Is global warming a looming catastrophe that will destroy life as we know it unless America and the world rapidly wean themselves off deadly fossil fuels?
That is the deep green message Al Gore and countless other influential individuals and organizations have preached for years, and they continually invoke the “consensus of scientists” as the alleged authority for their assessment and agenda.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the apocalypse. The command post and fortress of the so-called scientific consensus, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), just canceled Al Gore’s planetary emergency.
Okay, the IPCC does not do so in as many words. That would be too great an admission against interest for an organization whose prestige, influence, and perks utterly depend on keeping the public alarmed about climate change.
Nonetheless, even while declaring itself more confident than ever that most global warming is man-made (despite the ongoing 16-year warming pause that consensus climatologists did not anticipate and still struggle to explain), the IPCC is also more confident that no warming-induced catastrophes will occur during the 21st Century. Talk about an inconvenient truth!
The scariest parts of the planetary emergency narrative popularized by Gore and other climate doomsters are an Atlantic Ocean circulation shutdown that plunges Europe into a mini-ice age; disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets that would raise sea levels as much as 20 feet in our lifetimes or those of our children and grandchildren; and runaway warming from melting frozen methane deposits that in the worst case could cause mass species extinctions.
IPCC now declares that in the 21st Century, Atlantic Ocean circulation collapse is “very unlikely,” ice sheet collapse is “exceptionally unlikely,” and catastrophic release of methane from melting permafrost is “very unlikely.”
You can read it for yourself in Table 12.4 of chapter 12 of the IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report.
But these doomsday scenarios have always been way more fiction than science. For some time now, an alleged warming link to extreme weatherhas been the only card left in the climate alarm deck. Climate activists repeatedly assert that severe droughts, floods, and Hurricane Sandy are now the “new normal,” and, of course, they blame fossil fuels and “climate change.”
Actual weather data do not support that storyline either. There has been no long-term change in the strength or frequency of hurricanes, tornadoes, U.S. floods, or drought. Similarly, there has been no long-term change in “normalized” extreme weather damages (weather-related losses adjusted for increases in population, wealth, and inflation).
The IPCC has come around to that overall assessment too. Among the findings in chapter 2 of the IPCC report:
• “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”
• “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”
• “Based on updated studies, AR4 [the 2007 IPCC report] conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated.”
• “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extra-tropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”
University of Colorado Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., a key participant in the debate on climate change and extreme weather, explains the IPCC’s non-alarming findings as follows: “the data says what it says, and what it says is so unavoidably obvious that the IPCC has recognized it in its consensus.”
Pielke, Jr.’s summary comment is worth quoting in full: “Of course, I have no doubts that claims will still be made associating floods, drought, hurricanes and tornadoes with human-caused climate change -- Zombie science -- but I am declaring victory in this debate. Climate campaigners would do their movement a favor by getting themselves on the right side of the evidence.”
And Al Gore should find a new schtick.
Marlo Lewis, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.