02.28.2010 0

Climate Change: Having it Both Ways, Part 2

  • On: 03/08/2010 11:29:02
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment
  • By Victor Morawski

    In my previous column, we saw that defenders of Global Warming are trying to have it both ways when it comes to finding confirmations of their theory. They appeal to opposite sorts of natural phenomena as confirming evidence: Lack of snow in Vancouver, receding glaciers and recent milder winters on the one hand and this year’s record-setting snows on the other.

    This raises the question whether they would take any observational evidence as disconfirming their theory. If not, then we may wonder if global warming is nothing more than pseudo-science.

    A response taken now by some defenders is that what they are really talking about is climate change, not weather change. This being the case, as meteorologist Jeff Masters points out, “no single weather event can be blamed on climate change.” And no single weather event — such as Snowmageddon — can be cited as disconfirming it.

    His point is that the predictions made by climate change proponents are not the simple “All swans are white” sorts of predictions discussed by Popper and countering the theory is not as simple as just finding one non-white swan to prove it false. Rather, they are statistical in nature.

    As Masters notes, “one can ‘load the dice’ in favor of events that used to be rare — or unheard of — if the climate is changing to a new state… [T]he dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor’easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.” According to the hypothesis, Climate Change predicts no specific intense storm but only an increase in their frequency in the long run.

    Consistent with such long-term statistical predictions are short-term anomalies. Flipping a coin one thousand times will produce “heads” on half the throws. But somewhere in the process a series of throws may come up “tails” twenty times in a row. Such an anomaly does not necessarily overthrow the long-run prediction.

    This fact has recently given a haven of refuge to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco. NOAA’s mission purportedly includes, “’informing climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

    Asked recently about East Anglia University’s Dr. Phil Jones’ admission that “for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming,” Lubchenco responded “that it is inappropriate to look at any particular short period of time to discern the long-term trend.” She went on to say that one could find competing trends if one singles out any ten or fifteen-year period in the last century but “that longer history shows unequivocal increases in global average temperatures.”

    Now wait a minute. This is the same Jane Lubchenco who warned, of “an ecological tsunami [in the oceans] of unprecedented proportions.” Elsewhere, when asked about climate change‘s effects on ocean life she replied, “as a result of the warming waters … corals are bleaching with increased frequency… it also is melting ice in the Arctic, and many species that are dependent on ice for their homes, from polar bears to ice seals… are becoming increasingly threatened with extinction.”

    Her agency recently released a report on how climate change will affect the US in the next 20 years or so, which predicted a reduction in Western mountain snowpacks adversely affecting water supplies, more heat related illnesses and deaths due to rising average temperatures and a rise in respiratory diseases.

    But if we are now talking about climate change as a long-run phenomenon, shouldn’t it be illegitimate to make such short range predictions? And is it not as questionable to refer to climate change as the explanation for a specific event like corals bleaching or melting Arctic ice, as it would be to point to a specific weather event like missing snows in Vancouver as explainable by it?

    Lubchenco goes a step further, demanding immediate action. She said earlier this year in a Yale interview: “Climate change is real, it’s causing changes in our own backyard… and therefore there is urgency in moving ahead with reducing heat-trapping pollution as soon as possible.”

    Again, if we are talking about it as a long-term phenomenon, where even a fifteen-year cooling period is not supposed to be inconsistent with its gradual development, then surely the long-developing nature of climate significantly undermines the case for urgent, immediate action.

    Lubchenco would clearly like to have it both ways and construe climate change in whatever way best suits her immediate needs, a strategy which seems to be incoherent. It is certainly no basis for formulating any public policy radically reducing carbon emissions in the near term.

    Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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