05 November 2006

Climate Catastrophe Bandwagon: Morons Get Free Admission

The Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) bandwagon is shifting into overdrive. Powered largely by speculative models often based upon poor methodology, this bandwagon is expansible enough to carry as many mental conformists and followers as wish to board. More intelligent people are having second thoughts.

In 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist, told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch). The UN set up a transnational bureaucracy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UK taxpayer unwittingly meets the entire cost of its scientific team, which, in 2001, produced the Third Assessment Report, a Bible-length document presenting apocalyptic conclusions well beyond previous reports.

....First, the UN implies that carbon dioxide ended the last four ice ages. It displays two 450,000-year graphs: a sawtooth curve of temperature and a sawtooth of airborne CO2 that's scaled to look similar. Usually, similar curves are superimposed for comparison. The UN didn't do that. If it had, the truth would have shown: the changes in temperature preceded the changes in CO2 levels.

Next, the UN abolished the medieval warm period (the global warming at the end of the First Millennium AD). In 1995, David Deming, a geoscientist at the University of Oklahoma, had written an article reconstructing 150 years of North American temperatures from borehole data. He later wrote: "With the publication of the article in Science, I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. One of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said: 'We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.' "

So they did. The UN's second assessment report, in 1996, showed a 1,000-year graph demonstrating that temperature in the Middle Ages was warmer than today. But the 2001 report contained a new graph showing no medieval warm period. It wrongly concluded that the 20th century was the warmest for 1,000 years.

Even the leaders in the climate change movement are being attacked by the catastrophists for not being "catastrophic" enough! Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is one of the sober climate players being condemned for his sobriety.

It seems that mere "climate change" was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be "catastrophic" to be worthy of attention.

The increasing use of this pejorative term - and its bedfellow qualifiers "chaotic", "irreversible", "rapid" - has altered the public discourse around climate change.

This discourse is now characterised by phrases such as "climate change is worse than we thought", that we are approaching "irreversible tipping in the Earth's climate", and that we are "at the point of no return".

It seems that we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics

I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric.

It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns.

Some recent examples of the catastrophists include Tony Blair, who a few weeks back warned in an open letter to EU head of states: "We have a window of only 10-15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing a catastrophic tipping point."

Today, a mass demonstration in Trafalgar Square will protest, aiming to "stop climate chaos" - the name for a coalition of environmental activists and faith-based organisations.

The BBC broadcast in May its Climate Chaos season of programmes. There is even a publicly-funded science research project called Rapid.

Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions?

....What has pushed the debate between climate change scientists and climate sceptics to now being between climate change scientists and climate alarmists?

I believe there are three factors now at work.

First, the discourse of catastrophe is a campaigning device being mobilised in the context of failing UK and Kyoto Protocol targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

The signatories to this UN protocol will not deliver on their obligations. This bursting of the campaigning bubble requires a determined reaction to raise the stakes - the language of climate catastrophe nicely fits the bill.

Hence we now have the militancy of the Stop Climate Chaos activists and the megaphone journalism of the Independent newspaper, with supporting rhetoric from the prime minister and senior government scientists.

Others suggest that the sleeping giants of the Gaian Earth system are being roused from their millennia of slumber to wreck havoc on humanity.

Second, the discourse of catastrophe is a political and rhetorical device to change the frame of reference for the emerging negotiations around what happens when the Kyoto Protocol runs out after 2012.

The Exeter conference of February 2005 on "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change" served the government's purposes of softening-up the G8 Gleneagles summit through a frenzied week of "climate change is worse than we thought" news reporting and group-think.

By stage-managing the new language of catastrophe, the conference itself became a tipping point in the way that climate change is discussed in public.

Third, the discourse of catastrophe allows some space for the retrenchment of science budgets.

It is a short step from claiming these catastrophic risks have physical reality, saliency and are imminent, to implying that one more "big push" of funding will allow science to quantify them objectively.

....The language of catastrophe is not the language of science. It will not be visible in next year's global assessment from the world authority of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

To state that climate change will be "catastrophic" hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science.

Is any amount of climate change catastrophic? Catastrophic for whom, for where, and by when? What index is being used to measure the catastrophe?

The language of fear and terror operates as an ever-weakening vehicle for effective communication or inducement for behavioural change.

It is incredibly difficult for me to hold back the profanity when discussing the way the media has allied with the alarmists to jack up the intensity of this climate circus. Schoolchildren around the world have been lassooed into believing false claims and impossible predictions. This fiasco has gone beyond the absurd to the totally farcical. It is not a question of whether the world is presently "warming."
It is more a question of looking at the larger picture more intelligently.

Hat tip Climate Audit.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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