Saturday, July 21, 2007

To Predict the Future, You First Must Explain the Past

A writer to our local weekly newspaper, The Independent Coast Observer, wrote that “scientists have been tracking the unnatural rise of global temperatures since the 1970s.” I replied that was news to scientists, since global temperatures cooled from 1940 to 1975, sparking the global cooling panic that preceded our panic du jour, global warming.

(Science at that time also gave us the scares of Nuclear Winter, and of The Population Bomb. Science seems to be in a mode of Apocalypse Then, Now, and Always, probably because that sort of approach to science has the greatest potential payoff. Today’s scientist doesn’t attract much attention, get lucrative grants, or sell many books if he finds: “What’s happening is natural, there’s no need for alarm, and we’ll get through it alright just as we always have.”)

The writer then noted that the poor suffer the most from climate change, which is partially true. They suffered horrendously during the Little Ice Age (AD 1350 to 1850). In addition to the cold, poor crops and widespread starvation, and the extreme weather that is more characteristic of cold than warm periods, there were pandemics made more deadly by malnutrition and cold weather.

In contrast, the Medieval Warm Period, AD 850-1350, was warmer than the present, and the poor benefited greatly from the benevolence of warming climate change.

The writer also called attention to hundreds of thousands of years of ice core samples. However, these samples actually show that warming preceded rising atmospheric carbon dioxide by hundreds of years. Further, those marvelous ice core samples also showed temperatures falling even as CO2 increased.

Continuing his blundering way, the writer noted that “’An Inconvenient Truth’ claims that 99% of scientific journals consider climate change to be caused by humans.” I riposted that an attempt to replicate that study found it replete with errors so significant as to render it worthless, except as propaganda for Al Gore.

The writer concluded with a hope that climate change is natural, and I seized this opportunity to remark that other recent writers to our paper agree with me that it is. (At this point, honesty and candor compel me to reveal that two of the recent writers I responded to don’t actually agree than this current climate change is natural or assume it will turn out benevolent, as I do. They say something that I paraphrase as: “Climate change is natural, but mankind is fouling up everything on the planet, and he is of course fouling up climate too.”)

I go on: An encouraging sign, since global warming alarmists have ignored hundreds of instances of natural climate change to predict that any climate change portends disaster for mankind.

However, alarmist climate change predictions are based on computer models that can’t even account for past weather.

We should ever be aware that: “Those who would predict the future must first be able to explain the past.”

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