Steve Hayward at the indispensable Power Line offered up a post yesterday in a classic good news/bad news vein. The good news is that the world doesn’t appear to be ending in the way that the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) crowd predicted, most memorably in Al Gore’s disaster flick masquerading as a documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. The bad news is, well, the world isn’t ending the way that the AGW crowd predicted–and that creates a few inconvenient truths that leading climate intellectuals such as Mark Ruffalo, Bette Midler and Michael Mann (the litigation-happy scientist, not the movie director) would rather not have to explain.
Here’s the lowdown:
- The climate change models promoted by the doom and gloomers who said we would all fry if we didn’t cut carbon emissions back to levels usually associated with Pyongyang on a Monday night have not proven to be entirely accurate. In fact, the predicted temperature changes have been so far off the mark, the scientists who crunched the data felt the need to issue a report to explain why they were wrong without, you know, admitting that their entire premise is flawed.
- A bunch of scientists, many of whom believe that human activity is driving climate change, are calling bull kaka on another scientist who claims that the electrical grid can be powered entirely by renewables by the year 2050.
- Antarctic sea ice is now at record levels. With observed global temperatures rising, climate scientists would expect just the opposite, but there you go. And they’re at a loss to explain it.
Call it a one-two-three punch on the warm-mongers who were already planning their party for the end of the world. Invitation only and catered by Le Cirque, of course.
Still, none of this should come as a surprise to the so-called reality-based community. When the numbers don’t add up, there’s only so much tap-dancing you can do to hide it. Perhaps Michael Mann and his cronies hoped that if they kept pushing their climate change Ponzi scheme hard enough, they’d get the regulatory changes they wanted before anybody noticed that their figures were pure bunk. A funny thing happened on the way to killing the economy, though: the climate proved to be far more of a complex system than the climate scientists let on. It’s exceptionally difficult to model a system with a virtually infinite number of variables, particularly when you don’t know what all those variables are. That the models themselves have proven to be so inaccurate only underscores how little we really understand about the drivers of climate change, and exposes the utter hubris of anyone who claims that the science is settled.
As to the viability of renewable energy, it would be nice to think that we can simply replace our fossil fuel-based electrical generation with wind, solar and hydroelectric power–but with the present state of technology, that’s nothing more than a pleasant fantasy. While hydroelectric is pretty reliable, it requires the building of dams. Lots of dams. And as anyone with a pair of functioning eyes and ears knows, the same environmentalists who demand RENEWABLE ENERGY NOW!!! aren’t so hot to trot about building dams. That leaves wind and solar, of course, but those presently account for only around 10% of the country’s entire energy output–and for good reason. The geographical footprint required for wind and solar farms is immense, taking up acres and acres of space and blighting the landscape with endless arrays of solar panels and wind turbines. Moreover, these forms of power generation suffer from a lot of intermittency: you don’t get solar at night when the sun isn’t shining, and the propellors don’t spin when the wind isn’t blowing. This requires the use of coal and gas-fired power plants to maintain the electrical grid and keep the lights on when these unreliable sources of power fizzle out. So much for going 100% renewable.
All this isn’t to say that I don’t personally believe that mankind affects the climate of the planet. I would find it surprising if we didn’t, what with all of our industrial activity and the way we’ve changed the environment. To me, however, the most pressing question is the degree to which we affect the climate. If human beings were responsible for, say 10% of the changes in the global climate, we could potentially make a significant impact by altering the way we do things. On the other hand, if human activity only accounted for .01%, or even 1%, we could shut down our entire civilization and not even make a dent. The truth is that no scientist can claim to answer this rather significant question, because nobody knows with any reliable degree of certainty. Hell, they can’t even prove definitively that carbon dioxide is even the pollutant they say it is, because all of the models that predicted a rise in temperatures commensurate with CO2 levels have been wrong.
Perhaps it might be time for scientists to take a step back and admit what they don’t know.