The Earth's temperature may be getting warmer, or it may not, depending on whom you believe. If indeed it is getting warmer, it may be the result of mankind, or it may not, again depending on whom you believe. It's obviously a bit challenging to tell for sure on both counts, since temperature varies all over the globe and, moreover, there is a host of natural influences on planetary temperature, between El Niño events, cloud covers, volcanoes, that sort of thing.
I have sat on a jury for a murder trial before (don't panic; this is still about global warming). When you're on a jury and you are given a case to start deliberation in a trial, you are given a set of instructions by the judge. Both sides are aware of the instructions to give the jury, and they come out of a canned book of instructions. One of them deals with how jurymen are to handle circumstantial evidence: to be acceptable, "it must be consistent with guilt and inconsistent with innocence."
When something comes up that doesn't make sense, I often hearken back to that line, even when I'm not deciding a murder case. In the case of global warming, I'm there a lot, and here's why.
It is entirely possible that the globe is warming some, and it is entirely possible that there is a significant human influence helping it to warm. Let's even stipulate for this piece that it is happening and that it is human-aided, because it doesn't matter for my purposes.
Where I live, there is plenty of warming, and plenty of cooling. In February, we can have temperatures in the 20s (F), and in August the temperature can reach 100. To my knowledge, that has been the norm for these parts for as long as anyone can remember, and no one has ever done anything about it, nor has anyone felt they needed to do anything about it. We call the variance "seasons" and accept it as a matter of nature. Why do I mention that fact? Simply because change in temperature is not, in and of itself, a "bad" thing and, in context, it is perfectly normal, even if the change is 80 degrees over the course of a year.
Not a "bad" thing, right? So then please tell me why, in years and years of debate over global warming, and Al Gore movies, has not even one time anyone presented a vision of the world a few degrees warmer, in which even one thing on Earth is better?
People are still flying to Florida in the winter time to sit by the palm trees and soak up the sunshine now; for all the polar ice cap melting and fears of relocated harp seals, wouldn't it be better if there were palm trees and sunshine on the coast of Connecticut or Oregon? On a much more productive note, would it not be a positive outcome if thousands of square miles of Canada and Russia became suitable for agriculture or ranching to help feed the planet? With even a little thought, I don't doubt that we could look at a few degrees higher temperature and come up with plenty of benefit.
So why, pray tell, does no one ever do that? Probably because no one wants to. The global warming panic lobby doesn't want to raise the possibility of any "good" happening, and the global warming deniers don't want to concede it is even happening. But since we're conceding the point for argument's sake, we only care about the panic lobby. Why are they making it out to be all bad?
"Consistent with guilt and inconsistent with innocence" is the applicable phrase (finally tied it all together). J'accuse! If the GW panic lobby were actually concerned about changes in the Earth, they would provide a far more comprehensive portrayal of the impact of temperature increase, and at least some of it would be positive. But no, it is all bad, and all to be terrified of. Moreover, they are not lined up outside the halls of Congress trying to get more nuclear plants -- the cleanest energy source per unit -- built and certified immediately to minimize fossil fuel usage. Why? Presumably because it is countering progress that is their aim, not cooling the planet. It's surprising they don't make a beeline for Lancaster, Pennsylvania and become Amish.
I am on the jury in the trial of the GW panic lobby, who are being charged with using global warming as an excuse to try to shut down the use of fossil fuels worldwide -- or at least in the USA. If it were actually global warming they cared about, I believe their actions would be different. They would be promoting nuclear plants; they would be presenting an actual comprehensive portrayal of threats vs. benefits to boost their credibility. Their actions are consistent with guilt and inconsistent with innocence. Moreover, the corrupt nature of their actions puts at risk any trust in the science they are promulgating. It may be correct, but their actions put everything in question.
In the case of Global Warming Fear-mongers v. The World: Guilty as charged, and not to be believed.
Copyright 2014 by Robert Sutton