It’s becoming difficult to keep up with the latest in man made climate change alarmism and the attempts to convince, intimidate, or persuade the rational among us. Following 2013’s admission by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that there has been a “pause” of over 17 years in “global warming”, confirmed by NASA, NOAA, and the UK Meteorological Office, the hysteria on the Left is rising. I don’t think I’m alone in recognizing this, Dr. Charles Krauthammer sees it too:
Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.
The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.
The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced. (The Washington Post, April 10, 2014)
Some media outlets – unlike The Post – have already instituted the totalitarian policy as regards “climate disruption”, such as the LA Times and ABC, CBS, and NBC. This is being done because – according to the totalitarians – “the science is all settled” (Al Gore). Mr. Obama at least came up with a new (and insulting) formulation: “We don’t have time to argue with members of the Flat Earth Society.” This is, of course, completely contrary to the first principle of the Scientific Method, the motto of the Royal Society: “nullius in verba” (don’t take anybody’s word for it).
“Shut up!” is not very convincing science.
So now the propaganda is becoming more emotional, more devoid of any pretense of science. An example is a new Showtime Series, Years of Living Dangerously. The first episode aired Sunday, 13 April, featuring Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle of Hollywood, and Thomas Friedman, NY Times Columnist. Showtime apparently put $20 million into this effort and hired James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar to mastermind it. Cameron claims to support efforts to minimize climate change due to carbon dioxide (CO2), though his “carbon footprint” (like Ford’s and Friedman’s) is huge. In case you missed it, you can see it . Perhaps some people will find this approach more appealing than being told to shut up. I hesitate to say “more convincing.”
In YoLD, Don Cheadle (who apparently drew the short straw) goes to visit Plainview, Texas, where a meat-packing plant has closed, throwing many out of work and devastating the local economy. Drought has decimated cattle ranching; no cattle, no meat-packing. Cheadle determines to get to the bottom of this disaster, to determine whether this is “merely part of the natural cycle, or an Act of God, or could it have been caused by us?” Cheadle goes to visit an activist professor, Katherine Hayhoe, at nearby Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Katherine assures him it’s our fault – all that CO2 we emit, of course. Although west Texas is notorious for drought, as Hayhoe often points out, she says we’ve made it worse. Hayhoe even lists the possible “culprits” – natural cycles, the Sun, changes in Earth’s orbit, and geology (i.e. volcanoes) – before concluding it must be us and our CO2, because none of those other possible causes are responsible.
So what does cause West Texas to suffer through cycles of drought and flood?
Somehow Professor Hayhoe overlooked a natural cycle that every meteorologist and climatologist is aware of – a natural, 60-year cycle of warming and cooling in the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). You’ve probably heard of the individual events within the PDO, El Nino and La Nina. The below graphic, from NOAA, illustrates the circulation over the eastern Pacific during both conditions.
During El Nino (top figure) the eastern Pacific is warm, allowing storms (with lots of evaporated moisture) to come straight onto the Southern California coast and to sweep across the Southwest – into West Texas and on into Florida. The very strong El Nino of 1983/1984 destroyed the Santa Monica Pier in Southern California; I believe it also suffered damage in the strong El Nino of 1997/1998. (El Nino – meaning in Spanish, “the child” typically forms in December and lasts into the next Summer.)
During La Nina (bottom figure) the eastern Pacific is cold, and many storms are routed northward into Oregon and Washington. That pattern leaves West Texas dry. We have been in a weak La Nina pattern for the last three years, because the PDO shifted into its cold phase around 2005. When the PDO is cold, La Nina is more common (though El Ninos do occur). And when the PDO is warm, El Nino is more common – though La Nina occurs occasionally.
Looking back through our recent climate history, the PDO was cold from about 1945 to about 1975. Texas suffered serious drought in the 1950’s. Remember the front page articles in TIME and Newsweek about the coming Little Ice Age? Climatologists didn’t recognize the 60 year PDO cycle until the mid-1990’s, at the University of Washington-Seattle. If you’d like to know more, visit their And from 1976 until 2005, the PDO was warm.
Does your memory go farther back? From 1945 back thirty years takes us to 1915, encompassing a warm PDO and the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930’s. Summers in the 1930’s were hot; in those years before air conditioning, hundreds of people perished of heat stroke across the country. Winters were very cold, like the Winter of 2013-2014, with many strong outbreaks of Arctic air, following the storms moving across the upper Midwest. As I’ve said before in these columns on climate change – and the phony claim that CO2 causes it – none of this is a secret.
There will be seven more episodes of Years of Living Dangerously, exploiting the misery of people who’ve lost their livelihood, or even their lives, due to natural climate change. Ironically, it looks like an El Nino is now forming in the Pacific – hopefully strong enough to push some Spring and Summer storms across the Southwest into Texas. Even if so, the trend for the next twenty years is not good for Plainview’s drought.
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