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And the kitchen sink too

09 Dec 2020 | OP ED Watch

People who express doubt about climate orthodoxy can expect, among other things, irritated missives containing a long list of terrible things that have supposedly already happened, from increased hurricanes to unprecedented temperature increases to a backed-up kitchen sink thanks to urban flooding. And it’s a bit of a game of whack-a-mole to go through and point out that none of them actually happened. But what’s surprising is to read Rud Istivan’s new list of failed climate predictions and realize the catalogue of things they say are happening that aren’t is pretty much the same as the catalogue of things they said would happen that didn’t. Perseverance is of course a virtue up to a point. But not when alarmists say something’s going to happen and when it doesn’t they go “told you so”.

There is a semi-famous site called “Numberwatch” that lists all the daffy things that have been blamed on climate change, and you can also find a roundup of some lurid ones in CDN Executive Director John Robson’s 2017 documentary The Environment: A True Story. To which you can add ruining America’s Thanksgiving celebrations through its catastrophic impact on cranberries (h/t Anthony Watts). But we’re not talking here about waiting until something does happen then claiming, however implausibly, that climate change caused it, annoying and unhelpful as that habit is. We’re talking about the stuff that was confidently predicted, didn’t happen, and was then blamed on climate change.

Our own “Prophets of Doom” video listed some of the biggest cracks in the alarmist crystal ball, like the Hoover Dam going dry. Those ones they tend to chuck into the alley, along with the vanished snow they’re busy shoveling in Ottawa in November. But it is amazing how many failed predictions just get updated, like for instance vanishing Arctic ice. It doesn’t matter how often it didn’t disappear on cue, or what it’s actually doing now. Dependably we’re told Greenland is in an irreversible melt, the ice is vanishing as never before, and this time next decade it will be open water. And what’s even more amazing is the number of things they predicted that didn’t happen and then they yelled “Yah! Told you so! Denier! You stink!”

In his piece Istvan admits that “I am tired of whack-a-mole minutia, and think that detailed rebuttals to garbage climate alarm papers no longer matter in our politicized ‘GND’ environment.” But the big picture does matter and so he goes after some very big fish, after first snagging then throwing back “Dr. Viner’s since disappeared 1990 prediction that ‘UK children will not know snow’.”

First on his list is “Temperatures have recently suddenly risen.” Which, of course, “was the essence of MBH’s 1999 hockey stick”. And he concedes the obvious, that “temperatures have risen since the last Thames Ice Fair in 1814, as the world warmed out of the Little Ice Age (LIA).” But, crucially, we don’t know how much or how fast. “In the US, early data is sparse, and later data is contaminated by multiple surface station siting issues…. Outside the US and Europe, land temp data is worse than just sparse, it often does not exist at all, or only recently. Over oceans comprising 71% of the Earth surface, data is worse than just sparse. It is mostly non-existent (SH). Where it does exist (until ARGO) it is contaminated by trade routes and ladings.”

Before we proceed, we ask you to give this point sustained consideration. Alarmist or skeptic, we hope you will agree that if the recent temperature increase has not been dramatic, let alone unprecedented, or rather if we do not know that it has been dramatic, let alone unprecedented, it demolishes one of the things most often shouted to silence doubters. And makes you wonder on what basis they keep shouting it.

Second on Istvan’s list is “Temperatures will increase unsustainably.” But, he warns, it depends on “the IPCC nominal ECS of about 3”, that is, the assumption that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will produce an increase of 3° C once everything has settled down. But, he warns, models that incorporate that assumption “have abjectly failed”. So we don’t know ECS is 3. And again, before coming to blows over “It is, you know” vs “It isn’t, you know” contemplate the consequences if, in fact, we don’t know that it is and have no good reason to think so. Right. We don’t know what’s happening or what’s going to, and thus we certainly don’t know the wolf is at the door with fur as well as eyes blazing.

Third, he points out that sea-level rise has not increased. Rather, it’s steady, and “no different from the peak of the previous interglacial, the Eemian.” If true it’s enormously important, both scientifically and rhetorically. So why is there so little interest in whether it is true, coupled with so much insistence that it is not?

Fourth, and surely by now this one has itself gone extinct, the claim that “Polar bears will go extinct from lack of summer sea ice.” Which he says, crediting Susan Crockford, is doubly wrong, since polar bears depend on spring not summer ice which no one has yet said is vanishing. And since “Arctic sea ice is cyclical” and the idea that it is cycling inexorably downward “is just factually wrong.” We might add that the bears themselves are failing to vanish on cue (except in an Attenborough film about walruses falling off cliffs from which the rather obvious bears were omitted), which has led alarmists to drop them as poster cubs.

Finally, he says and we say told you so, extreme weather has not increased. Every politician, activist and online loudmouth hollers about hurricanes and wildfires. But not even the IPCC thinks they have increased. Anywhere.

So here’s the scary thing. It’s hard enough telling people that thunderstorms are not the product of climate change when there are, in fact, lots of thunderstorms. But it is even harder trying to convince them that a non-existent increase in hurricanes or acceleration in sea-level rise is not the result of climate change. It should be easier, but somehow the fact that the phenomenon in question doesn’t exist makes it even easier to blame on greenhouse gases. It’s like trying to whack imaginary moles, only to have the person who invented them go “Ha, you missed”.

One comment on “And the kitchen sink too”

  1. Good to see the phrase climate change "whack-a-mole" getting more air time, as it exactly describes in any minds the "flavour of the month" approach to the climate crisis headlines. Just though I'd fact check one item for fun. World, US and Canadian cranberry production in the last 10 years or so peaked (and very markedly so) in 2016, the warmest year in recent records. So....

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