I recently sat next to a woman on a flight from Houston which began with pleasantries regarding the purposes of our trip. When asked whether mine was for business or pleasure, I said that it combined a bit of both. I explained that I was on my way to do a media interview.
That led her to ask what it was that I do, to which I answered that I’m in the habit of writing quite a lot about topics that vary considerably, but frequently address stuff about climate and energy . . . often many politically incorrect aspects.
She asked, “You aren’t like that guy in Ohio that doesn’t believe in climate change, are you?”
I responded that I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t think that climate changes, but there may be one in Ohio that I have yet to meet. Seems to me that climate change has been going on for quite a while . . . billions of years in fact.
Global temperatures were at least just as warm about 2,000 years
ago during the “Roman Warm Period” when popular fashions featured cool-looking sandals and togas. Conditions were much the same again during the “Medieval warm period” about a thousand years later. That was when Eric the Red and his Norse pals, sans-sandals, raised sheep and goats on southwestern Greenland’s coastal grasslands.
Around 1350, Red’s Viking descendants pulled up stakes and high-tailed it out of there for friendlier climes with the coming of a “little ice age.” That big chill lasted until shortly after Washington’s troops spent a brutally cold winter at Valley Forge in 1777, and Napoleon’s beat a brutally frigid retreat from Moscow in 1812.
Incidentally, the warming that followed began before the Industrial Revolution brought CO2-belching smokestacks and SUVs, and has continued in fits and starts ever since.
Still, U.S. temperatures between 1910 through the mid-1940s were warmer than now, and then cooled again for about three decades. By the late 1970s many “climate experts” heralded the arrival of the next real ice age. That alarm vector reversed entirely about a decade later when Sen. Al Gore’s steamy 1988 Senate hearings concluded that the planet is on fire and we are causing it.
She: “We must be. How can anyone deny the influence of the record levels of CO2 we are polluting the atmosphere with?”
Me: Satellite temperature records which have been available only since 1979 show that other than naturally occurring 1998 and 2015 El Nino temperature spikes, no statistically significant global warming has occurred for nearly two decades. On the other hand, satellite imagery shows that the plant-fertilizing CO2 “pollution” you referred to has increased global greening by 25% to 50% since then . . . lots more veggies for all God’s creatures.
She: “Then why are glaciers melting faster than ever, and causing oceans to rise and coastlines to flood?”
Me: Yes, the Arctic, which goes through regular 60- to 70-year-long warming and cooling cycles, has most recently been losing some ice mass, while most of the vastly larger Antarctic continent has been gaining.
A National Academy of Sciences report attributes a primary cause of those thunderous West Antarctic Ice Sheet iceberg collapses we often see featured in the media to geothermal heat from seabed volcanoes below.
This coastal melting has been operating at time scales of hundreds to thousands of years.
There’s also no reason for feverishly overheated concern regarding glacial melting causing a rapid sea level rise. It’s another natural phenomenon that has been occurring over eons.
The rate of that increase has stabilized over the past few hundred years at about seven inches per century.
She: “Why then are increasingly frequent and severe weather events occurring which scientists predict will become even worse? How can you possibly claim that we aren’t causing all of this to happen?”
Me: If we are, might we then also take some credit for good news too?
No category 3 to 5 hurricanes have struck the U.S. coast since October 2005, a record century-long lull since 1900. And according to both NOAA and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there has been no increase in the severity or frequency of floods, droughts, thunderstorms or tornadoes in recent decades either.
I admitted to real professional limitations on that last point. Being more a rocket scientist than true climate scientist like him, I falsely assumed he got the award for inventing the Internet, along with an Oscar for his sensationally dramatic science fiction horror movie acting performance.
That abruptly ended our chat. My seatmate promptly returned to reading a Rolling Stone magazine Bernie Sanders feature. The rest of that flight was very quiet. I even got some sleep.
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