Americans woke up today to a snow-covered world that might not be getting warmer after all.
You may not hear about it or read about it right away, depending on what your news sources of choice are. Many news organizations and reporters have disgraced themselves, their profession and their professional ethics standards (values trashed: competence, diligence, responsibility, honesty, objectivity, fairness) so thoroughly that they will surely wait as long as possible before admitting they were wrong, if not how wrong they were. But I know where this is going, and it is not going to be good for anyone. Ethics fiascos, a.k.a ethics train wrecks, never are.
The snow has nothing to do with it, and yet it does. The American public had already begun to turn away from the media/Hollywood/environmentalist led stampede toward global warming panic: a recent Pew poll ranking national problems in order of the public’s concerns about them placed climate change dead last. The unusual snowfall, coming on top of decreasing trust in the heralds of global warming (Pelosi, Reid, Gore, Obama, the Democrats, climate change scientists), just cemented the cynicism, and in an astounding exhibition of tone deafness, climate change advocates decided this would be a dandy time to explain why the snow might really be proof of global warming.
Ah! We see, Brilliant Ones. We are fools to think one snow storm is evidence that climate change projections are a crock, but you can use the same cold storm as evidence of impending warmth!
This is not the way to reach hearts, mind, or skeptics. But never mind: they are lost already. Over in England, where the BBC has been as militantly (and unobjectively) pushing the global warming agenda as anyone, Dr. Phil Jones, the head of the influential climate research unit that was shown to be a compromised, biased mess by the East Anglia email revelations, gave an interview that will be the tipping point for the climate change debate.
Jones admitted that the group had “lost track” of data, saying, “There is some truth in that. We do have a trail of where the weather stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be. There’s a continual updating of the data set. Keeping track of everything is difficult. Some countries will do lots of checking on their data then issue improved data, so it can be very difficult. We have improved but we have to improve more.”
Strike One: Needless to say, when projections based on your data is being uncritically cited by non-scientists to support major, expensive, economy-changing, lifestyle-altering, and industry burdening legislation, losing track of the complete record is unacceptable.
Professor Jones also conceded that global temperatures may have been higher during the medieval warm period than they are now:
BBC: “There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th Century were unprecedented?”
JONES: “There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.
Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.”
Got that? He is saying 1) that current assessments of past global temperature levels are inexact, making claims that it was warmer or cooler centuries ago speculative by definition 2) that it is possible that the Earth was indeed warmer during the so-called Medieval Warm Period (800-1300 AD…that’s 500 years, friends) than it is now, and 3) if it was, then yes, that would call into question whether the current warming trends are indeed manmade, since we are pretty sure they weren’t driving a lot of SUVs in 1100.
That’s Strike Two.
Finally, Jones agreed that there has been no “statistically significant” global warming since 1995, and also conceded that two previous periods of global warming, 1860-80 and 1910-1940, were similar to the period from 1975-1998.
He’s out. Calling him out, and putting an exclamation point on it, was erstwhile Jones ally advocate of climate change, John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama. He was a lead author on the Nobel Prize winning IPCC 2007 reports, recently revealed to have multiple mistatements. He told the Sunday London Times: “The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change.”
Christy, who has been critical of global warming hype, if not of the overall scientific conclusions of the research, works with satellite temperature data, which is not subject to the same limitations as land-based weather stations. He said that while satellite data shows that warming is occurring, it is only around half of what was suggested by land-based weather stations. Christy told the Times, “The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”
All of this came in the wake of new revelations of errors and bad projections in UN climate change reports, which themselves came after exposure of the East Anglia e-mails. The climate change scientists are fighting back, but significantly, part of their counter-attack is to condemn the ignorance of the same media that uncritically hyped their work in the first place. Meanwhile, the climate change skeptics are not all scientifically ignorant, and seem equal to the challenge of keeping the pressure on.
I began by saying that I knew where this was going, and that it would not be good for anyone. It won’t be good because we need science and scientists, and we need to have a public that feels it can trust scientists. The politicization of the global warming debate, the degree of certitude that scientists unwisely allowed pundits, environmentalists, news media, politicians and assorted hucksters (like Al Gore) to express regarding an inherently uncertain area of research, and the outrageous vilification of voices of moderation and caution on the topic as “deniers,” idiots, or worse have done catastrophic damage to the image of science generally. When the pompous, abusive pro-climate change bullies finally have to admit that they were both wrong and unjust, it will unleash a new wave of anti-science mania. The effort to remove the teaching of evolution in the schools will get a boost. The anti-vaccine hysterics will be energized. People will get dumber and feel good about it. Some people will die.
The best analogy I can think of is the Vietnam War. I was enrolled in a protest-happy college during that war, and I knew many of the anti-war protesters well. Some were genuine, knowledgable, good faith critics of U.S. Southeast Asia foreign policy, but far from all; indeed, not even a majority. Many of the most vocal protesters were true Communist sympathizers, who thought Ho Chi Minh, not to mention Mao, was a hero. They meant it when they chanted, “Better Red Than Dead.” Some wanted to overthrow the U.S. government. Some were pacifists, who would argue that the U.S. should never have entered World War II. Quite a few were just spoiled rich kids who didn’t want to be drafted; quite a few others just liked to exercise their power to shut down a university.
All of them, however, looked like prophets and agents of sanity when the U.S. war effort was revealed as dishonest, secretive, confused and strategically flawed. As a result, their credibility was disproportionately inflated, and many of them used their influence to hamper legitimate foreign policy initiatives and national defense for decades.
It is going to happen again, except that this time it will be scientific knowledge that suffers. All those conservative talk-show hosts who have claimed that the global warming issue is a massive, world-wide conspiracy cooked up by “enviro-fascists” will be crowing that they were right. Know-Nothing critics of climate change like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who recently suggested that we shouldn’t fear global warming because God would make sure it wouldn’t happen, will be emboldened and accorded undeserved respect. Political ideologues who argued against climate change because it didn’t fit their agendas (the twins of the environmentalists and others who accepted climate change as “settled” because it advanced their agendas) will feel vindicated. True, there will be some pleasure in watching the likes of Gore, Pelosi, Reid, Paul Krugman, E. J. Dionne, Keith Olberman and Maureen Dowd eat their words and insults, if they have the courage and integrity to do so. (I doubt it, frankly.) But that will be a minor side benefit.
Because, you see, the world may well be warming. It may well be caused by man’s energy consumption, and not volcanoes, sun spots, or water vapor, and there may well be something we can, and should, do about it. Scientists, politicians, activists and the media, however, allowed a legitimate scientific inquiry to become driven by exaggerations, manipulation, politicization, propaganda, political expediency, and deceit.
This has undermined our trust in science. The result is richly deserved, but it is also a tragedy for the Earth, human advancement, and all of us.