Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The End is Near as a scientific theory: New White House climate report, by Henny Penny

Yesterday's big news was the White House report on climate change in which Americans were told, after a winter which featured some of the coldest temperatures on record, that we are all going to die of heat and that we'd better do something about it.

Now if you say something such as that we have had "a winter which featured some of the coldest temperatures on record" in the context of Global Warming, you expose yourself to the Global Warming Hal Lindsays who will scold you for confusing weather with climate. "Weather," they say, refers to specific meteorological events whereas "climate" refers to the big meteorological picture. Particular weather events in and of themselves, we are told, can never be used as definitive evidence in regard to climate.

You can't say, for example, that the past cold winter (or, in my region two late springs in a row) was evidence against Global Warming. That is a weather statement. That there is Global Warming is something different: it is a climate statement.

The general idea, I guess, is that no one weather event can count against a general theory which takes account of all weather events.

But, as I have said before, this distinction―which, when uttered, is done with the air of impartiality and the pretension that it is universal―is, in fact, only observed when someone who disagrees with some basic tenet of Global Warming alarmism makes a statement. It is never brought up when Global Warming alarmists make similar statements.

If a detractor points to a cold winter, he is hooted down by proponents for not observing the distinction. But if supporter points to warm summer, you can hear the crickets chirping.

If I report that for the last two years in Kentucky we have experienced two unusually short and cool summers and say that is evidence against the Global Warming, I am committing an egregious scientific error of epic proportions. But if I live on the Gulf coast and I suffer property damage from a hurricane and blame it on Global Warming, I can be assured of comforting words from the same crowd.

In other words, anyone who disagrees with Global Warming is under the stricture never to confuse the two, whereas Global Warming proponents can violate the distinction with impunity. Not only do warmers get all the grant money: They also get to operate under a less stringent set of rhetorical rules.

There is a whole category of what we call "extreme weather events" used as illustrations of Global Warming and they never seem to violate the rule that you can't cite them in evidence for your view of climate. In fact, not only can you cite them, you can cite events that would otherwise be disconfirming. As I have also repeatedly pointed out, any kind of weather event can be used to confirm the theory and no weather event can be used to disconfirm it.

It's unfalsifiable. But somehow it's still science. If you want an example of this, just look at the coverage of the White House report:
Climate change is here and will only worsen. Get used to more flooding, wildfires and drought, depending on where you live. Cities and states across America already are spending lots of money to respond.
Flooding is the opposite of drought. But both confirm the theory. (It's also interesting that the mere spending of money to fight Global Warming comes across in some of these reports as evidence for Global Warming!)

But remember, it is only conservative Republicans who politicize science.


Paul Vincelli said...

Maybe the best thing I can suggest is that Mr. Cochran listen to some of the interviews of conservatives who have the wisdom to listen to a global community of scientists as to the fundamentals of this topic. Such conservatives have the wisdom to face the issue head-on and offer conservative solutions. Some of them can be heard at

Martin Cothran said...


Doesn't simply asserting that it is "wisdom" to listen to a certain side in an issue and that one should "face the issue head-on" sort of beg the question?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who can't understand why warmer temperatures increase both drought the and severity of storms has no business whatsoever commenting on science. Do us all a favor and stick to something he knows. Not sure what that is, but please, don't make a fool out of yourself again.