Global Cooling is a Hoax

I had a post in draft for a long time about how “they used to call it Global Cooling”. My post would have explained that in my opinion, just because scientists currently have a different opinion than the one they had over 30 years ago about how all the gasses and particles that we’re spewing into our atmosphere are affecting our climate, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to them now. If scientists once felt that pollution would more likely block out the sun like a beach umbrella than trap the heat like a greenhouse, they were still a lot smarter than anyone who felt that pollution would have no effect at all.

But apparently, that point is moot because the whole idea that scientists once warned us about pollution causing the next ice age is a myth that deniers have perpetuated to discredit science.

As DarkSyde points out in the the article that I linked to above, those of us who remember the 70’s remember alarming articles about a coming ice age, so it’s easy for deniers to use those memories to perpetuate the lie that scientists have reversed their opinion. But the truth is, while some scientists did indeed worry about the chilling effects of “man-made dust” which may have actually contributed to colder weather in the late 70’s, there was never a scientific consensus about what would be the aggregate effect of all the different kinds of poison that we’re pumping into our atmosphere. As reported in a March 1976 article by Richard Wolkomir in the Saturday Evening Post:

Meteorologists worry that man-made dust in the atmosphere— which has doubled in the past fifty years, according to some studies—will block some of the sun’s radiation from reaching the earth, chilling the climate. Conversely, other scientists have predicted that carbon dioxide, pumped into the atmosphere in massive quantities by civilization’s fires and engines, might have a greenhouse effect: it would allow the sun’s energy to penetrate the atmosphere, but would block the resulting heat firom radiating back into space, so that the earth would steadily heat up.

Emphasis mine

There’s another article on Daily Kos, also by DarkSyde, titled “Huckabee falls for the global cooling myth”. But I have to admit that I fell for it too.

The truth is, while some scientists expressed concern about the cooling effects of man-made pollution, and some magazines and newspapers ran alarmist articles about the possibility of an upcoming ice age, scientists never came to the conclusion that if we didn’t do something quickly, “we’d be popsicles”.

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Photo:Rebekah Goldberg

Once again, the right has lied to us and the so-called “liberal media” has done little to set the record straight.

Still with the Cold Weather Jokes

As a ship capsizes, one stubborn crew member in the engine room may yell at his shipmates, “We’re not going down, you idiots! We’re going up!”.

Fully capsized ship (only hull showing).

Photo: U.S. Navy

Cold storms don’t disprove global warming any more then a rising engine room disproves the overall direction of a sinking ship. But Ted Cruz has been joking because it’s cold, and he’s not alone. Even one of my professors snorted, “Global Warming” as we discussed the possibility of yet another snow day in Norfolk.

For a while, it seemed like “Climate Change” would be a better term to help confused deniers who don’t read past the headlines understand that “Global Warming” doesn’t mean everybody’s going to be warmer today then they were a year ago. But the deniers jumped all over that phrase as if it came to being because embarrassed global warming believers were befuddled that winter had arrived once again.

The latest denier talking point is the flat average global temperature over the past fifteen to seventeen years. It’s a much better talking point than, “It’s snowing, dumbass “, but ignores the periods of steady or declining temperatures that have happened several times in the past, even though the trend continues to be upward. Climatologists never said the rise would be steady.

Chart:Nasa Earth Observatory

I’ll admit that some of the denier information is worth looking at. If you don’t even know that the average temperatures haven’t risen significantly in over a decade, then you’re just as ignorant of opposing views as they are. But from what I can tell, most of the denier arguments are based on misrepresentations of climate theories and jokes about the snow.

“Renewables are able to meet our energy demands”

Me, in response to More important than Fukushima:

… The alternatives are either heavy polluters or new technology which hasn’t proven capable of meeting our demands. There’s only one real solution: we have to use less energy …

Paxus, in response to me:

…In the last 5 years there has been 230K MW of wind and solar power installed world wide this is about the equivalent of 230 full sized reactors … Renewables are able to meet our energy demands AND it would be a huge help if we were able to consume less …

I’m a little skeptical, and quite a bit worried about the future, but Paxus is more of an optimist, and he has done a whole lot more research on this than I have.

Did a proposed budget cause a real environmental disaster?

Balloon Juice recently derided HotAir for an article who’s headline asks “Did the government cause the Gulf oil spill?”. But since the Coast Guard is investigating itself for its response to the Deepwater Horizon fire, HotAir is simply repeating questions that the Coast Guard is asking itself.

On the other hand, HotAir is trying to link this with budget cuts from the Obama administration, and that is the kind of dishonesty that Balloon Juice should have been concentrating on. The troubles that the Coast Guard is currently experiencing have nothing to do with Obama. In fact, the the Coast Guard has more money in fy 2010 than they did in fy 2009. HotAir quotes the Washington Examiner which, in turn, incorrectly paraphrases The Foundry. The Foundry says: “The President’s proposed budget threatens to cut the Coast Guard’s blue water fleet by a full one-third, slash 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several aircraft, including helicopters.” the Washington Examiner says: “Obama’s spending plan reduced the blue water fleet by a full one-third, slashed 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several aircraft, including helicopters.” The difference is that the Examiner’s use of the word “reduced” suggests that these cuts, which have not been enacted, are a factor in the oil leak. But both of the quotes are referring to the FY2011 budget. The only bit of truth in the latter quote is that the Coast Guard has drawn down personnel in anticipation of the 2011 budget. But the Coast Guard was actually over-billeted in 2010, and had to reduce personnel just to comply with current FY funding.

The Coast Guard’s troubles are due to an aging cutter fleet and an modernization program which is way off schedule and over budget. The program, called “Deepwater” (not related to “Deepwater Horizon”), is an example of what happens when Government backs away and gives private companies too much control over vital programs. It In 2002, following the philosophy that Government is evil, incompetent, and can’t do anything right, the Coast Guard hired a joint group of defense contractors to plan and provide a massive recapitalization of its fleet. This effort included pretty posters of all the cool new ships and aircraft that Deepwater would provide. I knew someone who had one of these posters by his desk, and as various aspects of the program began to fail, he took to drawing big black X’s over the affected aircraft or cutter. The cutters that are supposedly under the axe due to Obama’s budget cuts are over 40 years old and were due to be replaced by the Deepwater program. But because of the problems with Deepwater, the Coast Guard will have to squeeze out a little more life from these old ships. Most people believe that the Coast Guard’s budget, when actually signed by the President, will include adequate funding to support the realities that the Coast Guard is currently facing. In fact, the Democratically controlled House and Senate have each passed budget bills with higher funding.

We’ll see what the Coast Guard’s budget ultimately will be, and we’ll also see if the Coast Guard actually contributed to the the gulf disaster. Either way, the 2011 budget proposal did not cause the 2010 disaster.

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

Melina tweeted a couple of times this week about Blog Action Day, but the thought got lodged in the back of my head somewhere and didn’t come forward until I noticed hers and Tina’s blog posts.

So I’m completely unprepared, and I considered posting nothing but a link to Google’s search results for “percentage of scientists who believe in global warming”. Because that should be enough, shouldn’t it?

The Global Warming issue is very frustrating. The people who are calling it a myth have all different reasons. Some say it’s not really happening but others say it’s perfectly natural. Some say it’s caused by geothermal forces from under the ocean while others point to melting ice on Mars as proof that it’s not our fault. And every time it snows an army of idiots wakes up and rehearses the same global warming jokes they told the last time it snowed. Even if the deniers outnumbered the believers, they would still just be factions of differing opinions, joined solely by unwillingness to take action.

While the deniers and believers point to each other and say “Idiot”, one interesting fact remains. There are some very intelligent people on both sides. Apparently, denying the reality of man-made global warming doesn’t prove that you’re an idiot (Don’t get confused: Basing that denial on a recent cold snap does).

So if you’re a denier, and base your denial on the research of respectable scientists, I’ll try real hard to hold off on calling you an idiot. The majority of scientists are believers, but you can cobble together an impressive list of scientists who aren’t.

You should still support global warming legislation. Mainly, because I have more scientists than you do, but also because even if you had the majority, and all I had was close to half, I’d still have an impressive number of them warning of an impending global disaster that must be averted by taking serious steps to reduce carbon emissions. What if I was pointing a revolver at you and you knew I only had two bullets. Wouldn’t you take action to keep me from pulling the trigger?

Maybe someday you’ll make an derisive comment about me and I’ll sheepishly smile and admit that I was one of those dopes who believed in the global warming crisis, just like I’ll admit today that I had water stored up in buckets ten years ago. I’ve made some bad decisions based on “expert” opinions. But even though the experts are sometimes wrong, you’ll more often than not do better if you follow the advice of the expert majority rather than follow the advice of those who are saying what you want to hear. The numbers are on my side.

Let’s give the majority of climatologists the benefit of the doubt.