- Take the IPCC SREX report
- Find any mention of unusual weather
- Remove all words, adjectives, adverbs that indicate uncertainty
- Change all verbs from future to present (or near-past) tense
- Claim that the resulting mangled mess is “science” and that it is on your side
- Scour the planet in the hope somebody, somewhere has had their life ruined by an atmospheric event – collect dramatic pictures about it
- Go out on 5/5/12 and shout antiscientific fakehoods to save the planet
There may be a very good reason for some Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponents’ censorial, bullying attitude focused on belittling and silencing all sorts of skeptical (and non-skeptical) voices, with disingenuous remarks about the debate being “over”.
It is the same reason that forces some teenage idiots to push younger children around. Simply put, it’s a matter of insecurity.
To this day, AGWers have nothing to show. One doesn’t need to be financed by Exxon or a hardened neocon: just a good dose of honesty with oneself is enough to understand that, in the words of Andrew C. Revkin of The New York Times, “the dangerous aspects of human-forced climate disruption [are not] soon, salient [or] certain“.
The fabled IPCC reports thread tentatively on the matter of present evidence of global warming, with the AR4 dedicating to it just a single chapter, mostly focused on listing changes that are “compatible” with global warming. The temperature readings are still in ranges that can be easily reverted by relatively modest volcanic eruptions, and everybody admits that even decadal trends do depend on what reference values are used.
There is no modeller predicting disasters at the current level of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere (385ppmv), as shown by the fact that negotiations aim to fix an upper limit of 450ppmv (17% higher) with the underlying aim to avoid 550pmv (43% higher).
Climate Change / Global Warming Attribution (attribution of changes and/or warming to human activities, that is) is still up in the air (there is a whole session “Detection and Attribution: State of Play in 2009“, at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Science in Copenhagen, March 10-12 2009) . Even RealClimate cannot fail to express doubts on much-publicized recent attribution papers.
Anthropogenic Global Warming / Climate Change per se are _not_ self-evident facts of the moment. Whoever claims otherwise, they are perpetuating the Big Lie of AGW.
Theirs is not Science, but a falsification of it.
The debate that should be going on at the moment, and the point around which decisions should be made, is on the possibility that for some reason, we today are seeding the seeds of AGW in the future.
But that issue is very much cloudied by hysterical, anti-scientific reports and claims about present-day AGW. And that risks to impede the discovery and implementation of proper responses to the AGW threat, rather than patched-up farces such as the Kyoto Protocol.
Tough love indeed some environmentalists have for the environment. A few more cries purportedly to defend it, and they may as well kill it themselves altogether.
If the Gods of Olympus subscribed to the New York Review of Books, they would surely be laughing hard after reading the unwitting ironies peppering Bill McKibben’s “Green Fantasia” review of Thomas L Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America”.
One wonders if Mr. McKibben will find a way to display less hubris, and more wisdom next time around.
I will focus here on what I see as the two most glaring examples: first of all, about Katrina, the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans and, in the words of Mr McKibben, “woke Friedman from his nap”.
At that point, Mr McKibben (who should have known better) implicity concedes Mr Friedman’s point: making a direct connection between Katrina, and human-induced Climate Change.
[Friedman:] “Have we introduced so much CO2 into nature’s operating system that we no longer know where nature stops and we start in shaping today’s weather”. [McKibben:] Well, indeed we have.
But no serious scientist will confirm that Katrina was caused by (anthropogenic) Climate Change. Within the IPCC itself, the question of “attribution” (how to identify the “signature” of Climate Change in the weather of today, rather than the climate in 15 or 20 years’ time) is still open, and no doubt we will hear more about it in the months leading to the December 2009 Copenhagen Conference.
After all, Katrina was a relatively average Category-3 hurricane when it struck the New Orleans area. And even if 2005 saw a record hurricane season, neither that nor the “duds” of 2006 and 2007 can be used as evidence for or against Climate Change.
In truth, Mr McKibben should have forcefully corrected Mr Friedman on Katrina, as it is extremely unwise to try to solve Climate Change, that he defines as the “most severe of our challenges”, starting from incorrect premises. In fact, by propagating the idea that New Orleans was destroyed by Climate Change, Mr McKibben and Mr Friedman help the real culprits “off the hook”, including the extreme lack of organization in the rescue efforts, of which FEMA’s now-legendary incompetence will forever be indicated as the most damning example.
Another point where Mr McKibben will surely regret his words, concerns “the largest story of the year, and indeed the dominant new trendline of our time”. Dire financial straits for the majority of the world’s economies, perhaps? No: “the sharply rising cost of oil”.
Evidently, Mr McKibben submitted the article long before Lehman Brothers went bust alongside the country of Iceland, before it became normal to hear of hundreds of billions of dollars being handled out to avoid a Depression-Mark II; and before the “cost of oil” sharply stumbled back to below $60 a barrel. No fault there.
The real irony is that Mr McKibben comments that Mr Friedman’s book is “out of date even before it’s published”: that is, exactly what McKibben’s article is. Images of motes and beams spring to mind…also, is it true that “we’re [possibly] starting to run out [of oil]”? Well, yes, it is possible. But as the precipituous fall in oil prices has shown, that was not the reason for barrels to be traded at more than $140 just a few weeks ago.
A final consideration on Mr McKibben’s polemic against Mr Friedman’s “optimism”, “the great imperative of the conventional wisdom”: the alternative to which is alas left unexplored.
Is Bill McKibben advocating “pessimism” by any chance? And what kind of pessimism, one asks? Obviously (or not?) McKibben is not the type to elicit apathy and desperation by advocating a frame of mind where everything we do is useless, because too little, and too late. Therefore: if “Global Warming, above all, should give one pause” (emphasis in the original), what is the next action (if there is any) after that pause has finished?
And by the way…the reason for Mr Friedman’s optimism can be found with a simple search in The New York Times archives, in the May 11, 2008 “Mother’s Day” column:
“But every time life knocked [my mother] down, she got up, dusted herself off and kept on marching forward, motivated by the saying that pessimists are usually right, optimists are usually wrong, but most great changes were made by optimists”
And so to you Bill McKibben…what would you rather be? “Usually right”, or able to “[make] great changes”?