“There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future,” declared John Coleman, veteran meteorologist and founder of the Weather Channel, last week.
Every word of this statement is accurate, defensible and supported by all the current available science. But that hasn’t stopped Coleman’s old home the Weather Channel issuing a bizarre “position statement” in response.
It’s bizarre because you would expect that the point of a “position statement” would be to spell out the facts – whereas this one just muddies the water with exaggerations, half-truths and straw men.
It opens by stating: “The climate of the earth is indeed warming, with an increase of approximately 1 – 1 1/2 degrees Farenheit in the past century, more than half of that occurring since the 1970s.”
The truth of this statement is dependent on time scale. In fact the earth’s temperatures have been steadily cooling since the Holocene Optimum around 8,000 years ago; and there has been no global warming since 1988. It is true that the world has warmed slightly – by significantly less, though, than, say the temperature change between breakfast and mid-morning coffee time – since 1850. But that’s because in that period we have been emerging from the Little Ice Age.
And in any case, Coleman never said the planet wasn’t warming. He simply stated that such warming as there has been is not a cause for worry and is not significantly man-made.
It goes on: “More than a century’s worth of detailed climate observations shows asharp increase in both carbon dioxide and temperature. Theseobservations, together with computer model simulations and historicalclimate reconstructions from ice cores, ocean sediments and tree ringsall provide strong evidence that the majority of the warming over thepast century is a result of human activities. This is also theconclusion drawn, nearly unanimously, by climate scientists.”
This statement needs “unpacking”, as a sociologist might say.
The “sharp” temperature increase recorded between 1970 and 1988 is no sharper than the one between 1910 and 1940. If anthropogenic influences were not responsible for the former, why should they be held responsible for the latter?
That use of “strong” in conjunction with “evidence” is even more dubious. Computer models are not “evidence”: they are projections dependent on the quality of the models and the quality of the data fed into them. Tree ring proxy data has been shown to be extremely unreliable. (Hence that infamous “hide the decline” Climategate email). As for ice cores, what these show is that previous historical increases in CO2 have lagged rises in temperature, not preceded them.
Then there’s that “nearly unanimously” in conjunction with “climate scientists”: where do we begin? Presumably this is a sly reference to the roundly discredited “97 per cent” claim. And even were the statement accurate, which it isn’t, science is not a numbers game. Well into the mid-Nineteenth century doctors and surgeons nearly unanimously believed that there was no need to scrub their hands before and after conducting an operation. It didn’t mean they were right. Nor that many thousands of people didn’t pay for this scientific ignorance with their lives.