By Jeffrey Folks
Once upon a time, it was the contention of global warming alarmists that the earth was getting warmer -- a lot warmer. Now, after decades of such claims, the evidence points to a world that is, for the present at least, growing colder. When that fact became evident, alarmists shifted the ground of their argument. The earth's climate was not necessarily getting warmer; it was just "changing," and that was somehow a bad thing. No matter that the climate had been changing for more than four billion years, ever since the earth's formation.
Not to be deterred, climate alarmists insist that the climate is changing in new ways -- for example, in the "extreme weather" that has purportedly struck the U.S. since 2005. Focusing on Hurricane Katrina in that year and an outbreak of deadly tornadoes in 2011, alarmists contend that the weather is becoming more extreme and that climate change is the cause.
The facts undercut this claim. Only one hurricane has made landfall on the U.S. mainland since 2005, while tornado deaths in the 2000s were the least of any decade on record. Heightened media coverage of extreme weather events, not the weather itself, has made it appear that climate change is reaching epic proportions.
This is precisely the intent of such coverage: to manufacture a crisis so as to facilitate government takeover of large segments of the economy. In reality, the climate is no more extreme than it has been in the past. The deadliest hurricane in American history remains the great Galveston storm of 1900. The worst tornado was the Tri-State storm of 1925, which killed nearly 700 persons. The Joplin tornado of 2011 was the only U.S. tornado to kill more than 100 persons since 1953. It is true that lower death tolls are mostly the result of improved forecasting and warning systems, but if climate change really were producing monster storms of Al Gore proportions, death tolls would be higher than they are. The fact is that there were F-5 tornadoes in the past, and there are F-5 storms today. Today's storms are no stronger or more destructive than in the past.
The plain truth is that there has been no documented increase in the severity of storms in the U.S., or anywhere else, as a consequence of climate change. There has, however, been an explosion in the intensity of media coverage devoted to extreme weather events. (There is even an "extreme weather channel" for kids.) NBC news has its own Chief Environmental Affairs reporter, Anne Thompson, who is not shy about linking extreme weather events with climate change. Practically every story she has filed harps on the climate "crisis," pointing implicitly to the need for heightened government regulation of carbon-emitting industries and commerce -- which is to say, the entire global economy.
I suspect that correspondents like Thompson know well enough that in reality no such extreme weather crisis exists. That does not stop her and others from filing stories that purport to show polar bears drifting off into the sunset on melting chunks of arctic ice. One could feel sorry for those bears were it not for the fact that they can swim for up to 40 miles in the open sea. It's unlikely that they would allow themselves to be carried off to Havana.
Despite all that the media can do to maintain the fiction, the public is catching on to the climate change hoax. Every year, NOAA predicts a "more active than usual" hurricane season, and every year they are proven wrong. Come to think of it, how can it be that every year is "more active than usual"?
The American people are wising up to the climate change fraud. But climate change is a vast enterprise with trillions of dollars at stake. So what is a global warming alarmist to do?
One approach is to bury his head in the sand and deny reality, which is what the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has decided to do. In its latest report, issued on March 28, the IPCC has largely abandoned talk of global warming mitigation and shifted instead to what is termed "disaster risk reduction." That is to say, reductions in greenhouse gases are not really going to affect temperatures, as the IPCC claimed in 2007, but with a wink and a nod we're going to assume that rising temperatures, which have actually been falling since 2002, are responsible for every severe storm in the next few decades. And since the IPCC is determined to remain in business and continue attempting to control the affairs of national economies around the world, we're going to focus on risk mitigation.
It seems that the careerists at IPCC still think they can get away with flogging the dead horse of "extreme weather." More savvy alarmists, such as those in the American media, have decided that this will no longer do, and it's time to shift the terms of the debate.
The latest claim is not that the weather is warming or even that it is growing more extreme -- it is that it is growing more variable. And that variation is just more proof of climate change, according to Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research of Massachusetts. This year, winter temperatures in the eastern U.S. have been among the warmest on record. In Europe they have been among the coldest. Isn't that proof of climate change?
Well, no. It is proof that if you roll the dice a thousand times, you will probably come up with snake eyes twice in a row. Or an extremely warm winter in the U.S. accompanied by a cold one in Europe. Or any number of other "extreme" combinations, all of them the product of natural causes.
For the left, however, any sort of variation in the weather is evidence of climate change, and climate change is grounds for government takeover of the global economy. If it is warm in Boston but cold in Budapest, that is grounds for cap-and-trade. If a tornado strikes somewhere in the Midwest this spring, but not in the South, that is a basis for EPA regulation of the energy industry. If it strikes the South but not the Midwest, that is also grounds for government control. If it is drier in the West than the East, that is a catastrophe. If the wind blows in Wisconsin but not in Washington State, it's climate change at work. That is how desperate the left is to control the global economy.
Ultimately, of course, none of this has anything to do with the climate. Any rational human being, and even the irrational ones on the left, knows well enough that there have always been variations in the climate. In recent decades these variations have been minor and benign compared to changes that have taken place in the recent geologic past (for example, the Great Ice Age).
It seems, however, that the left is not really concerned with the facts. What they are really focused on is power. Ever since Marx published his Communist Manifesto in 1848 -- well before that, in fact -- the left has sought totalitarian control over the means of production, and indeed over all aspects of human life. Modern-day practitioners such as Barack Obama know that the best way to bring about increased regulation, and thus control, is through the fiction of a crisis that can be addressed only by government.
The only problem with that is that the climate is not changing -- not to any perceptible extent. But it is variable, and that is likely to be the message of climate alarmists for some time.