The core problem with the Democratic state legislators’ plan to fundamentally change our laws governing the oil and gas industry is the imprecise nature of our climate models. In an April 28, 1975 Newsweek article titled “The Cooling World,” science editor Peter Gwynne reported a significant chilling of the world climate, with evidence accumulating “so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.”
Gwynne raised the specter of shorter growing seasons, diminished crop yields, famine, and ice-blocked shipping lanes. His article was lauded as a bellwether and the likes of Time, Science Digest, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and National Geographic chimed in with unconditional confidence in the ‘findings.’
Ironically, the consensus at the time was that the planet may actually be warming. In 1965 scientist Charles David Keeling warned that CO2 was rapidly increasing, and the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific articles concluded warming, not cooling, was the paramount concern. So why did the minority of cooling alarmists have such an outsize influence? Today’s observers say the science of climate was poorly understood, that regional measurements didn’t accurately reflect global trends, and, in particular, that the media zealously overreacted.
The question is whether any of these variables has changed. Indeed, today the ‘scientific community’ and their acolytes in the media are smugly confident that the planet is rapidly warming, that we’re on a cataclysmic path to self-destruction, and critically, that humans are the cause. What we do know with reasonable confidence is that carbon dioxide levels have changed for millions of years, and that there is insufficient evidence that the recent slight increase is exclusively anthropogenic.
That’s why a group of 31,000 environmental scientists recently failed to reach a consensus on whether global warming is real. They concluded there isn’t sufficient long-term historical data and that the current data isn’t clear.
For example, in 2014 Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center reported that Arctic ice has increased 50 percent, which undermines the argument that global warming is causing the ice caps to melt.
Additionally, climate models are fraught with imprecision. The 2007 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced ranges for increased global temperatures between 1.8 C to 6.4 C (3.2 F to 11.5 F), while the sea level could increase by as little as 7 inches or by as much as 23 — or anywhere in between.
That naturally fuels skepticism in all but the most fervent believers.
The IPCC’s 2014 report, which apocalyptically warned of global disaster unless we make fundamental and radical changes in CO2 emissions, was roundly criticized by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which was founded in 2003 by distinguished atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer. It cogently argued that the report deliberately excluded and misrepresented important climate science data.
As James Hurrell, who wrote the improved models at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) said, the confounding problem is that warming causes a variety of subsequent changes, in the amount of ice in the Arctic, in the types of vegetation on land, in ocean currents, in permafrost and cloud cover and more, which can trigger more warming, or, in fact, a cooling trend.
Hurrell stated “Sometimes you don’t include processes simply because you don’t understand them well enough. Sometimes it’s because they haven’t even been discovered yet.” Such candor is as refreshing as it is rare.
An enlightening technical research paper titled “Can we trust climate models?”, was published in 2014. Authors, J.C. Hargreaves and J.D. Anan, acknowledge our climate models’ limited predictive abilities. “It seems that genuinely useful climate forecasting on the multiannual to decadal timescale may be still some way away at this time. Thus, it is clear that the models can currently only be relied upon for a broad picture of future climate changes.”
The left falsely characterizes Republicans as indifferent to the plight of our planet, but in truth we’re no less concerned than the Democrats. The difference is that history instructs us to take a more disinterested and skeptical view of the data, understanding that contrary to liberals’ assertions, omniscience is the purview of God.
Therefore, the climate Cassandras would do well to dial back their rhetoric and scientific claims concerning the degree to which recent human activity has caused global temperature changes.
They should also acknowledge that there are potentially serious economic consequences in opportunistic, overreaching legislative changes that will have lasting adverse impacts.
Philip Mella writes a weekly column for The Gazette’s sister paper, Pikes Peak Courier, titled “The Road Not Taken”. A former Woodland Park city councilman, he serves on the 4h Judicial Nominating Commission.