First: Here’s the YouTube video in which the scientists appear:
The video is of a Senate Hearing entitled: “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.”
Quick response: Well, Duh! That’s all the climate does! The climate never, ever, not ever does anything else but change! A more meaningful title for the hearing might have been: “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now, As It Has Every Day Since The Earth Has Existed.“(1)
The fact that the only thing the climate ever does is change, and the fact that almost no one ever makes that point is kind of a pet peeve of mine, and I’ve often raised it in these pages. I was delighted to note that, at least in this hearing, the climate scientists also made that same point that I’ve been making for a long time now.
The witnesses at this particular hearing are Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Jennifer Francis, climate scientists all. They’re being questioned by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
Dr. Pielke, made these “Seven Take Home Points:”
- It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or drought have increased on climate time scales, either in the United States or globally. It is further incorrect to associate the increase in cost of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.
- Globally, weather-related losses have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP; they’ve actually decreased by about 25%. And insured catastrophe losses have not increased as a proportion of GDP since 1960.
- Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones since at least 1970, when we have good data.
- Floods have not increased in frequency or intensity in the US since at least 1950, and remarkably flood losses as a percentage of US GDP have dropped by 75% since 1940.
- Tornadoes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1950, and there’s some evidence to suggest that they’ve actually declined.
- Drought has, (source: the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change — IPCC) for the most part become shorter, less frequent, and covered a smaller part of the US in the last century. Globally, (source: Nature) there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.
- Costs associated with disasters will continue to rise, due to increases in wealth and higher populations in the areas prone to climate extremes.
What does all this mean? Well, pretty simple: the new media seize on flashy climate disasters and regularly report the absolute falsehood that climate catastrophes are on the rise, that it’s due to “climate change,” with the unsubtle implication being that mankind is responsible for the climate change causing these increased disasters.
The video linked above was recorded in 2013, so you’ll note that committee chairs were different then, Obama was President… things have changed in America. However, the video contains some actual serious discussion of climate that even included some Democrats!
The most prominent Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) actually says some intelligent things. They’re incorrect for the most part, but they’re not the usual fluff you hear from the Left in climate matters.
For example, one of the witnesses, Dr. Pielke I think, points out that (1) everyone knows that humans affect the climate but (2) no one has any idea of the extent to which human activity affects the climate. He then goes on to say that no one will have any idea of how much human activity affects the climate on the topic of, for example, tornadoes, for at least several decades, if not hundreds of years in the future. Pielke called the anticipated indicators of human activity: markers.
Whitehouse makes the erroneous rhetorical point, “Shouldn’t we try to get out in front of these ‘markers,’ and not wait for them to appear?”
The correct answer: an emphatic No! Because we have no idea what those “markers” will tell us! Whitehouse is operating from the assumption that the “markers” will simply confirm what the environmentalist extremists are all saying: that mankind has a massive effect on the climate, and that we can also stop doing what we’re doing and control the direction of global temperatures. I was disappointed that Pielke didn’t make this point.
It’s just as likely, or even more so, that the “markers” will indicate that humans have an effect, but not nearly as much as, for example, global vulcanism, or sun cycles, or fluctuations in the Van Allen radiation belts.
Regarding these interesting points, I made two interesting observations recently in these pages:
- Everything affects the climate, so, of course humans are bringing about climate change. Did you just wiggle your little finger? Shame on you! You just brought about climate change!
- No one knows precisely how humans are affecting the climate. Remember back in the 1970’s when the Chicken Littles of America were running around warning of the coming Ice Age? If the current craze were all about “Global Cooling” you can be sure that the Left and environmentalists would be all up in arms about all the stuff humans are doing to cool the planet.
Pielke or Spencer, makes the point that it would be much more prudent to make our infrastructures, our structures, our dwellings, roads, bridges and ourselves, more adaptable, and more ready and able to take on more varied behavior on the part of the planetary climate. This is, I might add, a point I made in these pages as well.
All in all, an interesting and instructive video, and worth a look and listgen. Don’t be fooled, however, by Sheldon Whitehouse! His questions are political, but couched in the slippery, weasel language at which the Left is so adept. They’re often intended to mock or deride the beliefs of the climate scientists who are his intellectual betters. David Vitter does the same thing, but he’s neither as clever, nor as devious and slippery as Whitehouse. To Vitter’s credit, he allows the scientists to speak for themselves, while Whitehouse tries to manipulate and maneuver them.
(To Doug’s point, as I’m sure he’ll watch the video and respond to this post, none of this eliminates our responsibility to clean up after ourselves. 🙂 Doug and I disagree on the extent to which environmentalism has been corrupted by politics. I say that it has been thoroughly so corrupted, while Doug says it has not.)
(1) And it’s happening on Mars, on Jupiter, and, in fact, on every star, planet, minor planet, moon, quasar, black hole, neutron star, asteroid, white or brown dwarf, in every galaxy, in every galactic cluster, supercluster, mega-giga-jiga- supercluster (I made that last one up) in the universe. That’s all any climate does anywhere!