Alarmism, not climate, grows more extreme

Alarmism, not climate, grows more extreme
September 12, 2012

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)

For years, President Barack Obama has been curiously low-key about global warming, or climate change, as politically correct terminology now prefers. Perhaps that's because, when running for office in 2008 he overpromised, declaring that his nomination would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”

It wasn't quite passing the buck, but the president altered his climate-change rhetoric slightly last week in accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for a second term. “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke,” Mr. Obama said. “And in this election, you can do something about it."
The president's assurance that a vote for him will “do something about” droughts, floods and wildfires is reminiscent of his 2008 hyperbole. Climate alarmism relies on connecting disparate and often-unrelated dots in a hypothetical chain of cause and effect that is far from proven.

When climate alarmists declare the Earth is experiencing unprecedented horrific weather because of global warming and man-made greenhouse gases, it's just so much hot air.

When Hurricane Isaac hit Louisiana, “the storm provided a rare break in one of the longest periods of hurricane inactivity in U.S. history,” said James Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute, Indeed, 2012 also is breaking records for the lack of tornado activity, according to the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records. Ditto for droughts and floods, records show.

“There is seemingly a bottomless well of nonsense on disasters and climate change,” writes Roger Pielke Jr., professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Alarmists sometimes point to extreme weather causing great financial loss, even though the NOAA cautions against drawing conclusions from “billion-dollar disasters.” Rarely is it noted that many damaged areas were developed relatively recently and more extensively, and those improvements were not around to suffer earlier storms.

Even alarmists' favorite United Nations organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won't blame storm damage on global warming: “Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded.”

Droughts, floods, storms and wildfires are not occurring at unprecedented, or even unusual, rates. They are well within natural variations. As is the global temperature.

The crucial dots that need connecting to justify government's war on climate change begin with a presumption that manmade greenhouse gas emissions increase temperatures. But as carbon dioxide emissions soared worldwide during the past 15 years, global temperatures remained essentially flat, if not declining. Worse yet for alarmists, for centuries CO2 levels appear to have increased after global temperatures rose, which turns the cause-and-effect theory on its head.

Willie Soon, physicist and chief science researcher at the Science and Public Policy Institute, reports finding “close relationships between the abrupt ups and downs of solar activity and the temperature … suggesting that changes in solar radiation drive temperature variations in at least many areas.” Similar relationships are not found for temperature and CO2, he wrote.

Climate alarmists need people to believe that humans endanger the planet in order to justify Draconian actions like cap-and-trade and carbon taxes. While global warming alarmism may make good campaign rhetoric, it makes for bad public policy.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)