But first let’s get some perspective. In the 1970s, it was “settled science” that an ICE AGE was imminent!
“‘The trouble with almost all environmental problems,’ says Paul R. Ehrlich, the population biologist, ‘is that by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead. … We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.’” — The New York Times, 1969.
“No real action has been taken to save the environment, [Ehrlich] maintains. And it does need saving. Ehrlich predicts that the oceans will be as dead as Lake Erie in less than a decade.” — Redlands Daily Facts, 1970.
“Scientist Predicts a New Ice Age by 21st Century: Air pollution may obliterate the sun and cause a new ice age in the first third of the next century. … If the current rate of increase in electric power generation continues, the demands for cooling water will boil dry the entire flow of the rivers and streams of continental United States. … By the next century ‘the consumption of oxygen in combustion processes, world-wide, will surpass all of the processes which return oxygen to the atmosphere.’” — The Boston Globe, 1970.
“The world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts. … ‘In the next 50 years,’ the fine dust man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel-burning could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees. If sustained ‘over several years’ — ‘five to 10,’ he estimated — ‘such a temperature decrease could be sufficient to trigger an ice age!’” — Washington Post, Times Herald, 1971.
“Dear Mr. President: … We feel obliged to inform you on the results of the scientific conference held here recently. … The main conclusion of the meeting was that a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon. The cooling has natural cause and falls within the rank of processes which produced the last ice age. … The present rate of the cooling seems fast enough to bring glacial temperatures in about a century.” — Brown University, Department of Geological Sciences, 1972.
“However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing.
“Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ICE AGE. Telltale signs are everywhere — from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7⁰ F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year-round.” — Time magazine, 1974.
However, the NEW alarms are not for a coming Ice Age. What we “know” (🙄) so far:
“A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.” — Associated Press, 1989.
“The world is going to end in 12 years if we do not address climate change.” — January 21, 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D- Rep from NY and former bartender.
In the text, Inconvenient Facts, Gregory Wrighthouse points out that the coming Ice Age was “settled science” in the 1960s and 70s. What a difference a day (or politician) makes!
Wrighthouse accurately points that “Unlike religion, science is not a belief system…. Science is not consensus and consensus is not science.” He goes on to quote Michael Crichton, “There is no such thing as consensus in science. If it’s consensus, it is not science. If it’s science, it is not consensus.”
Maimonides wrote, “Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.”
He also points out the most feared calamity associated with global warming is sea-level rise, predicted in 2005 by the UN Environmental Program to produce 50 million climate refugees by 2010, displaced by sea-level rise. Well, we know how that panned out. The Bahamas, St. Lucia, Seychelles and the Solomon Islands were to be some of the worst affected but are now thriving very nicely in spite of the horror of climate change.
The most recent headlines in National Geographic report unnamed NASA scientists, as well as some who put their names in, saying the ocean will rise between 11-38 inches by 2100, and possibly as much as 18 feet in a couple more centuries!
In State of Fear, a novel by Michael Crichton, he noted the advantages of creating a constant drumbeat of fear in populations to get cooperation. And Mr. Wrighthouse begins his very readable text with a quote from H.L. Menken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)
For more on the absurdities of “climate science by consensus,” read on from way back in 2012 before we “understood” the danger:
The United Nations’ latest climate change report sparked predictable hyperventilating. You’ve seen the headlines crying, “Code Red for Humanity” and clamoring about “extreme” and “unprecedented” warming likely to be “irreversible” — accompanied by fear-mongering images of raging wildfires and flooded towns.
Fortunately, the true state of our climate is far from disastrous. In fact, both climate science and thousands of years of human history show this is the best time yet to be alive. The UN is continually moving the goalposts when its apocalyptic predictions fail to come true.
The problem with climate science today is not so much the science as shoddy reporting that over-simplifies and over-dramatizes — and a toxic political climate (pun intended) that forbids deviation from the politically correct narrative.
The computer models used by the UN and every other climate-focused entity around the world are statistical projections, not precise calculations. The specific models cited in the latest UN report are designed to offer a broad range of possible outcomes and formulated using highly suspect and outdated criteria. Yet the report focuses heavily on the model scenarios known to be extremely unlikely — garnering over 40 percent of mentions and almost 100 percent of media coverage.
These same models show that even totally eliminating fossil fuel consumption would have a microscopic influence on global temperatures — less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius even if the full Green New Deal was enacted immediately.
In reality, we know remarkably little about the effect of human activity on the climate. What the vast majority of us know about climate change we get from the news, and it sure seems like natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and the recent heat waves in the Pacific Northwest are getting more common. But perception does not equal reality.
Global weather data shows hurricane activity and frequency have not increased over the long term. News articles fueling climate anxiety usually cite spurious graphs that start the timeline in the 1980s. But the world did not begin in the 1980s, and there have been several periods in history that saw the same, or worse, hurricane activity as we’re experiencing now.
Similarly, although you would not know it from the news, wildfires and floods are on the decline, and recent heat waves in the Pacific Northwest are small potatoes compared to the 180- and 240-year megadroughts the planet experienced between 800 and 1400 A.D.
The even better news? You and I are 99% less likely to die in a severe weather event than our great grandparents. In 1920, global climate-related disasters killed almost 500,000 people every year. Today, even though the world’s population has quadrupled, fewer than 20,000 die from climate-related disaster. In fact, cold-related deaths are over 40 times more common than heat-related deaths in the United States and Canada.
If we are becoming more resilient to disasters that are happening less often, what is the crisis?
It is not a climate crisis, but a crisis of truth.
The climate activists who demand “follow the science” appear remarkably uninterested in the nuances and uncertainties of the research they believe supports their ideology.
Science has never been about marching in lockstep with the mainstream. Its purpose has always been curiosity, testing new ideas, and striving to understand more about how the world works—even, and especially, if it proves a previous theory wrong. Even schoolchildren know to shake their heads in disdain at the politicians who persecuted Galileo for having the audacity to publish his theory about the solar system. Yet the same abuse of science is occurring every day as the left exploits misunderstandings of climate research (deliberately or not) to push a political agenda.
While activists march against fossil fuels and let their children believe their future has no hope amid rising seas and dying rainforests, they have turned a blind eye to the fact that humanity is better off now than it ever has been. Extreme poverty is at its lowest rate in recorded history, and people are living longer, healthier, freer, and more comfortable lives than ever before. Climate change or no climate change, the future is bright if we only look past the hysteria and seek to truly understand the world around us.
As former Obama-era undersecretary for science Steve Koonin explains in his book, Unsettled, climate reporting is like a game of telephone. The UN’s Sixth Assessment Report is a 3,949-page PDF! It is easy to understand why reporters on deadline fail to meticulously comb through the entire document or the catalog of research it cites. They simply do not have time to dig past the simplistic talking points, so they select the most shocking and click-inducing claims without delving into the methodology or scientific uncertainties. It is understandable, but it is also a disservice to the public. Something needs to change.
Instead of fixating on our climate, which is likely to remain mild and manageable as our resilience continues to improve, we should focus on sharing the affordable, reliable energy resources our nation is blessed with to fight poverty, improve environmental quality, and spread prosperity around the world.
The Honorable Jason Isaac is director of Life:Powered, a national initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation to raise America’s energy IQ. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.