by Bruce S. Thornton
The victims of the tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma had not even been counted when Democrat politicians made fools of themselves by trying to link the disaster to global warming and Republicans. California Senator Barbara Boxer said, “This is climate change. We were warned about extreme weather, not just hot weather but extreme weather . . . you’re also going to see snow in the summer in some places. You’re going have terrible storms. You’re going to have tornados.”
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse made the same dubious claim and explicitly blamed Republicans. “Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse,” the Senator said, “care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms.” Whitehouse later apologized, but only for his timing, not for his smear.
But Boxer and Whitehouse are simply following the lead of President Obama, who made the same unscientific and partisan claim in his inaugural address:
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
Once again, the party of science and reason has exposed itself as hopelessly unscientific and irrational.
These self-styled rationalists and defenders of science could have saved themselves embarrassment by consulting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center. As the NCDA’s U.S. Tornado Climatology site explains, “With increased national Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency.” A chart is provided which “indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
But science and fact have had little to do with the apocalyptic climate change movement. The absence of global increases in temperature since 1998 has raised serious questions about all those dramatic computer models predicting disaster from human-caused CO2 polluting the atmosphere. For true believers to hold on to their belief in CO2 caused warming, they have to admit that some unknown factor is causing temperatures not to rise even when CO2 is increasing. But to admit that is to admit that they don’t fully understand how climate works, at least not enough to justify subjecting our economy to a multi-trillion-dollar hit from the war against carbon in order to ward off those dire consequences that may happen. As a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal signed by 16 scientists writes, “There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC [the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change], aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.”
But the unproven claim about the link of CO2 to warming is just one of the many holes in apocalyptic global warming theory. Remember when warming-cult high priest Al Gore claimed that the 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 present today would be “a sad milestone, a call to action”? Given that hundreds of variables govern climate, isolating one trace gas as the engine of climate change was always dubious. Indeed, scientists outside the global-warming cult have argued that doubling or tripling CO2 ppms would have no major impact on the planet. As Human Events’s Marc Morano reports, “Scientists also note that geologically speaking, the Earth is currently in a ‘CO2 famine’ and that the geologic record reveals that ice ages have occurred when CO2 was at 2000ppm to as high as 8000ppm. In addition, peer-reviewed studies have documented that there have been temperatures similar to the present day on Earth when carbon dioxide was up to twenty times higher than today’s levels. And, a peer-reviewed study this year found that the present day carbon dioxide level of 400ppmwas exceeded — without any human influence — 12,750 years ago when CO2 may have reached up to 425 ppm.”
An even greater problem with the CO2 obsession is the uncertainty about what levels of the gas establish the baseline with which to compare the current levels that are so dangerous. Back in 2010 the New York Times explained how this baseline is established: “Bubbles of ancient air, trapped by glaciers and ice sheets have been tested, and they show that over the past 800,000 years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air oscillated between roughly 200 and 300 parts per million. Just before the Industrial Revolution, the level was about 280 parts per million and had been there for several thousand years.”
That seems definitive––unless you ask how long CO2can remain in the atmosphere, or whether the volume of CO2 trapped in ice has remained stable all those millennia and so can provide an accurate baseline. According to Dr. Tom Segalstad––past head of the Geological Museum in the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museums, an associate professor of resource and environmental geology at the University of Oslo, and a past expert reviewer for the IPCC––abundant research evidence suggests that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for at most 12 years. If that is true, then people cannot possibly have pumped enough CO2 into the atmosphere to account for the alleged increases they caused. Either something other than humans is increasing CO2, or the way the gas is measured is flawed.
That brings us to those “bubbles of ancient air” that are used to establish how much CO2 was in the atmosphere before humans started burning fossil fuels. Many scientists, including Zbigniew Jaworoski–– the author of four books and nearly 300 scholarly articles, and the senior scientific advisor of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Poland––have challenged this assumption that ice cores accurately record CO2 concentrations in ancient air. Jaworoski’s research suggests that the ice is not a closed system that preserves air bubbles unchanged and keeps gas concentrations stable. Because of ice liquefying, the different solubility levels of gasses in cold water, cracks in the ice, and extreme pressure that crystallizes CO2 into a solid, CO2 in ice can be reduced. Thus the baseline alluded to in the Times article that establishes the notion of dangerously increasing CO2is put in doubt.
For all their talk of “science,” then, the Democrats are indulging ideological preferences when they holler about climate change. Nor is it difficult to see the origins of that ideology. Partly it reflects the old romantic discomfort with the same industrialism and technology that have made us the healthiest, most long-lived and comfortable humans ever to walk the earth. Disneyfied idealizations of nature and Blakean denouncements of modernity’s “Satanic mills” bestow cheap moral superiority on people who couldn’t live five minutes without the high-tech conveniences made possible by fossil fuels.
Creepier still is the late-Marxist demonization of industrial capitalism that also lies behind the attack on carbon. Having been repudiated by history, Marxism must attack liberal democracy and free-market capitalism with the weapons of environmentalism, which gives them allies among the suburban recyclers and Prius-drivers, Sierra-Club plutocrats, and Occupy Wall Street anarchists. The irony, of course, is that communist economies have historically been some of the worst polluters on the planet. Look at China today, where Beijing’s air looks like coal-burning London’s in the 1840s, and hundreds of dead pigs float in the rivers. Finally, the Marxist-lite big government folks––i.e. Democrats––find in the global warming crisis a convenient pretext for expanding government control over the economy and business, thus weakening the most powerful rival to the Leviathan state. Just look at the current war on extracting natural gas through fracking.
Al Gore once sneered, “Fifteen per cent of the people believe the moon landing was staged on some movie lot and a somewhat smaller number still believe the Earth is flat. They all get together on a Saturday night and party with the global warming deniers.” More and more scientific evidence suggests that it is Gore and his Democratic brethren who are the flat-earthers, clinging to an exploded paradigm not because of the “overwhelming judgment of science,” but because it gratifies their ideological and political preferences and interests.