Energy Secretary admits we don’t understand climate change

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu recently spoke on global warming to the scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and told them we don’t understand it. “We don’t understand the downward trend that occurred in 1900 or in 1940. We don’t fully understand the plateau that’s happened in the last decade,” he concluded.

Our Nobel-winning Energy Secretary is bravely soldiering forth to spend umpteen-trillion dollars of the public’s money to forestall a global warming he doesn’t understand? That’s impressive honesty, especially as the vote on Obama’s proposed hefty energy taxes is coming before the Senate and he will have to support it. Real courage would be to tell the Senate that the computer models have failed “Prediction 101.”

At Oak Ridge, Dr. Chu was referring to the thermometer record, which tells us global temperatures rose sharply from 1860-1880, and then declined again until about 1915. The temperatures zoomed upward again from 1915 to 1940, only to decline moderately from 1940–1975. Recently, after another sharp temperature gain from 1976–1998, the earth has apparently has entered another of the moderate declines Dr. Chu can’t explain.

The relatively warm temperatures over recent months involve another weak El Niño. Later this year, both the sunspots and Pacific temperature pattern indicate falling temperatures for the next 25–30 years.

The computer models have failed to predict or to explain. For some odd reason, however, the UN didn’t ask its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to find the reason for the Modern Warming. They asked the IPCC to find a “human link” to the warming. Given such precise marching orders, the climate modelers pretended global warming was a new phenomenon. They didn’t tell their models about the planet’s hundreds—or thousands—of earlier warmings and coolings that have been occurring more or less in a 1,500-year cycle for at least a million years.  

Now Secretary Chu is caught very publicly between a global warming explanation that is weak on evidence, but supported by his President—human-emitted CO2—and a competing explanation with lots of evidence, which can’t be admitted.

I guess he hoped that his March 23rd candor with the Oak Ridge scientists would be ignored by the media. In the past, of course, it would have been. But not today. Not in the wake of the leaked Climategate e-mails. Not when the New York Times has had to sell its building and radically cut staff because so few people read it any more. Most especially not when the earth’s temperatures have been declining.

Let’s be honest. Just as Al Gore benefited hugely during the runup of temperatures from 1976–98, the skeptics are gaining from the current lack of warming. I wrote some months ago that no sane president would impose heavy energy taxes during a recession while temperatures were declining. President Obama may prove me wrong about his wisdom, but I freely predict his energy taxes will be defeated.   

The sunspots have been predicting the recent cooling since 2000—with the usual ten-year lag. It arrived a bit early, in 2007. Lending weight to the sunspots, NASA told us in early 2008 that its satellites had identified a cooling shift in the Pacific that has historically lasted 25–30 years. And that periodic Pacific cooling has historically brought the temperature of the whole planet down with it.

The climate models have failed, there is no evidence of run-amuck warming and the public is beginning to catch on. Al Gore had better have some important mojo in that little shrine on his million-dollar houseboat—or else he’s going to lose his mandate and his global warming investment empire. 


About the Author: Dennis Avery

Dennis Avery

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years." Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 24421; email to [email protected]