William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Global Warming Update: Titanic Sunk! Contest Update: Other Historical Events. Update: Not Me!

Global warming strikes again!

Been a while since I looked out the climate window, because why? Because I figured there’d be nothing to see. After two decades of failed forecasts I assumed most modelers would have embraced reality over theory and found something useful to do with their time.

And do you know, some have. I’m naming no names, but some scientists who in the past were breathless from their exertions warning a feckless world that certain doom was imminent have withdrawn from the field of battle, a measured retreat. They have not gone so far as to renounce their former affiliations and beliefs—after all, some of their best friends award government grants—but when asked direct questions about the dire state of the atmosphere, they mumble their answers.

Those who always saw global warming as the perfect political cause have noticed. And they’re beginning to panic. If activists can’t point to Science as their ally, they know they’ll end up sounding like environmentalism’s version of homeopathists.

So they’re ratcheting up the rhetoric hoping to score some victories while they still have time. The audience for their false prophecies is not you, dear reader. It would be a tremendous mistake of your part to assume the perpetually ardent want to win over any but politicians, by agitating the untutored masses who support those politicians. Activists still have the microphone, which is to say the press, which sympathizes with the goals of environmentalists, but who do not care how these goals are obtained.

This is why we are seeing headlines like this one from The Guardian: Weatherwatch: Did warm weather cause the Titanic disaster? “Wow! Global warming killed that Leonard Caprio guy!” is what they hope readers take from this preposterous story, which is laden with future threats to luxury liners to be caused by global warming. Incidentally, in an email to Yours Truly and others, Steven Goddard said, “According to GISS, [the year the Titanic was sunk] was the third coldest year on record.” Also see this analysis.

Here’s a favorite, from the Poughkeepsie Journal: Sustainably Speaking: Gender equality and climate change. The title alone tells all you need to know: that with global warming, weather is only a sideline. The title is a minor variant on the old (and now very worn) joke, “World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.” The article speaks of “gender-role considerations in decision-making processes.” And it asks, “Why are gender role considerations necessary for climate policies?” That they aren’t escapes the author of that piece.

One from the Lincoln Journal is particularly relevant. “Climate change still the top issue” rings the headline. The article contains this telling sentence, “Scientific studies have determined that climate change, which environmentalists still say is their most pressing issue, is largely caused by humans burning fossil fuels and deforestation…” Environmentalists say. Not Dr So-and-So from the Vienna Institute On Deadly Climate Change says. Indeed, the only quote they could dig up was from a fellow called the “director of public policy and government relations at Mass Audubon.”

Another straw grasped at is methane, as this Forbes headline shows: Eager For A Climate Change Win, Obama Picks A Fresh Target: Methane. This tactic is understandable. Carbon dioxide was becoming shopworn. There are only so many times the average reader can see “CO2” before his eyes glaze over. Why not try a new molecule, see if it sticks? Unfortunately for environmentalists, their intended audience yucked it up so loudly over the inevitable cow-fart jokes to remember to be frightened.

Remember that avalanche on Mt Everest a while back that killed a few unfortunates? Avalanches on mountains are far from rare, but this one, say activists, was caused by global warming.

And so on.

You can’t blame environmentalists for tying century-old ship wrecks and mundane mountain avalanches on global warming (which they insist on calling “climate change”). After all, there has been a dearth of hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, and heat waves, and this Northern Hemisphere winter still lingers. They had to have something to stir up angst, some event, any event, with which to agitate the natives.

Hence this prediction: look for headlines blaming any and every mishap, no matter how silly or obscure, on global warming. This is their last gasp and they know it. Should make for some harmless fun.

Update Global warming causes Hindenburg to esplode! (Not a typo.) Think about it. An planned gust of wind pushed the dirigible too far and thus kabloom! And we all know what causes gusts of wind, don’t we? Global warming, that’s what.

Seems to me we have only scratched the disaster surface. What other historical calamities did global warming cause? The reader who has the best entry wins our gratitude (well, that’s worth something, right?).

Update My aunt sent this to me. It’s not the same guy! Ahhh!

May Social Dinner & Movie in Hunterdon County 5/8 at 7pm

May 8, 2014, Thursday 7:00 pm
The Ship Inn, 61 Bridge Street, Milford, NJ 08848
(10 mi. south of Easton, on the Delaware)
Event Leader: Susan Schirmer at soupys@att.net
Movie: DEEP GREEN: Solutions to Stop Global Warming Now
Description: Global Warming cannot be stopped as long as dirty fossil fuels run our planet. We can fix this and Deep Green shows us how. Director, Matthew Briggs takes us on a compelling journey to 9 countries to uncover the best ideas, cutting-edge technologies and restorative solutions. The best applications worldwide in energy efficiency, green building, de-carbonizing transportation, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, smart grids, forest restoration. And personal solutions to lower our individual carbon load. Includes legendary authors Lester Brown and Michael Pollan; and scientists Amory Lovins and Dr. David Suzuki. Visit China’s green revolution; France’s 224-mph high-speed trains; Sweden’s “greenest city in Europe”; preview Project DESERTEC: the super-sized smart grid to supply renewable energy to all of Europe and North Africa. 2010 – 101 minutes

22 Comments

  1. Global warming causes everything. Some of the alarmists have even tried to claim that global warming will make earthquakes and volcanoes worse.

    Do they think we are idiots?

  2. The worst threat facing Mankind is Global Warming. What causes Global Warming? It’s Global Warming! Yes folks it causes itself. Puny humans just gave it a prod then the Kraken woke.

    (feedbacks doncherknow)

  3. The enviros have been telling us we are doomed for as long as I can remember.
    Go here. http://www.freedomworks.org/content/13-worst-predictions-made-earth-day-1970?social=twitter_share

  4. Global Warming causes Wicked-Witch-of-the-West Nacy Pelosi’s face to melt!

  5. Of course that’s Nancy Pelosi, not Nacy Pelosi…

  6. Dr. Briggs, please forgive me for this off-topic comment… but I am compelled to share this review of the Titanic movie.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHiceVim9Wg

    Don’t blame me. It was global warming that made me write this comment.

  7. Global Warming responsible for drop in temperatures; extra heat is damaging thermometers, making them measure too low!

  8. Ye Olde Statisician

    April 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    10 miles south of Easton, forsooth! I know where that playhouse is.

  9. Just had a whole slew pop in my head, here goes:

    Global Warming causing p-values everywhere to decrease due to lack of water!

    Global Warming causes rift in space-time continuum, throws off experts’ temperature estimates!

    Global Warming found to invalidate the Principle of Non-Contradiction; weather can both be warming and cooling at the same time in the same way!

    Global Warming ensures all of our politicans are possessed by demons; only “people” found to be able to survive extra hot air in DC!

  10. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

    April 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    People consitantly re-write history to support their particular fixations. The number one dominant cause of the Titantic sinking was poor judgement by the captain, who didn’t reduce speed in spite of iceberg warnings. Other ships nearby, that didn’t have the prestige and the schedule expectations connected to the brand new glamorous ship, followed the older practice of heaving to at night in iceberg waters.

    A second contributing factor was likely the metalurgy of the day, yielding rivets which became more brittle in cold water. The gash in the hull was larger than would have been the case if the rivets had held. Pressure to finish the Titanic on schedule lead Harland & Wolff to order wrought-iron rivets one grade lower than normally used for rivets and from suppliers not previously certified for this application. Rivet samples brought up from the wreck showed slag levels roughly three times optimal, and in larger pieces.

    Fast-forward almost 100 years to the Costa Concordia with better metalurgy, vastly better communication and navigation systems, and yet poor command judgement still peeled back a strip of hull like opening an old coffee tin and sunk the ship. Only shallower, warmer water much closer to shore prevented a similar loss of life.

    Global warming, real or imagined, played no role in the Titanic disaster. It was poor judgment and pressure to cut corners.

  11. An planned gust of wind ..

    My how sly Global Warming is in its attention to details! It even plans the gusts. I see skeptics aren’t the only ones susceptible conspiracy theories.

  12. Briggs: “So they’re ratcheting up the rhetoric hoping to score some victories while they still have time.”

    There’s a expiration date? When is it?

    “‘Wow! Global warming killed that Leonard Caprio guy!’ is what they hope readers take from this preposterous story, which is laden with future threats to luxury liners to be caused by global warming.”

    I agree, it’s preposterous.

    “Incidentally, in an email to Yours Truly and others, Steven Goddard said, ‘According to GISS, [the year the Titanic was sunk] was the third coldest year on record.'”

    I was just going to say that journalistic sensationalism frequently mangles reality. I don’t remember which climatologist said it, but the gist was, “Saying *this* destructive hurricane was caused by global warming is improper. Our prediction is that the average number of large and potentially destructive hurricanes per season will tend to increase with global temps.”

    “Remember that avalanche on Mt Everest a while back that killed a few unfortunates? Avalanches on mountains are far from rare, but this one, say activists, was caused by global warming.”

    Which is goofy in the same way that saying Katrina or Sandy were caused by global warming. As Yogi might say, “Weather causes the weather.”

    “Another straw grasped at is methane, as this Forbes headline shows: Eager For A Climate Change Win, Obama Picks A Fresh Target: Methane.”

    Substitute politician with journalist. Methane is not a recent fad in climate science or politics. On page xv of the AR1 policymaker summary is a nice timeseries graph of temperature, CO2 and methane going back 160K years. It’s on page xvi. xviii. I think that sufficiently demonstrates my point.

    “After two decades of failed forecasts I assumed most modelers would have embraced reality over theory and found something useful to do with their time.”

    Or one could simply look at the data. When I do, I see that from 1879 to 1910 global temps dropped about 0.6 degrees C. From 1942 to 1980 the global trend was flatter than Kansas. 3 and 4 whole decades of myth-busting data right there, amirite?

  13. Global Warming Linked to Desire for Warmer Climate!

    I want some global warming here in Michigan.

    Remember the good old days when we had mild winters?

  14. “Global Warming Linked to Desire for Warmer Climate!”

    If you really really want to abolish guns, there’s no denying that mass-murdering gun users top the list of best allies to have. Same if you don’t like Muslims: when a crew of them flies jetliners into skyscrapers, it’s a godsend.

    “I want some global warming here in Michigan.”

    So you do get it. The economic impact from flight cancellations, power line damage, traffic accidents, etc., is an acceptable price to pay in exchange for the political capital.

    “Remember the good old days when we had mild winters?”

    Yeah, three years ago, Ohio. That same year was also the coolest July on record, which I enjoyed even more.

  15. Since the Titanic was brought up, I’d like to plug the books by Walter Lord, “A Night to Remember”, and “The Night Lives On”, both on the sinking of the Titanic.

    After reading those two books, I made it a point NOT to watch the de Caprio movie.

  16. YOS: Good article. Credit to Pielke for showing how to write a good op-ed. And as well, props to the WSJ editorializers for the scare quotes in the tagline.

  17. Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change: A Response to Legates, Soon and Briggs

    Agnotology is a term that has been used to describe the study of ignorance and its cultural production (Proctor in Agnotology: the making and unmaking of ignorance. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2008). For issues that are contentious in the societal realm, though largely not in the scientific realm, such as human evolution or the broad basics of human-induced climate change, it has been suggested that explicit study of relevant misinformation might be a useful teaching approach (Bedford in J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010). Recently, Legates et al. (Sci Educ. doi:10.1007/s11191-013-9588-3, 2013) published an aggressive critique of Bedford’s (J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010) proposals. However, the critique is based on a comprehensive misinterpretation of Bedford’s (J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010) paper. Consequently, Legates et al. (Sci Educ. doi:10.1007/s11191-013-9588-3, 2013) address arguments not actually made by Bedford (J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010). This article is a response to Legates et al. (Sci Educ. doi:10.1007/s11191-013-9588-3, 2013), and demonstrates their errors of interpretation of Bedford (J Geogr 109(4):159–165, 2010) in several key areas: the scientific consensus on climate change; misinformation and the public perception of the scientific consensus on climate change; and agnotology as a teaching tool. We conclude by arguing that, although no single peer-reviewed publication on climate change, or any other scientific issue, should be accepted without due scrutiny, the existence of a scientific consensus—especially one as overwhelming as exists for human-induced climate change—raises the level of confidence that the overall findings of that consensus are correct.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11191-013-9608-3

  18. How about this one:
    Climate change caused the rise of Genghis Khan.
    http://www.ias.edu/DiCosmo-MongolEmpire

  19. It may be that past climate changes have caused movement of peoples from grass lands which dried up in the past. Did the Mongols have pasture animals like horses? Whether the weather was colder or warmer would be a subject for investigation. Does grass grow better in a colder climate or is there more rain fall in a colder climate. Do horses do well in snow? Therefore Genghis Khan and other Mongols could have been looking for greener pastures or they could have just decided to rob cities to prove they were capable of doing it and exact tribute to keep them out of the said cities.(A nice little earner)

  20. Ye Olde Statisician

    April 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Changes in the weather may well have induced the Mongols to pull up their tent stakes and go awandering in search of grass. So it might be a proximate cause of wandering; but there had been dry spells before without inducing a pan-Eurasian pax Mongolica. Without a kakhan to enforce peace among the tribal confederacy, the drying out of the pasturelands might have resulted in various Mongol, Merkit, and other tribes fighting over the same dwindling grass. Instead, like the Arabs of the House of Submission, being forbidden to fight one another, they turned their arms outward and fought others.

  21. UCSB anthropology professor emeritus published several books on climate’s effect on civilizations that are interesting reading.
    I kind of hate to get serious here, but it’s an odd coincidence that the Titanic was mentioned while Jesuit Pope Francis and the Climate Change Conference was in the news, since both are Rothschild creations, and Rothschilds were also the Vatican’s bankers; is this an attempt to launder the Jesuit connection to the sinking of the Titanic, 8 months prior to the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank? The captain of the Titanic had 23 years experience driving boats around icebergs, and was member of a lay Jesuit organization. US bankers who opposed the creation of a central banking system were intensely recruited as Titanic passengers. Strange timing – they could have chosen to blame Lenny Bruce’s heroin OD on global warming, but they didn’t. Maybe we should ask Lewandowsky, or maybe his grad student John Cook. Strange yet odd.

    Des Moines, Iowa UNCED Earth Summit, 1987; convened by IPCC founder Maurice Strong.
    UN Secretariat for World Order quote:

    “We are the living sponsors of the great Cecil Rhodes will of 1877, in which Rhodes dedicated his fortune to the of extension of British rule throughout the world…and colonization by British subjects of the entire continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the valley of the Euphrates, the islands of Cyprus and Candia?), the whole of South America, the islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British empire. We stand with Lord Milner’s credo. We too are British patriots, and our patriotism is the speech, the traditions, the principles, the aspirations of the British race. Do you fear to take this stand at the very last moment, when this purpose can be realized? Do you not see that failure now is to be pulled down by the billions of Lilliputions of lesser race who care little or nothing for the Anglo-Saxon system?

    This UN press release is identical to Edmund de Rothschild’s statement at the 4th World Wilderness Conference, 1987; audio recording in one of George Hunt’s videos – internet archives.

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