Saturday, 21 July 2012

Climate, Weather, Economics and Population ...

Yesterday I came across a rather lengthy article posted in an online magazine which contained a rather hysterical set of 'facts' and assertions about climate change. All the usual dramatic claims were made about 'record' temperatures and 'extreme' weather, plus some truly ludicrous assumptions about the consumption of current 'oil reserves' and the amount of CO2 this would add to the atmosphere. I know the author was trying to say he considers the world is approaching a crisis for human kind, but this isn't the way to do it.

If you cry 'wolf' to often, people stop responding, and I think this is starting to happen. For the last 20 or so years the IPCC supporters have claimed every extreme weather event is caused by climate change or "global warming." This last is always linked to the word "Anthropomorphic" and invariably the major western economies are blamed for it. If there is a drought anywhere, it's "global warming/climate change." Historical records are ignored completely when they don't support the message, but trotted out if there is the slightest possibility they do.

A typical example is the "Little Ice Age" which started to recede around the same time as the Industrial Revolution kicked off. Plenty of reference is made to those cold temperatures which seem to have become a sort of "benchmark" for what the AGW/Climate Change promoters consider the 'norm' for the earth. But almost no reference is made to the Medieval Warm Period or the Roman one. In Roman times grapes were cultivated near Hadrian's Wall, today you can't. In the years 1000 - 1400 cattle grazed in Greenland, today you can't keep cattle there at all. But this is seldom mentioned by the AGW promoters. In fact they almost foam at the mouth if you mention it.

What got me in the article I refered to earlier (Sorry, I didn't bookmark it so now can't track it) was the sort of numbers and the assumptions the author was tossing around. First of all he refered to the current heat wave in the northern and eastern USA. It isn't global, here in northern Europe we've seen precious little of summer, but this author seems to think it is. He goes on to state that 'temperature records are being broken daily' and 'extreme weather events are now to be expected as the norm,' both statements patently disprovable when one takes into account that the measurement of 'mean' daily temperatures has been changed in the last 20 years. In addition, the data is now 'homogenised' and 'standardised' to fit the 'models' various meteorological authorities use. This renders the data more than a little suspect as a number of statisticians and mathematicians have been saying for some time.

The Copenhagen CO2 emmissions targets, all measured in gigatons, are all trotted out. Yes, they make impressively large numbers, but how were they arrived at? Are they in fact the result of real measurements? Again, one finds they are a mishmash of 'estimates' and some political wrangling. He then went on to say that if all of Exxon's current "reserves" were to be burned up this represented 7% of the 500 odd gigatons Copenhagen wanted to cut. Further figures for BP, Mobil and Gazprom were added all with the intention of showing that just on current reserves around 40% of the CO2 emmissions targets would be taken up. My immediate reaction was to laugh, since, frankly, this is hysterical nonsense. There is absolutely no way all consumption of hydrocarbon fuel can siimply be 'cut' - all western economies would collapse and the world economies would suffer as well.

It seems to me that people like this simply have no understanding of the complexity of the world economy or of the climate itself. Theylive in an ideological world of their own in which, if only everyone would give up their cars, grow their own food, live in 'harmony' with nature (and presumably evryone else) we can 'save the planet.' This tells me they have no understanding of what subsistence food production is really like. If they'd simply look at how the majority of people lived in the pre-20th Century world of 'grow your own food, eat what is available and go without when prices rise or there is a shortage' perhaps they'd modify their view.

Ditto when it comes to weather patterns. These are driven by climate, and that is driven by a large number of factors, including changes in oceanic circulation, wind patterns and even, it seems, by solar activity. The claims that there are now more extreme weather events don't stack up when examined closely. There are in fact fewer major hurricanes hitting the US than during the 1940s and 1950s and there was another lull in that pattern during the 1930s when the infamous 'dust bowl' drought engulfed the Midwestern states. We now know that several droughts in that region lasting, some of them, more than 70 years, caused the collapse of at least two Amerindian civilisations. But, you may wish to argue, there are definietly more extreme tornadoes running up 'Tornado Alley.' Are there? There are certainly a lot more people living in the 'Alley' now than there were even 40 years ago, plus, we now have the means to detect tornadoes even when they don't touch towns or cities. The same argument can be advanced against the claim that there are more 'named storms' than ever before. Yes, there are, but then we are naming storms now that would probably not have been noticed by anyone except the seafarers who actually encountered them.

The world's climate is changing, and I believe that the evidence suggests this is as inexorable as the continental drift. We can no more arrest that than we can control a solar flare. We do need to be less wasteful and perhaps a lot less demanding, but, please, can we have some honesty in all of this? Can we stop making extravagant claims, massaging data to make the message what we want it to be, and trying to claim that every extreme weather event is 'unprecedented.' It isn't.

And destroying the western economies won't solve the problems of the world either. It's time to stop trying to claim the hippy approach of 'flower power and free love' mixed with 'redistribution' of wealth will solve anything. It won't, the only way forward now is to make use of our innovations, our technologies and to adapt. The world population stands at around 7 billion at present, the bulk of that in the parts of the world most affected by poverty and drought. That's probably around 4 billion more than the planet can actually support without being very creative with food production and water supplies. Perhaps a little honesty with regard to control of our human propagation might be a good starting point ...

Or we need to find a new planet to infest.

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