Day By Day

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thinking Like Canute

From my LA correspondent comes a link to yet another critique of the global warming hysteria.

Philip Stott, Professor Emeritus of Biogeography at the University of London, notes several salient points:

1) The problem of measurement:

Measurement of temperatures is a complex problem that can lead to erroneous conclusions. For instance:
[C]omparing modern temperature measurements with older measurements can be misleading. Measuring stations where temperatures have been recorded over many years may no longer have the same local environment, due to increased urbanisation and the urban 'heat-island' effect...
[M]odern thermistor- and thyristor- based instruments react very quickly, and are likely to record more extreme transitory temperature highs and lows than the older mercury-in-glass thermometers. So current temperature measurements are probably exaggerated relative to the older measurements....
2) The problem of complexity:

Temperature trends show no clear pattern over time or space. There are periods of warming and of cooling on different continents that don't coalesce into a coherent trend. The most that can be said is:
Overall, temperatures have risen by a mere 0.6 degrees C over the past 150 years - which is unexceptional given that we are moving away from a Little Ice Age.
Episodes of extreme weather tell us next to nothing about global warming.
For the past 15 years, green pressure groups with vested interests have worked hard to persuade us that all such climatic phenomena are evidence of human-induced warming. But we must be wary of trying to link naturally varying weather events like fires and floods to simplistic ideas like 'global warming'. As the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) pointed out earlier in August, 'We need more than just one or two events'.... After all, it remains impossible to forecast weather more than 10 days in advance!
And "climate change" is not the same as "global warming."
Climate change is a truism; it happens all the time. It would be extraordinary if climate were not changing. 'Global warming', by contrast, is a 1990s apocalyptic construct that climate change is primarily driven by human emissions of so-called 'greenhouse gases', like carbon dioxide and methane, and that these will cause a massive rise in temperature....
So what we have is a large, dynamic, complex set of systems that are always in flux, the interactions of which are only partially understood.

And even if we did discern a clear pattern in all of this we are incompetent to manage a system so large and complex as climate.
[C]limate, and our weather, is governed by thousands of interacting factors, from erupting volcanoes to the cycles of the sun. Sorting these out, and predicting what might ultimately happen, is like trying to control a million drunks on a Saturday evening, all chaos and non-linear activity.
3) Attempts to control climate change are futile and a waste of valuable resources. Here I quote at length because his argument is so damn powerful.

[T]he very concept of a 'sustainable' climate does not make sense. Even if we junked every car, closed down every factory, and shut down every power station, climate would still change....

The sooner we admit that we have no predictable control over climate, the better. This is what is wrong with the ill-fated Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Not only are the national targets it set for cutting 'greenhouse gas' emissions impossible in the face of economic growth, particularly in the developing world like China and India - they would not work in pure climate terms. Fiddling at the edges of this mighty Wurlitzer of a system will accomplish nothing and may make things worse.

But the real human danger of Kyoto is that aid finance is being deflected from much more practical ways of improving environmental performance and welfare, especially in developing countries. While billions are being squandered on a quixotic climatic adventure, millions die for want of clean water, sufficient food, basic medicines and a reliable modern energy supply.

The way to cope with climate extremes, hot or cold, real or imaginary, is to maintain strong flexible economies that can adapt to change....
Read the whole thing here.

And that last is the great tragedy of modern environmentalism. Transhumanist world savers are quite willing to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of men, women, and children in order to pursue the fantasy of "sustainable" climate. The global warming activists are not benefactors of humanity, they are profoundly anti-humanist; dangerous zealots and fools who must be opposed and fought at every turn.

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