Monday, January 11, 2010

Is the Current Freeze a Sign of Global Cooling -- or What?

1. The NYT published a short article yesterday (Jan 9, 2010) answering that question. Their answer: Nothing to do with global warming, or global cooling -- just an occasional recurring twisting of the jet stream that brings extra cold weather down from Canada. Meanwhile, the North Pole is warmer than usual (as a result).

2. That is the ONLY article answering this obvious question that I've seen anywhere -- and the first and only time I've seen the MSM talk about the issue ever. When it's really cold, they ignore the question.

3. The real problem is: When it's really hot, the warming enthusiasts immediately jump on the bandwagen and talk about how this is proof positive of global warming.

Last year was unusually warm, and that's all they talked about. The past decade was the warmest in a while, and that's all they talked about. This winter is the coldest in 50 years and -- complete silence.

Wouldn't want those antiwarming nuts to have something to latch onto, would we?

4. Weather is not relevant to the arguments over global warming. It's climate, which is the longrange (decades and centuries) overall weather. One hot winter or one cold winter is proof of nothing - the timeframe is too short.

There appears to be some evidence - not overwhelming and not perfectly persuasive - that we are entering a warming period in the climate. This would not be a shock; we had a cold period in the 900s or so, a warming period in the 1100-1300s or so (when the Vikings planted crops in Vineland), another cold period in the 1400-1500s (when the Vikings died or left Vineland because it was too cold), a warm period in the 1600s, a cold period at the end of the 1700s (when Washington crossed the Delaware popularly shown as ice-choked, though it hasn't often been ice-choked at Trenton in a long time in modern times), then a warm period since then. It is entirely possible we are entering a warm climate period that could last 50 or 100 or 150 years.

5. A separate question, though you'd never know it, is to what degree human activity contributes to whatever warming might be going on -- indeed, whether human activity is stimulating a warming period that would not otherwise be happening. This latter question is unanswerable, the former question involves issues so unbelievably complex that it may never be resolved or resolvable. (Back in the 1970s when I was researching future auto fuels for Southern California Edison, one scientist argued that climate is a topic so complex that we may never be able to fully analyze it or predict it.)

Those who are enthuse about the idea of human-generated climate change fall into several camps. Those who would use it as a club to beat whatever hobbyhorse they are on: anticapitalists, antimodernists, big-government enthusiasts, self-righteous assholes, and the like. And, separately, those who hope it's human-created because, if it is, maybe we can stop whatever we're doing and avoid disaster -- whereas if it's inevitable climate change, we're all screwed.

6. If we don't simply accept that it's human-caused change that could be significantly stalled if we took practical steps to reduce our impact on the climate -- whether because we think that's idiotic, or because we don't believe the changes required would leave society in a condition we'd either recognize or accept -- then we are left with only two options that I can think of at the moment: Hope the climate isn't changing; or think of what we can do to reduce whatever negative impacts might occur if it does come through. (This latter is an option even if we believe the climate is human-changed but we don't want to be reduced to living in caves to stop it.)

Of course, the steps we can take to minimize negative impacts of climate change -- such as protecting coastlines against flooding, and adjusting agriculture to weather changes -- can also lead statists to enthuse over yet more ways the government can boss us around, or send money to other countries, and the rest of their favorite ideas for ruining our lives. I see in the recent climate international meeting that suggestion was actually made: How the rich countries will have to pay big bucks to poor nations being affected by changing weather, and to small island nations that will be flooded. These demands will grow in the near term; be prepared for them.

mac mccarthy

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