How can you tell if your ideology — or philosophy, or religion — is a mess?
When you start rooting for disaster, when you feel a hankering for a cataclysm.
When you can’t wait for a snow day.
OK. That’s going too far. If you are a kid stuck in a public school, there’s probably nothing more rational than a desire to skip class without repercussions and go out to play.
But for adults, if you are let down by a storm warning that didn’t pan out, maybe you should look into it. “It” being “your soul.”
I detected a sigh of . . . disappointment last week, where I live, when New York and the nation’s capital missed the predicted storm of the epoch. New England didn’t get the reprieve, but the rest of us did, and for some the itch for apocalypse over-rode reason. At least a bit.
I don’t know why the storm didn’t behave as predicted, but I do have an idea why some adults experienced a let-down.
I blame global warming.
Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Catastrophism, in particular.
You see, all that snow that was supposed to cover so much of the country was to serve as a sign of the times, if your eschatology leaned AGW, anyway. Folks who talk about “climate change” in general and man-caused “global warming” in particular want to blame big storms as well as big droughts on that change in climate. So they can take power and then set policy to tweak the weather to some old-time perfection.
Perhaps you’re saying, “Warming? The snow is cold.”
But half-baked conclusions that the concluder is frigidly determined to reach regardless of evidence may be “based on” any set of facts under the sun.
Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger of the Cato Institute point out the silliness of regarding an unknown human contribution to climate patterns as co-responsible for any bad weather. Blizzard Juno (like pretty much any storm) was “the result of a very complex system of physical interactions — the precise behavior of each one of which is not completely understood, much less perfectly predictable. This makes ascertaining the influence of human-caused climate change virtually (if not entirely) impossible.”
The authors present a graph of snowfall totals in NYC’s Central Park since the late 19th century. Lots of spikes, lots of troughs. In other words, natural variability in the weather is nothing new.
We can’t always predict the course of storms very exactly. But, these days, we sure can predict that when the storms come, humanity will be indicted along with Mother Nature . . . almost as if there were no weather on earth before human beings showed up.
So no wonder a few honest scientists are . . . shrugging. Or at least expressing some forgivable despair.
“I should have been an engineer,” climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer laments. “I went into science with the misguided belief that science provides answers. Too often, it doesn’t. Some physical problems are simply too difficult. Two scientists can examine the same data and come to exactly opposite conclusions about causation.”
In other words, it’s like all sciences of complex phenomena. Like social science — economics, for instance.
But he’s not complaining that it’s hard. He’s complaining that it’s been taken over.
By ideologues. By the folks who blame every bit of bad weather on climate change, the folks for whom a cold snap is just as indicative of “global warming” as a heat wave.
When it comes to “climate change,” scientific nuance has gone out the window:
We still don’t understand what causes natural climate change to occur, so we simply assume it doesn’t exist. This despite abundant evidence that it was just as warm 1,000 and 2,000 years ago as it is today. Forty years ago, “climate change” necessarily implied natural causation; now it only implies human causation.
Unscientific leaps to the now-de rigueur “anthropogenic” conclusion depresses Dr. Spencer.
Take the latest news pitch, the NOAA and NASA reports that last year, 2014, stands as “the hottest on human record.”
No, it isn’t, Spencer says.
Such claims are based on compromised data that most respectable climate scientists now avoid: unreliable surface temperature recordings, not satellite data. Such “hottest ever” reports “feed the insatiable appetite the public has for definitive, alarming headlines. It doesn’t matter that even in the thermometer record, 2014 wasn’t the warmest within the margin of error.”
But journalists, often moonlighting as lazy political activists, “went into journalism so they wouldn’t have to deal with such technical mumbo-jumbo” as “margins of error.”
And politicians are worse.
What’s at bottom of all this is probably that very human desire to tell an exciting story. That’s certainly the case with journalism. And politics, too, is a myth-based occupation. And that’s no doubt why it’s so hard for the rest of us not to get sucked in. Great headlines. Bad guys galore. Heroic efforts to “save the world” can cost almost nothing to advance over a beer — even if, if put into practice, they could cost the world, especially the world’s poor, billions in burdens and lost opportunities.
The bias is all on the side of the person with the most exciting story. Man-caused global destruction is a whopper.
But I suggest: cool off. Think. Re-think. Question the authorities.
And if you are in New England, shovel some snow.
It’s better than the politic alternative.
Paul Jacob, February 1, 2015
This column first appeared at Townhall.com.