Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Some historical perspective on climate

J. Storr Hall provides Some Historical Perspective on global climate, climate change and politics.
...reading another part of the Durant’s Story of Civilization (of which tAoN is volume 11) back in grade school, I stumbled on a passage which was the very first in any book of any kind in which I realized that the authors could let their political preconceptions alter their interpretation of their subject. What they wrote, as I recall it very inexactly 40 years later, was to the effect that western civilization had progressed in a grand upward sweep since the time of the ancient Greeks, pausing only in the years 1952-1960 — which of course the Eisenhower administration. (This was written before Nixon was elected.) I had previously believed that if something was written in a book, it was authoritatively true. This little gem was so blatantly silly that you couldn’t possibly take it seriously. Books weren’t Truth, after all. It was a defining moment in my intellectual life, something like learning the truth about Santa Claus.

That's the setup for a discussion of the current climate change debate. He looks at some of the science and concludes with this:
But the broader lesson is, climate doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t even stand stay on the relatively constrained range of the last 10,000 years for more than about 10,000 years at a time.

Does this mean that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas? No.

Does it mean that it isn’t warming? No.

Does it mean that we shouldn’t develop clean, efficient technology that gets its energy elsewhere than burning fossil fuels? Of course not. We should do all those things for many reasons — but there’s plenty of time to do them the right way, by developing nanotech. (There’s plenty of money, too, but it’s all going to climate science at the moment. :-) ) And that will be a very good thing to have done if we do fall back into an ice age, believe me.

For climate science it means that the Hockey Team climatologists’ insistence that human-emitted CO2 is the only thing that could account for the recent warming trend is probably poppycock.

Click the link, read it all - he's got some great graphs that emphasize the importance of having some historical perspective. For far too many people, as Rush Limbaugh says, "history began with the day they were born." That's not true of human history and it's not true of global climate history. Look at the pictures, decide for yourself whether we face an unprecendented crisis that requires us to throw away the technological improvements of the past 200 years as so many insist that we must...

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