Lawrence Solomon, the Executive Director of Energy Probe and someone whose writing and opinions I respect greatly, has continued to write an article series dispelling the assumptions people have that the Earth’s climate is warming. (His bio is at the end of this post.) I have reproduced two recent articles below, which are very interesting. You can read more from the series via this link:
The Economist has withdrawn support from the dire predictions of alarmists, and as great an environmentalist as James Lovelock, conceiver of the Gaia theory (of the Earth being a living entity) has also stated that he regrets his premature early support.
I have friends and acquaintances in the environment business who always roll their eyes when I express my skepticism about global warming; they can think whatever they like of me, but now they need to roll their eyes at James Lovelock.
I find myself in good company.
We owe it to ourselves to stay abreast of this information and not be seduced by the media group-think on this topic. I hope you enjoy these two articles and read some of the others as they’re very interesting!
Lawrence Solomon: History trumps climate scientists
(April 18, 2013) Climate alarmist claims are at odds with reality.
This article was first published by the National Post.
Many blame the public’s confusion over global warming on a widespread ignorance of science. A scientific grounding wouldn’t hurt but it also wouldn’t help much — few laymen, no matter how well informed, could be expected to follow the arcane climate change calculations that specialized scientists wield.
The much better explanation for the public’s confusion lies in a widespread ignorance of history, not least by scientists. Any child can understand that the Romans conquered the world when temperatures were warmer than today, that the Dutch invented the ice skates during the Little Ice Age five hundred years ago, and that melting glaciers off Newfoundland a century ago produced the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. Each of these well documented periods shreds speculations from climate alarmists, such as their assertion that the Arctic is only now warming, or that temperatures had been relatively stable over the past one or two thousand years, and only in the last century climbed dramatically.
This week’s scary climate change news, courtesy of an article in Nature Geoscience, claims that temperatures in the Antarctic peninsula are the hottest they’ve been in the last 1000 years. This claim follows a “reconstruction” of the climate using a boatload of assumptions.
Another article on the Antarctic in the same issue of Nature Geoscience is less scary, in part because it employs history to buttress scientific conclusions. “If we could look back at this region of Antarctica in the 1940s and 1830s, we would find that the regional climate would look a lot like it does today, and I think we also would find the glaciers retreating much as they are today,” said lead author Eric Steig of the University of Washington. Steig’s study made use of actual temperature records taken by sailors, explorers and scientists over the past two centuries in the tropics and beyond.
Those unaware of this history would be easily taken in by dramatic media footage over the last decade of icebergs breaking off Antarctic glaciers.
The vast Antarctic, of course, has been mostly inaccessible, but numerous expeditions to the region, beginning with James Cook’s voyage in the 1770s, provide actual, rather than scientifically surmised or reconstructed, data. The explorers from Australia, Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden and Switzerland tell us, for example, that the contours of the continent continually changed. Antarctica’s Bay of Whales, used by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1911 and Richard Byrd expeditions in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, changed so often and became so unstable that in the 1950s it became unusable as a port and in the 1980s, after a 99-mile-long iceberg broke off it, the bay disappeared entirely.
Those unaware of this history would be easily taken in by dramatic media footage over the last decade of icebergs breaking off Antarctic glaciers, accompanied by breathless prose warning that global warming had unleashed unprecedented changes. Those unaware of more recent history would not know that since the mid 1950s the U.S. has maintained a continual base at the south pole. The temperatures it recorded – actual, not reconstructed readings – show the south pole to be colder today than when it was established more than 50 years ago.
History has similar tales to tell at the north pole and environs. “It will without doubt have come to your Lordship’s knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated,” wrote the president of London’s Royal Society to the British Admiralty in 1817. In urging an expedition, he stated “new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations.”
Many expeditions were in fact made, by the British and others, and the Northwest Passage would be several times traversed, first by the same Amundsen who had earlier explored the Antarctic. History shows us that the Arctic has oftentimes warmed, making a mockery of claims that the modest recent warming is in any way extraordinary.
A newspaper report this week from the Alaska Dispatch recalls that Alaska’s all-time high temperature – 100 degrees Fahrenheit – occurred in 1915. A newspaper headline from Australia during World War II asks: “The North Pole, Is It Warming?” The answer: “From soundings and meteorological tests taken by the Soviet explorers who returned this week to Murmansk, Russia’s-sole Ice-free Arctic port, it was concluded that near Polar temperatures are on an average six degrees higher than those registered by Nansen [a Norwegian explorer] 40 years ago.”
The rich historical evidence from the Arctic is as nothing compared to those from heavily populated Europe and Asia, where written accounts describe how changes in temperature affected what crops could be grown and where people could live. We learn that in the warmer-than-today period a thousand years ago – the Medieval Warm Period — grapes grew in Britain and Scandinavians farmed Greenland. We learn that during the warmer-still period two thousand years ago – the Roman Warm Period – olives grew in Germany and citrus trees in Britain.
We learn that history trumps science when the science is speculative, politicized, and at odds with reality.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers. Follow Lawrence Solomon on Twitter.
Lawrence Solomon: Celsius not rising
(February 7, 2013) Public opinion won’t change as long as temperatures don’t.
This article first appeared in the National Post
Question: How do people decide whether global warming is for real?
Answer: They poke their noses outside their doors or watch the weather report on television. If they’re reminded that the weather has been unseasonably warm of late, the public tends to fret over dire consequences of global warming; if the weather has been on the cool side, the public tends to scoff at the fear mongering. In polls on global warming, Gallup data shows a swing of almost 10% for each degree Celsius that one year differs from another.
This finding and others appear in The influence of national temperature fluctuations on opinions about climate change in the U.S. since 1990, a University of British Columbia study published this week in Climatic Change. The findings explain why governments, environmentalists, foundations, the media, universities, renewable energy multinationals and myriad others have so little to show for their $80-billion-dollar-plus, decades-long efforts to persuade the public that climate change will be calamitous — most Westerners do not fear climate change. Those billions — whether spent in studies, public relations campaigns, or other forms of propaganda trumpeting the hottest climate ever — can be blown away by a short snowstorm or a lowly back-porch thermometer that refuses to rise. While many factors — political ideology, age and education among them — influence what the public believes on global warming, the single biggest factor in a change in public opinion is an individual’s experience with temperature, which the authors of the study believe could account for about half of the change.
Our thermometers simply haven’t been rising. According to a study last month by NASA’s James Hansen, Al Gore’s mentor, temperatures have been “flat for the past decade.” According to the U.K.’s Meteorological Office, every bit Al Gore’s equal in alarmism, the temperature standstill has lasted 15 years and, its revised models say, may extend to 20. No wonder public opinion hasn’t rallied to the alarmist cause.
For governments to muster the courage they need to impose carbon taxes or other unpopular measures, public opinion will need to swing dramatically to boost the number who worry that global warming threatens the planet — say by 20% or 30%. That change in public opinion would happen if temperatures rose by two or three degrees Celsius, assuming the study’s formula of a near-10% increase per degree Celsius holds.
But what is the chance of that, when temperatures have risen only about one-half of 1C in each of the previous three centuries, and not at all so far in the 21st century? Alarmists will need to somehow up their game if they are to make progress in scaring the public into action.
But how? Media coverage of global warming, which also increases with temperature, can hardly become more favourable. “When mean temperatures are warmer than normal,” the study states, “the major agenda-setting newspapers tend to publish more opinion articles expressing either support for the scientific consensus on climate change, concern about climate change, or arguments for climate action.”
Since 1990, for example, 86% of all opinion pieces that The New York Times has published on global warming have agreed with the conventional wisdom, compared to only 6% that disagreed. During one season, The New York Times published no articles at all that disagreed. USA Today in some seasons also published no articles that disagreed — 100% of its articles agreed. Global warming alarmists can hardly expect more slavish support from the media in influencing the climate change debate, short of putting rare dissenters (notably The Wall Street Journal in the U.S. and National Post in Canada) out of business.
Neither can alarmists expect more slavish support from environmentalists, the foundations that finance them, and scientists who need to toe the government line on global warming in order to be funded.
This study, then, will deeply discourage the global warming elites, and leave them with ironic results. Before governments can get the public support they need to attempt to control the weather of the future, they must first control the weather of today. Look outside — governments can’t do it.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute and the author of The Deniers.
For Lawrence Solomon’s take down of the claim that there’s a scientific consensus on climate change, see 97% cooked stats.
About Lawrence Solomon
Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada’s leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter’s Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970’s, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Urban Renaissance Institute division. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S.
View all posts by Lawrence Solomon →