Don’t believe me. I am not a scientist, as my correspondents have been quick to and forceful about pointing out.
But just as you don’t have to have played in the NFL to present an authoritative opinion about who has emerged as the best quarterback to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or have served in the White House to analyze responsibly what’s going on there, neither is an advanced degree in climate science necessary to ascertain that the verdict about humankind’s effect on global temperatures is far from settled.
Multi-platform contributor Steven Hayward does yeoman’s work on this, and he delivers again Monday in his column published at Forbes.com. He’s not kind to the loopy extremists, which included more than a few household names, who blocked streets in Manhattan last week. What they’d like to wreak on us, they don’t deserve kindness.
The paradox of climate change is exactly this: the more serious the problem, the more implausible are the remedies of the environmental community. That’s what ought to make the climate campaigners realize that last weekend’s mega-march in New York City represents the dead-end for their cause. Truly we can invoke that overused cliché that climate change has “jumped the shark.”
The entire concept, from the greenies’ point of view, is to so radically scale back production of so-called greenhouse gas emissions the United States would have to reduce, by 2050, output to levels not seen since before World War I, but we are not even remotely close to the technology needed to achieve the goal. And in Hayward’s mind, we wouldn’t want to anyway. The path extreme environmentalists would take us leads to soaring energy prices, and poverty for most.
The more economically illiterate among the climateers peddle the free-lunch argument that we’ll all get richer by mandating investment in more expensive, low-yield energy sources. The relatively modest amounts of low-carbon energy developed over the last two decades have required enormous government subsidies and have delivered negligible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. (In some cases, like biofuels from palm oil and corn, the full environmental tradeoff is likely negative.) The bitter irony for the climateers is that the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have been achieved by the production of newly abundant cheap natural gas through fracking, which has been displacing coal at a rapid rate.
And you don’t even want to get into any discussions about “the pause,” or “the hiatus” of warming that has lasted at least since 1998. How inconvenient. Or the expanding ice around Antarctica. Because we are not dealing with people who are particularly rational about the consequences of their policies. Hayward notes the “crazy quilt” march in New York, in which author Naomi Klein and Robert Kennedy Jr., part of the famous Cape Cod clan, distinguished themselves: Klein for observing that if passions about climate change ended tomorrow, the restive perfection-seekers surrounding her in their glorious rainbow hues would find common cause about some other national flaw, mostly having to do with ending free-market capitalism; and Kennedy, revealing his inner climate jihadi, for recommending long prison sentences for climate apostates.
Quite obviously no one would pay attention to RFK Jr. if is last name was Jones instead of Kennedy; on the other hand, he received a standing ovation a few years ago from the Society of Environmental Journalists after another of his typically demagogic speeches, proving that most environmental journalists are just green activists with bylines. This is why you can expect that no environmental organization or prominent journalist will criticize Kennedy, Klein, or their extremist line of thinking.
Of course, Hayward, despite his studies, is not credentialed in the traditional sense, either. For that we turn to a study presented by Hayward’s Power Line blog teammate John Hinderaker, whose post, “Modern Science Refutes Global Warming Alarmism,” cites the work of Cambridge-trained mathematician and physicist Nicholas Lewis (who had a first career as a financier) and Georgia Tech Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor Judith Curry. Their finding, which comports with most recent scholarly research, is frigid comfort to extremists who would have us abandon the cheap liberty of hydrocarbon fuel to stave off disaster.
One fundamental question in the global warming debate is, what is the Earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity? That is, how much will the Earth’s average surface temperature rise, ceteris paribus, on account of a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Global warming hysteria is predicated on the belief that average temperature will rise by up to 6 degrees C as a result of doubling atmospheric CO2. All of the scare headlines you see about polar bears, droughts, flooded cities, etc., rely on that assumption.
The problem for alarmists is that contemporary research doesn’t support any such scenario. The most recent nail in the alarmists’ coffin is a paper by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry titled “The implications for climate sensitivity of AR5 forcing and heat uptake estimates,” which concluded that the best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity is 1.64 degrees C. Lewis describes the paper’s methodology here, and you can follow the link to the paper and read it for yourself. What’s significant about 1.64 degrees, Hinderaker — a non-scientist, so take it for what it’s worth — notes, is that it’s “well within the range of natural variability. It will be swamped by other factors that continuously act on the Earth’s climate, and we may never know whether, or to what extent, CO2 had any impact on the Earth’s temperatures. That shouldn’t be too surprising: To the extent that historic temperatures and CO2 concentrations can be reconstructed, there is zero apparent correlation between the two.”
Not that such a reality will have much effect on Klein or RFK, Jr. or the preening celebrities who arrived from exotic locales aboard private jets to enhance their street cred. Because this isn’t, never was and never intends to be about anything — especially not the clean air and crystalline water achieved by free people creating wealth through profitable, efficient choices — but instructing you how to live.