Global-warming Projections Not Borne Out

June 7, 2013

Via Eternity Matters, The Economist had an interesting article recently.

Falling off the scale: projections vs. observed temperatures

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. . . .

Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. . . . [S]urface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models (see chart 1). If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years.

A lot of conservatives don’t believe in global warming.  I think a lot of conservatives have fallen into the liberal assumption that if there is global warming, and if it is to a significant extent caused by man, then it necessarily follows that we must implement big-government schemes to combat it (at great cost to the economy and to our personal liberty).  If I believed that, I would want to disbelieve in global warming, too.  (I’m not the first to observe that a lot of people are conflating questions that are logically distinct.)

My position has been and remains that

(1)  If we’re going to destroy jobs and make Americans poorer (as well as give up a lot of personal liberty) in the name of saving the planet, then we’d better at least do a cost-benefit analysis first.  How much carbon adds how much to the long-term global temperature?  How much harm does how much increase in temperature do to the ecosystem and to human populations?  How much reduction in carbon emissions would how much legal restriction accomplish?  How much harm would how much restriction do to the economy?  Liberals routinely proceed toward imposing more burdensome laws as if we already had all this information.  As the Economist’s graph dramatically reminds us, we don’t.

(2)  Especially in the absence of such knowledge, I think it likely that restrictive laws will do more harm than good even to their intended goal of reducing global warming.  Our current economy runs on fossil fuels, which means that the more the government restricts the use of fossil fuels, the more it will slow down technological progress and so reduce the likelihood of the most likely solution to the problem it was trying to solve in the first place.

Relatedly, did you know that before we were supposed to be alarmed about (and support big-government schemes to prevent) global warming, we were supposed to be alarmed about global cooling and “The Coming Ice Age”?  From Newsweek, 1975 (emphasis added):

There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production — with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. . . .

The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. . . .

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic

. . .

To the layman, the relatively small changes in temperature and sunshine can be highly misleading. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras — and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average.

. . .

Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.

They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

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2 Responses to “Global-warming Projections Not Borne Out”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    I thinik we’ve had this discussion before, but I still don’t get your premise in (2). You’re saying that if the government restricts the use of fossil fuels, it will retard the progression of alternative fuel development. So if the government incentivizes the use of fossil fuels, will it speed up the progression of alternative fuels? Ponder this hypothetical: the governmental outlaws the use of fossil fuels tomorrow (to make is spicy, they do so under penalty of death!). Anyway, do you disagree that the natual incentive for the oil companies and alternative fuel companies would be to develop alternative fuel sources as fast as possible? Imagine what the demand for alternative fuel would be. Even Mitt Romney acknowledged that artificially inflating gas prices would speed up the development of alternatve fuel sources. You can’t disagree with Mitt!

  2. Admin Says:

    An article on Global warming! Give it a read-

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