The Economist Breaks with the Climate Orthodoxy

No subject has convinced me more that modern liberalism is the most primitive religious faith on the planet (possibly excepting Wahhabism) than man-made global warming, aka climate change.

So it was with some amusement that I read the other day that that most august of publications The Economist was having second thoughts:

IT MAY come as a surprise to a walrus wondering where all the Arctic’s summer sea ice has gone. It could be news to a Staten Islander still coming to terms with what he lost to Hurricane Sandy. But some scientists are arguing that man-made climate change is not quite so bad a threat as it appeared to be a few years ago. They point to various reasons for thinking that the planet’s “climate sensitivity”—the amount of warming that can be expected for a doubling in the carbon-dioxide level—may not be as high as was previously thought. The most obvious reason is that, despite a marked warming over the course of the 20th century, temperatures have not really risen over the past ten years.”

The publication elucidates in an extended article from the same edition:

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

Am I wrong or was the whole theory of anthropogenic global warming based on a correlation between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures?  Oh, well, maybe Al Gore will explain it to me.  (I’m sure his knowledge base has improved since his unfortunate ‘D’ in college geology. After all, he’s a “climate sensitive” guy.)

I especially hope he will since those pesky Russians are predicting something far worse -- a new Ice Age:

Russian scientist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, of the St Petersburg Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, painted the Doomsday scenario saying the recent inclement weather [in Europe] simply proved we were heading towards a frozen planet. 

Dr Abdussamatov believes Earth was on an “unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop”. The last big freeze, known as the Little Ice Age, was between 1650 and 1850.

Uh-oh.  Maybe Time and Newsweek were right all along when they made similar predictions back in the seventies. Maybe this photoshop wasn't even photoshopped.

All this climate silliness could be regarded as comical at this point if so many – particularly scientifically illiterate politicians – didn't still believe -- much like the cardinals in Brecht’s Galileo -- in the warming religion.

Principal among these scientific illiterates is our president, whose college grades, unlike Al Gore’s and just about everybody else’s, remain a state secret reminiscent of the Politburo.  I would be willing to bet my house, however, that his scientific qualifications are somewhere between non-existent and embarrassing.

So he must rely on the advice of supposed experts.  But who are they?  Usually scientists and business people who stand to profit by emphasizing the perils of warming. (Maybe he should listen to the Russians -- he seems to like them.)

Even more dangerous – and closer to Obama’s heart – are the bureaucrats of the Environmental Protection Agency.  It’s hard to imagine what they think when they read -- if they read -- an article like the recent one in The Economist. Could it conceivably make them question what they do?  I doubt it.

Last Friday the Washington Post’s WonkTalk asked: Is the EPA ready to tackle climate change? In a video, their Brad Plumer -- who apparently is convinced CO2 causes global warming -- noted that Congress is not likely to do anything about climate. It will be up to the EPA, working under the guidance of the White House, to tighten rules and regulations around all sorts of emissions to protect us from what they view as an over-heated Armageddon.

If I were in the energy business, I’d have my lawyers ready.  The recent research should be very useful to them.  But the question remains – is anybody listening?  Or will we all be broke first?

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage by