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The Global Warming threat is analogous to the Y2K threat

So sez Denis Dutton in, of all places, The New York Times:

The so-called Y2K problem, the inability of computers to read dates beyond 1999 threatened to turn Jan. 1, 2000 into a nightmare. The issue had first been noticed by programmers in the 1950s, but had been ignored. As the turn of the century loomed, though, it seemed that humankind faced a litany of horrors.


The Y2K catastrophe was promoted with increasing shrillness toward century's end: headlines proclaimed a "computer time bomb" or "a date with disaster." Vanity Fair's January 1999 article "The Y2K Nightmare" caught the sensationalist tone, claiming that "folly, greed and denial" had "muffled two decades of warnings from technology experts."


By the time midnight reached the United States, where upward of $100 billion had been spent on Y2K fixes, there was little anxiety. Indeed, the general health of American information systems, fixed and not, became clearer in the new year. The Small Business Administration calculated that 1.5 million businesses had undertaken no Y2K remediation. On Jan. 3, it received about 40 phone calls from businesses that had experienced minor faults, like cash registers that misread the year "2000" as "1900" (which seemed everywhere the single most common error caused by Y2K).


Apocalyptic scenarios are a diversion from real problems -- poverty, terrorism, broken financial systems -- needing intelligent attention. Even something as down-to-earth as the swine-flu scare has seemed at moments to be less about testing our health care system and its emergency readiness than about the fate of a diseased civilization drowning in its own fluids. We wallow in the idea that one day everything might change in, as St. Paul put it, the "twinkling of an eye" -- that a calamity might prove to be the longed-for transformation. But turning practical problems into cosmic cataclysms takes us further away from actual solutions.

This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human "folly, greed and denial." Repent and recycle!

When the New York Times is publishing a piece comparing the Y2K bug to global warming, I believe it's safe to suggest that we've turned a corner.

Al Gore, call your office.



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Comments (37)

100 years hence people will... (Below threshold)
jim m:

100 years hence people will laugh at the ignorance and marvel at the corruption of science. History will characterize Global Warming as yet another millennial end of the world hoax.

Ironically, Al Gore has probably cemented a far more prominent legacy for himself than Bill Clinton will ever have, excepting that Al will be the subject of open mockery for generations to come.

Great illustration, Rick. B... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Great illustration, Rick. Bravo!

SOUTH PARK also featured a great Al Gore episode where he attempted to create a major hysteria over a nonexistent "manbearbig" creature.

Mankind may be having some environmental impact. However, the needs of society must be balanced with nature. But Al Gore doesn't really quite see it that way, I feel.

I have long thought that th... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I have long thought that the GW hysteria is religiously motivated but I hadn't considered how the oft-ridiculed, crude warning "Turn or Burn!" is equally befitting the religious left until now. lol.

Because thousands of comput... (Below threshold)
jon spencer:

Because thousands of computer professionals spent uncounted hours working the problem there was not a y2k meltdown. Dismissing y2k is foolish.

A better analogy is the Pil... (Below threshold)

A better analogy is the Piltdown Man. In fact, Algore kinda looks like the Piltdown Man.

Yes, 1000's of computer per... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Yes, 1000's of computer personnel worked untold hours and made a lot of personal sacrifices to do a job which in retrospect many people have decided was not necessary.

Yes, there were some programs that did need to be changed, but in many cases the date issue would have created record keeping errors and not catastrophic failure.

The company I worked for at that time spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless man hours certifying equipment as Y2K compliant when there were NO date codes in the software to begin with, but Y2K panic (and in many cases laws requiring action) forced them to do an immense amount of pointless work.

Actually I liken AGW to the belief in phlogiston. The theory held sway from 1667 to as late as the 1770's and scientists used it to explain their observations. Of course the difference is that it was merely an erroneous theory and once it was demonstrated to be incapable of explaining observed truth it was discarded. Never-the-less, AGW has also been used by non-climate scientists who, while sincere in their beliefs, in their own ignorance used it to explain their observations and the conclusions drawn from their observations have been couched in AGW terms.

AGW is at once both a great hoax(within climate science) and a failure of scientific theory of epic proportions (everywhere else it has been inserted into scientific papers).

What is the definition of g... (Below threshold)

What is the definition of global temperature? If one postulates global warming one needs to know what global temperature is. I remember a couple years back when I became quite suspicious of Global warming when Al Gore wouldn't shut his yap about it that I tried to ask this question on a different site and was referred to as a mass murderer for trying to define terms. I had hoped for a discussion of different temperature data sets, the understanding that these data sets are only a small sample of the Earth's temperature at any one time, the limitations, precision and accuracy of the data, how the methodology for sampling temperature may have altered over years, decades, centuries.

Never got that far of course, but even saying one knows global temperature with any degree of accuracy needs to be demonstrated. From there can one determine with any confidence, given changes in methodology, past trends in temperature? From there can one make predictive models of temperature change (and have they been confirmed!!) especially on the scale of decades and centuries, as this seems to be the idea underlying much of "the sky is falling, the sky is falling ... give us your money" political discourse of late. If one ever confirmed that future temperature trends were accurately being predicted, would one have any confidence that they understood the underlying causes and from there the necessary changes (ie the "give us your money" part). Funny that the solution proffered to a postulated future trend in global temperature is an attempt at man-made global cooling.

Finally, one should recognize when surrogates are being used in place of actual temperature readings, i.e. tree ring data might reflect not just temperature but for instance CO2 concentration, coral reefs, local predator populations, ice cover, ocean salinity and ice particulate content etc, etc.

I would think given the complexity of the climate the last thing anyone would want is some global treaty to attempt anthropogenic climate change.


"I would think given the co... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"I would think given the complexity of the climate the last thing anyone would want is some global treaty to attempt anthropogenic climate change."

That's an interesting statement, and one that is quite reasonable. However, it seems to me that many of those within the AGW movement are leftists (whether you want to call them socialist or communist is your choice) who see government control and planning as the solution to all of life's problems.

I look at examples from the old Soviet Union (you know, the land that liberals are still trying to recreate here in the US). Draining the Aral Sea in order to irrigate a desert for the purpose of creating rice farms. That's right. These we know better than you or God leftists decided that he best place for water intensive rice cultivation was in the middle of a desert. They drained a sea and destroyed the fishing industry that fed millions so they could create their socialist agrarian paradise.

That's the kind of crap that comes from the left.

Today in the US the left wants to turn farmland back into forests (I suppose there are too many people anyway so why bother to feed them all) because trees are better at taking CO2 out of the air than farmland. John Holdren, Obama's science czar, wants to shoot pollution into the upper atmosphere to stop global warming.

Environmentalism is the refuge of the far left and their current excuse for creating grandiose plans to remake the world in their own image. Funny how their plans for saving the world are based on schemes that are almost certain to destroy the environment and cause great human suffering. Joe Stalin would be proud.

We shouldnt underestimate t... (Below threshold)

We shouldnt underestimate the work done in preparation for Y2K.

Literally BILLIONS of polar bears were saved!

This bears repeati... (Below threshold)

This bears repeating yet again--to deny either global warming OR cooling (climate change,if it suits you better)is ignorant.

Evidence exists in abundance to show both natural phenomonae have ocurred frequently. To posit that a single species can have a material effect on either,except in extremely localized scenarios is extraordinary arrogance.

In the end, the only practical solution is to adapt to the particular, and survive, or fail to do so, and perish.

Be noce if both sides would recognize that stubborn little fact, as it renders all the flap quite moot.

Sorry Iron Grandpa,<p... (Below threshold)

Sorry Iron Grandpa,

Global Warming is BS, Global Cooling is BS.

Weather changes all the time and has since the beginning of time. Almost all of it has to do with the big orange ball in the sky and not man.

Follow the money with these assholes and the you will see environmentalism is nothing more than the new communism after Reagan killed it.

Algore it was -35 here this... (Below threshold)

Algore it was -35 here this morning? Call Your shrink.

Al isn't going to take this... (Below threshold)

Al isn't going to take this lying down. He's got MILLIONS invested in GW. You want to tell the man his bubble has burst and all those "carbon credits" are worthless?

I just got an email from Al... (Below threshold)

I just got an email from Al Gore saying I had won the big lottery in Nigeria. All I have to do is send him my bank account and routing numbers and he says he'll deposit the money right into my account. He says this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sounds like a good deal, yes? If you can't trust a former vice president of the United States, who can you trust?

He didn't say a word about global warming. I wonder why not?

914:You are confusin... (Below threshold)

You are confusing weather with climate. If you are going to post facts to refute climate change, they should pertain to global climate, not your local weather.

Rance: "You are confusin... (Below threshold)

Rance: "You are confusing weather with climate."

LOL. The entire "Global Warming" scam is based on confusing people on the two. They weren't getting enough mileage out of just screeching on hot days, so they changed it to "Climate Change" so they could screech regardless of the temperature.

And then there's the famous conference where they actually turned off the air conditioning and heated the room to make the particpants more suceptable to alGore's message.

Protecting the environment is excellent...I've been on board my entire life.

SCAMMING the globe to line the pockets of alGore, falsifying and/or hiding and/or destroying data is criminal! alGore belongs behind bars!

"914:You are confusi... (Below threshold)

You are confusing weather with climate. If you are going to post facts to refute climate change, they should pertain to global climate, not your local weather."

I happen to live on Earth. Any weather/climate I experience has to coincide with the rest of the non fudged raw data.

By the way, its minus 35 again this morning..

Rance,914 was maki... (Below threshold)
jim m:


914 was making a joke. I know that liberals have difficulty recognizing humor so I thought I would point that out for you.

But now that you mention weather being mistaken for climate we should discuss the liberals claim that increased hurricanes were the result of global warming. then when hurricanes didn't come the decrease was due to global warming. Recession of some glaciers is due to global warming, but expansion of others is irrelevant.

Global warming advocates have cherry picked their data and we are beginning to see just how much effort went in to that cherry picking as more info leaks out of the CRU. Discarding 100's if not 1000's of data points in Russia because they don't yield the conclusion the researchers want. US weather stations where 85% grossly over-estimate daily temperature and violate rules for their placement and construction. But since the bad data line up with what the researchers want to find the problems are swept under the table.

Temperature goes up (Medieval warm period) and it goes down (Ice ages). In the 70's these same AGW loons were screaming of the coming Ice Age which would be due to air pollution, but the weather got warmer and it changed to global warming due to the same issues.

There is no science here it is ALL political activism. Only those too blinded by their own ignorance are unable to see it. I find it rather amusing that scientists can attribute changes in climate on Mars and the outer planets to solar activity and then soberly proclaim that such effects are not the case on earth even though it is millions of miles closer to the sun.

It's currently 16 degrees h... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It's currently 16 degrees here -14 with the wind chill. We should top out at 27 degrees, that's just 4 degrees above the average low and 11 below the average high.

Average temperatures have been going down for the last decade. AGW 'scientists' don't want to talk about the actual data. They want to talk about their models. Excepting of course that their models don't actually reflect what is actually going on (the real meaning of "Hide the Decline") and cannot predict weather tomorrow much less next year or in ten years.

"914 was making a joke. I k... (Below threshold)

"914 was making a joke. I know that liberals have difficulty recognizing humor."

Reactionaries always think they are funnier than they actually are.

Rance: "Reactionaries al... (Below threshold)

Rance: "Reactionaries always think they are funnier than they actually are."

Considering that "An Inconvenient Truth" ought to be in the Comedy section at Blockbuster I guess I'd agree.

But I digress. 914 was "reacting" to the falsification of climate data, the intentionally botched analytical software, and the politically motivated hysteria that has made alGore a billionaire!

I guess that DOES make 914 a "Reactionary". Me too!

"Reactionaries always think... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"Reactionaries always think they are funnier than they actually are."

Perhaps you should leave that particular judgment to someone with a sense of humor.

There's only one constant w... (Below threshold)

There's only one constant when it comes to climate.

It changes every day and there is not a thing man can do to affect it, no matter what the UN, AlGore, ManBearPig, Obama, Boxer, & Kerry think.

The whole Global Warming Scam is just that, a scam to transfer wealth from the producers to the corrupt in the name of "saving the planet".

It's ironic that this Scam is being exposed by sunlight, THE major factor in our climate.

Just for the heck of it, ch... (Below threshold)

Just for the heck of it, check this out -


> The so-called Y2K problem... (Below threshold)
Jack Mildam:

> The so-called Y2K problem, the inability of computers to read dates beyond 1999...

No. Y2K was due to legacy code storing year as two digits. If the code hadn't been fixed, 2000 would have been read as 1900. Understand now?

The NYT *opinion* piece by a guest writer is equally clueless with regards climate change science.

Why does Al Gore need to call his office?

Al Gore,David Suzuki,murice... (Below threshold)

Al Gore,David Suzuki,murice strong,Greenpeace the chief sources of HOT AIR

Yes Jack. And in how many ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Yes Jack. And in how many cases would have a computer program miscalculating a date resulted in a catastrophic failure and shut down of any system? Almost none. In the vast majority of cases date codes were not critical to operation of any software.

In addition to not being the threat that it was made out to be, in most cases embedded software did not even utilize date codes and still companies were required to spend the time and money to prove that the software that did not use date codes would not fail when the date changed.

This was a media hyped panic and it never posed even remotely the threat that the media advertised. It cause millions of dollars to be spent on useless activities. Yes some things did need to be changed, but there was not the danger or urgency that the media built up.

"The Global Warming threat ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"The Global Warming threat is analogous to the Y2K threat"

Not quite.
The y2k scam was a one-time-thing. Million$ wasted, but it ended on Jan 1.
The AGW scam is a perpetual crime. Tens of billion$ stolen so far, tens of trillion$ will easily be wasted if the scammers get their way.

But, while it's not really analogous, I guess we should at least be glad to finally see a little skepticism about the AGW cult in the NY Times. Baby steps.

Y2K,That was fun. ... (Below threshold)


That was fun.
Many third world countries that had obtained legacy computer systems and programs and used it to operate their infrastructure spent zilch nada nothing and had not critical failures.

I was in large banks command room and we did not worry about the 1st wold countries coming online. it was the third world ones and when they came online with no issues we knew it was mostly much fuss about nothing.

It was hype but it did cause a mini boon for Cobal and mainframe programers.

Not really a problem for must Unix systems since they used the Ephoc to derive the date and time.

The really benny of Y2K was it allowed for many computer system to be updated. Do we continue with Cobol,Lisp, Ada or do we look at C++ Java or but this order entry system on the web. It helped e-commerce as many companies were able to update the way their computer systems interact.

The funny part was that people thought that computer systems had remained static. Example if you bought a 30 year mortgage in 1975 no one would caught the fact that Amortization schedule would completed in 1905.

So to an extent many of the issues were addressed before 1990. Somethings had to be fixed and updated , Old Soviet Nuclear Missiles and power plants did not blow up or Planed flown by Yemen Air did not drop from the sky and all bank accounts held in Thailand did not drop to zero

In similar way we have seen other plants Temperature go up and down in the last 30 years. Could it be related to the Sun sun sport active since we do not have man on other planets (that we know of, Could al be from Venus?)

I have all the documentatio... (Below threshold)

I have all the documentation that refutes global warming but all the supporting documents were deleted by accident. Trust me, they support me. ;) ww

Global warming the biggist ... (Below threshold)

Global warming the biggist scam ever even bigger then Y2K

I helped remediate y2k issu... (Below threshold)

I helped remediate y2k issues for both a large utility company and a large insurance company. Billing systems were the greatests impact.
Y2k was real, but the hype was way out of proportion

I was the oncall for mainfr... (Below threshold)

I was the oncall for mainframe systems and quite a few connected systems for Walt Disney World during the rollover. We had one cash register go down, but it was because the new software got missed being loaded on that one cash register. Loaded the new software on it late rthat day and all was well. We shut down the special oncall rotation for WDW some 30 hours ahead of the original plan because it went so easily.

Algore warming update #3</p... (Below threshold)

Algore warming update #3

Its 11:53pm and its -26 so I guess it is warming after all? Im shocked! Oh wait,, the dew points -35! Damn, not again!

Al Gore is slowly going nut... (Below threshold)

Al Gore is slowly going nuts becuase his brains have turned to the consistency of melted ice cream

Update #4 -... (Below threshold)

Update #4

-29 this morning... algore is right! Its warmin up!

The whole global warming si... (Below threshold)
Dr. Monopoly:

The whole global warming situation is interesting. While there is a lot of positive confirming evidence for global warming it does not actually indicate CO2 is the culprit to any accuracy. Essentially it has come down to, "we're pretty sure things are getting warmer right now" + "We're producing tons of CO2" + The fact that we're in a one-time non-reproduceable environment = an ambiguous case where you either say, "we don't know, but probably" or "we don't know, but probably not"

Conventional wisdom and the bizarre pile of pseudo evidence (tree-ring data that is both accurate and inaccurate at the same time, the ever shrinking number of surface temp sites, and the constant do-what-must-be-done-because-we-already-know-the-truth attitude that the people preaching AGW) makes me believe that in the long run there will be no catastrophic if any effect caused by CO2. That isn't to say I don't believe there won't be chaotic weather. For the past 10,000 years we've been experiencing abnormally calm weather patterns.

I would also warn those that think "temp rise + more co2 = Anthropogenic warming" if the temperature wasn't rising they'd find ways to scare us about it falling (I.E. the 1970's). The earths temperature has been rising and falling SHARPLY throughout its lifetime, many times the sharp rise is followed by an even sharper fall.






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