Sunday, April 2, 2006

"How can it be hot out? It was just cold."

George Will, always the voice of rationality, does a good job in summarizing the Eissturm und Drang of a few decades past:

"While worrying about Montana's receding glaciers, [Governor] Schweitzer, who is 50, should also worry about the fact that when he was 20 he was told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling. Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Science Digest (February 1973) reported that "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age." The Christian Science Monitor ("Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect," Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers "have begun to advance," "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter" and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975) that meteorologists "are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said "may mark the return to another ice age." The Times (May 21, 1975) also said "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" now that it is "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate 'has been getting cooler since about 1950.'"

In an unrelated story - as far as we can see - controversy still rages as to whether it was Henny Penny, or Chicken Little, who first sounded the alarum that the sky is falling. Preliminary accounts are conflicting, and testimony vague, but it is clear that some meteorological phenomenon, regarding the relative position and friability of the sky, has been observed. Earlier reports, that the sky was actually becoming more solid and moving farther away, have been discarded as no longer in vogue.

Meanwhile, journalists feel comfortable in continuing to maintain that they are certain the sky is falling, and that those crackpots who assert otherwise are part of a conspiracy, or some religious cult. They will continue to promote the public welfare as they see it, while earning a nice living.



paul asjes said...


Brent said...

I spend money on my passions and fears. Fear sells. Ahg, this speaks of conspiracy. I'll try again. Sigmund was wrong. There is no blank slate. We all bring our previous expriences and beliefs into the equation. If I being a noble scientist or journalist in search of truth, have a predisposition of fear what might my conclusions be? To me the sad thing is that they in their pseudo-intellectualizm are blind to their own bias and adolescent in their reasoning. (I know, I know, "blind..." and "adolescent..." are synonymous.)

Jack H said...

Greetings B. Of course you're right. Thing of it is, we're right almost by luck. And I'm sure there are plenty of things we're wrong about. Hopefully, inconsequential things. Having a wrong idea about the weather is no big deal – “It’s gonna rain!” “No it isn’t!” “Yes it is!” But the policies governments make because of wrong ideas about the weather … well that’s important. So it seems it’s good to be right about the weather. You know the old Mark Twain joke: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Alas, the libs think they need to do something about it.

When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it was heard thousands of miles away, The shock wave circled the planet seven times. Ash fell four thousand miles away and the sun turned blue, and green - sunsets were red into the next century. Tidal waves beached blocks of coral weighing 700 tons. It lowered the planet’s temperature 3 degrees for a year, and changed the weather for a decade. Yet the planet recovered. It’s called homeostasis, that balancing capacity that a complex system has to maintain itself. Not Gaia, not intelligence – a system. So, it’s not really a “why worry” thing, but it is an idea to have some balance about. Other eruptions blast gas rather than ash into the atmosphere – this raised the temperature, a bit, for a while. Yet we survive. Sometimes crops are good, sometimes bad. We prepare for such occasions, we don’t fret over them.

I am of an age to remember the oil embargo of ’73, and the gas lines of ’79 – these were formative experience to me, and I have a pretty strong disgust for the irresponsibility of Americans and their SUVs. Not that they’re immoral – SUVs are just stupid, if not really needed. Their inefficiency creates a high demand for gas, which raises the price, which drains the economy and enriches foreign powers. None of these things are good. So, by coincidence, like a stopped clock being right twice a day, the libs are right, about efficiency. Unfortunately, they are right from a false premise: saving the planet is their religion. I took a look at your blog, and see that you and I have another religion.

Beyond that, I think the error of these journalists is a lack of humility – a trait not unique to them, of course. It’s not about self-doubt, it’s about checking not just the facts, but the premise behind the facts. Yes, some glaciers are melting. Yes, some surface temp readings are higher. But other glaciers are advancing, and the atmospheric, rather than surface, temp is not raising, as it must if “global warming” is due to “greenhouse gases”. The facts, as far as they’ve checked them, are correct. But they haven’t looked at all the data, and they haven’t accounted for the glaring anomalies. I’ve spend considerable time researching catastrophism, and I feel comfortable suggesting that not everything that’s believed about the world, is accurate. Humility is a form of courage, and courage is a rare virtue. Maybe all virtues are rare.

Ah well, I do go on.