I confess that I have a simple idea about science. I think that any scientific claim is meaningful only if it is falsifiable. If hypothesis X or theory Y is viable, each has to state what data will confirm it and, what is the same thing, what data will refute it. The Daily Caller asks the obvious question concerning Anthropogenic Global Warming:
Increased warm temperatures indicate global warming. Severe winter storms also help prove global warming, according to a recent op-ed in the New York Times. So is there any weather pattern that would disprove or call into question the existence of global warming?
I thought it obvious that one day, or one year, or even a decade of temperature records can’t confirm or refute the proposition that we are in a period of long term warming. Only long term records can speak to that. Apparently I was wrong.
“And now, what about all this [cold, snowy] weather?” [“World News Tonight,” anchor Diane] Sawyer said. “The experts on climate change say the evidence is in: 2010 is tied for the hottest year ever on record. And last year, it was the wettest one in recorded history. And those scientists say that’s why we’re reeling from the deadly weather extremes.”
So hot weather, cold weather and wet weather all confirm “climate change.” One wonders about dry weather. At least now we understand why “climate change” has replaced “global warming” as the term of choice.
The AGW ideology has always rested on the answer to several specific questions. First, are we in a period of long term warming? The answer to that is very probably yes, at least until recently. It has tapered off a bit, but there was surely a spike in the last half of the last century. Second, is human activity influencing that spike? I think that question is very hard to answer, but let’s assume it is yes. Third, can national policies and international agreements modify human activity in a way that might have a significant influence on climate change?
That is the easiest question to answer and the answer is definitely no. Neither the developed nations nor India and China are going to voluntarily restrict carbon emissions (economic growth), let alone reduce emissions/growth to 19th century levels. Here, all the data and common sense converge and there is no reasonable doubt that the proposition is refuted.
Almost all the public conversation has been confined to the first three questions, but there is a fourth. Is further global warming a bad thing for us? AGW ideology simple assumes that the answer is yes. The ideology recognizes that question only in order to answer it with nightmare scenarios.
Powerline directs our attention to a recent article in Reuters manages to raise the question while trying to bury it.
Climate change seems a factor in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, according to a study of ancient tree growth that urges greater awareness of the risks of global warming in the 21st century.
Well, that seems relevant. If global warming doomed the Romans (here we thought it was Christianity and the Germans) then surely it can doom us. Of course it seems unlikely that the industrial output of the Roman Empire really had a large carbon footprint, but let that aside.
The problem is that it warming wasn’t the problem for the Romans or for anyone else so far.
Good growth by oak and pine trees in central Europe in the past 2,500 years signaled warm and wet summers and coincided with periods of wealth among farming societies, for instance around the height of the Roman empire or in medieval times.
Periods of climate instability overlapped with political turmoil, such as during the decline of the Roman Empire, and might even have made Europeans vulnerable to the Black Death or help explain migration to America during the chill 17th century.
Warm and wet climates have been good for the Romans and for Medieval Europe and for human beings in general. So what has been bad? Reuters’s villain is “climate instability,” which almost avoids saying “cold.” That bit about the “chill 17th century,” however, gives the game away.
The terrible truth may be that civilization arose in and only because of an unusual warming period. If that is the truth, God help us, we are probably doomed in pretty short order (historically speaking). Meanwhile, warming has always been good for us and there is no reason to think that that will be different in the future. Individual persons and societies in general suffer much more from cold than from heat. If or when the global climate cycles back and the glaciers return, let us hope that human activity really can heat up the world.