The Métropolitain

Climate Change Claptrap

Par David T. Jones le 3 mars 2014

Washington, DC - Proved science:

-  The philosopher’s stone will transmute lead into gold;

-  Pholgiston is the invisible substance that causes material to burn;

-  The sun moves around the earth and the planets are fixed in the skies;

-  A 10-pound weight falls 10 times as fast as a one-pound weight;

-  Bad air causes malaria;

-  The atom cannot be smashed;

-  A heavier than air machine will not fly--and then you cannot go faster than the speed of sound without it disintegrating; and

-  The universe is expanding at a steady state (pre “Big Bang”).

No.  Non.  Nicht.  Neyt. But the list will continue as long as what is believed true is rigorously tested by alternative thought.

And now “global warming” (relabeled “climate change” when “global warming” proved out as not so hot a prediction) is “proved science.”  

I too believe in climate change--absolutely.  I believe in global warming--and in global cooling--and in global “just the same.”  By definition “climate” changes every day, even every hour--just look at your daily weather forecast.  On a larger scale, climate has changed repeatedly over millennium; ice ages have come and passed.  Fifty years ago prognosticators mulled over a coming ice age (which didn’t). Climate will change again--over decades, centuries, and longer, given a wide variety of conditions, e.g., the sun is a variable star.  And the climate may, repeat may, be changing over a period of time so that the Earth becomes measurably warmer.  But living long enough to prove/disprove it is problematic.  

It simply is not “proved science” that such will occur, regardless of what self-important worthies declaim.  The most recent of these being Secretary of State John Kerry who has pronounced that climate change is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  One critic suggested that Kerry was “delusional” for making such a statement.  Certainly, one can ask why Kerry apparently believes that a nuclear war would be less fearsome than climate change?  More than a little hyperbole, one hopes, since--to belabor the obvious--a nuclear war would cause the immediate death of tens, if not hundreds of millions, while the consequences of a warmer earth would be manageable.

But perhaps he was trapped by enthusiastic speechwriters with scripted talking points.  After all, in 1995 he joined his Senate colleagues in a 95-0 rejection of the Kyoto Treaty protocols.

What is less defensible is Kerry’s excoriation of those that disagree with his screed.  They are belabored as “a tiny minority of shoddy scientists” and “extreme ideologues.”  Au contraire.  As most recently illustrated by Richard Mcnider and John Christy in a 19 February Wall Street Journal column, many of the predictions and models advanced by those postulating global warming simply were incorrect.  But the reactions by those whose errors have been identified channel the approach taken by the Catholic Church denouncing Gallio’s astronomical observations as heresy.  The concurrent charge that critics are “climate change deniers”--a transparent attempt to link (and hence verbally discredit) them to “Holocaust deniers”--is a blatant effort to repress scientific inquiry and free speech.

Indeed, there are ideologues in the argument, but they appear to be those insisting no questions be asked regarding their global warming/climate change precepts.  It reminds one of the maxim offered young lawyers:  “If you have the law, stress the law.  If you have the facts, stress the facts.  If you have neither law nor facts, jump up and down and shout.”

There are some basic facts in play.  

--Economic costs associated with the draconian measures touted to curb green house gas emissions would devastate the economies of the West.  

--Emerging economic powers (China, India, Brazil) will not neuter themselves with carbon-cap regulations for an abstraction.  If the West wants to so castrate its productivity, so be it.

--The alternative energy sources (wind, solar) are expensive and unreliable; they require available backup power (and environmentalists are equally hostile to nonpolluting nuclear energy). 

That said, the global warming ideologues seem to refuse prospective, cooperative “half” or “quarter” measures.  We need continued R&D engineering to improve electrical efficiencies ranging from losses from transmission lines to household appliances.  Likewise, we need effective long term storage for wind/solar energy production.  Costs and quality issues for “hybrid” automobiles make them boutique rather than mainstream purchases.  Popular acceptance of nuclear power would also be beneficial. 

These are not liberal or conservative positions but do require less shouting.