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The year in review in advance

27 Nov 2019 | OP ED Watch

According to the Washington Post’s Andrew Freedman, 2019 is “increasingly likely to be” the 2nd or 3rd warmest on record since 1880. He bases this story about what’s going to have happened on NOAA data and says blah blah blah. You know. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Melting Arctic ice. Scientists say. Oceans hiding heat. The usual. There was a time when news organizations reported stuff after it happened, and were skeptical especially of government sources. But that was then.

As we’ve often noted, climate scientists often make predictions but only after something has happened, so it’s fitting that reporters write reviews of things that haven’t happened yet. Freedman does concede that some agencies have different numbers. But “At the end of the day, what matters is the long-term trend over many years to decades, and that shows a clear, sharp spike that scientists have shown can only be explained by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.” And of course “Human activities, namely burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil for energy, are the main contributors of greenhouse gases.” Which is rubbish. The theory is that while we contribute only about 5%, ours accumulates whereas the natural kind is absorbed in a dynamic cycle. But why quibble?

Except, of course, to say it’s worse than it is because “Considering the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, this means NOAA’s data could be slightly underestimating global temperatures, though it wouldn’t be by much.” Not only is the Arctic warming at twice the global average, by the magic of statistics so is everywhere else.

Oh well. For decades we’ve been told that the Arctic ice is about to vanish, that hurricanes are getting stronger, that children won’t know what snow is and so on. And possibly we’ll be hearing it for decades more. But we’ll believe it when we see it. See, we’re anti-science. We have the trial first and the verdict later.

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