Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

January 15, 2013

Climate change: Replace ideological zeal with common-sense policies

“It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States,” according to a statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as reported by Scientific American.

“The average temperature in the lower 48 states reached 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering the previous record set in 1998 by a full degree,” the story continued, noting that government temperature records go back only to 1895.

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch explained that “Climate change has had a role in this,” cautioning that it is still hard for scientists to know how much of this year’s warmer weather was caused by natural variability and how much was caused by man-made climate change.

The obvious question is, “how does the increased temperature in the U.S. extrapolate to Earth’s global temperature?” Surprisingly, it doesn’t.

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, despite the U.S. experience in 2012. From the beginning of 1997 until August of last year there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

“This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years,” the British publication noted.

The new data from the British Met Office was compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, showing that global warming has stalled. Met officials say that by 2017, temperatures will not have risen significantly for nearly 20 years, and admit that previous forecasts were inaccurate. “That the global temperature standstill could continue to at least 2017 would mean a 20-year period of no statistically significant change in global temperatures,” according to Dr. David Whitehouse, science adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation. “Such a period of no increase will pose fundamental problems for climate models. If the latest Met Office prediction is correct, then it will prove to be a lesson in humility” for supporters of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory.

Predictably, not everyone has accepted this news. Dr. Richard Allan of the University of Reading said: “Global warming is not ‘at a standstill,’ but does seem to have slowed down since 2000, in comparison to the rapid warming of the world since the 1970s.” And Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, commented that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.

However, supporting the view of skeptics of the AGW theory was Professor Judith Curry, the head of the climate science department at Georgia Tech, who said it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were “deeply flawed.”

Along that same line of thinking is this from forbes.com: “Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded on day 256 of the calendar year ... The mainstream media frequently publish stories focusing on ice loss in these two areas [West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula], yet the media stories rarely if ever mention that ice is accumulating over the larger area of East Antarctica and that the continent as a whole is gaining snow and ice mass.”

You may have heard or read that polar bear populations are threatened by ice loss, but as the Forbes report showed, that is not the case in the Antarctic, and perhaps not in the Arctic, either. While environmentalists and animal rights advocates believe the polar bear is threatened, Alaska is fighting to keep them off the endangered species list, arguing that populations are “at an all-time high.”

More bad news for the AGW faction comes from German researchers using tree ring data that is a key indicator of past climate. The study suggests Britain experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today as far back as 2,000 years ago.

The Earth has experienced warming and cooling periods throughout its history, and is currently experiencing a broad period of warming. It has not been satisfactorily proved that human activities have a significant impact on the global climate, and these new inconvenient truths support the position of skeptics who doubt the impact of human activity on the Earth’s environment.

The Daily Mail article labels the data trumpeted by global warming advocates “flawed science,” and explains that it has had a substantial negative effect on energy bills. It says that in response to the threat of manmade warming, subsidies paid to spur the renewable energy industry will cause U.K. households to see an increase in energy bills, and it predicts continuing increases.

In the U.S. the Obama administration’s war on coal has cost thousands of jobs and caused great pain in coal state economies, all because of policies based on the theory that burning coal and other fossil fuels is wreaking havoc on the environment. This idea is increasingly challenged by newer scientific data that strongly contradicts the AGW theory.

What we need in Washington is to replace ideological zeal with common-sense policies that do not cause more harm than good.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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