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James Hansen’s Storm in a Teacup

James Hansen’s Storm in a Teacup

Climate change will be “the predominant moral issue of the 21st century”, declared NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, “comparable to Nazism faced by Churchill in the 20th century and slavery faced by Lincoln in the 19th century.”

Excuse me for laughing. So that makes it quite an issue then. But how could climate change, a phenomenon that has shaped the planet for four billion years without our help, suddenly become a “moral issue”, comparable to manmade catastrophes like Nazism? Will next century’s “predominant moral issue” be the phases of the Moon? Yes I know, Hansen is saying climate change is also a manmade catastrophe like Nazism.

So the Earth’s four-billion-year history must have been one of stable perfection where nothing changed until the Industrial Revolution. And then suddenly it’s all over. Four billion years with no extreme weather events, no floods, no droughts, no tornadoes, no heat waves, no blizzards, no extinctions, no drowning polar bears or melting glaciers. Nothing but perpetually calm weather until mankind threw a spanner in the works and tipped the planet’s biosphere into a death spiral by becoming hooked on carbon. And now apparently we have a “carbon habit” that’s so out of hand, Australian Climate Commissioner Professor Tim Flannery believes there is no hope to save the planet even if we quit now. He argues “the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years” even if we start tomorrow. So the “tipping point” just arrived.

But whatever bee was under Hansen’s bonnet when he made his unlikely declaration, the news media no longer seem to be buying it, at least not as a hot news-worthy item. Despite hysterical arm waving by Hansen, Flannery, Gore and others of their esteemed ilk who declare global warming to be the biggest moral issue of the century, it never seems to feature in any daily news bulletins by the mainstream media. If it’s that big a deal, why not? Of course, just to keep the flames of alarm alive, there are plenty of fatalistic articles elsewhere declaring the impending climate disaster is “EVEN WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!” (again!), but it is never actually in the news as an item of great and urgent import, say, alongside the War on Terror.

Why isn’t Hansen’s climate “catastrophe” front page news; the main item every night with a lead-in like “Latest developments on the on-going global warming crisis...” or “BREAKING NEWS: Global warming crisis deepens as average global temperatures rise another 0.01oC and atmospheric CO2 increases another 0.001%!”? I mean, it IS a “crisis” right? That’s what Al Gore calls it. So it must be extremely urgent. Otherwise Al Gore, Tim Flannery and James Hansen, among others so inclined, could be accused of exaggerating a storm in a teacup. And they wouldn’t do that because they have the backing of the IPCC, an entity of the UN no less. And the IPCC has no political agendas while the climate scientists who supply them with their sanitised temperature data are uncorrupted by money, politics, influence and kudos of any sort that might otherwise bias their endeavours. A perfect set up for perfect science. And the Moon is made of green cheese.

If global warming (or “climate change” or “climate disruption” or whatever it’s called) is supposed to be the most important issue facing humanity - more important even than everlasting conflicts in the Middle East and never ending poverty in Africa - it would surely make it to the top of the list of news items to be aired, next to say the global economic “crisis”. But instead, Hansen’s top-shelf catastrophe is hardly ever mentioned unless as part of some other event in passing, quietly shoehorned into a piece on violent tornados in the American Midwest. The best the news media can do is to suggest that yesterday’s tornado was probably caused by “climate change” because it was an extreme weather event. Like we’ve never had one of those before. No evidence to back it up of course. Just the suggestion that the two might somehow be linked in an effort to keep manmade global warming even remotely newsworthy.

However the alarmists’ problem is the complete lack of empirical evidence that CO2 is driving the planet’s climate, which they solve by throwing in a tornado or two. Or a flood. Or a drought. Or a heat wave in Russia. Or a blizzard in New York. Anything will do because there’s no actual evidence of any sort. If there were, we would get to see it. But so far the evidence that mankind is heating the planet catastrophically with carbon dioxide has been like the Emperor’s New Clothes. You can’t see it (nor even admit that you can’t because then you would be a “denier”) so you just have to take their word for it. You are morally obliged to believe it regardless. Which makes it an ethical issue, not a scientific one. Indeed, Pennsylvania State University’s Professor Donald A. Brown argues “that ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change, despite scientific uncertainties about increased frequency and intensity of tornadoes in a warming world.” [Italics added. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/01/climate-craziness-of-the-week-ethics-requires-linking-tornadoes-to-climate-change/] Ethics requires it. Not science.

Yet there is no record anywhere in the world for any time period in history that shows increasing CO2 causes increasing temperature, [Dr. Timothy Ball (http://www.2gb.com/index2.php?option=com_newsmanager&task=view&id=9005)] while the entire argument of Hansen and the IPCC rests on the unproved assumption that it does. And nearly a million years’ worth of close correlation that temperature drives CO2 is completely ignored. Hence my levity at Hansen’s pessimism. So until someone can come up with demonstrable, empirical evidence that our CO2 emissions are about to cause a climate train wreck, the global warming extremists should themselves be completely ignored or ridiculed.

The alarmists further get around the problem of no evidence by pointing to computer models and then charging the sceptics with the responsibility of proving them wrong. They then dismiss this as the work of the Devil who is in the pay of “Big Oil”. But if there was any merit in the science at all, it would have earned the same respect as other fields of research. It wouldn’t have to be helped along by politicians and actors and portrayed as a “moral issue”. There wouldn’t be a need to hide or delete emails and conflicting data, as suggested in this email from Prof. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit to Dr. Michael Mann, inventor of the discredited Hockey Stick: “I’m getting hassled by a couple of people” he writes, “to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!

And in another email, Jones advises “...don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs [McIntyre and McKitrick?] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone… We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that.

Hide behind a data protection act? Tom Wigley worried someone might ask for his code? So the publicly funded “science is settled”, yet they refuse to show anyone the data that they have every right to see. And if you ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, they’ll just delete it. Clearly nothing to hide there then. Perfect science and all above board. Just like the IPCC.

No wonder no one believes them. Even the media have gone cold on it despite the increasing hyperbole from the likes of Hansen and Flannery and a gaggle of climate scientists who think it’s all about selling the message, not what’s in the message. The message itself - that we’re all going to Hell in a carbon-based handcart - is carved in stone and no amount of conflicting evidence will touch it. It has been decreed by higher authority which, as Galileo discovered, trumps science.

But the impression I get from this apparent lack of interest by mainstream news media is that they are finally waking up to the fact that no one cares or believes it anymore. Nearly every public opinion poll indicates widespread scepticism where the alarmists are heavily outnumbered by the sceptics.

That just leaves the truly dedicated high-flyers like Hansen, Flannery, Gore and their mates, plus a few politicians and prominent scientists who have either stuck their necks out on the issue and fear having to admit they’ve backed the wrong horse, or whose income depends on perpetuating the myth. No one else gives a damn. They have trapped themselves in a mythical world of their own making. But one thing is for sure, these guys would be great as stand-up comedians.


Joe Fone is a member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

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