President Obama has put salvation from dreaded climate catastrophes on his action agenda hot list. During his inaugural address he said: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” He went on to shame anyone who disagrees with this assessment, saying, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and powerful storms.”
This sort of scary presidential prognostication isn’t new. He previously emphasized at the Democratic National Convention that global warming was “not a hoax”, referred to recent droughts and floods as “a threat to our children’s future”, and pledged to make the climate a second-term priority.
As much as I hate to nit-pick his doomsday scenarios, it might be appropriate to correct a few general misconceptions before getting back to that “overwhelming judgment of science” stuff.
Regarding wildfires, for example, their numbers since 1950 have decreased globally by 15%. According to the National Academy of Sciences, they will likely continue to decline until around midcentury.
As for those droughts, a recent study published in the letter of the journal Nature indicates that globally, “…there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.” And as the U.N. Climate panel concluded last year: “Some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia.”
Also, by the way, global hurricane activity, measured in total energy (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), is actually at a low not encountered since the 1970s. In fact, the U.S. is currently experiencing the longest absence of severe landfall hurricanes in over a century. Wilma, the last Category 3 or stronger storm, occurred more than seven years ago.
But supposing these recent circumstances were different…because after all, climate really does change. Even virtually all of those who the president claims “deny” that “overwhelming science” recognize this. (If climate didn’t change, would we even need a word for it?)
The larger issue has to do with just how many of those who stoke the global warming alarm fires have real confidence in that “science”. So let’s briefly review just a few candid comments that some of them have offered on this topic. These are but a very small sampling of my favorites.