By Tony Morrison
September 8th 2019
The traditional end of summer has arrived this week with the Labor Day holiday, but the BBQ joys have been muted by the arrival of Hurricane Dorian. There is, of course, nothing unusual about a hurricane in what is called “Hurricane Season” in this country (basically June through November) as storms form in the Northern Atlantic warm tropical waters and then queue up to hit the Caribbean and the southern USA. But they are very serious events as I can attest after having sat out one of them (Hurricane Gloria) in my basement with my family. The US has so far escaped serious devastation due to Dorian’s track up the coast, but the Bahamas will need all the help we can provide over the next few months.
One thing Dorian did show, however, beyond human suffering, is the ever-widening gap between the complexity of the atmosphere and the simplicity of those who wish to use atmospheric disturbances as an excuse to effect desired political change. For in a span of a few days, both Dorian and Greta Thunberg hit our shores.
The term “extreme weather” has become much in vogue over the last few years among the more fervent of those seeking to completely change our civilization. The hypothesis that CO2, as released by fossil fuels, is seriously damaging the climate is a little too ephemeral to incite people to action. Climate, after all, is measured in centuries, not years, and that’s no good to those seeking immediate action to rid us of our power supplies.
But weather is in the now and so far better suited, especially if it is “extreme.” Extreme is not a scientific measurement, it is merely the observation of something you believe is outside the norm, and is in the eye of the beholder. Which is beautiful when you are trying to push folks to do something, as any dramatic (the more deaths the better) weather event can now be considered evidence of man-made climate change which will kill us all unless we immediately (fill in the blanks)…..
Hurricanes were once considered brilliant for such a strategy. Hurricane Katrina started all this off in the US in 2006 as it did so much damage along the southern coast. It got so bad that soon every strong wind was considered evidence we should all immediately trade in our Lambos for, if not Chevy Volts, at least a Prius. And yet Dorian did not get much of this treatment from even the most left-wing green politicians and their handmaids in the liberal media. The reason is a widespread view has taken hold in recent years among climate and atmospheric scientists, along with meteorologists, that there is no linkage currently between hurricanes and any man-made climate change. And in the final analysis, any enterprise wishing to have some semblance of journalistic integrity has to admit this fact.
This view has been codified in the last few years in various bodies such as NOAA and the World Meteorological Organization. NOAA currently says “an anthroprogenic influence has not been formally detected for hurricane precipitation.” There is a belief that this could change in the future. Hurricanes will carry more precipitation as we go forward, as we are in a current warming period and so there will be more moisture available for hurricanes. Hurricane strength is another matter as it is dictated more by vertical wind shear (the difference between winds at lower and higher altitudes of a hurricane), and not so much water energy. The effect of our current warming on the frequency of strong hurricanes is currently the subject of strenuous debate among those who think there will be less in the future and those who think there will be more.
The current view of hurricanes and climate change (we know there is no link now, but there will be in the future, but what exactly that will be is open to question) seems even to have cowed even the mightiest climate change warriors such as Michael Mann, of hockey stick fame.
In the US edition of The Guardian this week he wrote an article on how worse climate change had made Dorian, except when even he was forced to admit “the science has yet to come in on the specifics of just how much worse climate change made Dorian.”
There is always one, of course, and CNN is still sticking with the old mantra of hurricanes fueled by folks wanting to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. This week they had a seven-hour town hall meeting on climate change for the Dems seeking the Party nomination for the Presidency.
All their hosts introduced each candidate by going all-in on the non-science. Wolf Blitzer began with: “We are seeing firsthand the effects of climate change as a powerful Atlantic hurricane is sitting right now off the coast of Florida.” And neatly controlling Blitzer’s pass, Chris Cuomo put the ball in the net: “We are dealing with Hurricane Dorian and scientists tell us consistently that we are seeing more intense storms, more frequently…” But of course CNN long ago gave up any pretense of being the work of journalists, and hardly any folks watched the seven hours nonsense parade anyway.
By a strange coincidence, another gift blew in on the North Atlantic winds last week. This was the climate change child prophet, Greta Thunberg, who arrived after crossing the Atlantic on a racing yacht en route to a UN Climate Conference in September.
Apparently, the Internet is broken in Sweden, so she cannot Skype into the Conference, hence the yacht. The unusual mode of transport was due to her dislike of airplanes due to their high carbon footprint. Churchill used to say of Gandhi that it took a lot of money to keep him in poverty, referring to the wealthy backers that enabled Gandhi’s loincloth-based lifestyle, and something similar can be said of Ms. Thunberg. It took a whole lot of CO2 emissions, based on the flying of yacht crews back and forth across the Atlantic to enable her fight against CO2 emissions.
Ms.Thunberg’s arrival was not a major event over here as she is somewhat unknown compared to her status in Europe. The Press covered her arrival usually on Page 23 or as a ten second fun item on the news channels. These items covered the 100 or so climate activists greeting her at a marina in Lower Manhattan and the appearance two days later at a strike at the UN. Over here we are all in favour of any kind of strikes at the UN, as this would give them less time to do mischief such as asking the US for more money or attacking it as the source of all evil in the world. But alas, this was apparently only a “climate strike,” which features less of the striking and more of the showing up at the UN doors and moaning.
We are vaguely aware of Ms. Thunberg’s foremost role in the ranks of the super-sized climate change alarmists. Her speeches to European Governments have been shown on YouTube and social media. What is striking about her is the complete and utter assertion of certainty concerning uncertain scientific hypotheses. A singular event like Dorian reveals much of the complexity of the atmosphere and the fact that scientists in the climate field have both serious disagreements on many aspects, and, where there is consensus, this is often divergent from what politicians, and/or climate change warriors, desire to support their policies.
Like CNN, Ms. Thunberg does not admit to any such ambiguity. She is convinced that no more scientific work on the impact of CO2 is necessary, which would probably come as a surprise to pretty much all climate scientists. And particularly those busily mining the academic coalface for grant money. Only actions are needed and the actions we need to take are known, i.e., rip up our entire civilization by transferring very quickly over to renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels. Which will come as a surprise to all of us who understand that renewables are in no state right now to replace our use of fossil fuels, with the singular exception of nuclear power. What is not a surprise is the fact she is a child at an age (16) where simplicity and conviction are at their highest.
Of course, we all know Ms. Thunberg is just a figurehead and only parrots what she has been taught. But the green handlers behind her have forged a powerful weapon. Ms. Thunberg’s simple fulminations cannot be criticized as she is both a child and has some serious medical conditions that make her an object of considerable sympathy. She was initially used by a PR campaign that includes her parents, especially Malena Ernman who coincidentally published a book on climate change at the same time her PR firm published the first photos of Ms. Thunberg’s “climate striking.” And this has grown into a massive well-funded operation that has more than enough money to fund the logistics of an Atlantic crossing by a racing yacht, and the massive carbon footprint needed to carry out these logistics.
Whatever the motives of those behind Ms. Thunberg, the faux certainty of the child prophet is still a problem when practiced by eager political acolytes. The Democrat Party has controlled my state of Connecticut for the last forty years and has nearly succeeded in destroying a once vibrant economy. This week the Democrat Governor, Lamont , (That’s him dancing on the left) is seeking to finish the job by an executive order that will see a “carbon free power grid” by 2040.
That is a task that requires serious investment on the scale that Connecticut will never be able to afford, even in a period measured by climate change eons, and the deployment of all kinds of technology that Lamont admits have yet to be invented. This will never happen, but it can do plenty of harm in the interim, e.g., not deploying natural gas pipelines or power stations.
As to why it will never happen, I would refer to the environmental scientist Professor Roger Pielke Jr’s Iron Law of Climate Policy:
“People are willing to pay some economic price for action on climate change, but that willingness is extremely limited.”
Whether it is China or India heavily boosting their usage of coal-fired power plants, Germany building nine new coal plants or French folks donning yellow jackets, the law operates inexorably across all countries.
And there may be even more relief in sight for all of us who do not want to go back to living in wooden huts with biomass fires. I refer to Morrison’s Titanium Corollary to Pielke’s Iron Law which states:
“Public willingness to accept climate change actions is in inverse proportion to public displays of massive carbon footprints by those seeking climate change actions.”