Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nothing Like Terrible Suffering to Bring the Climate Hucksters Out

I was asked yesterday why I had not posted "Think Progress'" (a liberal, pro-global warming group) unscientific attempt to tie Wednesday's tragedy to 'global warming' on this blog. I replied that I was so disgusted by it that I didn't want to give them the publicity.

This morning, I heard from Al Gore in the form of this ad in my email:
Without reproducing the whole thing, there is the clear implication that global warming causes worse storms. So, while I'm at it, here is Think Progress' vile pitch:

Aside from being in horrible taste, is there any substance to their contention that global warming caused these storms?  No.

Scroll down three postings and you will find a graph I created (using data from the pro-global warming British Climate Research Unit or CRU) that compares global temperatures during the previous worst two tornado outbreaks in the South and the similar "Superoutbreak" of tornadoes in 1974 that affected the South and Midwest. You'll see that temperatures during these similar outbreaks were cooler than today's. If warm global temperatures were required to spawn Wednesday's tornadoes, these earlier tornado outbreaks could not have occurred. 

If that graph does not convince you there is no linkage between the tornadoes and 'global warming,' allow me to point out that earth's atmospheric temperatures, according to the latest measurements, are colder than the 1981-2010 average! 
So let me state it again: There is no link between 'global warming' and the recent tornadoes. 

Because there are more than 5,000 new readers of this blog this week, I want to briefly state my position on global warming: It is probably a net small problem. I say "net" because there are positive aspects of a warmer climate that, to an extent, balance the negatives (i.e., more global food production due to longer growing seasons and more atmospheric CO2).

I do not rule out the possibility that Al Gore and the IPCC might be correct that it is a major problem. However, temperatures are running below their projections, apparently due to the La Nina, a change in ocean status known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the last few years of an unusually quiet sun. The IPCC, in its reports, claims that the warming effect of carbon dioxide would overwhelm those other factors. So far, they are incorrect. If the cooling trend continues another 2-4 years, I believe it is fair to judge that IPCC's hypothesis is falsified.

However, if temperatures rise back (in spite of the factors listed above) to the levels predicted by the IPCC, then there is cause for real worry. At that point, I would join those calling for major mitigating measures. I also agree with my friend Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. that finding much less expensive de-carboned energy sources makes a lot of sense. I agree that using the atmosphere as a sewer may lead to other negatives that we cannot anticipate at this time. Developing those sources will take time.

In the meantime, since temperatures have been more or less flat for the past dozen years, there is no 'climate crisis.' We can afford to see how this plays out the next several years before spending -- literally -- trillions of dollars.


  1. Roger Pielke Jr has more data to back up your quite-correct assertion:

  2. While I agree that any "climate change profiteering" off the tornadoes is uncalled for, I don't think your graph supports either of your positions (world not warming recently, tornadoes not caused by climate change). For starters,the temperatures (which are satellite lower atmosphere temps, not surface temps) have a positive linear trend, even if the latest measurement is "below the 81-2010" mean. Second, in regard to the specific relationship to tornado outbreaks, your argument is baseless -- tornado outbreaks, like snowfalls, record highs or lows, are regional, discrete, *meteorological* phenomena, and as such can neither prove nor disprove climate change. In no way does anyone who is "pro-climate change" have to say that earlier outbreaks couldn't have happened because the *world* was cooler then. The atmosphere redistributes incoming energy unevenly around the world. Much of the midwest has had net cooling since the 1978 climate regime shift (see Z.Pan), and the southeast cooled dramatically in the 80s, but the global mean temperature has still risen. Indeed, the tornadoes have occurred in a region that might be cooler than it was in 1974. It is just as fallacious for you to say your graph *disproves* the link between climate change and the tornadoes as it is for anyone to say climate change caused this particular outbreak.