Richard Muller has no freaking idea what it is to be a climate skeptic. When you’re an actual climate skeptic the following things are true:
- Your career becomes less successful, rather than more
- The New York Times does not publish you
- People that you used to count as friends treat you with, at the very least, mild disdain
4. You get to be intellectually consistent
Muller just got significantly more famous by supposedly turning in his skeptic’s card by producing a new study and publishing a related Op-Ed in the NYT.
Those of us who are real skeptics, rather than people who pose as skeptics for dramatic purposes, will now endure people from the sky-is-falling crowd taunting us for the coming two weeks, as my acquaintances will, with the Times piece as proof of the fact that skeptics are ill-informed, at best, and evil, more likely. Our tormentors will have missed the most important paragraph in the article, of course:
Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.
So let’s get that on the table right away here. Muller has actually said something important here, and it will get completely lost in the noise of a pseudo-skeptic becoming the non-skeptic that he was all along, in the public mind. Lost is the fact that some of the all-time favorite alarmist AGW claims have been rejected by Muller, even as he embraces other alarmist claims and the alarmist mission as a whole. The logic Muller employs is devastatingly weak. He says the recent warming matches the recent rise in carbon dioxide. But he knows that there have been past warmings, and he knows that they by definition were not caused by human emissions. How can determine that the physics that drove past warmings have ceased to be operative? In other words, if the Sun rises 39 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 999 times, and on the 40 billionth time the Sun rises I deem that it has done so for a new reason, most sane folks would declare me mad. And they would be right.
There is no compelling reason to look fearfully at the climate system until it begins to exhibit new behavior, just as there is no compelling reason to ascribe the Sun’s rising to anything new.
Muller acknowledges variability during the preceding 1,000 years. And what about the preceding 10,000 years? What about the preceding three million years? The variability during all wider time frames swamps the recent noise in the temperature record! The Hockey Stick, including and especially Muller’s own version of it, is a reckless perversion of science and an instrument of control. Period.
(Hat tip to Greg Gutfeld.)
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