When you can’t persuade people to fight your imaginary enemy, declare a war.
We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.
BY BILL MCKIBBEN August 15, 2016
Translated: Expect 200 million imminent deaths (equivalent to WWII). Give us your firstborn, and lots of your money.
Not quite a dispassionate scientist at work:
In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”
Panic now? In late 2015, Antarctic sea ice shrank by 13 million square kilometers, and nothing seemed to be able to stop it.
Then autumn came. Sea ice is projected to recover by September (like it does every year). Nature is full of cycles. Nothing about the current batch of climate shifts is unprecedented. Not in the last half million years of temperature, not in the sea level rises, and not in severity of storms. Droughts have not changed, the rate of temperature increase is the same as in 1880 and 1920. Whatever warming CO2 does is not enough to change a single marker in a detectable way. No fingerprint. Yet there are thousands of years of counter examples — where CO2 makes no difference.
For the last hundred thousand years someone somewhere has been making money, sticks or cowrie shells out of each change. If the Vostok ice cores over the Holocene tell us anything, it is that life on Earth is a continuous opportunity for witchdoctors to get rich scaring people about a climate they can’t predict.
This is 12,000 years of perfect non-man-made weather at Vostok Antarctica:
And here is the South Polar Region during the last 38 years of “unprecedented man-made climate change” — graphed from recent satellite data from UAH. Humans have put out 60% of all man-made CO2 emissions since satellites started recording in 1978. Spot the effect?
Thanks to Kenskingdom for the UAH Southern Polar Graph.
Now, Antarctica is only Antarctica. Vostok does not represent the world. But there are graphs from all over the globe with similar stories of continuous change and no acceleration, not even a good correlation following CO2 levels. The climate changed and no climate scientist can explain the small movements in the Vostok graph — the spikes that lasted 250 years. If we were in one of those natural “spikes” now, they wouldn’t know.
The Holocene optimum was warmer than now, CO2 didn’t do it:
“…nearly every proxy that’s ever been proxied suggests there were a lot of warmer times in the period 5,000 – 8,000 years ago. Ice cores say it was hotter in Greenland, barnacles, corals, sea worms, and “swash” tell us sea levels were something like 2 meters higher in stable West Australia* and nearly 1m higher in Hawaii and Polynesia, oceans were 2 degrees warmer around in Indonesia, and 6,000 boreholes sunk in the oceans all over the world show it was a global deal. Australian Aboriginals apparently struggled through a 1,500 year mega drought about 6,000 year ago (see McGowan). CO2 Science lists references from South-East Asia to the Sahara, from Antarctica to America. I am barely skimming the surface.
On any timescale you care to pick, it’s the same pattern of radical change: See 65 million years of temperature swings and the Medieval Warm Period, and Roman Warm Period. See tree rings in Tibet, and Lui et al 2011. Whatever.
The horror! The enemy is turning 5,000 year old corals to bone-yards visible from space!
Some Great Barrier Hyperventilation:
“In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards.
McKibben seems to think corals had thousands of years of perfect temperatures until it all fell apart in the 2016 El Nino. Nice fantasy. But at the start of human civilization the world was hotter and seas were higher, and 8,000 years before that the Climate-Enemy caused sea levels to rise 125m over whatever poor sucker coral reef was off Queensland at the time. That’s climate change. Bleaching is common, corals are adapted to it, they swap symbionts when the water warms, and thanks to climate change, corals have been spreading towards the poles — conquering territory as it were. Not shrinking. At the same time green plants have been aggressively invading the deserts too. With bumper crops this war is feeding the hungry.
It’s war, I tell you, and corals and plants are winning!
“…this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments.
Is it a real war? Some people measure wars by the dead. Others see new borders on maps. Lets ask some eighty year olds in London, Berlin and Pearl Harbour what they think. War or not-war?
I have to hand it to Bill, strawman hype doesn’t get bigger than this.
I think we’ve seen this conversation tactic before — deny the debate and conflate, conflate, conflate:
“The question is not, are we in a world war? The question is, will we fight back? And if we do, can we actually defeat an enemy as powerful and inexorable as the laws of physics?
It’s a spot-reductio to a world in one dimension — a nonsense singularity: the enemy suddenly is as powerful as the laws of physics. Such equivalence! If our knowledge of gravity was like the global climate there would be 23 global gravity models, none of which would work for all the planets. Apollo 11 would have missed the moon and 50 years later they’d still be adjusting the orbit retrospectively to figure out where they went in 1969. Homogenize that signal…
‘Liu Y, Cai Q F, Song H M, et al. Amplitudes, rates, periodicities and causes of temperature variations in the past 2485 years and future trends over the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Sci Bull, 2011, 56: 29862994, doi: 10.1007/s11434-011-4713-7 [ Climate Change over the Past Millennium in China.] …