Trump and the Climate Change Clown Show
Climate change is back in the news as President-Elect Donald Trump threatens to roll back much of the Obama climate agenda. The Obama administration added 229 major regulations at an additional annual cost of $108 billion, many of which involve energy policy. The "Clean Power Plan" is one such regulatory behemoth, jacking up the cost of energy under the guise of saving the planet from global warming.
Of course, the left believes that Trump will mandate dirty air and water, encouraging pollution on a mass scale. After all, Republicans prefer living in a toxic waste dump world, exposing themselves and their families to pesticides, carcinogens, smog, and all other forms of environmental filth. Or so we are told.
As the debate heats up ahead of Trump assuming office, now is a good time to take another look at the doomsday predictions of global warming and the upcoming extinction of life on Planet Earth. That's just hyperbole, right? Actually, it's not. A climate change scientist from the University of Arizona predicts human extinction in ten years.
Polar ice caps are a good barometer of global temperatures. If the ice caps are melting, the planet is likely warming. Environmental soothsayer Al Gore recognized this and made a bold prediction in 2008. He told a German audience that the northern polar ice cap would disappear in five years.
How did his prediction turn out? Not well. Al's prognostication was on par with recent media predictions of a Hillary Clinton landslide electoral victory.
Polar ice caps are measured via satellite, a process beginning in 1979. Recent NASA satellite data shows no recession of the polar ice caps since 1979. In fact, since 2012, the total extent of polar ice is above post-1979 average. The ice caps are growing, not shrinking. In the words of Al Gore, this is "an inconvenient truth."
It's all much like thawing a frozen Thanksgiving turkey. If you leave it in the garage for a day to thaw, and it's still frozen solid, it's safe to assume that the garage temperature is below freezing.
There is nothing wrong with making predictions. This is part of the scientific method. This requires four steps to make an accurate representation of natural phenomenon.
First, observe the phenomenon – in this case, what Al Gore and others believed to be warming of the planet. Second, formulate a hypothesis to explain the warming. One possibility is human endeavors. Another is solar activity. Third, use the hypothesis to make future predictions, such as melting polar ice caps. Fourth, test the predictions based on experiments or observations.
Did the ice caps actually melt? Obviously not – meaning back to the drawing board for Al Gore and his disciples.
What went wrong: the observations or the hypothesis? Or both?
Perhaps the original observation of global warming is flawed. Many other scientists observe global cooling instead, especially over the past 30 years. Accurate temperature recordings are a recent technology, especially compared to the timespan of human activity on the planet and the lifespan of Earth itself.
There may be dips and rises in a longer-term temperature trend line, much like the drive from Denver to the Eisenhower Tunnel in the Rocky Mountains. Despite a nearly 6,000-foot climb, there are short downhill stretches along the road. Observing only the downhill section of Floyd Hill, for example, one would incorrectly assume it's downhill from Denver to the top of the continental divide, overlooking the longer overall uphill journey. In climate change parlance, this would be labeled as a "hiatus."
Aside from the observations, warming versus cooling, what is the hypothesis as to what is causing the change? Some blame human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. Others attribute temperature changes on Earth to the Sun, our solar system furnace, a million times larger than Earth. Just as a home furnace turns on and off at the direction of a thermostat, the Sun has its own cosmic thermostat, well beyond our comprehension or control.
Turn down the Sun's thermostat, meaning reduced solar activity, and the solar system cools down. European researchers predict a "mini ice age" from 2030 to 2040 based on decreased solar activity. They liken it to the Maunder Minimum in the 1600s, which saw the River Thames in London completely frozen.
So is the planet warming or cooling? That the polar ice caps are not melting suggests that the Earth is not warming. Is it cooling? Perhaps, as some scientists recently noted based on temperature measurements.
What about the predictions? Al Gore's hot air is based on politics and carbon credit sales. His predictions carry as much weight as those of Leo DiCaprio and Emma Watson.
Even the scientists got it wrong. The International Climate Change Conference made a ten-year prediction in 2000 for rising global temperatures that was off by well over a degree in 2010, with an increasing gap between actual and predicted temperatures beyond 2010. If they can't forecast ten years into the future, how can they predict 50 or 100 years from now?
The science is far from settled. Observations need to be refined and standardized so apples are being compared to apples. Hypotheses must be reworked and tested to determine if they truly predict anything. And politics should have no place in the debate, as political agendas trump the scientific method.
Speaking of Trump, he told the N.Y. Times that he is keeping an "open mind" when it comes to climate issues. Good approach. Until the science is settled, only an open mind will be receptive to new or contradictory information.
In the meantime, Trump wants to roll back costly and economically harmful regulations from the Obama administration. Unlike future temperatures, the effects of these regulations are well known in terms of energy prices, jobs, and American industry competitiveness.
Chasing windmills at the expense of jobs and commerce is no way to make America great again.
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS, is a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.