Changing My Mind about Global Warming, Part Six

volcano futureShortly after I posted Part One of this article series, I received an upbeat email from Jerry Modisette, a scientist who’s contributed a number of thoughtful letters to the Daily Post over the past couple of years. Mr. Modisette remarked on my comment that, while skeptics of human-caused global warming theories have been assigned the derogatory name, “Climate Deniers”… we don’t have a correspondingly denigrating name for people who believe the “Global Warming” theories.

Apparently, the appropriate name is “Warmists.”

From Mr. Modisette:

Welcome aboard!

I’m one of the so-called climate change deniers. We call ourselves skeptics, in particular skeptics of anthropogenic global warming. (AGW)

We have a name for them: warmists. The word was suggested by Fred Singer who, at age 90, is the leading skeptic. When at age 12 I was beginning to think about becoming a scientist, Fred was recognized as one of our young national geniuses and was a hero to people like me. 20 years later, when I was Chief of NASA Houston’s Space Physics Division, I was privileged to meet Fred.

We’ve had global warming for the past 300 years, since the peak of the little ice age. A few hundred years before that the descendants of Eric the Red were growing wheat and raising cattle in Greenland. Surely the world was warmer then.

Another thing happened when I was 12. I watched a guy fry an egg on an iron water heater cover warmed by the sun in Shreveport, Louisiana.

People trying to establish trends in things like the global average temperature dismiss what happened in Shreveport and Greenland as anecdotes. Our lives are successions of anecdotes!

NASA and NOAA just gave out press releases announcing that 2014 was the warmest year on record, by about 0.2 degrees F. In a separate report NASA said the probability of 2014 being the warmest year was 38%, which isn’t quite the same thing as knowing it was the warmest. In any case, the claim was based on surface measurements. Satellite measurements of the atmospheric temperature, which are generally agreed to be the most consistent, have not shown any global warming for 18 years.

Surface measurements have a lot of problems, such as people building cities or concrete runways next to them, producing what’s called the heat island effect.

The US Satellite Weather Service which makes the satellite measurements was founded by Fred Singer.

We do have climate change problems: the Arctic is melting, the Antarctic is getting colder, the Southwest is getting dryer. The $2.5 billion climate change budget should address the real problems.

Jerry

Unlike Mr. Modisette, I am not a scientist. And I mean that in a very definite sense, much in the same way that I can say I’m not a Buddhist. The Buddhist religion has some lovely aspects, to be sure, but it’s based on certain unverified, and unverifiable, theories that I, as a mortal human, must accept on faith if I am to call myself, “a Buddhist.” Accepting certain “Buddhist truths” as a matter of faith could allow me to join the gang, assume a “Buddhist” lifestyle, and consider myself an integral part of a like-minded community. But I was raised to be a skeptic, so when someone says to me, “The world will be a better place if you would simply believe these things on faith,” I can’t help but perceive that this very statement is in itself an unverifiable theory.

I’m one of those weird types who feels more comfortable accepting the unique limitations of my own verifiable existence… and embracing, instead, the likely scenario that I will never know “The Truth” in this lifetime.

300 years ago, most European scientists accepted, as “The Truth,” the idea that our planet was approximately 10,000 years old. That age was clearly verifiable, because it was calculated from an historical and true document: the Holy Bible. Based on the same document and the descriptions of human activity contain therein, every European scientist naturally assumed that the earth’s climate had not changed significantly in those 10,000 years. Most certainly, no one believed in monstrously large reptiles, or ice ages, or other such nonsense.

Nowadays, scientists are prone to quote the earth’s age as about 4.5 billion years. They generally accept the idea of dinosaurs, and 20,000-year climatic periods when the northern hemisphere has mainly covered with sheets of ice a mile thick.

Is the big golden sun primarily responsible for the huge climate changes that have happened over the past 4.5 million years? (If indeed these current scientific theories about ice ages are accurate?) Does the presence of water vapor and methane and CO2 and other gases and particles in our atmosphere play a role larger than the sun’s role?

Choose your religion, folks.

But I will confess that my primary interest in climate change is not basically a religious one. It’s a political one. I mentioned in Part One that the government-sponsored “Climate Change” debate reminds me of the alarming stories I was told as a child about the impending nuclear war between Russian and the U.S.

It wasn’t just children who were taught to believe in that horrible threat. The American people, in general, accepted the idea that America needed bigger and bigger weapons to protect us from the Red Menace. When I was born in 1952, the U.S. military was accounting for about 15 percent of all federal government spending. When my mother was born in 1925, the U.S. military had accounted for only about 1 percent of the federal budget.

Who benefited most from the fear drummed into our heads from 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991? I don’t believe it was the ordinary man on the street. Maybe the defense contractors? The folks building those bigger and bigger weapons?

Who might be benefiting most from the apprehension people experience when they worry about “Global Warming?” Who has a motive to spread fear and anxiety among the ordinary people, based on questionable “climate models” and predictions that are not currently coming to pass?

In 2008, the Gallup organization conducted a worldwide poll in 128 countries, to see if ordinary folks were concerned about “Climate Change.” According to Wikipedia, people in different countries responded very differently when asked if they perceived “global warming” as a personal threat. 85 percent of those polled in Portugal perceived “climate change” as a serious threat; in Greece, 82 percent felt threatened; the number in Japan and Korea was 80 percent.

On the other end of the scale, only 18 percent saw “global warming” as a threat, in Afghanistan, Zambia and Nigeria.

The U.S. came in near the high end, back in 2008: 63 percent felt threatened.

Six years later, in October 2014, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they saw “global climate change” as a threat to the U.S. Only 48 percent agreed.

Turns out, most Americans are now fearful of a completely different threat: ISIS.

You have to keep the people frightened, if you want to control them.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six