Another New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial (This man hopes you'd vote for a candidate who believes climate change is fake), plus an article by Andrew Bernstein published in Capitalism Magazine (The Truth About Climate Change) got me thinking in a new direction.
In a section of his excellent article, Bernstein addresses “The Necessity to Affirm, Not Deny Climate Change.” Bernstein documents the dynamic history of Earth’s climate, including several episodes of catastrophic climate change, and contrasts this history with the current warming period, which is mild and much less disruptive than past episodes. After documenting Earth’s climate history, Bernstein writes:
It is precisely this context, an appropriate timescale, that many (if not all) AGW [anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming) theorists ignore. A stockbroker, who tried to convince investors to buy a stock based on its performance in the last sixty seconds, while blanking out decades of data, would be ignoring vastly less relevant information than do the majority of today’s supporters of man-made global warming.
The accusation of “climate change denier” is, consequently, egregiously inaccurate when hurled at persons who examine this context and recognize the reality of natural, cyclical, and likely incessant climate change.
The accusation is accurate, however, when leveled against some leading supporters of the AGW hypothesis. Dr. Michael Mann, for example, a respected climate scientist and lead author for the IPCC, developed the infamous “hockey stick” graph, purporting to show that, for roughly 1,000 years prior to the 20th century, Northern Hemisphere temperatures had been relatively stable, perhaps even declining slightly, then sharply rising after 1900 (hence the hockey stick shape of the graph). In effect, Mann’s methodology “air-brushed” out of existence the Medieval Warm Period; if accurate, Mann’s findings would show a strong and unique correlation between human emissions of carbon dioxide and rising temperatures. However, Mann’s methodology was seriously flawed and exposed as such by Dr. Edward Wegman, a leading statistician. The hockey stick graph, a featured aspect of the IPCC’s 2001 report, was subsequently dropped by the IPCC. The Medieval Warm Period had to be acknowledged as real.
But Mann, some of his IPCC colleagues, and the environmentalist movement more broadly continue to support the hockey stick hypothesis.
According to Mann and his supporters, Northern Hemisphere temperatures were relatively flat for roughly 1,000 years, and the natural climate cycles from the Dark Age Cold Period to the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age were non-existent (or, at most, greatly over-exaggerated).
Who, then, is actually guilty of denying climate change? [my emphasis]
Keeping Bernstein’s perspective in mind, the Star-Ledger Editorial Board opens its editorial hit piece on a NJ Republican politician:
Hurricane Harvey is another wake-up call, a reminder that we can no longer ignore man's contribution to the warming of the planet and how it increases our vulnerability to devastating weather events. To deny that only that invites more catastrophes like the one that has ravaged our nation's fourth largest city.
It is also a reminder that we need leaders who tell the truth, not people whose careers were advanced on fossil fuel money and climate denialism - yet right on cue, here comes Steve Lonegan, pursuing another office that should make New Jersey's collective gut seize.
The former Bogota mayor is running for the 5th District congressional seat currently held by Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Lonegan has the intellect, geniality and name recognition he'll need to compete, not to mention the money: For six years, he was the New Jersey director for Americans for Prosperity, which means his depraved indifference toward climate change echoes that of fossil fuel barons Charles and David Koch, who have given $100 million to 84 groups that deny climate science since 1997.
And in the wake of Harvey, it needs to be asked:
Would New Jerseyans vote for a candidate who believes that "the science stating that humans are responsible for climate change is highly questionable - there's also a massive amount of science that refutes that," and that this will all be followed by a cooling trend?
I left these comments:
The Star-Ledger states that Lonegan is in with “84 groups that deny climate science.” There's that simple-minded smear again; “science denier”. But in the very next paragraph, the S-L quotes Lonegan as stating that “there’s also a massive amount of science that refutes” anthropogenic climate change. What are these 84 groups saying? What science is Lonegan citing? A lot of important work regarding climate change history by a lot of knowledgable people has been done by people outside the alleged “consensus.” This well-documented work considers natural causes like the overlapping long-term, medium-term, and short-term climate trends, and multiple interlocking causes. The weight of the evidence indicates mild and manageable climate change. Much of this work tackles head-on the case for climate catastrophe. Do the climate catastrophists meet the dissenters head-on? No. The Star-Ledger brushes this science off. Who is the real science denier? Who is the real climate denier?
The Star-Ledger accuses Lonegan of “depraved indifference toward climate change.” But the “practical” solutions proposed to “combat climate change” could have devastating consequences for human well-being in the U.S. and globally. Reliable energy drives industrial and agricultural progress, and effects the cost of everything. Drastically raising the cost of energy, not to mention making energy unreliable through “renewables,” would drastically lower our standard of living, especially for the lower income folks. Given the vital importance of reliable energy to human well-being and survival, the vital importance of economic freedom, and the depraved indifference to human well-being of climate catastrophists’, shouldn’t we at least give a hearing to the other side of the climate debate?
In truth, there’s a lot more to climate change than is simplistically indicated here, or that can be addressed in a comment. There are pros and cons over federal flood insurance, sea level rise, storm intensity, the effects of climate change, economics, energy science, the actual greenhouse effect of co2, and political science, to name a few. But let me say this: It does not follow that, because humans may be contributing to climate change, drastic life-altering political (i.e., coercive) steps, like outlawing fossil fuels, must be immediately implemented to curb it. In truth, the climate catastrophists like the Star-Ledger are objectivity deniers. Their views and conclusions are biased and one-sided in favor of the Left’s agenda to increase government control of private life and industry in the name of fighting climate change. But the alternative view calls for adaptation to climate change coupled with continued freedom and human progress, a much less disruptive “solution” and fundamentally better for human flourishing.
I think Lonegan deserves to be respected and taken seriously, not smeared and dismissed out-of-hand by fear-mongering statists. He has something important to contribute to the debate. In any event, I wish he were running in my district. He’d have my vote.
Maybe the Star-Ledger is an energy denier, freedom denier, and industrial progress denier.
What about the federal flood insurance program? The S-L states that “there is little evidence that the private market has the capacity to underwrite the growing risk[.]” That’s the point! No private insurer would be stupid enough to provide broad flood insurance coverage for areas that are certain to flood. Federal underwriting with tax dollars overrode the private market, leading to decades of massive development that wouldn’t have taken place, massively inflating damage from readily predictable storms like Sandy and Harvey. Maybe we should label the Star-Ledger and “basic economics denier”.
The Star-Ledger labels Harvey “another wake-up call.” To what? To the fact that devastating storms have always occurred? To climate change, which has always occurred on our meteorologically dynamic planet? It’s pretty certain that humans are contributing also. Climate catastrophists argue that consequences for humans of not eliminating those contributions will be devastating. But what are the costs to human well-being of eliminating the human contributions, such as by outlawing fossil fuels? Where’s the cost-benefit analysis of the “practical solutions” advocated by the political Left. Should we trade human well-being for marginally less severe Harveys and Sandys (both of which had more to do with unusual weather patterns than slightly warmer oceans)? Maybe we should label the Star-Ledger a “consequence denier”.
The Star-Ledger cites a prediction by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “which states that sea level rise over the next two decades will bring ‘chronic disruptive inundation to Seaside Park and 14 more towns along the Jersey Shore that today rarely feel the effects of tidal flooding’." Well, what about the long line of failed environmentalist catastrophe predictions going back decades? Shouldn’t the UCS prediction be at least taken with a grain of salt, given the uniformly exaggerated historical record of such predictions. And what about the fact that sea level rise has been going on all throughout the current interglacial period of about 15,000 or so years, to the tune of about 400 feet? Why panic over the two inches hypothesized to have been caused by AGW? Maybe the Star-Ledger should be labeled a “history denier”.
Denier, denier, denier. I’ve been ridiculing that childish, false smear for years. Maybe, though, there’s some validity to the charge—but the opposite of how the climate catastrophists mean it.