The lukewarmer

Heard an interview with Steve Hayward in this podcast, in which he summarizes the lukewarmer* position very succinctly:

  • It’s not a hoax… “like other environment problems we’ve had, they are phenomena, they’re not world-ending crises, and why should we suppose this is the first one that they’ve advertised for the last 50 years that also is not going to turn out to be a phony crisis?
  • If you double the amount of  CO2 in the atmosphere, which will take about a century to do from now, from its pre-industrial level, most of the models suggest you’d increase temperature by a little over 1 degree Celsius.  That’s not much to worry about; in fact it probably has net benefits.”
  • The alarmist argument comes from feedback (or knock-on) effects which are “theoretically plausible but the empirical basis is very thin.”  Even the official science (from the IPCC) reports that the uncertainty on all those feedback effects are very large.
  • The whole case for catastrophic warming, always weak and probably exaggerated for political purposes, is even weaker.  This turns advocates into fanatics.  (Familiar examples abound.)   And you’re not allowed to be a lukewarmer – you’re either with us or against us.

The answer to every environmental problem is always the same:  more political control over people and resources.  There’s never any discussion of what the alternatives might be, assuming the problem is as serious as they say it is, which it almost never is.                                                       – Steve Hayward

*A “lukewarmer” is someone who says we’ve warmed a little bit, might well warm a little bit more, it’s almost certainly not a crisis, it’s something that could be managed in a variety of sensible ways as time goes on since it’s a slow-moving problem, and it’s no reason to hand over more political control to governments at any level.

UPDATE:  Related piece from last Friday’s WSJ, in which the author wonders why world leaders see “climate change” as a greater danger than Islamic terrorism, especially since “the high end of the IPCC range is looking even more implausible in theory and practice.”

It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global-warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Niño-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was about 35 years ago. Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the past 10,000 years.

Nor can it be the consequences of this recent slight temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise—about a foot a century—with no sign of recent acceleration.

Perhaps it is the predictions that worry the world leaders. Here, we are often told by journalists that the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: They say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this uncertainty in their fifth and latest assessment for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by the latter part of the century—that is, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful

But the experience of the last three decades is that there is no energy technology remotely ready to take over from fossil fuels on the scale needed and at a price the public is willing to pay…

Technological breakthroughs in the production of gas and oil from shale have outpaced the development of low-carbon energy and made it even less competitive.

Meanwhile, there are a billion people with no grid electricity whose lives could be radically improved—and whose ability to cope with the effects of weather and climate change could be greatly enhanced—with the access to the concentrated power of coal, gas or oil that the rich world enjoys. Aid for such projects has already been constrained by Western institutions in the interest of not putting the climate at risk. So climate policy is hurting the poor.

To put it bluntly, climate change and its likely impact are proving slower and less harmful than we feared, while decarbonization of the economy is proving more painful and costly than we hoped. The mood in Paris will be one of furious pessimism among the well-funded NGOs that will attend the summit in large numbers: Decarbonization, on which they have set their hearts, is not happening, and they dare not mention the reassuring news from science lest it threaten their budgets.

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