One indication of a foundering movement occurs when the basic phrase used to describe it is constantly being updated as the old terms are revealed as flawed.
In today’s example, note how the “looming crisis” caused by mildly increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere used to be called “global warming,” until the warming stopped about 1998.
When that fact had penetrated the public consciousness enough to raise questions that warming enthusiasts couldn’t answer, the catchphrase became “climate change.”
Then skeptics pointed out that climate patterns never stand still. So the rush was on for something new.
The big money at present is on “climate disruption.” That’s a bit problematic, as the enthusiasts have continually told us “weather isn’t climate,” but now they have apparently decided it is, pointing to disruptive storms, melting ice and other phenomena as evidence that humanity is destroying the Earth.
For a group that claims its opponents are scientific illiterates, they themselves often seem to overlook actual evidence they might find inconvenient. So, a few scientific facts:
• We have been told that higher CO2 levels will bring about stronger and more frequent serious storms. However, the United States is undergoing a record hurricane “drought,” as noted by Roger Pielke Jr., professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.
He notes that no major hurricane (Category 3 or greater) has struck the U.S. mainland since Katrina hit New Orleans as a Category 4 in August 2005. (“Superstorm” Sandy, though it did great damage, was barely a Category 1 when it came ashore.)
As he says, “The recent report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees: ‘No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricane counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.'”
“In fact,” Pielke adds, “from 1900 through 2013, the United States experienced a decrease in hurricane landfalls of more than 20 percent, and the strength of each year’s landfalling storms has also decreased by more than 20 percent.”
• What about tornadoes? The “Tornado FAQ” page on the noaa.gov website states: “Does ‘global warming’ cause tornadoes? No. Thunderstorms do. The harder question may be, ‘How will climate change influence tornado occurrence?’ The best answer is: We don’t know. According to the National Science and Technology Council’s Scientific Assessment on Climate Change, “Trends in other extreme weather events that occur at small spatial scales – such as tornadoes, hail, lightning, and dust storms – cannot be determined at the present time due to insufficient evidence.”
And NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reports: “With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend … (But the data show) there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
• How about the recent “scientific verification” of the “collapse” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet as proof of warming? Well, it turns out that “collapse” is a geological term defined in the reported study as “two to nine centuries.” And that’s only if the most dire computer projections hold true.
Further, two University of Texas researchers just published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences saying that “Thwaites Glacier, the large, rapidly changing outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is not only being eroded by the ocean, it’s being melted from below by geothermal heat …. The findings significantly change the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable.”
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (nsidc.org), “Antarctic sea ice has set a new record for May, with extent at the highest level since measurements began in 1979. At the end of the month, it expanded to 12.9 million square kilometers, beating the previous record of 12.7 million set in 2010. This year’s figure is 10.3 percent above the 1981-2010 climatological average of 11.7 million.”
In truth, aggregate global sea ice totals are above last year’s, and accounts by explorers such as Captain Cook and others show that Antarctic sea ice was considerably less prevalent than at present from the 1770s to the 1830s – when the Earth was undergoing a “Little Ice Age” and things were considerably colder.
There’s much more to say on new federal goals, the EPA’s “War on Coal,” polar bear counts, international developments and a couple of replies I want to make to some recent critics. So we’ll return to this topic next week.
In the meantime, better bundle up. It may be a chilly summer.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: