Tag: Extreme weather

Let’s Trust The Science

The other day I rambled on a bit about a question I had – can you name an actual harm that Trump did to the nation? Not mean tweets harm, but real identifiable harm. Well I was shocked to find out that someone actually read my post, and not only that but took the time to comment (which I appreciate, good or bad). The comments pointed out that Trump took some actions to remove or modify environmental policies from the previous administration. Clearly that would cause harm, wouldn’t it?

You’d think this would be an easy answer. We have climate. We have smart people studying things. We’ve been measuring this for a long time. Simple, right? And the answer is… it depends on what data you choose to believe. Sigh.

But, but, these are scientists man. Science is always objective, right? Not when there’s billions of dollars in funding at stake. Oh come on, these are experts. They wouldn’t push science that wasn’t proven. Really? Please point me to any county, state, or country that can show any clear correlation between implementing a mask mandate and a lowering of covid case counts. We have a year and a half of clear data on this. The correlation signal should be pretty easy to spot. I’ll wait. Hint, you won’t find it. Yet the experts continue to yammer on and on about masking. We’re creating an entire generation of kids who are afraid to go outside and play without a mask on. Yet nobody can actually point to any real “science” to this other than “the experts say”.

Anyway, back to global warming. Yes, I said global warming because that’s what this was about until the “experts” decided it needed to be re-branded. It’s now called CLIMATE CHANGE. Convenient, because any weather abnormality can now be attributed to CLIMATE CHANGE. The last few years we’ve tacked on EXTREME WEATHER. Because, of course, EXTREME WEATHER is naturally caused by CLIMATE CHANGE. It’s just science, man.

This is such an enormous topic, it’s virtually impossible to boil it down to easy, bullet point, talking points from any side of the argument. Have we experienced global warming? Yes. Somewhere between 0.3 and 0.7 degrees centigrade in the last century. The global warming hypothesis that started in the late 80’s is that there will be about a 1 degree increase in temperature for each doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. The kicker that Al Gore capitalized on is that the claim that greenhouse gases would cause a positive feedback loop, adding another 2-4 degrees of warming and eventually causing a tipping point that was unrecoverable. Throw in a scary hockey stick graph, some images of polar bears stranded on melting ice flows, and voila – we have a crisis!

The challenge with any hypothesis is that your findings have to be independently reproduced to have any credibility. Mann’s hockey stick graph used cherry picked data and code that turned any inputs into a hockey stick. The projections the IPCC uses year after year to predict gloom and doom are based upon models that have been laughably wrong. Not just by a little bit but by massive amounts. And wrong year, after year, after year.

But, but, what about the wildfires every summer? And the hurricanes? And the melting ice caps? And increased numbers of hot days? And rising sea levels? And polar vortexes? OH MY GOD, THERE’S EXTREME WEATHER EVERYWHERE!!

Burn acreage is down massively. Hurricane frequency is way down. Artic ice reached above normal levels this year. The number of hot summer days is actually down. Sea level isn’t rising. And on, and on, and on. Can you find a particular data point and extrapolate from that some causation? Sure. But when you take multi-decadal trends (which is what climate is), any changes seen are mostly… meh.

Unfortunately people cherry pick and alter the data. What? Yes, the temperature data is altered. Half the US weather stations are “zombie” stations – they don’t actually exist anymore. Their data is computer generated from a model/algorithm. Weather stations that 40 years ago were in a field are now surrounded by asphalt parking lots and building exhaust vents, a.k.a the urban heat island effect. Most scary graphs start from the 1960’s/70’s. Why? It was a very cold period – remember they were predicting in the 70’s we were heading into a new ice age. It’s not convenient to start your data points earlier than that due to the extreme global heat of the 1930’s (the dustbowl).

It goes on and on. Our data collection is a mess. And unfortunately scientists actually do lie. Remember climategate? Emails showed they were conspiring to find a way to “hide the pause”. We’d had a 17 year pause in any signs of warming at that point. A very inconvenient truth. So yes, count me as a skeptical when it comes to experts making any extreme global warming claims.

And the cherry on the cake is the UN/IPCC climate treaties. The US was correct to pull out. They achieve nothing except massive wealth transfer from the US to other countries, while not actually requiring other countries (CHINA) to do anything. China is building out coal fired plants as fast as they can go, meanwhile the US and Europe doom themselves to voluntary CO2 restrictions that cripple our energy production. Here’s a perfect example of looking at the data – we had a near complete shutdown of the world a year ago. A more extreme version than any UN agreement could have hoped for. And what happened? Atmospheric CO2 didn’t budge in the slightest. Zero change. So tell me again how any UN agreement (costing gazillions of dollars) is going to “fix” global warming when a global shutdown didn’t make any impact?

The global climate is ungodly complex. Solar impacts, ocean currents, equatorial winds, and yes even manmade issues… there are so many factors impacting the climate. We’re still in the infancy of understanding the impact of things like solar cycles and ocean currents. I think it’s foolish to think we can point to just one possible cause with all its associated faulty data, politics, and agendas and say conclusively – ah ha, that’s the issue.

So, did Trump cause harm by pulling out of the Paris Agreement? Since none of the previous four UN climate summits achieved anything… I’d argue it made zero climate impact. The effect of substituting Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy rule will depend upon which side of the global warming/greenhouse gas side of the coin you’re on. If you think, like the green new deal zealots that the world will end in 12 years if we don’t do something NOW!… then yes it caused harm.

My position is that when you strip away all the politics, media hype, and academics jockeying for the next round of funding – we honestly don’t really know. Lots of hypothesis, very little reproducible findings that conclusively prove correlation/causation. And with the frightening rise in fuel and energy costs (and the associated rise in the costs of all goods) happening right now, I’m going to be a skeptic when it comes to making changes that will make things economically worse for the planet.

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006 and claimed we only had 10 years left before we reached the point of no return. And 15 years later… the polar bears are thriving. The west coast isn’t under water. We’re not wearing shorts in the arctic. I’m pretty sure we don’t need to panic. My prediction? At the current rate of change it will take about 100 years before we’ll see a clear enough signal in the data to show if we’re really warming or not vs one or two year abnormalities. Climate is measured in decade and century time scales. And in a century from now, I’m reasonably confident we’ll have alternative energy sources we currently haven’t thought of. Our technological advance is going to happen independent of global warming fears. It’s our human nature.

The entire point of science is to question. Question the data. Question the findings. Question the methods. Question the motivations. Question, question, question. And when you run out of questions and can’t find fault with the results, you’ve arrived at a solid scientific theory. With climate, we’re still at the very beginning. Questioning isn’t denial, it’s what we’re supposed to do.

Back off, man, I’m a scientist.

 Dr. Peter Venkman