2008 has been a very frustrating year for everyone, but probably more so for disciples of man-made
global warming climate change theories. In fact, Christopher Booker, writing for The Telegraph, went so far as to declare: 2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved.
"Disproved" is a pretty significant claim, but even if you disagree with Booker's level of certainty you must confess that man-made climate change theories have taken a lot of lumps as of late:
- Suddenly it's not "global warming" any more. Nor do we see the term "greenhouse effect" used very often these days. Even "greenhouse gas" has been replaced by the much less specific "CO2 emissions." All of it has been tucked under the generic umbrella of "climate change."
- The infamous Bradley-Hughes-Mann "hockey stick" graph, originally based on data collected from the observation of tree rings and which purports to show that global temperatures remained steady for 2000 years before rising significantly during the 20th century, has been extensively studied and found to be massively deficient. You will recall that the "hockey stick" is the fundamental piece of scientific research supporting most of the claims in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
- Dr. James Hansen, who by all indications will be President-Elect Obama's new "climate czar," has also come under fire. Hansen is Director of NASA's presumably non-partisan Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), yet to say that Hansen has been a political agitator would be an understatement. In 2006 he accused NASA, under the influence of the Bush Administration, of deliberately censoring him and trying to stifle public debate on climate change. And in June of this year, he urged criminal trials for the executives of energy companies, claiming that they were "actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer."
But Hansen has been publicly shamed twice in the last two years. First, his widely-repeated claim that 1998 was the hottest year of the 20th century was debunked by the painstaking research of mineralogist and mathematician Stephen McIntyre. (Incidentally, McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published the first extensive criticism of the "hockey stick" graph.) Then in November 2008 Hansen made the astonishing announcement that October 2008 was the warmest month ever measured. This claim was immediately shot down after investigators discovered that much of Hansen's data from Russia and elsewhere were not real measurement data at all, but estimates derived from carrying over previous month's temperatures.
- Al Gore is now his own worst enemy. If you scheduled an Al Gore visit in 2008, it was almost a sure bet that your city would also be visited by unusually cold weather. Gore visited Toronto three times during 2008, and Toronto ended up with its heaviest annual snowfall since 1883. This "proves" nothing, of course, but it is genuinely snort-worthy.
- Every single doom and gloom environmental prediction for 2008 (melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, numerous catastrophic hurricanes and typhoons) utterly failed to materialize. In fact 2008 may prove to be the coolest year of the past decade. On the other hand, the sun has virtually ceased its normally robust sunspot activity. This has caused a number of scientists to postulate that fluctuations in the earth's climate and sunspot activity may be closely linked.
- 2008 was also the year that man-made climate change skeptics began to form strong organizations and issue strong statements, such as the Global Warming Petition Project, which has been signed by 31,000 individuals with university degrees in science including 9,000 PhD's. And The Heartland Institute is now forcefully fighting back against climate change hysteria. It features an impressive roster of contributors including Fred Singer, Steven Milloy, and Roy Spencer.
So where does all of this leave us? The case for man-made global warming/climate change has always rested on shaky ground. But in order to preserve their plans for massive fossil fuel taxes and the expensive dismantling of our current energy infrastructure, environmental extremists have turned climate change into a religion, proclaiming that "debate is over," branding anyone who disagrees with them a "denier" (thus invoking Holocaust imagery) and declaring that time is running out and that we must do something now! When that fails to work, there's always the modern academic Inquisition -- ask Bjorn Lomborg for details. And if public inquisition and castigation fails, there is an ultimate solution: threatening uncooperative scientists with the loss of university tenure and precious government research contracts.
Over at his Urgent Agenda blog, William Katz recently referenced President Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Speech. Liberals love this speech, because it contained explicit warnings about the "military-industrial complex," which has become one of the great catch-phrases of modern anti-war dogma. But Eisenhower, a far more brilliant man than he has been given credit for by the Left, also had this to say:
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government ... Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.
With the Democrats and their prophet of doom James Hansen at the helm of our government, bolstered by the anti-capitalist sentiments deeply rooted within our press, I fear that we are headed directly toward that ultimate solution. But our understanding of the Earth's climate is still far too primitive for anyone to declare that climate debates are "over." Now is the time for us to resist political and financial threats and demand to keep the climate debate open and vigorous. After all, we have 2008 on our side. How much does the other side have left?