Op-ed says hurricane drought will end at some point, and man-made climate change is to blame either way.
Guest opinion by Steven Capozzola
The New York Times ran an op-ed today by Adam Sobel, an “atmospheric scientist at Columbia.” The gist of Sobel’s article: Since 2005, the United States has been experiencing a hurricane “drought” (I.e. no major hurricane has made landfall in the time. We are currently at 3918 days, over a decade.) But don’t worry, Sobel says, there will be more hurricanes soon, and the fact that they will be coming is proof of man-made climate change.
Yes, that’s what he’s saying.
The question is whether Sobel is writing the op-ed to buck himself up, and the rest of the alarmist crowd. After all, the computer models that have predicted warming have also predicted more hurricanes. But real-life observations continue to diverge from what computer models have predicted.
It’s somewhat baffling that the New York Times would publish such an essentially meaningless opinion. But the mainstream media has long since thrown in its lot with the alarmist crowd.
Regardless, there are problems with Sobel’s op-ed…
Sobel says that “significant global warming, over a degree and a half Fahrenheit, has already occurred since preindustrial days.” That’s accurate. The earth has warmed by roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius since the late 1800s. But whether one views it as “significant” depends on context. Given the accumulating evidence of global climate changes over the past few thousand years, such a net increase over a span of roughly 130 years seems relatively mild—and typical of the climate variations seen during the latter part of the current interglacial epoch.
There’s also the greater issue of cause. Sobel naturally assumes that this increase in temperatures is driven entirely by increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2.) But many climate skeptics would argue that this mild uptick is the result of a large-scale increase in solar output over the past 130 years. (While solar irradiance has increased in that time, it is the accompanying variations in solar wind and solar magnetic field that contribute significantly to changes in global climate, thanks to their influence on atmospheric ionization and cloud formation.)
Putting aside the issue of cause, however, it’s important to note that Sobel is basing his views on what he predicts will happen. Essentially, he is saying “The computer models tell us…” And that’s the crux of his argument, and his problem.
Since the start of the 21st Century, the computer models predicting large-scale anthropogenic warming have diverged further and further from actual, observed temperature measurements. Despite this, Sobel and company continue to insist on the validity of their argument. The problem for them is that they can’t explain why their predictions aren’t matching the net flatlining of temperatures seen since 2000.
Ironically, solar advocates can offer a valid hypothesis— since solar activity is now falling off—with a consequent leveling off of temperatures. Equally significant is that atmospheric CO2 has reached 400 parts per million (0.04%), and is essentially “saturated.” Thus, its greenhouse potential is maxed out, making additional heat-trapping less likely.
It’s interesting to note that Sobel couches his statements with a series of disclaimers. Of hurricanes and climate, he says the “knowledge is far from perfect.” And he cites the argument of his own opponents in order to make a safe caveat or two—he blames “natural variability” for the current hurricane drought.
Overall, Sobel explains that studies of weather are uncertain: “While there is debate about the drought’s significance, there is little doubt that its primary cause is dumb luck, and that won’t continue forever…The best science doesn’t, in fact, predict that the future will hold more hurricanes; most of our best models predict there may be fewer. But these predictions of changes in the number of hurricanes are quite uncertain…”
Again, it’s somewhat laughable that the New York Times would publish an opinion that basically says ‘We haven’t seen any major hurricanes for 11 years, we don’t really know why that is, climate science is uncertain, our predictive computer models can only tell us so much, but we’re certain to see more hurricanes soon, and man-made CO2 emissions are the cause.’
But this is the face of contemporary climate alarmism. This is the crowd of environmental elites who willfully disparage anyone who questions the theory of man-made warming, who aim to silence dissent and debate on the issue, and who advocate for massive reductions in fossil fuel use that will hurt millions of low-income Americans, and likely forfeit the lives of millions in the Third World. All this certitude on their part for an agenda based on question mark after question mark…
Sobel and his ilk should stop basing their predictions on failed computer models and start looking at the real world consequences of their imperfect science.