Heidi Ho!

The long, sad decline of a weather scientist turned TV star

Churchville, VA—Senator Barbara Boxer (D, CA) recently held a hearing entitled, “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.” To honor historic truth, the title “It’s Happening Again” would have suited better.

Heidi Cullen, formerly the alarmist voice at the Weather Channel, was one of Boxer’s key witnesses. In her testimony, Dr. Cullen said that “heavy downpours” have increased by 73% over recent decades due to global warming. The U.S. Geological Survey data show no such increase over the past 60 years, though there may have been some increase in rainfall variability. She once was too good a scientist to make a misstatement such as that.

In fact, her side has not been able to give her much alarmist ammunition beyond the never-verified and now-failing computer models. At one point, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) asked the panel of experts, “Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama’s statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?” After a deafening silence, Dr. Cullen said our focus should be on longer time periods, rather than the ten years mentioned by Obama. When pressed, however, she admitted that global warming has slowed, not accelerated.

Dr. Cullen knows about longer climate cycling. She is an expert on the long, natural 1,500-year climate cycle that gave us the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warming, and more than 600 previous warming/cooling cycles over the past 1 million years.

In fact, Dr. Cullen studied the sediments that accumulated downwind of Akkadia, in the Persian Gulf. She discovered that the first impact of a “little ice age” on the Akkadian Empire (in today’s Iraq) at 2200 BC was a 300-year drought! The drought caused mass starvation and abandoned towns; then for another 200 years, shepherds wandered the semi-arid wasteland. Eventually, a return of global warming brought back stable and favorable cropping conditions to Iraq, new immigrants recreated the irrigated farming that had supported the Akkadians, and the urbanization of human cultures resumed. (This has happened seven times in the last 6000 years.)

Her science career was looking good, until she chose to become a TV star and author of a book entitled, The Weather of the Future. The book, unfortunately, abandons everything she learned about the documented 1,500-year climate cycle. If Dr. Cullen had remained true to her scientific training and experience, she would have told us that the global climate is constantly cycling, but within natural parameters.

The Modern Warming has followed the long and intensely cold Little Ice Age. We cannot predict how long the Modern Warming will last, but it is virtually certain to last another 200–400 years, with a maximum temperature about the same as the highly beneficial Medieval and Roman Warmings. Then, inevitably, the warming will shift abruptly into another “little ice age,” or even into a full Ice Age. What will the successors of Dr. Cullen have us do then?

In the short term, the weather will obey the dictates of the Pacific Ocean, our biggest heat sink. The Pacific’s 60-year warm/cool cycle, superimposed on the 1,500-year cycle, currently predicts continued global cooling—until long after the current crop of politicians has retired or been defeated.

Dr. Cullen tried becoming famous with honest science, and hardly anyone noticed her. Now, her current celebrity is likely to fade with the declining temperatures.

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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]

  • jameshrust

    Predicting disaster frequently leads to fame and money. In 1968 Paul Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the 1980-90s which we know did not occur. He achieved fame and election to the National Academy of Sciences. If Cullen stayed with her education and commented climate change today is a continuation of cold-warm cycles, would we be reading this column?

  • Dan Pangburn

    Four papers on the web, that you may find of interest,
    provide some eye-opening insight on the cause of change to average global
    temperature and why it has stopped warming. The papers are straight-forward
    calculations using readily available data up to May, 2013.

    The first one is ‘Global warming made simple’ at http://lowaltitudeclouds.blogspot.com
    It shows, with simple thermal radiation
    calculations, how a tiny change in the amount of low-altitude clouds could
    account for half of the average global temperature change in the 20th century,
    and what could have caused that tiny cloud change. (The other half of the
    temperature change is from net average natural ocean oscillation which is
    dominated by the PDO)

    The second paper is ‘Natural Climate change has been hiding
    in plain sight’ at http://climatechange90.blogspot.com/2013/05/natural-climate-change-has-been.html
    . This paper presents a simple equation that, using a single external forcing,
    calculates average global temperatures since they have been accurately measured
    world wide (about 1895) with an accuracy of 90%, irrespective of whether the
    influence of CO2 is included or not. The equation uses a proxy which is the
    time-integral of sunspot numbers. A graph is included which shows the
    calculated trajectory overlaid on measurements.

    Change to the level of atmospheric CO2 had no significant
    effect on average global temperature.

    A third paper, ‘The End of Global Warming’ at http://endofgw.blogspot.com/ expands
    recent (since 1996) measurements and includes a graph showing the growing
    separation between the rising CO2 and not-rising average global temperature.

    The fourth paper http://consensusmistakes.blogspot.com/
    exposes some of the mistakes that have been made by the ‘Consensus’ and the
    IPCC