The doomsday clock struck midnight this May 4th as the United Nations’ predicted point-of-no-return for action on climate change passed. The catastrophic consequences of climate change are unavoidable. There’s nothing we can do now except fill sandbags to hold back the swelling oceans.
Okay, so I don’t really believe that. Like most sane human beings, I am glad that the fourth of May has come and gone because the overwrought shrieking about the nonexistent problem of human-induced climate change has become wearisome.
Eight years ago, the much-maligned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an artifact of the UN, declared that mankind had only eight years to drastically reduce carbon emissions if it wanted to hold global temperature change to less than two degrees Celsius. Crossing the two degree threshold would, some experts said, unleash positive feedback mechanisms that would cause temperatures to careen out of control. Granted, the IPCC did not say that the world as we know it would end in May of 2015, merely that the race to save it would become hopeless if we did not take meaningful action to reduce carbon emissions.
In the meantime, we’ve increased them. China has led the way with its carbon-belching coal-fired power plants, while Japan and most European nations have failed to meet the goals they agreed to under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Just this month, atmospheric CO₂ levels hit a milestone of 400 parts per million. At this late hour, if you’re still cajoling the rest of us to live a spartan nineteenth century lifestyle for the sake of the planet, you probably hate science.
And that makes Mother Earth sad.
Dire predictions are the bread and butter of the climate alarmist community. In January of 2009, NASA scientist and climate zealot Dr. James Hansen predicted eco-doom just a little sooner. “We cannot afford to put off change any longer,” said Hansen. “We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.”
Which hasn’t happened. As an odd twist of fate, America has reduced its carbon emissions, though only as an inadvertent byproduct of economic decline and stagnation, something President Obama would rather not take credit for. Actual legislation to combat climate change appears to be way down the list of his priorities, ranking behind healthcare and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. President Obama has failed to shepherd a carbon tax plan through Congress, mostly because he hasn’t tried very hard.
James Hansen should therefore conclude that his hero has failed humanity through his inaction. Obama has not been a leader on reducing CO₂ emissions and now the window of opportunity has closed.
Yet some doubt lingers as to whether even James Hansen believes James Hansen. If he believes that it’s too late to do anything, why is he still talking? He writes prolifically for his Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions blog, as if something could be done this late in the game. He’s still lecturing all over the world. Ironically, on May 4th, the last day to act according to the IPCC, Dr. Hansen was in the south of France giving a talk on nuclear power and climate change. The greatest contribution James Hansen could possibly make toward saving the earth would be to retire from the lecture circuit.
Could it be that Dr. Hansen et al. are engaging in a tried and true sales technique? It’s called “creating a sense of urgency” and it can be found with astonishing regularity in automobile showrooms. The unctuous salesman tries to convince you that he’s really trying to get the best deal for you and then pressures you jump on this amazing limited time offer. If you take the weekend to consider such a large purchase the promotion will be over and you’ll miss out. So don’t think, just buy.
You must act now! Time is running out!
But James Hansen is no mere salesman, is he? In a manner of speaking, he is. He’s selling an idea, and one that comes with an enormous price tag. What the climate alarmists are suggesting goes beyond carpooling and recycling. They’re basically asking us to cripple our economy based on some pretty outlandish prophesies that never come to pass.
Climate alarmists are notoriously bad at making predictions. They did not, for example, anticipate global temperatures declining slightly after 1998 and then to leveling off. How embarrassing it was for their case when, year after year, temperatures remained flat despite ever increasing levels of atmospheric CO₂. In 2013, a German study found that all sixty-five computer models that the IPCC used to predict the future impact of CO₂ on climate failed to foresee a (then) fifteen year lull in warming. Then there’s the UN’s 2005 prediction that fifty million climate refugees would inundate the world by 2011, an estimate that fell short by about fifty million. After failing to come true, the prediction was swiftly purged from the UN’s website.
In science, predictions are really where the rubber meets the road. To have any value, theories must have predictive capability. For example, when a twenty kilogram cannonball is dropped from a height of one hundred meters, scientists can accurately predict its velocity just before hitting the ground (44.27 m/s) and, knowing a little about the hardness of the surface, how much force it will exert upon impact.
That’s the way science works. Or at least that’s how it worked until a group of political activists masquerading as scientists changed the rules of the game.
When predictions miss the mark over and over again, prudent science-loving people recheck their calculations and revisit their assumptions to see what went wrong. But climate dogmatists have too often declared the science settled to admit any gaps in the theory. Consequently, the theory of global warming, or climate change, or whatever we’re calling it this week, need not provide any valid predictions. It can churn out one overblown horror story after another for nearly three decades and we’re all supposed to believe that the science is sound.
At some point the question must be asked if the forecasters of apocalyptic scenarios even believe them themselves. It seems that they don’t. If James Hansen, for example, truly believes that the fate of the world was sealed in January 2013, why doesn’t he hole up in the mountains of Idaho and become a survivalist hoarder? What good are his efforts to educate the rest of us fools now? His views wreak of insincerity, even hypocrisy.
Climate change hysteria has failed to persuade the public because its predictions lack credibility. They’re so incredible, in fact, that even the people making them show little faith in their eventual vindication.