The Earth’s climate is a very complicated subject, but you would not know that when listening to most media personalities and perhaps every Democratic politician, starting with the two dozen candidates running for president.

To a person in either of these categories, the climate issue is very simple: the earth is heating up with average temperatures rising because of man-made causes that increase carbon emissions, primarily from the use of fossil fuels like oil and gas. Accordingly, we must curb our addiction to fossil fuel, convert to renewable energy (wind and solar), and thereby reduce carbon emissions that will, in turn, reduce the otherwise inexorable increase in the planet’s temperature.

The truth, alas, is way more complex.

The climate “science” that gets most media attention is a misnomer, akin to political “science.” That is, climate science practiced at the United Nations, NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is woefully inexact and operates on hypotheses and computer model theories that attempt to explain weather phenomena decades into the future. These agencies also are notorious for data manipulation by making the past cooler and the present warmer than actuality.

For such “deep state” bureaucrats climate science is tightly wound with politics, and that’s the problem. Politicians and media figures are using their climate truisms, e.g., increased carbon that is warming the planet, as a means to implement a radical political agenda. This agenda is about opposing capitalism and the free market and supporting a growing government takeover of energy and other industries to control society at large.

Politician and media groupthink has gotten so bad, a relatively new phrase has entered their vocabulary: “existential threat.” Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and many others claim the earth is facing the point of no return, or the tipping point by which time it will be too late to reverse. So they need power and control now to remake society, phase out fossil fuels and, while they are at it, take over the health care industry, and increase taxes and regulations.

What is really occurring with the climate?

Marc Morano of Climate Depot sums it up well here. For example, the year 2016 was declared the hottest year on record, except that it was essentially the same as 1998, within the margin of error in temperature measurement of 0.1 degree. This means, according to climate scientists Richard Lindzen of MIT, Judith Curry, and others, there has been no warming trend for nearly a generation. This doesn’t caution outlets like the New York Times from embellishing a given year as the “hottest on record.”

Satellite data on temperature also are considered more accurate than surface recordings typically used by promoters of global warming. Satellites showed that 2016 temperature was essentially the same as 18 years prior, even as 2016 had a large El Nino warming effect. And when one looks at the more than 100-year period in between the “Little Ice Age” and 1998, the warming that occurred over that time period was less than one degree. According to the late geologist Bob Carter, this comparison is “completely meaningless in telling you anything about climate change.”

In fact, within this 100-plus year period, temperature often varied. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the worst heat waves in the U.S. occurred in the 1930s. Climatologist John Christy’s research found that “about 75 percent of the states recorded their hottest temperature prior to 1955 and over 50 percent of the states experienced their record cold temperatures after 1940.”

Much of the recorded temperatures date back to the late 1800s, which reflect a warming period following the “Little Ice Age” that effectively ended after mid-century. This means that the earth began to warm during the 1800s when there were no airplanes, air conditioners, SUVs, incandescent light bulbs, plastic bags or straws, and a host of other supposed malefactors targeted by the modern global warming crusade.

What most likely affected the change in Earth’s temperature from the Little Ice Age: increased sunspot activity and the complex interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean, namely, the North Atlantic Oscillation effect. Reduced sunspot activity, for instance, existed during the Little Ice Age, particularly in the cooler 1700s, yet temperatures were down by less than 2 degrees Celsius from the norm.  To state would should be obvious, the sun affects climate.

Near as I can tell, no politician has yet to propose doing something about changing the sunspot cycles or affecting how the atmosphere interacts with ocean currents. Such ludicrous notions are unlikely since: 1) it’s impossible; and 2) it would concede that their narrative about carbon emissions is bogus, which would negate the agenda to enlarge governmental power and regulatory control over the private economy and society.

Now, this discussion does not scratch the surface in challenging present-day climate change orthodoxy. The complexity of climate science, actual historic temperature data, and the plethora of factors that affect the Earth’s climate demand that elected officials and media figures get schooled on the issue. Sen. Sanders and AOC may be unreachable, but others like Vice President Mike Pence, for example, should know better than his recent, bumbling interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper.

Every such failed missed opportunity for a high-profile public figure to refute dubious and outlandish climate claims means the alarmists will continue their march toward a radical economic and societal transformation. Allowed unchecked, the pervasive climate groupthink in today’s popular culture will be the ruin of the country’s upwardly mobile opportunity and prosperity.


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  • Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: