Snow Job?

EditorialBy Phil Erwin

With vast areas of the nation covered by an unusually thick and seriously early winter blanket of white stuff, one might reasonably ask a simple question: “What Global Warming?”

That, of course, is precisely why the Anti-Oil crowd changed the named crisis from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” – because worrying about warming in the midst of another deep-freeze winter seems kinda silly to most folks. And it’s been getting colder for about the last 18 years.

Of course, the crisis crowd insists that deep-freeze winters are an unmistakeable sign of Global Warming. In their minds, any variation from a “normal” climate must be a clear sign of Climate Change.

But here’s the thing: Climate always changes. Always has. Always will. And the amount of change, as well as the rate and direction of change, is also changing. All the time.

Were it not so, we wouldn’t do weather “forecasting.” We’d do weather “scheduling.”

There is no such thing as a “normal” climate. There is only what we, with our incomplete and inconsistent memories – never more than the span of a human lifetime – think of as “normal.” And every generation has years when phrases like, “I don’t ever remember it being this hot!” or “I’ve never seen the snows so deep!” are batted about over beer or hot chocolate.

I recall remarking a decade ago to a bearded, bicycling Berkleyite outside a coffee house – something to do with Global Warming being a Communist plot or some- such: “But I thought the science was settled,” said this gent, surprised to discover there was a human anywhere on the planet with a contrary view.   He had a Ph.D in Physics, and had worked a career in aerospace. You’d think a guy with his working head in the clouds, so to speak, would know a little more than what current news-copy had to say about clouds and climate. I took the opportunity to educate this educated fellow as to the apparent limits of his expertise.

“Nothing’s settled,” said I. “They don’t know enough. They’re just guessing. They put reams of statistics to it, but it’s still just guesswork. Were that not the case, it wouldn’t be called ‘forecasting…’”

But don’t take my word for it.

Rick Santelli, a well-respected financial reporter on CNBC, found himself wondering whether the current flap over Professor Jonathan Gruber’s snobbish remarks as to the “stupidity” of the American voter might shed some light on the long debate over Climate Change, just as it did with regard to the Affordable Care Act. “Mr. Gruber,” noted Santelli on air, “is in the news everywhere, slanting his knowledge to kind of pull the wool over the eyes of the public. I personally think ‘Climate Change’ does the same thing. So we have a real scientist here…”

Santelli interviewed  at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s also President of the Climate Forecast Applications Network. She knows a thing or two about climate. Santelli asked her, “Is the American public getting bamboozled… to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes with regard to Climate Change?”

Judith Curry, Phd

Judith Curry, Phd

Professor Curry’s response: “Well, I’m concerned that people have oversimplified both the problem and the solutions. Climate is a very complex system, and our understanding is very incomplete; and all of the solutions that have been proposed to deal with human-caused global warming are fraught with unintended consequences. So we need to… get more realistic about the challenges and the possible solutions.”

Here’s more from the Professor: “The data are ambiguous and incomplete, and the models are far from perfect… We’ve warmed about 1 ½ degrees Fahrenheit over the last century… The models are running way too hot, their projections are really too extreme… How carbon gets cycled through the earth’s system is complicated… [We should] worry about reducing our vulnerability to extreme weather events [which will] help us whether climate changes naturally, or from human causes.”

Now, that is a scientist worth listening to.   She understands the limits of her own knowledge, and that of her peers and profession; and she worries that betting public policy on incomplete knowledge, insufficient forethought and a host of unknowns is a practice fraught with peril.

Prof. Curry understands that the goal to managing our economic activities on the planet should be to find some level of reasonable, sustainable balance, where our lifestyle is comfortable, while our impact on the environment is effectively controlled.

The woman isn’t stupid. Nor is she the kind to profess she knows answers just because the public wants answers.

That is a subterfuge best left to ignorant politicians and their arrogant sycophants.

Anybody seen Professor Gruber lately?


Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park.   He has a degree in Environmental Science, which explains why he’s not as susceptible to Climate Change hyperbole as are most elected officials.

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