Category: weather

Proof that environmentalists are fools

Last week the U.S. Senate properly killed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal 57–0.

Jonah Goldberg writes:

Imagine there’s a movie about a meteor heading toward Earth. It will be here in twelve years. Following Hollywood convention, once you got past the part where the maverick scientist or precocious kid discovering it struggles to convince the world about the threat, you’d expect the president or the military to leap into action.

Congress is usually left out of such plots, but it’s not a stretch to imagine that Congress would race to authorize a plan to send astronauts into space to prevent Armageddon or a planetary deep impact. (If you don’t believe me, I refer you to the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact.)

The initial rollout of the Green New Deal, a sweeping proposal to overhaul the U.S. economy and, taken seriously, society itself, was supposed to follow a script like this. The United Nations opened the bidding by announcing last year that we had twelve years to keep the pace of climate change from accelerating too fast to contain the damage. Like a high school game of telephone, this quickly became a blanket statement that we have “twelve years to save the planet.”

Climate change is a real concern, but if we did absolutely nothing to stop it, the planet would still be here in a dozen years. So would the human race and many other living things. In fact, if America did virtually everything the Green New Dealers propose, global emissions of greenhouse gases wouldn’t change that much unless China, India, Russia, and all the African nations followed suit.

There are people who nonetheless believe that climate change is a world-threatening calamity and that exaggeration is a necessary tool to galvanize public opinion. If you Google the phrase “twelve years to save the planet,” you’ll find people who think it’s literally true.

The problem is that we’ve heard these things before. In 1989, a U.N. official predicted “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.” In 2008, Al Gore warned that the northern polar ice cap could be gone in five years.

Melting polar ice is something to worry about, but it’s not gone.

The reasons this is a political problem for climate-change warriors should be obvious. First, they are their own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining credibility. By working on the theory that they have to scare the bejeebus out of the public, they made it easy for people to dismiss them when their Chicken Little prophecies didn’t materialize.

Another problem, which compounds the first, is that they get greedy. Working on the premise that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, progressives have a long record of trying to throw other items on their wish list into the anti-climate-change shopping cart. The Green New Deal, as presented by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), includes high-quality health care for everyone, guaranteed jobs, paid vacations, a living wage, and retirement security.

Indeed, it’s worth remembering that environmentalists targeted the fossil-fuel industry for early retirement long before concerns about global warming were on the agenda. The anti-oil campaign began with the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969, back when concerns about another ice age were still taken seriously.

You can believe that climate change is a real problem and also be forgiven for thinking progressives are trying to pull a fast one. This is especially so when you consider that proponents of the GND also favor phasing out nuclear power, which could provide vastly more electricity than wind or solar (and more efficiently).

Which gets me back to where I started. Imagine there was a movie about an incoming meteor that could be stopped only with a nuclear warhead, and the heroes insisted that nuclear weapons are just too icky to use, even to save the planet. Audiences would scratch their heads.

They might also think they missed a crucial plot point if the protagonists proposed a sweeping government effort to stop the meteor and then, when given the opportunity to vote for it, voted “present” in protest. That’s similar to what happened this week. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell brought the Green New Deal to the floor for a vote, and Democrats refused to vote for it. Instead, they harangued McConnell for pulling a stunt.

They were right. It was a stunt. But sometimes it takes a stunt to expose an even bigger one.

Goldberg is too kind. Where, you might ask, did Ocasio-Cortez and her useful idiots (unless Ocasio-Cortez is herself a useful idiot) get this idea that would destroy this country’s economy, with Wisconsin’s economy collapsing first?

CFACT has the answer:

Did Obama science advisor Dr. John Holdren actually call for the American government to “de-develop” the U.S. and “reduce” its population?

Yes, he did. …

Holdren has tried to deny what he wrote, which has caused controversy and an ongoing war of words between the left-wing Media Matters and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.  They call it a myth, but reading Holdren’s words in their full context, what does Media Matters think Holdren’s call for government to reduce population and de-develop means?  It certainly smacks more of authoritarianism than voluntarism.

Do John Holdren and Barack Obama actually believe that other nations will throttle their economies to fall in line with the American example?  If the lessons of the past are too remote for them to absorb, they can look to recent history.  Everywhere that the Obama foreign and military policies have adopted weakness, other nations have seen not inspiration, but opportunity.  If you don’t want to take our word for it, in today’s information age the people of Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria are but a phone call or email way.

A U.S. energy policy designed to replace efficient, affordable, abundant electricity with expensive alternatives incapable of providing for the needs of the American economy is foolish and self-destructive.  It defies any rational cost-benefit analysis even when factored through the climate computer models which the administration wants us to accept on faith, and which so far have proved inaccurate. …

Read what John Holdren recommended as the “responsible” course for America’s future in his own words.

Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions includes this:

Summary

To recapitulate, we would outline the present world situation as follows:

1.      Considering present technology and patterns of human behavior, our planet is grossly overpopulated. Between 2 and 3 billion people are not being properly cared for nowUnder such circumstances, the contention of some that many more people can be easily and properly cared for in the near future is preposterous. When everhuman being has abundant and varied food, ade­quate clothing and shelter, first-rate medical care, ample educational oppor­tunity, and freedom from war and tyranny, then perhaps consideration of whether more people can be given first-class accommodation on Spaceship Earth will be appropriate.

2.      The large absolute number of people and the rate of population growth are themselves major hindrances to fulfilling the above-named needs of all of mankind.

3.      The limits of human capability to produce food by conventional means have very nearly been reached. Problems of supply and distribution already have resulted in roughly half of humanity being undernourished or malnour­ished. As many as 10-20 million people are starving to death annually.

4.      Attempts to increase food production further will tend to accelerate the deterioration of our environment, which in turn may eventually reduce the capacity of the Earth to produce food. It is not clear whether environmental decay has now gone so far as to be essentially irreversible; it is possible that [Page 278the capacity of the planet to support human beings has been permanently im­paired.

5.      There is good reason to believe that population growth increases the probability of a lethalworldwide plague and of a thermonuclear war. Either could provide a catastrophic “death-rate solution” to the population problem; each is potentially capable of destroying civilization and even of driving Homo sapiens to extinction.

6.      Perhaps more likely than extinction is the possibility that man will sur­vive only to endure an existence barely recognizable as human-malnourished, beset by chronic disease, physically and emotionally impoverished, sur­rounded by the devastation wrought by an industrial civilization that could not cope with the results of its own biological and social folly.

7.        There are no simple answers to these threats, no technological panaceas for the complex of problems comprising the population-food-environment crisis. Of course, technology, properly applied in such areas as pollution abate­ment, communications, and fertility control, can provide valuable assistance. But the essential solutions entail dramatic and rapid changes in human atti­tudes, especially those relating to reproductive behavior, economic growth, technology, the environment, and resolution of conflicts.

Recommendations: A Positive Program

Although our conclusions are necessarily rather pessimistic, we wish to em­phasize our belief that the problems can be solved. Whether they will be solved is another question. A general course of action that we feel will have some chance of ameliorating the results of the current crisis is outlined below. Many of the suggestions will seem “unrealistic,” and indeed that is how we view them. But the world has been allowed to run downhill for so long that only idealistic and very far-reaching programs offer any hope for the future.

1        Population control is absolutely essential if the problems now facing mankind are to be solved. It is not, however, a panacea. If population growth were halted immediately, virtually all other human problems–poverty, racial tensions, urban blight, environmental decay, warfare-would remain. On the other hand, direct attacks on these problems will ultimately fail if the human population continues to grow. The situation is best summarized in the state­ment: “Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control.”

2        Political pressure must be applied immediately to induce the United States government to assume its responsibility to halt the growth of the Ameri­can population. Once growth is halted,the government should undertake to influence the birth rate so that the population is reduced to an optimum size and maintained there. It is essential that a grassroots political movement be [Page 279]generated to convince our legislators and the executive branch of the govern­ment that they must act promptly. The program should be based on what poli­ticians understand best-votes. Presidents, Congressmen, Senators, and other elected officials who do not deal effectively with the crisis must be defeated at the polls, and more intelligent and responsible candidates must be elected. It is unfortunate that at the time of the greatest crisis the United States and the world have ever faced, many Americans, especially the young, have given up hope that the government can be modernized and changed in direction through the functioning of the elective process. Their despair may have some founda­tion, but we see no choice but to launch a prolonged and determined attempt to wrest control of the political system from the special interests which now run it and to turn it over to the people.

3        A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environ­ment in North America and to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation. Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdevel­oped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political, especially with regard to our overexploitation of world resources, but the campaign should be strongly supplemented by legal and boycott action against polluters and others whose activities damage the environment. The need for de–development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low–consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.

4        Once the United States has clearly started on the path of cleaning up its own mess, it can then turn its attention to the problems of the de–development of the other DCs, population control, and ecologically feasible development of the UDCs. It must use every peaceful means at its disposal to persuade the Soviet Union and other DCs to join the effort, in line with the general proposals of Lord Snow and Academician Sakharov.

5        Perhaps the major necessary ingredient that has been missing from a solution to the problems of both the United States and the rest of the world is a goal, a vision of the kind of Spaceship Earth that ought to be and the kind of crew that should man her. Society has always had its visionaries who talked of love, beauty, peace, and plenty. But somehow the “practical” men have always been there to praise smog as a sign of progress, to preach “just” wars, and to restrict love while giving hate free rein. It must be one of the greatest ironies of the history of the human species that the only salvation for the practical men now lies in what they think of as the dreams of idealists. The question now is: can the self-proclaimed “realists” be persuaded to face reality in time?

“What if I told you there was a paper on climate change that was so uniquely catastrophic, so perspective-altering, and so absolutely depressing that it’s sent people to support groups and encouraged them to quit their jobs and move to the countryside?” asks reporter Zing Tsjeng over at Vice. She is citing Cumbria University Professor of Sustainability Leadership Jem Bendell’s “Deep Adaptation” paper, which asserts that man-made climate change will result in “a near-term collapse in society with serious ramifications for the lives of readers.” How near-term? In about 10 years or so.

Bendell says that he came to his dire prediction while on a recent unpaid sabbatical during which he “reviewed the scientific literature from the past few years.” He asserts that “the summary of science is the core of the paper as everything then flows from the conclusion of that analysis.” As a consequence, he claims to have discerned from his reading of recent climate science the initiation of drastic non-linear effects that are quickly leading to “runaway climate change.” Therefore, his review forced him to “establish the premise that it is time we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today.” Bendell seems now to be grappling with a kind of spiritual crisis as a result of his melancholy study.

How catastrophic? “When I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life,” he writes. “With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.”

Bendell decries “professional environmentalists [for] their denial that our societies will collapse in the near-term” and invites readers “to consider the value of leaving mainstream views behind.” But is Bendell’s reading of the recent climate science accurate? My own review of the literature suggests that he has essentially constructed a “parade of horribles” argument that falls apart under a more dispassionate analysis. Bendell anticipates that some critics will reject his grim conclusions by resorting to what he calls unwarranted and psychologically protective “collapse-denial.”

While trying to avoid the “collapse-denial” pitfall, a review of the most recent scientific literature suggests that while climate change will pose significant problems for humanity over the remainder of this century, near-term social collapse due to runaway climate change is unlikely.

Bendell does report the relatively uncontroversial data that average global surface temperatures have increased by 0.9°C since 1880 and that 17 of the 18 warmest years in that record have all occurred since 2001. The State of the Climate in 2017 report issued last year by the American Meteorological Society cites weather balloon and satellite datasets indicating that, since 1979, the increase of global average temperature in the lower troposphere is proceeding at the rate of between 0.13°C and 0.19°C per decade. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, the rate of temperature increase since 1975 as measured by thermometers at the surface is roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade. The State of the Climate in 2017 report also notes that climate models assessed by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) projected that the lower troposphere should be warming at the rate of 0.27°C per decade.

Reconciling the discrepancy between the rates of empirical and modeled temperature increase will depend on what equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) turns out to be. ECS is conventionally defined as how much warming can be expected to result from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. There is still considerable debate among climate researchers about the magnitude of this figure.

A 2018 article in Climate Dynamics calculated a relatively low climate sensitivity of range of between 1.1°C and 4.05°C (median 1.87°C). Another 2018 study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres estimated a higher ECS that is likely between 2.4°C and 4.6°C (median 3.3°C). The study noted that its analysis “provides no support for low values of ECS (below 2°C)” suggested by other analyses such as the one in Climate Dynamics. The higher that ECS is, the more likely the models’ rate of increase is right and the worse the effects of climate change are liable to be.

Ice

Bendell is particularly concerned about the rate of warming in the Arctic. He correctly observes that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the global average. Between the 1920s and the 1940s, a large warming event occurred in the Arctic. Researchers have concluded that that increase was most likely the result of natural internal atmospheric variability. While early 20th century Arctic warming was comparable to the recent 30-year warming, the temperature levels during the past five years (2014–18) have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

As a result of warming temperatures, the extent of arctic sea ice has been falling since 1980 at the rate of 12.8 percent per decade. Some recent research suggests that Arctic warming is affecting weather patterns in the northern hemisphere such as polar vortex outbreaks in the mid-latitudes.

Bendell chiefly hangs his prognostication of “our near-term extinction” on the “permafrost carbon bomb” hypothesis. The idea is that lots of carbon is trapped in the Arctic permafrost and in subsea methane hydrates, and that warming will produce a feedback loop in which carbon will be exponentially released into the atmosphere. Adding Arctic carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is bad enough, but rising temperatures will purportedly cause the non-linear release of vast amounts of methane which has a global warming potential that is 28 to 36 times greater than carbon dioxide.

In support of this dire scenario, Bendell points to a 2013 report in Nature that conjectured that warming could lead to a burp of 50-gigatons of methane over less than 10 years out of the Arctic Ocean. The result would be an immediate increase of global temperatures by about 5°C at a cost to the global economy of $60 trillion. The size of the global economy was then about $70 trillion. Rather than merely cratering the global economy, such a methane burp might also result in our extinction.

So how worried should we be? Bendell handwaves aside numerous more current scientific reviews and studies that conclude that a permafrost carbon bomb is implausible. One comprehensive 2017 review of sources and sinks of methane reported that “atmospheric measurements at long-term monitoring stations show no significant increase of Arctic methane emissions. This suggests that at present, Arctic emission increases are negligible or small in absolute terms.”

Bendell instead speculates that recent increases in atmospheric methane indicate that a nonlinear Arctic methane catastrophe that could result in “our near-term extinction” is in the offing. As evidence, he cites a recent experiment in which German researchers monitored chunks of melting permafrost for seven years and found that they did emit more than expected amounts of methane. Based on this experiment, the researchers calculate that “the permafrost soils of Northern Europe, Northern Asia and North America could produce up to 1 gigaton of methane and 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2100.” That’s 1 gigaton of methane over 80 years, not 50 gigatons in 10 years. And as it happens, human activity emitted 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2018, which means that Arctic permafrost thawing would add just a bit over 1 percent to annual carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2100.

In addition, a 2017 Nature Communications study traces the increases in atmospheric levels of methane that Bendell references not to permafrost, but instead to a combination of leaks from fossil fuel production and higher emissions from agriculture and wetlands. A 2019 Scientific Reports modeling study finds that abating man-made methane emissions would “limit methane-caused climate warming by 2100 even in the case of an uncontrolled natural Arctic methane emission feedback.” It appears that “our near-term extinction” from a detonating permafrost carbon bomb is highly unlikely.

Other than the trends in the Arctic region, Bendell asserts that humanity is already seeing the impacts of global warming on storms, drought, and flood frequencies. Climate change is also set to dramatically reduce harvests resulting in global famines. He further asserts that half of the world’s coral reefs have died in the past 30 years and that rising temperature is causing an exponential rise in mosquito and tickborne illnesses.

Weather

Let’s take storms first. In a 2018 study, researchers associated with the Global Precipitation Climatology Project reported that global precipitation increased between 1979 and 2017 by 0.33 percent per decade, for an overall increase of about 1 percent. Interestingly another 2018 study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) reported, “The take-home message from our study using the new 33+ years of high-resolution global precipitation dataset is that there seems not to be any detectable and significant positive trends in the amount of global precipitation due to the now well-established increasing global temperature. While there are regional trends, there is no evidence of increase in precipitation at the global scale in response to the observed global warming.”

While the global trend toward more precipitation is small, meteorologists have found that there has been a significant increase in the frequency of more intense rainstorms. “On a global scale, the observational annual-maximum daily precipitation has increased by an average of 5.73 millimeters (0.23 inch) over the last 110 years, or 8.5 percent in relative terms,” reported a 2015 study.

Tropical cyclones are the most damaging type of storms. Most climate models project that as temperatures rise there will be fewer but bigger hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones. The MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel reports a significant global increase since 1980 in all storms with maximum wind speeds above 175 kilometers per hour (109 miles per hour). Storms of 200 km/h (125 mph) and more have doubled in number, and those of 250 km/h (155 mph) and more have tripled. Climatologist Ryan Maue tracks global tropical cyclone activity and he also finds that while the number of cyclones has been declining since 1980, the trend toward bigger storms has been slightly increasing. While cyclones generate dangerous coastal storm surges, the good news is that global mortality from storm surges has been decreasing since the 1960s.

Storm surges from cyclones will likely become more damaging as water from melting glaciers and ice caps on land drains into the oceans and increase average sea level. A 2018 BAMS article notes that sea level rise is accelerating at 0.084 millimeters per year. On top of the current rate of 3 millimeters per year, this implies an average rise of about 20 inches by 2100. Between 1880 and 2015, sea level rose by almost 9 inches.

Using a worst-case climate scenario in which no efforts were made to reduce future warming, a 2018 study in Earth’s Future projected that sea level would rise by 2 and half feet by 2100. The researchers estimated that that increase would globally expand the area of land located in the 1-in-100 year coastal flood plain from its current area of about 210,000 square miles, to 290,000 square miles in 2100. The percent of the global population threatened by coastal flooding would rise (in the worst case scenario) from 3.6 percent now to about 5.4 percent by 2100.

A 2018 study in Global Environmental Change, this one also evaluating the economic effects of projected sea level increases ranging from 1 to 6 feet by 2100, concluded that it would be cost effective to invest in the protection of just 13 percent of the global coastline, thus safeguarding 90 percent of the global coastal floodplain population and 96 percent of assets in the global coastal floodplain. If these projections are approximately correct, addressing sea level rise will be costly, but it does not portend near-term societal collapse.

One might expect that more intense rainstorms should result in more flooding, but a 2017 study investigating maximum streamflow trends around the globe in the Journal of Hydrology found that there were more streamflow measuring “stations with significant decreasing trends than significant increasing trends across all the datasets analysed, indicating that limited evidence exists for the hypothesis that flood hazard is increasing.”

Another 2018 study in Water Resource Research reported that “flood magnitudes are decreasing despite widespread claims by the climate community that if precipitation extremes increase, floods must also.” The explanations for declining flood magnitudes include the possibility that soils now tend to be drier and so absorb more water, and that intense rainstorms–while more frequent–are geographically smaller, thus inundating less area. On the other hand, the Dartmouth Flood Observatory reports that the annual number of large floods increased from about 50 in the mid-1980s to around 200 in the early 2000s, and have fallen a bit since.

The opposite of flooding is drought. Is man-made global warming having an effect on the global prevalence of drought? A 2012 study in Nature concluded that “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.” A 2014 study in Nature Climate Change, however, suggested that “increased heating from global warming may not cause droughts but it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense.” A 2015 study in Earth and Space Science found that the percent of global land area subject to drought has not changed since 1901, even though global evaporation rates and temperatures have increased. The authors suggest that increased precipitation may have counteracted a global trend toward more drought.

Whatever the trend in floods, droughts, and storms, the fact is that the global death rate due to natural disasters has fallen steeply over the past century, from about 24 per 100,000 annually in the 1920s to below 1 per year in the 2010s. This is remarkable considering that world population has quadrupled over that period, and it obviously cuts against Bendell’s dismal prognostications that humanity will be unable to successfully adapt to climate change.

Famine

Bendell asserts that “we are already in the midst of dramatic changes that will impact massively and negatively on agriculture within the next twenty years.” These impacts are supposedly already inducing the “sense of near-term disruption to our ability to feed ourselves and our families.” When contemplating Bendell’s prophecies of imminent agricultural collapse, everyone should keep in mind that cereal and livestock production have both nearly quadrupled since 1961 even as average global temperatures have risen.

In support of his claims that global famine triggered by climate change looms, Bendell references a couple of modeling studies that condescendingly suggest that farmers will essentially do nothing to adapt to climate change. But that’s not correct. For example, farmers in the U.S. and Canada are now taking advantage of the fact that the cornbelt is shifting northward due to warming temperatures.

Oddly, as evidence of impending famine, Bendell cites a 2015 Environmental Research Letter socioeconomic modeling study that actually finds that without climate change grain yields in 2050 would be between 65 and 55 percent higher than they were in 2005. With climate change, depending on the scenario, yields would be only be 45 to 60 percent greater. This is well within a 2017 BioScience study’s projection of a global food demand increase by 2050 that ranges between 25 to 70 percent above current global production.

In any case, many researchers find that agriculture can continue to produce more food while simultaneously adapting to future climate change. For example, a 2017 policy report for the European Commission found that “the impact of climate change on agricultural production in 2050 is negative but relatively small at the aggregated global level.” Remarkably, that study reported that efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector by, for example, increasing the prices of fuel and fertilizer, would have a bigger negative impact on agricultural production than would climate change.

Oceans

Coral reefs occupy less than one quarter of one percent of our oceans, but they’re home to an estimated 25 percent of all marine species. Bendell correctly observes that coral bleaching due to rising average temperatures in the tropical oceans is increasing. When water temperatures get too hot, corals expel their symbiotic algae and that deprives them of nourishment. The BAMS State of the Climate 2017 report noted that mass coral bleaching has historically occurred when ocean temperatures rose during El Niño events in 1983, 1998, and 2010. However, an unprecedented 36-month ocean heatwave in 2014 to 2017 affected 75 percent of Earth’s tropical reefs, and at nearly 30 percent of reefs, it reached mortality level. Mass bleaching used to occur once every 25–30 years in the 1980s, but now mass bleaching returns about every six years and is expected to further accelerate.

Clearly reefs are suffering from the heat, but some recent research hints that they are adapting to cope with rising temperatures. A 2019 global analysis of coral bleaching over the past two decades in Nature Communications reports that “in the last decade, the onset of coral bleaching has occurred at significantly higher sea surface temperatures (∼0.5 °C) than in the previous decade.” The researchers suggest that individuals of various coral species that are especially liable to bleach when temperatures warm “may have declined and/or adapted such that the remaining coral populations now have a higher thermal threshold for bleaching.” In other words, corals appear to be evolving to withstand higher temperatures.

Disease

“In some regions we are witnessing an exponential rise in the spread of mosquito and tick-borne viruses as temperatures become more conducive to them,” writes Bendell. He cites a 2018 European Commission report evaluating the impact of climate change on the rates of viral disease chiefly spread by mosquitoes. All things being equal, the report notes that the range of two disease carrying mosquito species—Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus—are likely to expand as the global temperatures rise. These two especially vexatious species transmit Zika, dengue, and Chikungunya viruses. Climate change will eventually enable these species to expand their ranges, concurred a 2019 modeling study in Nature Microbiology, but “in the next 5 to 15 years, the models predict that spread of both species will be driven by human movement, rather than environmental changes.”

While certainly burdensome, the mortality rates for Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are low. So even implausibly assuming that no progress at all is made in controlling these pests and the diseases they transmit, their spread does not threaten near-term human extinction.

Fortunately, progress is being made on vaccines for each of these (and many other) vector-borne illnesses. In addition, biotechnologists are developing techniques that can either prevent mosquitoes from carrying pathogens or eliminate the pests from the landscape altogether. Similar biotech interventions are being developed to control diseases spread by other vectors as well. As a result, the role of climate change will decreasingly figure as a factor in determining human exposure to vector-borne illnesses.

Apocalypse

Bendell acknowledges that some researchers have suggested developing geoengineering as an emergency backup plan for cooling down the planet in case global warming runs faster than current projections suggest. But he dismisses it as a potential way to ameliorate climate change because he thinks that its unpredictability will prevent its deployment. This objection will not hold if most people think that rapidly rising temperatures is about to cause global social collapse. As it happens, a 2019 Nature Climate Change study, “Halving warming with idealized solar geoengineering moderates key climate hazards,” by Harvard engineer Peter Irvine and colleagues, finds that spreading sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to reduce average temperatures by about half the amount temperatures would increase if atmospheric carbon doubled would not likely destabilize current weather patterns.

“It would not be unusual to feel a bit affronted, disturbed, or saddened by the information and arguments I have just shared,” observes Bendell in his discussion of “systems of denial.” Such climate collapse denialism, he argues, is rooted in mixture of wishful thinking, paternalistic efforts to protect the public from despairing, and the refusal to accept our powerlessness to stop climate doom. Collapse denialism is further buttressed by the norms of scientific understatement, the natural psychological resistance to thinking about death, and the institutional positive problem-solving emphases of non-profit, private, and governmental organizations.

Bendell suggests that many people accept much of the data about climate change that he reports, but choose to interpret them in a way that makes them ‘safer’ to their personal psychologies. This, he asserts, amounts to a form of “interpretative denial.” On the other hand, Bendell admits he has “chosen to interpret the information as indicating inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe and possible extinction.” Thus it would seem that his predictions of imminent civilizational collapse are the consequence of a form of “interpretative confirmation.”

Recall that Bendell asserts that “the summary of science is the core of the paper as everything then flows from the conclusion of that analysis.” If his reading of current climate science is faulty or biased, then, so too, are his arguments. My reading of the recent scientific literature finds that while man-made climate change is a significant and growing problem, it does not portend, as argued by Bendell, imminent massive social collapse and the possibility of near-term human extinction.

That being the case, I must conclude, that as well-meaning as he may be, Bendell is engaging in “apocalypse abuse.” Like earlier practitioners of that suspect craft, Bendell operates chiefly by extrapolating only the most horrendous trends, while systematically ignoring any ameliorating or optimistic ones, offering worst-case scenarios in the guise of balanced presentations.

Bendell writes that the impending end of the world has caused him to reevaluate his work choices. He muses that “in order to let oneself evolve in response to the climate tragedy one may have to quit a job—and even a career.” Way back in 1971, overpopulation doomster Paul Ehrlich similarly told Look magazine, “When you reach a point where you realize further efforts will be futile, you may as well look after yourself and your friends and enjoy what little time you have left. That point for me is 1972.” Forty-eight years later, Ehrlich is still predicting an imminent ecological apocalypse and I suspect that Bendell will be doing the same thing in the year 2065.

In his paper Bendell does lamely observe, “We do not know if the power of human ingenuity will help sufficiently to change the environmental trajectory we are on.” Maybe not, but it’s a far better bet than is his concocted case for collapse fatalism.

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Alleged news from the South Arctic Circle

The Associated Press claims:

It might seem counterintuitive, but the dreaded “polar vortex” is bringing its icy grip to the Midwest thanks to a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic.

Get used to it. The polar vortex has been wandering more often in recent years.

It all started with misplaced Moroccan heat. Last month, the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles above the North Pole rapidly rose by about 125 degrees (70 degrees Celsius), thanks to air flowing in from the south. It’s called “sudden stratospheric warming.”

That warmth split the polar vortex, leaving the pieces to wander, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, a commercial firm outside Boston.

“Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air,” Cohen said.

By Wednesday morning, one of those pieces will be over the Lower 48 states for the first time in years. The forecast calls for a low of minus 21 degrees (minus 29 Celsius) in Chicago and wind chills flirting with minus 65 degrees (minus 54 Celsius) in parts of Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service.

The unusual cold could stick around another eight weeks, Cohen said.

“The impacts from this split, we have a ways to go. It’s not the end of the movie yet,” Cohen said. “I think at a minimum, we’re looking at mid-February, possibly through mid-March.”

Americans were introduced to the polar vortex five years ago. It was in early January 2014 when temperatures dropped to minus 16 degrees (minus 27 Celsius) in Chicago and meteorologists, who used the term for decades, started talking about it on social media.

This outbreak may snap some daily records for cold and is likely to be even more brutal than five years ago, especially with added wind chill, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private weather firm Weather Underground. …

Some scientists — but by no means most — see a connection between human-caused climate change and difference in atmospheric pressure that causes slower moving waves in the air.

“It’s a complicated story that involves a hefty dose of chaos and an interplay among multiple influences, so extracting a clear signal of the Arctic’s role is challenging,” said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. Several recent papers have made the case for the connection, she noted.

“This symptom of global warming is counterintuitive for those in the cross-hairs of these extreme cold spells,” Francis said in an email. “But these events provide an excellent opportunity to help the public understand some of the ‘interesting’ ways that climate change will unfold.”

Others, like Furtado, aren’t sold yet on the climate change connection.

Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini, who has already felt temperatures that seem like 25 degrees below zero, said there’s “a growing body of literature” to support the climate connection. But he says more evidence is needed.

“Either way,” Gensini said, “it’s going to be interesting being in the bullseye of the Midwest cold.”

So the AP strongly hints that something that has happened twice in this decade is the fault of magical climate change, which causes hot, cold, dry and wet weather.

I am not a climate scientist, but I think two events in five years does not necessarily constitute a trend. Up until the last week, this was a pleasantly mild winter, compared to the much worse winter of 2013–14, the first time the hateful phrase “polar vortex” entered the lexicon. (The 2013–14 cold was blamed on snow in Siberia the previous October.)

One of the things I do in my day(s-ending-in-Y) job is to list the record high and low temperatures each week. Since I have been doing that the past seven years, we have had 10 days of record or record-tying highs, and nine nights of record or record-tying lows. Is that really a trend?

We haven’t had a really bad winter since that 2013–14 winter, which, by the way, set zero cold-temperature records in Presteblog World Headquarters. Did the polar vortex cause the –51 temperature in Lone Rock Jan. 30, 1951? That was the coldest temperature in the nation that day, leading to the U.S. 14 sign “Coldest in the Nation with the Warmest Heart,” accompanied by a polar bear.

How about the –55 in Couderay Feb. 2 and 4, 1996? That was seven months after record highs throughout Wisconsin, including one dog’s-breath day where Appleton had the nation’s highest heat index, 140. How about the days in January 1936 when record lows were set, six months before record highs (including the state’s all-time record high, 114 in Wisconsin Dells July 13, 1936)?

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s predictions for the next six to 10 days …

… eight to 14 days …

… three to four weeks …

… and overall the next month …

… indicate a trend toward colder weather, but not a hugely strong trend.

This is an example of agenda journalism — deciding what the story is about and finding evidence for your position, instead of finding out whether this is really unprecedented weather. (Check the winters of 1977 through 1979, which were horrible and far worse than anything this year.) And the national media wonders why it’s lost credibility with its readers, listeners and viewers.

 

Dueling winter predictions

Country Living first reported

You may want to swap out your snow boots for rain boots this year. Most of the country can expect more rain and less snow this winter, says The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The OFA, founded in 1792, just released its annual weather forecast—and it says that 2019 will be warm and wet.

… and then reported:

Don’t toss those snow boots just yet: Just days after The Old Farmer’s Almanacforecasted a warm, wet winter, the other Farmers’ Almanac has predicted the exact opposite: A long, cold, snowy winter.

“Contrary to some stories floating around on the internet, our time-tested, long-range formula is pointing towards a very long, cold, and snow-filled winter,” Farmers’ Almanac Editor and Philom Peter Geiger says in the press release. “We stand by our forecast and formula, which accurately predicted most of the winter storms last year as well as this summer’s steamy, hot conditions.”

Our cold climate

David French goes back to 1988:

The rapture was supposed to happen on September 13, 1988. A few fringe pastors were screaming that the end was nigh, that the righteous would soon disappear into the air while the rest of humanity was doomed to suffer a quite literal hell on earth. Forget the biblical admonition that no man knows the day nor hour of Christ’s return, these men had figured it out. It was time to prepare yourself.

I was a sophomore at a Christian college in Nashville, and it was the talk of the campus. No one likes to make fun of crazy Christian preachers more than irreverent Christian college students, and we couldn’t stop dividing the student body between the saved and the damned.
When the alarm clock rang the morning after the scheduled rapture, I hit snooze, and said, triumphantly, to my roommate, “We’re still here!” There was no response. “Hello?” Still no response. I looked down at his bed, and no one was there. For about nine seconds I was gripped by sheer panic. I’d been left behind. The lake of fire awaits! Then my roommate walked in from the shower, and the crisis passed.

I thought of this story as I watched Rush Limbaugh’s Al Gore “armageddon” clock expire. In January, 2006 — when promoting his Oscar-winning (yes, Oscar-winning) documentary, An Inconvenient Truth — Gore declared that unless we took “drastic measures” to reduce greenhouse gasses, the world would reach a “point of no return” in a mere ten years. He called it a “true planetary emergency.” Well, the ten years passed today, we’re still here, and the climate activists have postponed the apocalypse. Again.

There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe.
‌Gore’s prediction fits right in with the rest of his comrades in the wild-eyed environmentalist movement. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”


But for sheer vivid lunacy, nothing matches this Good Morning America report from 2008:

The images show Manhattan shrinking against the onslaught of the rising seas — in 2015. Last year. Gasoline was supposed to be $9 per gallon. Milk would cost almost $13 per gallon. Wildfires would rage, hurricanes would strike with ever-greater intensity. By the end of the clip I was expecting to see the esteemed doctors Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, and Ray Stantz step forward to predict, “Rivers and Seas boiling!” “Forty years of darkness!” And of course the ultimate disasters: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . Mass hysteria!”
Can we ignore them yet? Apparently not. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry. Simply change the cataclysm — Overpopulation! No, global cooling! No, global warming! No, climate change! — push the apocalypse back just a few more years, and you’re in business, big business.
Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry.
In reality, I respect the wild-eyed rapture-pastors far more than the climate hysterics. They merely ask me to believe, they don’t use the power of government to dictate how I live. Pastors aren’t circumventing the democratic process to impose dangerous and job-killing environmental regulations. Draconian fuel-economy standards have actually cost American lives. And now the coal industry is reeling in part because of stringent EPA standards. Overall, the EPA’s climate-change regulations are set to impose enormous economic costs.

Even worse, the hysterics are hypocrites. It’s austerity for thee but not for me as they jet around the globe to speak to adoring audiences about the need for sacrifice. As Good Morning America broadcast its shrieking warning about Manhattan’s imminent doom, how many environmentalist liberals were selling their Park Avenue apartments and moving to higher ground? They’re like a drunk preacher screaming about the evils of demon rum. They refuse to walk their talk. As Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds often says, we should believe there’s a crisis when the alarmists start acting like there’s a crisis.

There are indeed scientists laboring away in good faith to understand more about our climate, and I applaud their work. But climate activists all too often are the close cousins of politically correct campus race hucksters — they cloak their raw will to power in the self-righteous cloak of the great and glorious cause. We’ve taken them seriously for far too long. Now, it’s time to laugh.

The (potential) joys of global warming

Investors Business Daily notes about Hurricane Irma:

Perhaps the best indication that Irma failed to live up to its billing is the fact that the broad stock indexes — including insurance companies — rallied on Monday while various construction-related stocks took it on the chin. When can we expect to see stories about how global warming deserves the credit?

There’s no question that Irma was and continues to be destructive. But there’s also no question that it was not nearly the storm it was predicted by all the experts to be.

Last week, there was talk of massive destruction across the state, with damage estimates ranging up to $200 billion. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levin called it “a nuclear hurricane.” Storm tracks last week showed Irma remaining a Category 4 hurricane for a significant portion of its trek across Florida. When Irma shifted to the west as it approached, it was described as the “worst-case scenario” for the state.

However, when Irma made landfall in the U.S., it’s strength quickly diminished and the actual damages to Florida in dollar terms will likely be 75% lower than predicted.

While those dire forecasts were being made, environmentalists and politicians were busy pinning the blame on global warming.

It was the same after Hurricane Harvey caused massive flooding in Houston. It’s the case whenever there is an adverse weather event. If there’s a drought, it’s because of “climate change.” If there’s flooding, climate change. Wild fires, climate change. Blizzards? Climate change.

So will environmentalists credit climate change for Irma’s unexpected turn for the better?

Even if that were true — and, for the record, we aren’t saying it is — environmentalists wouldn’t admit it, because the only thing that never, ever gets linked to climate change is good weather.

Indeed, any talk of the benefits of climate change is treated as dangerous nonsense, not because the benefits are unlikely, but because that sort of happy talk might cause people to become “complacent” about the need to fight climate change through onerous, intrusive and massively expensive government edicts.

That’s why you rarely hear about longer growing seasons that a warmer planet would produce in northern regions, which would lower food prices and reduce hunger, or the reduced number of fatalities from extreme cold, or how past periods of non-human-caused warming were ones of relative abundance.

It’s also why there’s so little research into other potential benefits of climate change, or what the relative balance between costs and benefits would be. Who is going to fund research into such things when the entire government-science-research complex is singularly devoted to proving that climate change will destroy humanity?

This one-sidedness isn’t evidence that global warming is real or inherently cataclysmic. It is, instead, evidence that global warming advocates are more interested in pushing a political agenda than actual science.

Occasionally, however, some good news slips through the climate change praetorian guard.

One was in the form of a study published by the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature in April 2016. The authors found that the weather in America had actually become increasingly pleasant over the past 40 years because of climate change — winters have been less severe while summers didn’t get much hotter.

As a result, the authors said, “80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago.”

This summer, University of York environmental professor Chris Thomas published a book, “Inheritors of the Earth”, in which he showed how global warming could be good for biodiversity, because species that need warmth would benefit while those that don’t would be largely unaffected.

Needless to say, these findings were not greeted with adulation from environmentalists.

In fact, when Rep. Lamar Smith made the case that climate change could be an overall benefit to humanity, he was mocked by Michael Mann, the climate scientists who as we noted in this space has been accused of manipulating temperature data but who is still the go-to expert for journalists. Mann told the far-left Huffington Post “it is clear” Smith is “slowly advancing through the stages of denial … having apparently now moved from ‘it’s not happening,’ to ‘ok—it’s happening, but IT WILL BE GOOD FOR US.”

Don’t expect Mann to apologize if he, not Smith, turns out to be wrong.

Joe Bastardi adds on Twitter:

Let me be clear, I believe in climate change, and always have. Its what history has always shown. Warm=climate optimums its natural

The last two Wisconsin winters have been historically mild. This past summer was certainly not hot, and it was wet, as predicted. Mild winters mean lower heating bills, which means more money in your pocket. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing, except, I guess, for those who want to control our lives through government.

Or, in cartoon form:

Winters are a major reason to not live in Wisconsin. I am favor of anything that makes winter less hideous.

 

Hurricane facts and hysterics

The arrivals of hurricanes Harvey and Irma led to predictable screaming about global climate change and the connection to hurricanes.

The truth comes from Mike Smith:

Whether it is Leonard Pitts or New Republicthe misinformation about global warming and its connection, if any, to U.S. hurricanes gotten really silly. Because the genuine science doesn’t support the contention, their argument is reduced to this:

“And the timing of them, combined with the historic awfulness of them, feels more sinister than simple coincidence, does it not?”

Feels more sinister”? — The arguments for catastrophic global warming have jumped the shark.

Fact: Until August 25, 2017, when Harvey came ashore, the United States (including Hawaii) went a record 11 years and 10 months without a major hurricane. The period of record is from 1850 to the present. The former record was from 1900 to 1906, so we nearly doubled the previous record — very good news. 

Fact: Worldwide, there is no upward trend in hurricanesSee the data for yourself (below).

Both graphs courtesy Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., click to enlarge

Fact: Worldwide, natural disaster costs are lessening.

Is global warming an issue? Yes, it is, as I have stated many times. But, exaggeration or appeals to feelings do far more harm than good.

During a hurricane in 1900, a storm surge rose out of the Gulf of Mexico and annihilated Galveston, Texas, killing about 8,000 men, women and children.

In 1935, at least 408 people died when another cyclone slammed into the Florida Keys, many of them World War I veterans working on construction projects.

And in 1957, Hurricane Audrey’s storm surges crashed into the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, killing 390 people.

Hurricane Irma, which slammed into Florida over the weekend, was in a similar league as those storms in its sheer power, and the number of people living in vulnerable areas has only grown.

So how has the number of deaths — in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as of Monday night — remained in single digits?

The answer is the modern science of hurricane monitoring and preparation, which has saved countless lives as forecasting, satellite monitoring and government planning have dramatically improved in recent decades.

One study in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews calculated that America suffered an average of 1,400 hurricane deaths per decade from 1910 to 1939, 700 deaths per decade from 1940 to 1969, and about 250 deaths per decade from 1970 to 1999.

“The number of people killed in hurricanes halves about every 25 years, in spite of the fact that coastal populations have been increasing, because of what we’re doing with forecasting,” said Hugh Willoughby, a professor of meteorology at Florida International University in Miami.

Journalists with agendas, hurricane edition

Christian Britschgi wrote this late last week:

The flood waters from Hurricane Harvey are mercifully receding from Houston. Unfortunately, the flood of hot takes blaming Houston’s development for the floods has continued unabated.

Despite repeated debunking from a wide range of commentators and urban policy experts, the idea that unregulated development caused the massive swell of storm water has seamlessly shifted from off-the-cuff observations to conventional wisdom.

“Houston’s sprawl gave the city terrible traffic and an outsized pollution footprint even before the hurricane. When the rains came, the vast paved-over area meant that rising waters had nowhere to go,” wrote Paul Krugman in his Monday New York Times column. Roane Carney of The Nation made the same claim last week, saying that Houston has witnessed a continual battle between developers who want to pave over green fields and the engineers and scientists who want to stop that in the name of flood prevention.

For a more informed view, I spoke with Neil Sander, a principal at Dynamic Engineering Consultants, P.C. who holds a master’s in civil engineering from Johns Hopkins University. Sander has worked on commercial developments in the Houston area for the past five years.

Far from being an unregulated wild west, Sander says, Houston is typical in how it regulates storm water runoff.

“Houston is governed by a number of different storm water ordinances from different entities,” he tells Reason. “The City of Houston, Harris County Flood Control District, and the Texas Department of Transportation all limit the amount of water you can release from a development, regardless of how much you pave.” These regulations lay out rules for the quantity and rate of storm water runoff allowed from developments and for how that runoff is managed.

One need only look at the City of Houston’s Infrastructure Design Manual for evidence of this.

Nearly a quarter of the 400-page manual—which governs everything from traffic signals to easement requirements—is devoted to storm water collection and drainage requirements, dictating how much water must be detained for a given amount of pavement and how quickly that water must be drained from a property. Other rules cover everything from the design and capacity of drainage ditches and culverts to the minimum spacing of storm water inlets.

Asked how well Houston regulates storm water runoff compared to other areas, Sander says the city does it “as well as anyplace else.”

“Some places are very heavily overregulated, especially in the Northeast, but there is nothing uniquely awful about Houston,” he tells Reason. “They look at all the same measurements that other municipalities look at. Certainly they have hundreds of pages of regulations on the subject.”

Sander adds that the post-Harvey focus on impervious surfaces is misplaced.

According to analysis from the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center, Hurricane Harvey was a 1-in-1,000-year event, dumping nearly 20 trillion gallons of water on the Houston area in only a few days. No amount of planning or infrastructure can handle that kind of water, Sander notes. Even for green fields, “little water beyond a two- or five-year event is infiltrating anyway.”

Sander suspects that current calls for more comprehensive urban planning are opportunistic. “Somebody has a solution sitting on a self, waiting for what they think is the right opportunity to roll it out,” he says. But when it comes to surviving storms like Harvey, “I can say confidently that introducing zoning to Houston would make zero difference.”

Instead of waiting for government …

Brian Doheny:

After a natural disaster of the hideous and shocking scope of the floods along the Texas coast this week, government response will never be—can never be—sufficient to people’s needs, either for immediate rescue or for long-term rebuilding.

If you don’t believe a libertarian on that point, a friend of mine with zero ideological antagonism toward government experienced in volunteer disaster relief in post-Katrina New Orleans and elsewhere stresses to all his curious Facebook followers that government, local or federal, is just not actually equipped to deal with providing all the help people require when storms like this hit, the existence of agencies with names like “Federal Emergency Management Agency” (FEMA) notwithstanding.

FEMA, as Mark Lisheron explained yesterday, brings with it as much or more harassing control and time-and money-wasting bureaucratic bungling as it does actual intelligent, well-managed life-saving aid.

The New Yorker this week shines a light on one of the real solutions in the wake of disaster, one that thankfully doesn’t feel obligated to wait for government orders, funding, or control: the Cajun Navy, a private organization out of Louisiana skilled and experienced at boat rescues of people trapped in (or on top of) their homes in a flood.

The Cajun Navy’s John Bridgers says modern private technology/communication companies like Facebook make the all-important communication of who is in need of help and where much easier, even as government’s 911 is strained beyond its capacities, as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner admitted it was.

Reason‘s Jesse Walker has reported and argued in the past, the issue isn’t just governmental vs. private: even big private bureaucracies such as the Red Cross fall prey to institutional imperatives and the impossibility of accurate and fast-moving local knowledge that make them often inefficient and ineffective.

As Walker wrote in 2014 (though not discussing the Cajun Navy specifically) “such networks [are known] to be more flexible, more capable of adjusting to conditions on the ground, and—when the groups are themselves locally based—more receptive to local knowledge” in delivering needed aid quickly and smartly.

Walker has also importantly reported on the fact that humans in deemed-ungovernable post-disaster situations actually have a greater tendency toward self- and other-aid than toward reduction to some sort of violent and chaotic Hobbesian “state of nature.”

The men and woman of the Cajun Navy live out the message of Walker’s reporting: the attitude that we must, or can, rely on public bureaucracies in moments of great crisis is insanely unsafe and wildly un-American. As we see so often, Americans inspired not by central commands and government contracts but by the will and desire to help, exist and rise to the occasion.

It is, alas, never enough to either save everyone that needs saving or fully blunt the terrifying damage nature can cause, and no single source of aid will get everything right. But privately organized and funded aid is real, and necessary, and can be as simple and direct as what the Cajun Navy’s Bridgers told The New Yorker: “We’re all sportsmen around here,” he said. “Pretty much every other person has a boat. So we got going.”

One would hope Wisconsinites faced with a massive natural disaster would have the wherewithal to help their neighbors instead of waiting for government to show up. (Though probably not in Madison and Milwaukee.)

 

More inconvenient truths

Alex Epstein chops up Algore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel”:

The more than seven billion people living in the world today need affordable, abundant energy — and a livable climate — to flourish. But the world’s leading source of energy is also the leading source of increasing greenhouse gases.

What to do? This is the vital question Al Gore took on in his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, and takes on again in his newly released follow-up An Inconvenient Sequel.

As the most influential figure in the international climate conversation, Gore has a responsibility to give us the whole picture of fossil fuels’ impacts — both their benefits and the risks they pose to humans flourishing. Unfortunately, Gore has given us a deeply biased picture that completely ignores fossil fuels’ indispensable benefits and wildly exaggerates their impact on climate.

The running theme throughout An Inconvenient Sequel is that Gore’s first film was even more right than he expected. The movie begins with defenders of fossil fuels mocking or ignoring the dramatic predictions of An Inconvenient Truth. Leaving aside a heroic (and highly disputed) portrayal of Gore rescuing the Paris climate accord, the rest of the movie focuses on vindicating Gore’s two chief predictions: 1) That we could replace fossil fuels with cheap solar- and wind-powered “renewables”; and 2) that continued use of fossil fuels would lead to catastrophic temperature rises, catastrophic sea-level rises, catastrophic flooding, catastrophic drought, catastrophic storms, and catastrophic disease proliferation.

To justify these claims, Gore makes extensive uses of anecdotes: he shows us the town of Georgetown, Tex. and its use of 100-per-cent renewable energy, a deadly heat wave in India, a deadly flood in Miami, a deadly drought in Syria, a deadly storm in the Philippines, and the Zika virus penetrating the United States.

Some of his anecdotes are meant to prove that cheap solar and wind are, as 2006 Gore prophesied, quickly dominating the world’s energy supply and, as 2006 Gore also warned us, that our rapidly warming climate is killing more and more people each year. But he has not given us the whole picture.

Take the rising dominance of solar and wind, which is used to paint supporters of fossil fuels as troglodytes, fools, and shills for Big Oil. The combined share of world energy consumption from renewables is all of two per cent. And it’s an expensive, unreliable, and therefore difficult-to-scale two per cent.

Because solar and wind are “unreliables,” they need to be backed up by reliable sources of power, usually fossil fuels, or sometimes non-carbon sources including nuclear and large-scale hydro power (all of which Gore and other environmentalists refuse to support). This is why every grid that incorporates significant solar and wind has more expensive electricity. Germans, on the hook for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s self-righteous anti-carbon commitments, are already paying three times the rates for electricity that Americans do.

Stories about “100-per-cent renewable” locations like Georgetown, Tex. are not just anecdotal evidence, they are lies. The Texas grid from which Georgetown draws its electricity is comprised of 43.7 per cent natural gas, 28.8 per cent coal, 12 per cent nuclear, and only 15.6 per cent renewable. Using a virtue-signalling gimmick pioneered by Apple, Facebook, and Google, Georgetown pays its state utility to label its grid electricity “renewable” —  even though it draws its power from that fossil-fuel heavy Texas grid — while tarring others on the grid as “non-renewable.”

If we look at the overall trends instead of engaging in anecdotal manipulation we see that fossil fuel energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world — still. Fossil fuels have never been more vital to human flourishing. There are 1,600 coal plants planned for the near future, which could increase international coal capacity 43 per cent. Advances in technology are making fossil fuels cleaner, safer, and more efficient than ever. To reduce their growth let alone to radically restrict their use — which is what Gore advocates — means forcing energy poverty on billions of people.

Gore and others should be free to make the case that the danger of greenhouse gases is so serious as to warrant that scale of human misery. But they should have to quantify and justify the magnitude of climate danger. And that brings us to the truth about climate.

The overall trend in climate danger is that it is at an all-time low. The Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) shows 6,114 climate-related deaths in 2016. In other recent years the numbers have maxed out in the tens of thousands. Compare this to the 1930s when, adjusted for population, climate-related deaths hit the 10-million mark several times.

The most significant cause of our radically reduced climate danger is industrial development, which takes a naturally dangerous climate and makes it unnaturally safe. And industrial development is driven by cheap, plentiful, reliable energy — which, today, overwhelmingly means fossil fuels. Climate will always be dangerous so priority number one is to have the energy and development to tame it. Modern irrigation, residential heating and air conditioning have made once uninhabitable places perfectly comfortable.

Gore’s Inconvenient Sequel gives a biased, self-serving, and convenient picture of fossil fuels and climate — convenient for Gore’s legacy, that is, but inconvenient for the billions his energy poverty policies will harm. As citizens, we must start demanding responsible thought leaders who will give us the whole picture that life-and-death energy and climate decisions require.

Algore (and his supporters), hypocrite(s)

The National Center for Policy Analysis:

In February 2007, the day after his panicky global warming film “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Academy Award for best documentary, a shocking report based on public records revealed that Al Gore’s Nashville home consumed 20 times more electricity than the average American household.

Facing scrutiny for his extreme electricity consumption, the former vice president pledged to renovate his home to become greener and more energy-efficient. The extensive and expensive overhaul of Gore’s house included installing solar panels and geothermal heating.

In order to determine the effectiveness of the environmentally-friendly remodel and learn whether the self-appointed spokesman of the environmental movement has amended his energy-devouring ways, the National Center for Public Policy Research obtained Gore’s electricity usage information through public records requests and conversations with the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In powering his home, Gore still greatly outpaces most Americans in energy consumption. The findings were shocking:

  • The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month.
  • Gore guzzles more electricity in one year than the average American family uses in 21 years.
  • In September of 2016, Gore’s home consumed 30,993 kWh in just one month – as much energy as a typical American family burns in 34 months.• During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.
  • From August 2016 through July 2017, Gore spent almost $22,000 on electricity bills.
  • Gore paid an estimated $60,000 to install 33 solar panels. Those solar panels produce an average of 1,092 kWh per month, only 5.7% of Gore’s typical monthly energy consumption.

No matter how the numbers are viewed, Al Gore uses vastly more electricity at his home than the average American – a particularly inconvenient truth given his hypocritical calls for all Americans to reduce their home energy use.

Al Gore resides in a 10,070-square-foot Colonial-style home in the posh Belle Meade section of Nashville, the eighth-wealthiest neighborhood in America according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The home, which was built in 1915, contains 20 rooms – including five bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and two half-baths. Gore purchased the property, including the home and the surrounding 2.09 acre lot, in 2002 for $2.3 million. …

Gore also owns at least two other homes, a pied-à-terre in San Francisco’s St. Regis Residence Club and a farm house in Carthage, Tennessee. …

Al Gore has attained a near-mythical status for his frenzied efforts to propagandize global warming. At the same time, Gore has done little to prove his commitment to the cause in his own life. While Gore encourages people throughout the world to reduce their carbon footprint and make drastic changes to cut energy consumption, Gore’s own home electricity use has hypocritically increased to more than 21 times the national average this past year with no sign of slowing down.

This is nothing new for environmentalists, who fly to Switzerland every year to proclaim that global climate change is destroying Gaia, which they worship instead of God. To paraphrase what Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds has said about Gore and others of his ilk: I’ll believe global climate change is a crisis when Gore and his ilk start acting like it’s a crisis.

 

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