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Mainstream Greens Are Failing Our Warming World

Climate change has never posed a larger threat to humanity, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Reuters reports:

“We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement…The last five-year period beat 2006-10 as the warmest such period since records began in the 19th century.

The heat was accompanied by a gradual rise in sea levels spurred by melting glaciers and ice sheets. The changes “confirmed the long-term warming trend caused by greenhouse gases,” the WMO said of the report.

Alarm bells are ringing. We’ll note that, while the details of climate change are devilishly tricky to nail down, and our understanding of the issue is a lot shakier than greens claim it to be, at the most general level it’s not difficult to trace a line between industrialization and rising surface temperatures. Those temperatures are now the highest we have on record (going back 165 years or so). We’ll take it as cold comfort, then (no pun intended) that a new study found that vegetation has helped slow rising temperatures over the past decade.

But as we set new temperature records, the strategy humanity seems to have settled upon in response to climate change—namely, a top-down, international “treaty” approach—is sputtering. The Paris climate deal is now officially on the books, having garnered the 55 countries (representing at least 55 percent of global emissions) necessary to “ratify” the agreement, but as it goes into effect, the full reality of how little weight it carries is starting to sink in. Not only does it lack any meaningful enforcement mechanisms, but as the New York Times reluctantly acknowledges, the Paris deal has done precious little to make climate adaptation and mitigation efforts economically viable:

The financial framework, namely a carbon price or tax that would force industries to pay for the pollution they spew, has barely started to emerge. And while tens of billions of dollars of green bonds have been issued to finance environmental projects, these are a pittance compared to the sums required to make a difference. […]

From a market perspective, many companies do not yet have a strong financial imperative to make sweeping changes to address climate change. Fledgling exchanges for trading carbon emissions rights have attracted limited interest. And the prices on those markets are well below the $100 a ton or more that experts say would force companies to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Between this latest WMO report and the lackluster “ratification” of the Paris deal, it’s clear that the problem of climate change is getting worse faster than the cumbersome green policy agenda, tangled as it is in the Malthusian weeds and demagogic false promises that have grown up around it, can properly deal with.

This seems unlikely to change without a fresh look at the climate, which will come only when mainstream greens stop seeing more creative thinkers—people like Michael Shellenburger, Ted Nordhaus, Bjorn Lomborg, and so on—as The Enemy, but rather as their true friends. Because as good as the modern environmental movement has gotten at painting a dismal portrait of the future, it’s proven far less adroit at prescribing smart policy solutions. For that, and for the sake of humanity’s place on this planet, we desperately need a smarter brand of green.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    When we “educate” people in the most influential country in the world to believe there is no problem, or there is no problem worth addressing if any identifiable cost is involved in addressing it, or yes, there is a problem but the problem has nothing to do with human activity and cannot be addressed by human activity modifications, then the flailing “top down” approach is all you get. Why? Because there is no “bottom up”.

    • JR

      Or maybe people perceive global green agenda as nothing more than a gigantic power play for the elites, by the elites.
      Also, crying wolf without the wolf actually appearing tends to erode your credibility.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Congratulations, JR, on the political right having inherited what Sarah Palin once called “actual responsibilities” for this issue and everything else.

        • JR

          I personally look forward to see the expanded power of the executive used by Donald Trump to advance his agenda as aggressively as Obama advanced his. That includes climate change. Since you didn’t mind unilateral, unbound executive for the past 8 years, I’m sure you’ll be OK with President Trump doing that as well.
          But I guess having the President stop bragging about bankrupting the entire coal industry is a good start.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Perhaps President Trump can keep natural gas from bankrupting the coal industry or keep Wyoming coal from being dramatically cheaper to extract than Appalachian coal. I don’t know whether he can or whether he would want to.

          • CaliforniaStark

            China will be a good market for the coal industry; it is increasing its use 20% by 2020. This comes after China lectured Trump on not adhering to the Global Climate Treaty. China will soon learn Trump is not as gullible and weak as Obama.


          • FriendlyGoat

            Can’t read that article because I’m not a WSJ subscriber. I do know that DJT is suddenly thrust onto a world stage which is not the same kind of stage he experienced in his rallies. Different audience. Different subjects. Different consequences. Different personal burden. Different expectations of him.

            The climate thing is data dependent going forward. It is, for the next 4, 8, 16 years not a matter of opinion from some stump. It is a matter of the American government admitting the actual data coming in from its own measurements to those of scientists from all over the world.
            You can’t lead anything unless you stay on the side of observed evidence—-whatever it is.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Note how his reply completely ignores your point? I suspect that we are likely to see a lot of that from the Dums in the next few years. Strange isn’t it how the entire Democratic party discovered at the same time (about 9:30 PM Eastern time last night) that unrestrained executive action wasn’t an unalloyed good?
            As for me, I want real constitutional limits on executive power, and I hope that we the people finally get that. It will take quite a while to restore the damage done by Obama, but with any luck, we can at least make a start.

          • JR

            Agree 100%. If Trump accomplishes nothing except placing real limits on executive power, I will be happy.

  • QET

    Not sure how TAI can so confidently assert as fact the allegedly “record” temperatures in light of all the evidence that CAGW zealots have altered historical temperature data to fit their desired results. Or how it can implicitly support the doomsday prediction (“for the sake of humanity’s place on this planet”). Well, again, if (unaltered) data are going to be the basis for decision in such a matter, as I would imagine TAI would claim as its own method of analysis, then the last 165 years (save for the 100 million or so murdered by socialist dictators) have seen a vast improvement in humanity’s place on the planet. Now, we all know correlation does not equal causation, but still, maybe a warmer planet is a better planet?

  • Fat_Man

    “the highest we have on record (going back 165 years or so)”

    On geological time scales that is nothing. On the basis of the so called record (which is biased, landlocked, over adjusted, and lacks data from large portions of the earth’s surface), you could not exclude cyclical phenomena with a cycle of more than 700 years. And we know that such cycles (e.g. glaciation) exist.

    • BrianLOConnor

      Yeah . . . when your timeline begins 165 years ago, there’s only one thing to scream: “You can’t be serious!” (Why should we start 165 years ago, rather than, say, 20,000 years ago. Or perhaps 300,000,000 years ago? Better, why not just start 20 years ago?)

      And about cycles . . . there are also those pesky correlations between climate and sunspots, climate change on Mars, etc.

  • Andrew Allison

    Let’s see the satellite data.

  • CaliforniaStark

    There is much debate whether, and how much, the earth is supposedly warming; however, multiple recent scientific studies have been published indicating there has not been a rise in sea levels because of it. One reason for this is a purported major cause of the sea level rise was supposedly melting Antarctica ice. Recent studies have shown in fact Antarctica is gaining ice.

    Sorry the alarm bells are ringing in TAI’s head. Perhaps TAI should read the work of the “creative thinkers” it recommends — such as Bjorn Lomborg — to get a more balanced view of the current state of global warming.

    A major problem is to treat the projections of mathematical models as reality. On Professor Judith Curry’s website, a comment by Mike Flynn (11/6/2016) provided a useful summary of the limitations of climate models:

    “If weather is chaotic (and I assume it is, until evidence to the contrary appears), then tuning a model to the past is a complete waste of time.
    As Lorenz showed, even a minute alteration to initial conditions may produce unpredictable results. Now, given the number of atoms in the atmosphere, and their changed position and velocity at any instant, not to say the influence of such things as photons from the Sun, and you find yourself in a bit of a pickle.
    If you decide to average the past, and hope that the future will follow the trend of the past, it is faster and cheaper to use a straight edge, a pencil, and a bit of commonsense.
    The Wright brothers, Lilienthal and all the rest, managed without computers. Man flew. Thought, pencil and paper, and experimentation, often produce superior results to blind faith in digital computers, and all the too-easily generated nonsense they can generate.
    Climate modellers tune their models to predict the past with varying degrees of accuracy. Predicting the future seems beyond their grasp, judging on progress to date.”

  • rpabate

    Climate science is a faith-based science, which is ironic since the followers of this faith-based science ridicule people who follow faith-based religion. That the burning of fossil fuels will cause catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is not testable according to the scientific method. The hypothesis has only been tested using computer models; therefore to believe these models have been programmed accurately is purely based on faith. That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is well known scientifically. That is not in dispute. CO2’s ability to warm is also logarithmic (each increment of CO2 produces less warming), which means that In order for CO2 to cause dangerous warming, the climate change modelers need to include positive feedbacks, and there are many of them, but the most well known is water vapor. It is only when these positive feedbacks are added to the warming caused by CO2 that the models produce “what we are told” will be dangerous warming. The suite of feedbacks used by the modelers have never been tested according to the scientific method because there is no way to test them in a laboratory. There has been a test of sorts and so far the climate models have failed miserably. That test is comparing actual global temperatures with the temperatures the models predicted would be occurring by now. That 2015 and 2015 have been the hottest years in the last 100 to 200 years is meaningless. The warming is completely within the bounds of natural variation, and 2015 and 2016 were El Nino years when temperatures are naturally higher.

    I highly recommend that everyone, that means alarmists as well as luke-warmers and skeptics, read Michael Hart’s excellent book “Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change”. I am in the science part. Hart writes in great detail how very broken science has become. President Eisenhower warned about this in his Farewell Address. It’s not just climate science that has been corrupted, it is science in general.

    The book “The Rightful Place of Science: Science on the Verge” which is a compilation of articles written by Europeans working at the interface of science and policy also document how broken the scientific process has become. What should be “evidenced-based policy” has become “policy-based evidence”.

    I also recommend Alex Epstein’s recent book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”. What was really eye opening for me was the fact that the “alarmists”, by their own words and policy prescriptions, show that they put unspoiled nature above human flourishing. That is why they are even against clean energy solutions like nuclear and hydro. In fact, the activist take pride in forcing the closing of, I think it’s, thousands of dams worldwide. Epstein also shows graphs that track various indicators of human flourishing with the growth in fossil fuels. He makes a very compelling case.

    I also recommend Googling articles written by John Ioannidis. He also writes how the medical and biomedical sciences have been incredibly corrupted. I cannot believe the same has not also happened with the climate sciences, and even more so.

    You just cannot write about climate science without a fuller understanding of the state of science in general and climate science in particular.

    One last factoid:

    Chine used more cement in 3.5 years than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century. Can you imagine the UHI impact of all that cement. So satellites taking the temperature of the earth as they pass overhead get readings that have nothing to do with CO2.

    Then add in India, Brazil, Indonesia and all the other developing countries. CO2 is not the issue. It’s humans everywhere wanting to live better.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Prepare for an extremely cold winter, “Global Warming” is BS.

  • BrianLOConnor

    As others have said: “I’ll Believe Global Warming is a Crisis When the People Who Tell Me It’s a Crisis Start Acting Like It’s a Crisis”

    First orders of business: 1) ixnay with flights to exotic places for GW conferences, and; 2) turn off the air conditioning in the various seats of power. Begin with the US Capital, the White House and the EOB in Washington, and extend to UN buildings world-wide.

  • Jose Carlos Moreno

    Dear The American Interest, do you really tolerate the climate change science denial aspects of the Republican party? These people are so partisan and delusional they’re as bad as liberals. I suggest you give a greater platform to reality based Republicans in some way and use your influence to help eliminate these deniers. I understand it is not an easy task, but it must be done and doesn’t have to be alone, just a comment. I appreciate the fact that The American Interest does not deny human influenced climate change and the real threats it poses.

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