Friday, February 28, 2014

Will The Tea Party Recognize That The Only Real Climate Change Debate Is Whether It Is Catastrophic?

The weird weather this winter has focused a good deal of attention on the debate over whether global warming is the cause of the cold, snowy winter across much of the U.S. Frankly, even as someone that is firmly in the "warmist" camp, I suspect that the weird weather may just be due to the variability of weather.

However, in the many stories about the debate over global warming appearing in the mainstream media, the articles on the subject have been filled with quotes from the small group of global warming scientists that are skeptical that catastrophic global warming is occurring due to greenhouse gas emissions. Of note, there is only a tiny group of climate scientists that deny global warming is occurring. The only real questions even among the climate scientist that are global warming skeptics are: 1) is it really catastrophic; and/or 2) is it really caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a typical quote from a couple of the most frequently quoted climate change skeptics, University of Alabama in Huntsville atmospheric science professors Richard McNider and John Christy
For instance, in 1994 we published an article in the journal Nature showing that the actual global temperature trend was "one-quarter of the magnitude of climate model results." The disparity between the predicted temperature increases and real-world evidence has only grown in the past 20 years.
Given how badly the climate change models have overstated expected changes in global surface temperature, their skepticism about "catastrophic" global change does not seem unreasonable. However, McNider and Christy do not deny that global warming is occurring, that the oceans are rising by 1/10th inch per year, or arctic sea ice is declining to the point that ocean shippers can now use the Northwest  Passage during the summer.

Confusing the issue, publications such as Forbes are guilty of publishing out and out misinformation. Any article that exaggerates the decade long pause in global surface temperture warming to 17 years should instantly be recognized as being invalid. Cherry-picking 1998 as the starting point for measuring the start of the pause in the rise of global surface temperature is a favorite and invalid tactic of the climate change deniers. 1998 was a statistical outlier, an unusually hot year caused by El Nino, and using that year as a starting date demonstrates statistical illiteracy. What makes the publication by Forbes of this misinformation seem a bit bizarre is that fact that in 2012, they published an article explaining why cherry picking 1998 was invalid. Another example showing how using 1998 as the start of the "pause" is not scientificly valid is provided by SkepticalScience.

The Tea Party Platform does not address the issue of global warming, despite the large number of its members that fall into the "denier" camp. However, the philosophy of the Tea Party puts it in direct conflict with the global warming "alarmists" who are demanding government intervention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On one hand, fighting against greenhouse gas reducing legislation seems to be in the wheelhouse of the Tea Party's philosophy. However, on the other hand, if Tea Party members use a claim that "global warming is a hoax" to support opposition to greenhouse gas reducing legislation, then they will be guilty of being flat earther's, willfully ignoring science. If "global warming is a hoax" claims become ingrained within the Tea party platform, it will cost the group an enormous amount of credibility, particularly if James Hansen's claim that 2015 will be the hottest year in recorded history comes to pass

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