Why the public won't buy greenhouse limits
By Dennis T. Avery
In the April 21st issue of the far-left New Republic, associate editor Bradford Plumer asked his readers whether the Greens' climate strategy had been a "total flop." He said the Greens had helped elect Barack Obama and a filibuster-proof majority in both Houses of Congress, and approved Obama's Cabinet and "czars." The President was expected to roll over the climate deniers.
"Instead," says Plumer, "the climate push was . . . a total flop. By late 2010, the main cap-and-trade bill had fizzled out in the Senate; not a single Republican would agree to vote for it. Greens ended up winning zilch from Congress, not even minor legislation to boost renewable electricity or energy efficiency. Worse, after the 2010 midterms, the House GOP became overrun with climate deniers, while voters turned apathetic about global warming."
Plumer wants to know who or what to blame. Was it strategy? Money? A failure of Presidential will? None of the above. The Greens and Obama are failing on emission controls for the simplest of reasons. The earth stopped warming.
James Hansen told the Senate in 1988 that the earth would thenceforth do nothing but get rapidly warmer, dictated by rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. For a time, Hansen's predictions seemed to be accurate—but then after 1998 the warming trend stopped. CO2 concentrations continued to rise, but the temperatures didn't. The public began to wonder if the previous warming-with-CO2 had been a coincidence.
Then came 2007, and a sharp drop in global temperatures! The computer models' predictions had failed. The mainstream media kept mostly silent about this unnerving development, but the blogs and talk radio didn't. This was itself a key change in the public persuasion machinery, which had previously been unanimous in its promotion of man-made warming.
The lack of public panic on temperatures has been supported by the satellites, arguably the best source of global temperature information ever devised. The alarmists kept shouting "record high averages" but the satellites have revealed only a modest increase since 1979, and no recent upward temperature trend.
The skeptics also note that the thermometer record has recently trended both upward and downward—in 30-year spurts. Those spurts now appear linked to a 60-year cycle in the Pacific. In 2008, NASA said its satellites confirmed the Pacific moving into a cool phase, which is likely to last 25 years. The sunspot index has just been through an ultra-long minimum, which also suggests colder temperatures. Is this another climate step-change?
Climate legislation now hinges on the temperatures over the next three years or so. A cooling trend will endorse the solar cause of warming. A resumption of warming will re-endorse the greenhouse theory.
But the public isn't waiting. They've already "gone apathetic," to quote Plumer. Concern about global warming has dropped 12 percent in America since 2001, according to a March Gallup poll. We've had a series of obviously colder, snow-filled winters. Several of the IPCC scare stories have been proven wrong. The fear of man-made warming has dropped below critical levels.
Prediction: Global warming is a dead issue unless the planet can be persuaded to start warming again, quickly. Don't blame the President or the eco-ad campaign. Blame the thermometers.
Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to email@example.com. Visit our website at www.cgfi.org.