Politics & Policy

Perry and Global Warming

Do the warmists questioning Governor Perry really believe in science and math?

Last week Rick Perry questioned the prevailing orthodoxy on global warming. There was, as is easy to imagine, no shortage of warmists waiting to pounce. Remarkably, one of the first questions later put to Governor Perry was whether he accepted the correctness of evolution — as if the science behind global warming was supported by even a tenth as much evidence as we have for evolution. What is troubling, however, is that some of the other candidates for the Republican nomination still accept the theory of man-made warming. Worse, they are apparently prepared to act on their beliefs if elected president.

First, allow me to be clear about one thing. The planet is warming. Well, it was until 1998, when the warming trend abruptly ceased. In truth, it has been warming since 1850, when the last mini–Ice Age ended. In the 161 years since then, the earth’s temperature has increased . . . wait for it . . . 0.7 degrees. But we can’t even be sure of that, as all the major temperature records have been altered to the point of uselessness.

The scientists at Great Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) admit to using statistical sleights of hand to change the temperature record, so as to show more warming. And then, in a total flouting of the scientific method, they tossed out all the original raw data so that no other scientist could check their work. Remarkably, a panel — including a number of persons who stood to gain financially from a global-warming panic or who were personal friends of the accused — found nothing wrong with what the CRU scientists did. Move along; nothing to see here.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for feeding data into the United States’ Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) temperature record has been caught in a number of “unintentional” mistakes. One of my favorites is replicating Russia’s September temperatures as October’s, thereby significantly increasing the global average. In this regard, I have often wondered how it is that every “mistake” the high priests of global warming make is in the direction of increased warming. Why don’t they ever make a mistake that shows any cooling? My presumption is that after altering the laws of physics, altering the law of averages was child’s play.

Still, tampering with the data in such a way is a relatively minor fraud compared to the data manipulation the GISS gets away with every day. You see, although the GISS receives temperature readings from thousands of global stations, it uses only a fraction of them. Unbelievably, the GISS still fills out the thousands of spreadsheet cells, using figures from other sources. So what does the GISS put in a cell that used to have actual data readings? Well, it is using a smoothing technique that allows it to use any temperature reading taken within 750 miles of the location the empty cell represents. For instance, rather than use a temperature reading from a mountaintop in Bolivia, the GISS can substitute a reading from the coast of Peru or from a steamy Brazilian jungle. Does no one in government see how a warming bias might, therefore, be baked into the global record?

The graph below shows how damaging this smoothing is to the data record. Note the warming in the Arctic region. It seems like reason for concern, until one realizes that almost no actual data were used to create those dangerous-looking red zones. Instead, readings from almost 1,000 miles south of the polar regions were substituted for the missing data. How does such a substitution make sense unless one can convince oneself that it gets colder the closer one gets to the equator?

What does it mean if the major recent data sets are unreliable? First and foremost, it is a catastrophe for climate scientists, since they use these data as the basis of nearly every study they do. If the data are garbage, then every one of the thousands of studies using those data are also garbage.

But let’s be generous and assume for a moment that the planet actually has warmed all of 0.7 degrees. Should we follow the Chicken Littles in frenzied panic? I would argue that perhaps we might at least want to wait until the warming trend breaks out of the bands of natural variability. The graph below shows the temperature record for the past 10,000 years.

As one can clearly see, we still have several degrees to go before we reach temperatures recorded during previous natural warming periods. At the rate the temperature is increasing, we should be as warm as the ancient Romans in another 300 years. Moreover, even if 2011 is declared (using corrupted data, of course) as the warmest year on record, it will still rank only about 9,100th out of the last 10,000 years. One might even note that all previous warming periods since mankind exited the caves coincide with the greatest achievements in civilization and culture. That is something this warming period has in common with past ones, unless you wish to discount such things as the doubling of the average lifespan and a tenfold increase in average wealth as an achievement worthy of note.

The sad truth, however, is that none of the above information nor any of the thousands of other data points I could present are going to make an iota’s difference to those who see carbon emissions as a crime against the planet. They are apparently oblivious to any fact that does not support a theory they have invested so much emotion in. Moreover, they are willing to wreck our entire economy in pursuit of the false gods of global warming.

What is one to make of an administration that puts green jobs at the center of its job-creation plans when empirically based studies from Spain and the United Kingdom show that every green job gained means the loss of between two and four other jobs? This is something worth keeping in mind when any member of the administration shows up to take credit for new jobs at a solar plant (not as likely as a couple of years ago, as they are going bankrupt and moving their operations to China faster than the government can pump in new subsidies) or a wind-turbine factory. As you listen, give a moment’s thought to the thousands of persons thrown out of work to create those green jobs. 

Or what is one to make of wind power? It costs much more than coal or gas, and it is not nearly as efficient as either. This is something Governor Perry knows all about. Texas has emplaced about 9,700 megawatts of wind power, at tremendous cost to ratepayers. In early August, Texan demand topped 63,000 megawatts, but less than 500 megawatts was available from those expensive wind farms. It seems the wind stops when it gets too hot. How much more money are we going to invest in a system that is capable of only 5 percent efficiency when it is most needed? Fortunately, Texas had also built a few new coal-fired plants to back up its unreliable wind farms.

But all of this is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the many trillions of dollars the warmists want us to “invest” in a destructive effort to replace carbon-based energy sources. That is a lot of money to spend on fixing a problem that probably does not exist — money that would then be unavailable to help us adapt to the effects of “natural” climate change.

The simple fact of the matter is that even if global warming were caused by human activity, the cost of mitigation is far greater than the cost of adaptation. And if humanity is not adding any significant amount to global warming, then anything we spend on mitigation is not only wasted, but damaging to the welfare of many millions. That of course assumes that the developing world follows our example. So far it has shown little inclination to do so. The populations of India and China should be thankful that their governments appear to be in no hurry to impoverish them, as, while paying lip-service to the warmist orthodoxy, they continue building new coal-fired plants at a rate of one every two or three days.

Given the growing body of evidence showing that human activity has little if anything to do with global warming, it is time to stop questioning Governor Perry’s beliefs and turn the questions the other way. It would be good to hear the media ask candidates who support the tenets of global-warming theory why they believe it is worth putting a huge and unsustainable burden on an already weak economy. Make no mistake about it, the warmist agenda aims at nothing less than a curtailment of individual freedoms and the further destruction of our economy. You can’t be rich if you’re energy poor. When did this become something Republicans could support? For that matter, when did it become something thinking Democrats could support?

The warmists always claim to be great believers in science and math. So here is a math problem I want them to solve. We know that GDP and carbon use are closely correlated. In fact, given the current state of technology, the 60 to 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions the warmists call for would reduce our GDP by approximately 40 percent. The problem therefore is simple: How are the warmists going to find employment for the people thrown out of work by a downturn twice as deep as the Great Depression?

— Jim Lacey is professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College. He is the author of the recently released The First Clash and Keep from All Thoughtful Men. The opinions in this article are entirely his own and do not represent those of the Department of Defense or any of its members.


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