The alarmists’ attitude towards climate change will prove more harmful than beneficial in the long run.
Earth Day this year focused officially on the need to reduce plastic litter, a worthy and achievable goal. Nonetheless, much Earth Day activity concentrated on the alleged need to save the planet from climate change.
Climate-change alarmists have long called the current warming period “unprecedented” and “dangerous.” But is it?
Ironically, this Earth Day fell in the midst of one of the coldest Aprils in North American history. The severe winter of 2017–2018 has raised debates from two contrasting ends.
While some uninformed people claim it disproves global warming, climate alarmists claim it is just another evidence for global warming.
Deniers, Alarmists and Skeptics
Actual climate-change deniers—and they are very few—categorically deny the warming trend. On the other end of the spectrum are climate-change alarmists, who claim that the current warming trend is catastrophic and driven almost exclusively by emission of carbon dioxide from human activities, especially industrialization.
Skeptics Are Not Deniers
Scientific progress depends on the freedom to challenge existing hypotheses. Surprisingly, though, anyone who disagrees with climate-change alarmists is branded a “denier.”
That is very misleading. Most well-known skeptics disagree on the magnitude and cause of warming, but not on whether it’s happening; and they also disagree about the consequences of warming and about mankind should respond.
Real climate-change deniers should be called out. They are as dangerous as climate-change alarmists, who impede scientific advancement and lead the masses into believing extreme theories using scare tactics.
Both climate-change deniers and climate-change alarmists are wrong on their claims about the implications of this winter and how they interpret the behaviour of the earth’s climatic system over the past 2000 years. Here are four reasons why:
Four major temperature data sets are available to us: historical data inferred from proxy temperature measurements (primarily tree-rings and ice cores), global mean surface temperature data from thermometers (measured since the 1880s), radiosonde (weather balloon) temperature measurements (first used in 1896 but not common until the 1950s), and temperature data gathered by satellites (since the 1970s).
Temperature measurements from these sources indicate that the earth has, with fluctuations, generally been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age (roughly 1350–1850).
Skeptics differ from alarmists on the primary cause for this warming (a subject to which I’ll return below), its magnitude, the supposed dangers it might bring, and how to respond.
Climate data from the past contradict the alarmist’s claims that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity have been the primary drivers of global temperatures.
Data show that the current warming is not unprecedented but was matched by the Roman Warm Period (roughly 250–400) and Medieval Warm Period (roughly 950–1250).
During those periods, carbon dioxide emissions from human activity were negligible compared to today’s levels. It follows that warming of the magnitude of the last 150 years or more can happen with or without human contribution.
Further, no conclusive evidence shows that the current warming has been exaggerated by human emissions.
Climate alarmists, relying on computer climate models, predicted that the earth’s temperature would increase rapidly (typical predictions calling for about 0.3ºC of warming per decade) over the past two decades. Their forecasts proved to be wrong. Global average temperature failed to rise significantly during the past 18 years, despite a record increase in carbon dioxide emissions, and its average rate since the end of the 1970s has been only about half what the models simulate.
In other words, the models exaggerate the impact of human carbon dioxide emissions on the temperature.
This pivotal failure in scientific understanding (of how carbon dioxide influences temperature) was acknowledged by even the staunchest climate alarmists.
This was more recently confirmed by hundreds of scientific papers that attribute the recent warming to natural causes and affirm that there is nothing abnormal with the climate.
An increasing number of record highs does not prove or disprove catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. They are merely changes in temperature within a larger climatic period.
It’s no surprise that local record highs become more common during a warming period. The mercury has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age, so it is nearly inevitable that new records will be set each year. The records are indeed one evidence of warming, but they’re no evidence of its cause.
More importantly, the record highs apply only to the modern measurement era, after widespread temperature measurements began in the 1870s for much of the developed world and not until the mid-1900s for much of the rest of the world. They don’t include the similar phases of steep temperature increases that would have occurred during the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period.
The alarmists’ attitude towards climate change will prove more harmful than beneficial in the long run. Insofar as they prevail, we will become more and more unprepared to face any climatic condition that is contrary to their dubious theories of unprecedented warming.
Moreover, their demonizing of skeptics impedes our understanding of the climatic system by disrupting the critical thinking indispensable to the progress of scientific knowledge.
The current winter does not disprove global warming. But it does disprove the alarmist narrative.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Coimbatore, India.