all but the most stupid to invest already tapped out funds in far less reliable and far more costly new energy?
- How are you going to persuade people to abandon fossil fuels when it was fossil fuels that kept the supply trucks coming to us with food and necessities during the shut down?
- How are you going to persuade people that fossil fuel produced plastics are evil when progressives which forced people to abandon plastic bags now say use them and toss the earlier mandated reusable bags?
- How would you manufacture the plastic respirators needed for those hospitalized with the virus without fossil fuels? Or the visors to protect health care workers?
- Now that markets around the world have tanked and 22 million people are presently unemployed here and in financial straits, how are you going to persuade them on the basis of these models to give up more of what they have now to sacrifice for some unknown and unknowable assumed future (date not yet determined) benefit?
Time after time, the climate models do not match real-world evidence. Remember your high school science? You have a hypothesis—a guess, if you will—how something works. Then you gather evidence and see whether that evidence supports your hypothesis. When you begin with as many unknowns as there are in climate modeling, and when even the most basic of their hypotheses—temperature rise—does not sustain it, it’s time to acknowledge your error and start over, not simply change the title of the model from global warming to climate change.