Guest essay by Rod Martin, Jr.
Climate Scares—The New Fable
Climate scares are like the old Greek fable. Most of us learned about Aesop’s fables long ago, likely in grade school. But just in case you don’t know the story of the boy who cried “wolf,” here’s a very short synopsis.
A boy was given the responsibility to guard the town’s flock of sheep. Boring work. So boring in fact, that the boy was motivated to stir up some excitement by yelling, “Wolf!” You see, he knew the townspeople would come running to help protect their flock from the ravenous predator. No wolf—merely a shepherd boy who could not contain his laughter at the townspeople’s gullibility. After a few times of being tricked, the townspeople started to turn a deaf ear. The boy couldn’t be trusted. His warnings were hollow. When the wolf did show up, sheep died.
Now, I dislike hollow warnings meant to provoke voters and legislators into knee-jerk reactions. But just because some people are liars and tricksters does not mean the dangers don’t exist.
When I first heard the term “precautionary principle” applied to the climate scares, I immediately realized that this principle only works if it’s pointed in the right direction. For example, let’s say you’re climbing down the Grand Canyon in Arizona and someone yells, “Snake!” Jumping toward the Colorado River is not recommended, especially if you’ve just started down. One mile is a long way to fall. If you haven’t already figured it out, jumping toward open air is analogous to pushing global cooling and a fear of global warming.
With the Climate Scares, Everything is ‘Bad’
The globalist’s PR campaign is pretty slick. You have to give them credit for that. They have some of the world entirely bamboozled. Climate change is so bad, they’ll do anything to stop it.
But climate change is inevitable. “Stop climate change” is an oxymoron of the worst kind—a self-contradictory phrase. That’s like saying, “stop the planet in its orbit.” If humanity could help nature change in a more favorable direction, which direction would that be? In the current political “climate,” it seems people favor global cooling. But wait! If they attempt to cool the planet, then they would be causing—oh, no!—more “climate change!”
Do you see? The current climate is bad, global warming is bad, and because cooling would be evil “climate change,” it would also be bad. The illogical nature of this is mind boggling.
I recommend that the next time you chat with a warming alarmist, ask them, “Is climate change bad?” Of course, they’ll say, “Yes.” Then ask, “Is the current climate good or bad?” Likely, they’ll say, “Bad.” Then, ask them, “What kind of climate would be good?” That might stump them entirely, but they may answer, “Cooler.” Finally, ask them, “How would we get to cooler climate without changing the climate?” This might frustrate or infuriate them. But let them have their “Aha!” moment, no matter how long it takes. If their ego isn’t insurmountable, you may have won a convert to climate sanity.
We’ve had a panic about global cooling (1970s) and a panic about global warming (1990s to present). Some people have grown weary of the climate scares. Ironically, this puts us in the position of the townspeople with their irresponsible shepherd boy. If a real wolf of climate shows up, civilization may suffer horribly, because of our lack of preparation.
Beyond the Climate Scares—Where to Now?
Most people, it seems, need a swift kick in their reality. Let’s start with defining our terms. First, we currently live in an Ice Age interglacial called the Holocene. That’s right, we live in an Ice Age. That’s right now! That “thing” that ended 11,500–17,000 years ago was merely the latest glacial period of the current Ice Age. The colloquial use of “Ice Age” is careless and inaccurate.
Ironically, someone got the bright idea to declare that the Ice Age had ended when the Holocene began. That would have been nice, but here’s where we need the reality check. What does Ice Age mean? In science, we need to be precise with our terms and this is one area where most everyone has gotten sloppy, including me, at times. An Ice Age has been defined as a period of cooler global climate where both poles experience permanent glaciation. If the ice persists throughout the year at both poles, then we live in an Ice Age. Simple. For the Ice Age to end, either Greenland or Antarctica would have to lose all of their ice for at least a part of the year. That isn’t going to happen any time soon.
The Holocene is one of many interglacials of the current Ice Age. In fact, the Eemian interglacial (~100,000 years ago), was far warmer than the Holocene ever got. Did that end the Ice Age? No, of course not. Ice persisted throughout the Eemian at both poles. Though the polar bears likely had zero sea ice during the summer, they did just fine.
In one paper by W.S. Broecker (1998), the length of an average interglacial was determined to be about 11,000 years. However, the boundary between glacials and interglacials is not a neat, clearly defined line. It’s decidedly messy, like most of nature.
Ask yourself, when a storm is approaching, when has it arrived—when the first flutters of wind touch you, when you feel the first sprinkles of rain, or when the raging wind and thrashing rain are pounding the world all around you?
One look at the paleoclimate page, here, will reveal that messiness in all its glory. The graph by Ole Humlum is particularly telling when it comes to glacials and interglacials. Interglacials don’t happen like some metal clock, ticking away the seconds in mechanical perfection. The repeating sequence of interglacial-glacial has kept the 100,000-year average for the last million years or so. Before that, it was a 41,000-year cycle. But that was only averages. Of the last ten interglacials, we’ve had them range from 4,000 years to 28,000 years. Glacial cold periods have lasted between 28,000 years and 143,000 years.
I’ve had several people tell me that the Holocene definitely will not end any time soon. That sounds great, but how do they know? How do I know if they’re not liars like the young shepherd boy? One told me it won’t end for another 12,000 years. Another told me it won’t end for another 50,000 years based on Milankovitch cycles. And still another quoted 70,000 years. A look at the Humlum graph with an extra 50,000 years or 70,000 years added to the Holocene is quite instructive, especially when we compare the other interglacial periods. Here’s what it looks like with 50,000 years of interglacial bliss added to the Holocene. I don’t know about you, but this looks a touch unrealistic.
Certainly, we could set a new record. That would be nice. But don’t risk the future of humanity on someone’s educated guess that the Holocene won’t end for an extremely long period of time. For all we know, it could end starting this afternoon. We still don’t know what all causes interglacials to end. Milankovitch is not the only set of factors.
Is this just another climate scare? No, not really. Ignoring global warming or trying to prove that global warming is not happening may be the wrong thing to do, though. Perhaps we should focus on, “What does good climate look like?” I suspect that it has a lot of warmth in it. After all, global warming helped civilization get a start 12,000 years ago. What if those same benefits were expanded all the way to the poles?
Is there such a thing as dangerous heat in global average temperatures. I suspect not, so long as we have an ocean to ameliorate the effects of heating. Our oceans seem to set an upper boundary that is almost never exceeded. Why? Could it be because of the strong negative feedbacks of evaporative cooling and reflective cloud cover? The warmer things get, the more evaporation there is. And with more evaporation, all other things being equal, the more cloud cover we can expect. Water is an automatic protection mechanism.
On the other hand, we know what dangerous cold looks like. The Little Ice Age showed us miserable conditions with horrible weather, crop failures and brutal storms, like those in an around England. The Great Storm of 1703, and the sinking of the Spanish Armada (1588) are two examples of the destructiveness of global cooling. The 1816 “year without summer” also showed us. Incidents like that put into perspective CIA Director John Brennan’s recent warm-and-fuzzy remarks about geoengineering with reflective aerosols (from his talk at the Council on Foreign Relations). Gag! He even compared them to volcanic events as if he was entirely ignorant of their dangerous effects on climate and agriculture. I don’t know what’s worse—the idea that the CIA director is that incompetent, or that he may be instead a died-in-the-wool psychopath.
Climate proxies tell us what the last glacial period of the current Ice Age was like. It was brutal. Populations of all species were adversely impacted.
Currently, we’re approaching a solar minimum. Also, our Earth’s magnetic field is waning. We’ve also gone past the average length of an interglacial by between 500 and 6,000 years. Don’t let the boys crying “wolf” keep us from at least the minimum of preparation, just in case there actually is a “wolf” of climate stalking us. Feeding 7 billion people might not be easy when most of the farmland is either buried in permanent snow or locked in a new desert climate from the lack of rain. After all, cold oceans don’t evaporate much.
What would it hurt to prepare for the coming cold, even if it won’t happen for another 12,000 years? What kinds of preparations would cost almost nothing?
Don’t let the boy who cried “climate change” keep us from being smart about preparation for the real danger of global cooling. Some preparation doesn’t require us to cripple our industries, pay $Trillion$ in extortion, or to give up our sovereignty.