UPDATE (Sunday 6/26 8:30AM): After choosing the quote of the week this week (see above here) I’ve come to the conclusion that former Senator Wirth is mentally incapable of debating the issue in a rational manner, would likely not respond, and thus there is no point in keeping this as a top post. – A
Former Senator Tim Wirth invoked the nuclear option yesterday. Small mushroom clouds are now appearing across the world as people read what he said. This is my response to him. It will remain the top post for the next few days or until Mr. Wirth responds to the offer made below.
I got the email about this bit of climate ugliness just after having dinner Friday night. I couldn’t do anything about it while I was driving home from Sacramento then, and it is a good thing, because it made me quite angry. The hour long drive gave me time to think about it and remember what the world was like before global warming supposedly made the weather worse.
First, let me remind everyone who former Senator Tim Wirth is. For that, we have to go back to June 1988. Dr. James Hansen is getting ready to testify before the Senate on what he thinks is a serious problem, global warming. The sponsor for Dr. Hansen? Senator Tim Wirth.
If we left it there, there would really be nothing to say beyond the fact that he’s the guy who put Hansen in front of the Senate and launched the cause. But Senator Wirth was culpable in foisting stagecraft onto the Senate to make them “feel” the problem in the form of a well crafted lie.
If any of you have ever been in Washington DC during the summertime, you’ll be able to relate to this. Senator Timothy Wirth made sure that room was “steamy”. This transcript excerpt is from PBS series Frontline which aired a special in April 2007. Here he admits his stagecraft in his own words:
TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.
DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?
TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.[Shot of witnesses at hearing]
Watch the Frontline video here. [UPDATE: The Frontline video has gone missing, but here it is on YouTube]
So it goes without saying, that if the case Dr. Hansen was to make before the Senate was so strong, why did Senator Wirth need to make use of cheap stage tricks?
And, why would anybody trust this man’s opinion on climate today, knowing this?
Well yesterday, the former senator insulted the Jewish
race people with the tired old “denier” label, then set his foot on fire, then stuck it in his mouth trying to tell about half of the US population (according to recent polls) that he’s “coming after them” because they don’t share his opinion.
From CNS News, an extraordinary story coming out of a UN press briefing Wirth participated in, here’s the relevant portions:
Former Dem Senator: Climate Change Caused U.S. Floods, Fires; We Need ‘Aggressive Campaign To Go After’ ‘Deniers’
Friday, June 24, 2011
Sen. Wirth said: “Well, Barbara, that’s again, back to the major question we’ve been talking about. First, you and I know that while you can’t predict exactly from the climate models what’s going to happen, we know that the overall trend is going to be increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires – and we’re seeing exactly that sort of thing in the United States today with increased flooding this last year, with the fires that have swept, raging through Arizona and western New Mexico and Texas, the kind of dramatic climate impact that we have seen in the United States already. Slowly but surely, people are going to connect the dots. They’re gonna’ understand that this is precisely the kind of significant change that has been predicted and that we’re slowly but surely seeing.
“Happily, there are people like those in, the weather forecasters who’ve come together, you know, into a major group to try to discuss and to understand the impacts and how to explain climate change and climate impacts when they’re doing the evening news and talking about the weather, which is where most people in the United States get their information. That’s going to be, I think over a period of time, an extremely important set of steps to take.
“We also have to do a better job of having the scientific community being able to explain what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and why they’re doing it in very clear terms that are understandable to 300 million Americans.
“Third, we have to, I think, again as I’ve suggested before, undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they’re doing and make a battle out of it. They’ve had pretty much of a free ride so far, and that time has got to stop.
Here’s the audio clip, Wirth’s remarks are at about the 3 minute mark.
I can’t print my initial reaction.
First let’s address Mr. Wirth’s claims of “increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires”.
To do that, we have to assume his claim relates to Dr. Jim Hansen’s warning in 1988 that increased CO2 in the atmosphere from the then 350 parts per million, to the now 390 parts per million made the claim of “increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires” happen.
Wirth probably isn’t familiar with the revolutions in technology making worldwide reporting a nearly instantaneous event. I address that issue here: Why it seems that severe weather is “getting worse” when the data shows otherwise – a historical perspective.
It seems like we get more of these things because news media and social media and people with cameras and cell phones are everywhere. Take for example the train crash today in the desert east of Reno, NV, which was covered mostly by citizens on the scene. Hardly anything escapes electronic notice anymore.
Second, Wirth’s hero, Dr. James Hansen, claims that we need to return to 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere to keep the Earth “safe” and avoid what Wirth claims we are seeing. An entire cult following has developed around this number, thanks to Bill McKibben and his 350.org eco-worriers.
That 350 number isn’t based on peer reviewed science. Hansen’s 2008 paper citing the 350 number was NOT peer reviewed, nor even published in a journal at the time. he just foisted it onto his website and a compliant press distributed it without question. No, that 350 number is based on the fact that was the value of CO2 when Jim Hansen and Wirth set this story loose in the Senate with the stagecraft. As Andy at NYT says “Back to 1988 on CO2, Says NASA’s Hansen”
1987 348.99 1988 351.44 1989 352.90 Source: ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_annmean_mlo.txt
So if what Wirth says is true, we probably didn’t have much in the way of ” increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires” back around the time of that magic 350 ppm number right?
Let’s have a look:
The most severe drought in California’s history was the 1987-1992 drought. It is the drought Californians are most familiar with due to its recency and severity.
North America as a whole has experienced numerous droughts. When pioneers first began settling the Great Plains, they were told that “rain follows the plow.” However, it was an unusually rainy period. In the late 1880s drought struck and over half of the settlers lost their land. Many people are familiar with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the lesser drought of the 1950s. What many people don’t recognize, however, is that over the past 400 years droughts equivalent to the 1950s drought have occurred several times per century (Priest et al., 1993; NOAA Paleoclimatological Program, 2000).
Source: College of the Siskiyous
And it wasn’t just California, it seems India was hit hard in 1987, when CO2 was 349 ppm.
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN, Special to the New York Times
Published: August 16, 1987
”I am 75 years old, and I have never seen anything this bad,” said Naufat Mohammed, a white-bearded farmer, looking at the cracked earth around a well. ”This is God’s will, but God is angry with us.”
The drought, which Government officials say is unprecedented in intensity, has already spread through most of the country, hitting hardest in the northern grain belts. There wells, reservoirs and water tanks are running at dangerously low levels or are already dry. Rain 75% Below Normal
No mention of CO2 or global warming in that article, they just blame God. It works just as well.
It seems the drought continued in the USA though summer 1988. Just a few weeks after Jim Hansen and Tim Wirth scared the bejesus out of a bunch of sweaty senators, Time Magazine put up this cover story:
Of course, in the US, drought was worse in 1934 when CO2 was at something around 290 ppm
The extent and severity of the driest year of the Dust Bowl in the United States, 1934
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2000
One only has to look at Dartmouth’s 1988 Global Register of Extreme Flood Events to see that 1988 was a busy year in flooding globally while CO2 was at 350 ppm.
Bangladesh got the worst of it that year. Monsoon rains flooded about two-thirds of Bangladesh in 1988, killing nearly 5000 people and destroying farm animals and crops.
But even though much of the USA had drought conditions in 1988 when CO2 was at a “safe” level of 350 ppm, there were still some significant flood events:
U.S. Floods of 1988
By C.A. Perry, B.N. Aldridge, and H.C. Ross of the USGS
Many areas throughout the United States were affected by drought conditions in 1988. There were few significant widespread floods. A few flash floods occurred during the summer months due to localized, intense rains from thunderstorms. Several flash floods occurred during the summer.
On April 1 and 2, southern Kansas received 3 to 7 in. of localized rain, which caused flash floods. New Orleans, Louisiana, received 7 to 9 in. of rain on April 1 and 2 . Severe flooding occurred, and $18 million in damages resulted. Albuquerque, New Mexico, had $3 million in damages as a result of flash flooding on July 5-9.
Tropical Storm Beryl hit Louisiana and Mississippi in early August. The storm brought as much as 15 in. of rain to coastal counties of Mississippi. Significant flooding occurred on the Biloxi River in Mississippi.
Hurricane Gilbert, the first category five hurricane to make landfall since 1969, struck Louisiana and Texas on September 15 through 19. The storm caused coastal floods in Louisiana and produced excessive rains across Texas and Oklahoma.
Well, who could forget the year of fires in 1988, especially at Yellowstone just three months after the Jim and Tim show before the Senate? The Yellowstone fires of 1988 together formed the largest wildfire in the recorded history of the U.S.’s Yellowstone National Park.
The Yellowstone fires of 1988 were unprecedented in the history of the National Park Service, and many questioned existing fire management policies.
California and Texas had major wildfires in 1988 too, with Texas having in March the Big Country Fire burning 366,000 acres. In 1988, while CO2 was at that “safe” 350 ppm level there was also the Great Lashio Fire, Lashio, Myanmar, with 134 killed , and 2000 buildings destroyed. I’ll bet Mr. Wirth, you never heard about that one.
So with all these horrible disasters happening in 1988 while Jim and Tim were turning off the AC and opening windows in the Senate hearing room to get all those senators hot and bothered over global warming at 350 ppm of CO2 concentration, the world went on as usual with droughts, fires, and floods, just like it is doing today.
But our former senator Wirth “knows” that the present batch of drought, floods, and fires are caused by that 40 parts per million increase since 1988. Those same events in 1988 must have had another cause because CO2 was at the “safe” 350 ppm level back then.
So Mr. Wirth, I call BS on your statement, and in my opinion, your opinion on the matters of “increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires” is what I would describe as not grounded in historic reality, or henceforth to be known as wirthless.
And yet, you say “…as I’ve suggested before,undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they’re doing and make a battle out of it.
Alrighty then. Mr. Wirth, let me give you the perfect venue by which to challenge skeptics, a “target rich environment” if you will. It’s right in your old stomping grounds in Washington DC, so it should be no trouble for you.
Next week, on June 30th and July 1st, hundreds of skeptics, including me, will be in Washington for a conference.
The Sixth International Conference on Climate Change will be held in Washington, DC on June 30 – July 1, 2011 at the Mariott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road NW. Timothy Ball, Ph.D., Larry Bell, Ph.D., Robert “Bob” Carter, Hon. FRSNZ, Steve Goreham, S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., and Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D. are among the confirmed speakers.
STANDING OFFER TO TIM WIRTH:
I’m the first session speaker on June 30th, and to give you ample opportunity to tell the worldwide skeptic community what your plan is to “go after” us and “make a battle of it” I yield my 15 minutes to the former Democratic Senator from Colorado.
I’ll sit quietly and respectfully during that 15 minutes sir, and then it will be our turn to tell you what we know.
Mr. Wirth, this offer is genuine.
If your intent is genuine, bring it. I’ll expect to see you there, as you won’t find a better venue or opportunity to make good on your threats. You may find though, that skeptics won’t threaten you back, but will engage you in a factual discourse if you are up to it. I predict though you have not the intestinal fortitude. Prove me wrong.
– Anthony Watts