Despite the “science is settled” and “consensus” claims of the global-warming alarmists, the fear of catastrophic consequences from rising temperatures has been driven not so much by good science as by computer models and adroit publicity fed to a compliant media. The lack of solid empirical evidence is striking. The theory is thus highly vulnerable in two ways. One is the accumulation of evidence that appears to falsify it, and the other is a public opinion that is no longer susceptible to media alarms. There are signs that both of these events are happening.
On the theory that rising CO2 emissions should lead to increased temperatures, we should have been experiencing steadily increasing warming, as we have certainly had steadily increasing CO2 discharged into the atmosphere. But the contrary has happened. Global average temperatures have been flat for the past decade, since 1998, and actually declined somewhat last year. Skeptics have been pointing out for a long time that there is no correlation in the historical record between CO2 and global temperature.
Just recently, Nature , which has been generally supportive of the warming alarm, published an article from German researchers predicting that the temperature would decline for another few years. That finally got media attention and produced some overdue questioning of the alarmist scenario. The authors were quick to point out that their article predicted that the heat would start rising again after 2015 or so, and that the big worry was still on. Others pointed out that 1998 was an unfairly chosen base year from which to measure that flat temperature, because a significant El NiÃ±o event that year made temperatures unusually high.
But, skeptics reply, if we start instead from 2001, we still get that flat or declining graph. And they are asking, Well, what kind of evidence would you accept as falsifying the reigning global-warming thesis? Another ten years of flat or declining temperatures? A comeback of arctic sea ice (which is already happening in both polar regions)? What? And the answer, as for all true believers, is that those who have staked their reputations on global-warming alarm are going to stick by their claims, because true believers cannot admit to being wrong.
Meanwhile, public support for measures meant to curb so-called greenhouse emissions is noticeably waning, especially in Europe, where “green” taxes are beginning to bite. The Labour government in Britain is under particular attack for effectively raising the costs of fuel for driving, heating, and generating electricity, costs that weigh most heavily on families of modest means. Labour is feeling the public’s disapproval at the polls, notably where it lost the race for mayor of London to a Conservative who beat a Labour incumbent running loudly and explicitly on a “green” program. Elsewhere in Europe, business leaders are warning that industries like steel, cement, and other large emitters of greenhouse gasses will leave the continent and take their jobs with them. They warn of Europe’s declining competitiveness in world markets across the board. The United States has yet to feel the full backlash against anti-global-arming schemes, and all three presidential candidates are still proclaiming their fealty to the alarm.
But the rumblings in Congress are increasing; and one can bet that any legislation, if it succeeds at all, will try very hard not to harm the American economy. The corn ethanol subsidy program has already turned sour, and the public and the politicians are on the alert. Stand by.