Apocalypse fatigue: Climate insanity is taking its toll

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The climate change crusaders, who have been at it for a quarter-century, appear to be going clinically mad. Start with the rhetorical monotony and worship of authority (“97 percent of all scientists agree!”), add the Salem witch trial-style intimidation and persecution of dissenters, and the categorical demand that debate about science or policy is over because the matter is settled, and you have the profile of a cult-like sectarianism that has descended into paranoia and reflexive bullying. …

Dave Malan

Dave Malan

If you strip away all of the noise from smaller scientific controversies that clutter the debate—arctic ice, extreme weather events, droughts, and so forth—the central issue is climate sensitivity: How much will average global temperature increase from adding a given level of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere? The most recent “official” estimate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), given a doubling of greenhouse gases, is a planet 1.1 to 4.8 degrees Celsius warmer a century from now. On the low end of this range—up to as much as 2 degrees—warming would be no big deal, and possibly a net benefit. Warming on the high end of this range would present significant problems, requiring a number of responses. Narrowing the range of outcomes is therefore the most pressing climate science question. Everything else is a sideshow. …

It may well be that it can’t be done. Right now the IPCC can’t settle on a best-guess estimate within the 1.1‑4.8 degree range, though a number of scenarios for the year 2100 cluster around 2 degrees of warming. This is nearly the same range and best guess as the previous four reports of the IPCC stretching back to 1990. More astonishing, this range differs little from that proposed by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius in 1896. …

In other words, despite billions spent on climate research and the development of enormously complex computer models, we are no closer to predictive precision than we were 110 years ago. The computer models are still too crude and limited.


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