This winter, white is the new black.
“More than two-thirds of the nation’s land mass had snow on the ground,” the Associated Press reported last week, “and then it snowed ever so slightly in Florida to make it 49 states out of 50.” Only Hawaii remained snow free. So far, anyway.
While shoveling, then, Americans could be forgiven for mumbling, “bring on some global warming.” Ah, but we won’t be forgiven by the likes of Thomas Friedman, globe-trotting environmentalist columnist at The New York Times.
“Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax,” Friedman wrote on Feb. 17. “You really wonder if we can have a serious discussion about the climate-energy issue anymore.”
Yes, you do. Mostly because the folks who want us to believe that humans are changing the planet’s climate insist the “science” is “settled” and so there’s nothing to talk about. Of course, many of these folks then get caught making up their data and behaving like hypocrites.
For example, Friedman’s Times Web page features video of a CNBC interview with him, “at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.” Hum. Wonder how Mr. Alternative Energy got to the Alps for that meeting. Did he peddle himself across the Atlantic in a carbon-neutral paddleboat, glide across the continent on efficient mass transit and then ascend the mountain on a dogsled? It’s impossible to believe he’d go the old-fashioned way: via carbon-belching plane and car.
In any event, “the climate-science community should convene its top experts -- from places like NASA, America’s national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology and the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre -- and produce a simple 50-page report,” Friedman advises. “They could call it ‘What We Know,’ summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth grader could understand, with unimpeachable peer-reviewed footnotes.”
Wait -- didn’t they already do that? In 2007, a United Nations outfit known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced the definitive report on “what we know” about climate change. This report was so iron-clad it won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Except -- the report was wrong about so many things. It claimed that the probability of Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.” That bold statement wasn’t based on science, it was based on one interview with one expert 10 years earlier in an obscure magazine. Oh, and it’s not correct. Oops.
“We slipped up on one number. I don’t think it takes anything away from the overwhelming scientific evidence of what’s happening with the climate of this Earth,” Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the U.N. panel, later told reporters.
If only it was one mistake.
Climate-change believers also have been rocked by the release of thousands of documents from the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia. These papers show climate scientists withholding information, fudging data, even interfering with the peer-review process that Friedman and others celebrate.
As for Pachauri, he too seems less than willing to live a carbon-free lifestyle. Three years ago a newspaper in India reported he once flew from New York to New Delhi to participate in a cricket practice. Days later, he made the round-trip again to play in a match.
And while skeptics of global warming aren’t supposed to cite this winter’s weather, proponents of man-made climate change are, apparently, free to do so.
“One of the consequences of a warming ocean near a coastline like the East Coast and Washington, D.C., for instance, is that you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming,” announced atmospheric researcher Kevin Trenberth on NPR last week. If snow is caused by warming, it’s little wonder that just about everything can purportedly be.
Friedman ends his column with his all-too-common celebration of China’s leadership. “It is investing heavily in clean-tech, efficiency and high-speed rail. It sees the future trends and is betting on them. Indeed, I suspect China is quietly laughing at us right now.”
Indeed, laughing that an American columnist would cite it -- the world’s most polluted nation -- as a paragon of environmental virtue. China burns more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan. Combined. Its cities are blanketed in smog. While it may lead the way into a cleaner 22nd century (after we’re all dead), its environment will look pretty messy for decades as China tries to get there.
Before we get worked up about climate change, let’s recall that’s what climate does, regardless of human behavior: change. This winter’s snows will melt away, fueling the growth of flowers and plants. There will never be a “Silent Spring.” Or, unfortunately, a silent global-warming fanatic.