Urban on Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE AGAIN?

By William Urban

It seems that whenever our weather is the coldest someone will announce that global warming is going to destroy us. NPR. must ask job applicants how fervently they believe in this.
Will this subject never go away? Probably not. How many times have religious enthusiasts predicted the end of the world? How many newspapers printed stories about the Mayan calendar, or how all our computers would cease to work on January 1, 2000?
Whether climate change is really a serious concern depends on who you listen to. Some global warming enthusiasts are like preachers, sincerely trying to save souls while there is still time. Awkwardly, a last minute conversation works for sinners trying to get into heaven, while the conversion deadline for climate change was decades ago — the changes are already underway and nothing we can do now will have an immediate impact. Long term maybe, immediate no.
Other global warming enthusiasts seem to be careerists who, having staked their reputations on it, are now panicked because their computer models are wrong. Such people do not easily admit their mistakes. Like desperate poker players, they push more chips onto the table. Doubling down is normally a bad strategy, but it has an internal logic — if they are right, persuading people that the end of the world as we know is nigh will guarantee them financial success and fame until that happens.
Not so long ago we were told that all serious climate scientists were in agreement that the situation was urgent, that there was no time to lose, and that anyone who disagreed was simply a Denier, the equivalent of the flat earth people. Then people began to realize that fifteen years had gone by without the predicted increase in global temperature. Various explanations were given, but these were undermined by leaks that showed the global warning enthusiasts were massaging the facts and attempting to silence critics. Changing “global warming” to “climate change” did not fend off the criticisms. Now more than 30,000 scientists who work on climate-related subjects have signed a statement saying that they disagree with the “consensus” that we are facing catastrophe.
It got worse when fracking provided us with enough natural gas to make the US energy independent. What did the enthusiasts do? They changed from praising natural gas as our best alternative to oil, to denouncing it..
Nuclear, of course, never stood a chance. We’ve never had a fatality from a nuclear accident in the US, but Hiroshima and Chernobyl made that irrelevant. France gets its energy from nuclear power, but Germany is closing down its plants. Go figure.
As for wind energy, when it was discovered that wind farms in California were killing eagles, the president gave them a thirty year exemption from laws protecting the birds. Meanwhile, the water-starved farmers of the San Joaquin Valley complain about the protection given to the Delta Smelt.
A decade ago it appeared that all the industrialized nations of the world had agreed on the global warming issue. However, by the time newly elected President Obama hurried from his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Climate Summit in Denmark (braving record cold), the political climate had changed. Today almost nobody has the money to do what the experts say has to be done.
Only the president and his advisors (and the aforementioned careerists) now see the global warming situation as dire. Awkwardly, people remember President Obama’s many other promises and warnings, including the statement that his administration would be the most open and honest in American history, and that every proposed bill would be on the internet days ahead so that the public could read it. He did not finish that promise with the word “period”, which is just as well. Late night comics already have enough material to last them through the next election cycle.
On the good side, much has been done. Some of it in spite of government efforts. Pollution has been reduced because most people see this as affecting them immediately and directly. Even ethanol, once the sacred cow of green energy, has been recognized as creating as many problems as it solved. And bovine flatulence, once decried as a major threat to the environment, proved to be mere gas. The anti-meat crowd had seen this as a way to encourage vegetarianism (a seldom mentioned fellow traveler of the global warming crowd), but more has been done along that line by the rising cost of beef, pork and chicken, and by concerns over obesity.
The United States is now the leading energy producer in the world, despite President Obama’s efforts. The May issue of Atlantic proclaimed, “WE WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF OIL.” However, the development of new sources of energy could turn the world economy upside down — as developing countries industrialize, so much CO2 will go into the atmosphere that climate change policies could become irrelevant.
This would also make green energy comparatively more expensive. (Expensive gas is good, President Obama’s energy advisor explained in 2009, because that would encourage people to turn from oil to wind and solar.)
To make the situation even more confusing, we just got another study that indicated such swift global warming that all those developing countries would be too warm to support human life. If that is so, it does not matter how cheap oil is, because the major cities are doomed. Starting with people living in Kingston, Jamaica, there will be a massive flight north within thirty-odd years. However, that flight is doomed, because the heat wave will follow right behind them, and major cities like New York will be under water.
In short, we have everything but an asteroid headed our way. But don’t fear, we are tracking more and more of them, too. And usually they hit only Siberia, where almost nobody will be living until the Chinese start moving north.
And the Russian ship filled with global warming scientists wanting to see for themselves how Antarctica is melting — it was stuck in ice so thick that several rescue efforts failed. Worse, the rescue ships got stuck, too.

Review Atlas (Jan 9, 2014), 4.

PS Scince is never settled. Were that so, Copernicus would have been burned at the stake, as was one scholar unwise enough to proclaim in the middle of Rome that the earth rotated around the sun.

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