Where Did the Global Warming Go?
Jacoby lays out a fanciful scenario, and asks how it would play out in the media.
Of course, there would be a huge media hue and cry. There would be flat out hysteria.
SUPPOSE the climate landscape in recent weeks looked something like this:
Half the country was experiencing its mildest winter in years, with no sign of snow in many Northern states. Most of the Great Lakes were entirely ice-free. Last December 25th, not a single Canadian province had woken to a white Christmas. There was a new scientific study discussing a mysterious surge in global temperatures — a warming trend more intense than computer models had predicted. Other scientists were admitting that, because of a bug in satellite sensors, they had been vastly overestimating the extent of Arctic sea ice.
But what has really happened?
The United States has shivered through an unusually severe winter, with snow falling in such unlikely destinations as New Orleans, Las Vegas, Alabama, and Georgia. On December 25th, every Canadian province woke up to a white Christmas, something that hadn’t happened in 37 years. Earlier this year, Europe was gripped by such a killing cold wave that trains were shut down in the French Riviera and chimpanzees in the Rome Zoo had to be plied with hot tea to keep them warm. Last week, satellite data showed three of the Great Lakes — Erie, Superior, and Huron — almost completely frozen over. In Washington, DC, what was supposed to be a massive rally against global warming was upstaged by the heaviest snowfall of the season, which all but shut down the capital.Of course, the religious zealotry isn’t merely the result of some arcane theology. It’s the result of the class interests of the New Class — liberals and leftists who can use it to extend their control over the economy.
Meanwhile, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has acknowledged that due to a satellite sensor malfunction, it had been underestimating the extent of Arctic sea ice to the tune of 193,000 square miles — an area the size of Spain. In a new study, University of Wisconsin researchers Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonis conclude that global warming could be going into a decades-long remission. The current global cooling “is nothing like anything we’ve seen since 1950,” Swanson told Discovery News. Yes, global cooling: 2008 was the coolest year of the past decade — average global temperatures have not exceeded the record high measured in 1998, notwithstanding the carbon-dioxide human beings continue to pump into the atmosphere.
None of this proves conclusively that a period of planetary cooling is irrevocably underway, or that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are not the main driver of global temperatures, or that concerns about a hotter world are overblown. Individual weather episodes, it always bears repeating, are not the same as broad climate trends.
But considering how much attention would have been lavished on a comparable run of hot weather or on a warming trend that was plainly accelerating, shouldn’t the recent cold phenomena and the absence of any global warming during the past 10 years be getting a little more notice? Isn’t it possible that the most apocalyptic voices of global-warming alarmism might not be the only ones worth listening to?
But for many people, the science of climate change is not nearly as compelling as the religion of climate change. When Al Gore insisted yet again at a conference last Thursday that there can be no debate about global warming, he was speaking not with the authority of a man of science, but with the closed-minded dogmatism of a religious zealot.
Thus, in the past generation, we have had the DDT scare, the result of a book called Silent Spring by Rachael Carson (1962). We have had The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich (1968). We have had Club of Rome The Limits to Growth in 1972. We had the “coming ice age” which dominated the media in the middle 70s.
All of these environmental scare eposodes turned out to be wrong, but all had one thing in common. They all justified a massive government intervention in the economy.
And that, of course, has always been the point of the environmental movement.