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You don’t have to be a Scientist.

By 7.18.14

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In a column for the Washington Examiner, John L. Casey joins the herd that has gigged Republicans generally for being climate-change “deniers,” and Marco Rubio specifically for his recent climate comments, which were in fact the very soul of reasonableness. 

To refresh memories, Rubio said he doesn’t believe the case had been made that human activity is causing as much global warming as scientist are reported to be claiming. (I say “reported to be claiming” because what we know about the scientific “consensus” on climate comes to us through the unreliable agency of journalists, who are prone to revise and extend any remarks in the direction of the most sensational.) Rubio added that even if levels of carbon dioxide from human activity are causing the planet to warm, there is nothing America alone can do to reverse this. (India and China, CO2 factories, aren’t going along with the gag.) And the antidotes being whooped up to bring that old debil CO2 into line would have disastrous effects on the economy, and therefore on Americans’ standard of living.

This short analysis is the most clarity I’ve heard from a high public official on what is far more of a political than a scientific issue. Yet Casey calls Rubio out for his “glaring inability to provide any evidence to support his beliefs.”

The tagline to Casey’s column describes him as president of something called the Space and Science Research Corporation. This seems an odd position for someone whose writing shows so little understanding of the scientific method, even of the language of science. “Deniers” and “beliefs” are religious terms, not scientific ones. Calling someone a denier would fit better in a debate about the Virgin Birth. And scientists, Casey should know, do not arrive at beliefs. They either reach or don’t reach conclusions, based on evidence or the lack thereof. “Consensus” is also out of place in the scientific conversation, as conclusions change in the face of new evidence (just as climate has changed for as long as there has been, well, climate). In science, the debate is never over.

Casey most glaringly shows his ignorance of science when he demands that Rubio give his evidence for not accepting the claims of the climate change industry. Casey is surely engaging in forensic sleight of hand here. I’m sure he knows that the burden of proof is on those making the bold climate assertions, not on those who are skeptical of these assertions. Rubio is saying the climate change industry has not come within a mile of making its case on the evidence. And he’s right.

The climate change fundamentalists (let’s stick with the religious language Casey prefers, as climate hysteria is religious as well as political) are claiming a series of things, to wit: The planet is getting warmer (it hasn’t since the late 20th century, thus the need to rename the threat “climate change” from “global warming”); this warming is different from the not-human-caused climate variations the planet has undergone for all of its history; this warming is caused by CO2 and other green-house gasses released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels; if allowed to continue this warming will cause all manner of terrible events — rising seas levels, horrific storms, expanding deserts, debilitating heat, etc.; and finally, the wildest assertion of all, humans can and should control the planet’s climate.

These are some bodacious claims. Those making them need to back them up with far better evidence than the computer models on which this hysterical house of cards is built. Proponents of Big Climate Change and its draconian cures should be the ones in the witness chair making their case, not Marco Rubio and others who point out that the case is unconvincing.

In fact the case for climate catastrophe and against the use of fossil fuels — which have made such wealth and comfort as the plant provides possible — is pathetically weak. It has so many holes in it even an English major like me can spot them without breaking a sweat. No one has to hide behind the “I’m not a scientist” dodge that so many testosterone-challenged politicians are hiding behind in order to avoid this issue. You don’t have to be a scientist to ask:

• How come all those really smart computer models didn’t predict the pause in planetary temperature rise that took place beginning about 1998 and continues today? In fact, the models predicted increased temperatures all through this period.

• How come the same smart models and model-jockeys consistently predicted higher planetary temperature rises than actually took place since the global warming fear was hatched in the 1980s (not long after some of the same scientists and science writers quit flogging fear of a new ice age)?

• And while we’re up, why is anyone paying any attention to people who claim to know what the planet’s temperature will be decades from now when the same folks can’t tell us with any assurance if it will rain the day after tomorrow?

• Thanks to various pre-thermometer measures and markers of temperature and other physical evidence, we know that Planet Earth has been warmer in the past than it is predicted by the climate hysterics to become this century if we don’t act. The horrible things that are supposed to be our lot if the planet’s temperature continues to rise (see incomplete list above) did not take place then. Why should we believe they will happen this time if we don’t do what the hysterics want us to?

• Those who argue that warming is causing harm point to rising sea levels from the 19th century to now. If this is due to man-made global warming, how come the sea-level rise has been steady, not varying with planetary temperature, which has gone up and down during the same period? Even Casey should understand the sound scientific principle that you can’t explain a constant by a variable (and vice versa).

• While we’re on constants and variables, how come the increases and decreases in planetary temperature did not track with periods of high and low industrialization in the 20th century, as you would expect them to if human use of fossil fuels were major determinant of how hot the planet is? Some high industrial activity periods were relatively cooler than some less industrial decades. Three of the five hottest years came in the 1930s, smack in the middle of the Great Depression. Where did all that heat come from?

• How come Greenland was named Greenland by the Icelandic Vikings who fetched up there in the 10th century? Hint: cuz it was green. It isn’t now. Think about it.

There are more questions, answers to which would inconvenience the global warming cause. But these should suffice to demonstrate that Global Warming Inc. is very far from establishing its case. And miles from justifying the economy-killing measures the political left wants to institute to head off what is almost certainly a non-existent threat. These measures — regulation and taxation — are by something less than pure coincidence, exactly what the political left has always wanted. And why America’s political party of government wants Joe and Jill Americano to buy into this one: hook, line, and thermometer.

Finally let’s spend just a moment on the wildly hubristic notion that humans could control the planet’s climate if we just would — that the same folks who designed the Obamacare website could engineer a planetary thermostat that politicians and government bureaucrats could set at their will. Show of hands: How many TAS readers believe this is anything less than laughable, let alone possible?

I thought so. The old saying goes, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” People paying the slightest attention know there’s a good reason for this.

In the Rubio/Climate Establishment match: Advantage Rubio.

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.