Mr. Obama warns that the climate today is warming at an accelerated rate — “faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago” — and that the future “is going to depend on our willingness to deal with something we may not be able to see or smell.”I fear I risk alienating my audience out of sheer repetition by pointing out that here's yet another example of Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board citing The Heritage Foundation with no mention of the millions upon millions of Scaife foundation dollars he's simply drenched it with.
On the contrary, the smell of what's he's spreading around is quite distinctive.
At a recent Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, a panel of five scientists were asked twice whether they stood by the president's assessment, The Heritage Foundation reports. Their initial response?
So let's move on to the argument itself. Here's what the president said (it was at a DCCC fundraiser at the home of Paul and Bettylu Saltzman):
We still have a situation in which, on the one hand, our energy future is more promising than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to believe. We will probably be a net exporter of traditional fossil fuels over the next 20 years -- within the next 20 years, probably a net exporter of natural gas in the next three or four years -- something that could not be imagined even five, 10 years ago -- because of the dynamism and technology that America has produced.So far, so good. At least Scaife's braintrust didn't take those words out of context. They said he said the earth was warming faster than anticipated. And he did say that.
But the flipside is we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago, and that the future of Bettylu’s grandkids, in part, is going to depend on our willingness to deal with something that we may not be able to see or smell the way you could when the Chicago River was on fire, or at least could have caught on fire, but is in some ways more serious, more fundamental. [Emphasis added.]
But is that true?
Well, according to this article at the Scientific American, it is:
Over the past decade scientists thought they had figured out how to protect humanity from the worst dangers of climate change. Keeping planetary warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would, it was thought, avoid such perils as catastrophic sea-level rise and searing droughts. Staying below two degrees C would require limiting the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), up from today's 395 ppm and the preindustrial era's 280 ppm.Or this article from The Atlantic:
Now it appears that the assessment was too optimistic. The latest data from across the globe show that the planet is changing faster than expected.
A new report from the International Energy Agency says global temperatures will rise twice as fast as projected if countries don't act to slash their admissions soon. Released this morning, the IEA report shows carbon diaoxide from energy emissions rose 1.4 percent globally last year, a new record, and puts the world on pace for a 5.3 degree Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures by 2020 if new steps aren't taken. In 2010, a UN summit agreed the goal would be to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees by 2020.But take a look at what's being said: the planet's warming is happening faster than anticipated.
Now look at how Scaife's braintrust tries to debunk what the president said:
“There is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50 or 100 years, irrespective of whether any changes could be blamed on human activities anyway,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama, according to a Heritage report.[Emphasis added.]While the president (and the IEA and Scientific American) was talking about rising temperatures, Climate model skeptic and evolution denier Dr. Spencer is talking about severe weather. Here's what he said in his Senate testimony:
There is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50, or 100 years, irrespective of whether any such changes could be blamed on human activities, anyway. Long-term measurements of droughts, floods, strong tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms etc. all show no obvious trends, but do show large variability from one decade to the next, or even one year to the next. While the 2003 heat wave in France and the 2010 heat wave in Russia were exceptional, so were the heat waves of the 1930s in the U.S., which cannot b e blamed on our greenhouse gas emissions.[Emphases added.]Now, what does he say about global warming in general? Does he deny it?
No, not really:
My overall view of the influence of humans on climate is that we probably are having some influence, but it is impossible to know with any level of certainty how much influence. The difficulty in determining the human influence on climate arises from several sources: (1) weather and climate vary naturally, and by amounts that are not currently being exceeded; (2) global warming theory is just that – based upon theory; and (3) there is no unique fingerprint of human caused global warming.Funny how that part didn't make it into what the braintrust wrote.
My belief that some portion of recent warming is due to humans is based upon my faith in at least some portion of the theory: that the human contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations has resulted in an es timated 1% reduction in the Earth’s ability to cool to outer space, and so some level of warming can be expected to occur from that change.
But the larger point is the subject change. As I wrote a few paragraphs above, Obama's talking temperature and the braintrust counters with hurricanes and tornadoes. And the guy they cite to make that counter actually does believe that the planet is warming up.
And anyway, did you know that there were two 5-expert panels at that hearing? Scaife's braintrust and Scaife's Heritage Foundation only mention one. On the other panel, we can find another climate expert, a Dr. Heidi Cullen who is Chief Climatologist at Climate Central, saying this:
Ongoing research (Francis and Vavrus, 2012; Petoukhov et al., 2013) suggests a possible mechanism for the increasing extremes we are beginning to see . Specifically, by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which is responsible for steering weather systems from west to east around the globe . The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system. According to this new research, the jet stream is becoming “wavier,” with steeper troughs and ridges. Weather systems are moving more slowly, increasing the chances for long duration extreme events, like droughts, floods, and heat waves. The tendency for weather to get stuck in one pattern is going to favor extreme weather.Funny how that never made it into what the braintrust wrote, either.
It was said at the hearing, right? It was spoken to the Senate committe, right? So why didn't the braintrust bother telling you about it? My guess is that since it doesn't fit into the reality they want you to accept, they don't think you need to know about it.
Same story, different day.