Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Understanding Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change

The National Center for Policy Analysis has issued a report which takes into account many, if not all, of the sources of scientific information available today on the subject of climate and warming, called Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts. No reader of this page will be surprised by its findings. From the executive summary:
The Earth's climate began a warming trend after the "Little Ice Age" ended in the mid-1800s, long before global industrial development led to substantial increases in greenhouse gases beginning in the middle of the 20th century. About half of the warming during the 20th century occurred prior to the 1940s, and natural variability accounts for all or nearly all of the warming.

To assess future climate trends, climatologists rely upon General Circulation Models (GCMs) that attempt to describe Earth's climate. The many climate models in use vary widely with respect to the variables they include and in the assumptions they make about how those variables interact. Yet some official reports, including the U.S. National Assessment published in 2000, report only the most extreme predictions, ignoring others that project only moderate warming in the 21st century.

Global warming alarmists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, the evidence does not support their claims. In recent months, for instance:

* The unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change — but experts say recent, more powerful storms are part of a natural cycle, and greater hurricane damage in North America is due to increased coastal populations and development rather than more severe storms.
* Similar claims have been made about other weather phenomena in North America ; but, in fact, there is no evidence of an increase in the frequency or severity of floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms or other severe weather events.

Some have attempted to link the present warming trend to secondary effects, such as species extinction. However, the relationship between species extinction and climate change is even more tenuous. For example:

* Recent claims that polar bear populations are threatened by global warming ignore the fact that only two polar bear populations are declining, others are increasing in numbers and the majority have stable populations.
* Recent claims that coral reefs are "bleaching" (losing color and dying off) due to warming oceans ignore the evidence that bleaching appears to be a healthy response in which corals expel one symbiotic species of algae for a better-adapted species that allows corals to thrive in warmer waters.

It has also been claimed that low-lying coastal areas are endangered due to rises in sea level as the Arctic pack ice, glaciers and the mile-thick Greenland Ice Sheet melt in a warming climate. However, the evidence does not show this is occurring:

* The fact that parts of the Arctic Ocean are ice-free in the summer is said to be evidence that sea ice and the pack ice along the Arctic coast are disappearing; but changing wind patterns pushing the ice around, not rising temperatures, are responsible for navigable Arctic waters.
* In Alaska, home to many glaciers, several decades of increasingly colder temperatures in the middle of the 20th century preceded a more recent return to the average temperatures of the early 20th century.
* Temperatures at the peak of the Greenland Ice Sheet show it is actually growing colder.
* Sea levels have been rising — in fact, they have been rising since the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago — but there is no evidence of an accelerating trend.
The report makes interesting reading. If you are getting involved in arguments with mindless Algore followers who are being whipped up into a frenzy by the publicity campaign over the impending release of his "new" magnum opus,the rest of the report has plenty of ammunition for refutation. Read the whole thing.

By the way, if you are driven to wonder why liberals take doom and gloom scenarios so seriously, from global warming to the progress of the war, take some time to read Dennis Prager's new piece titled Harry Reid & The End of Liberal Thought. A sample:
Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality.

One-word put-downs of opponents' ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal. Though liberals regard themselves as intellectual -- their views, after all, are those of nearly all university professors -- liberal thought has almost died. Instead of feeling the need to thoughtfully consider an idea, most liberal minds today work on automatic. One-word reactions to most issues are the liberal norm.

This is easy to demonstrate.

Here is a list of terms liberals apply to virtually every idea or action with which they differ:


And here is the list of one-word descriptions of what liberals are for:

The poor
The disenfranchised
The environment

These two lists serve contemporary liberals in at least three ways.

First, they attack the motives of non-liberals and thereby morally dismiss the non-liberal person.

Second, these words make it easy to be a liberal -- essentially all one needs to do is to memorize this brief list and apply the right term to any idea or policy. That is one reason young people are more likely to be liberal -- they have not had the time or inclination to think issues through, but they know they oppose racism, imperialism and bigotry, and that they are for peace, tolerance and the environment.

Third, they make the liberal feel good about himself -- by opposing conservative ideas and policies, he is automatically opposing racism, bigotry, imperialism, etc.
Priceless, and right on target. Zero Base Thinkers know that liberals feel their politics, rather than thinking things through (or doing the math) but Prager gets the formula just about right. Read the rest.

Sorry for the short post and the overreliance on blockquotes, but I am just getting back into the swing after a long period of sub-optimal functioning. Hopefully all will be fine real soon.

Update: With the public launch of the Euston Manifesto today, it appears that there might just be some hope for the Left. Norm Geras, a longtime friend of Zero Base Thinking, is at the heart of the Euston Manifesto. It is a document that attempts to explain, and perhaps convince, the position of the left on the war, and, while most Zero Base Thinkers are political conservatives, we have always welcomed lefties who bothered to actually think things through. I am preparing a post on this (hopefully) important document, but I can already say, at this time, that I wish it, and Norm, well.