William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

What I Have Learned From Global Warming: Contest Winner Essays 2. Plus Secret Bonus!

Global warming will cause an increase in clement afternoons.

Global warming will cause an increase in clement afternoons.

Another essay from the winners of the Rename Global Warming Contest is here! Plus, a special bonus, a treat for all readers! See below! Don’t miss it!

John Buckner, “Climactic Climatic Calamity”

I learned how HARD it is to rewrite the past record in order to reflect the true past record.

This actually happened to me back in 2003. I paid GOOD MONEY to see the Viking Exhibit featured at the Minnesota Science Museum in St Paul. I’m looking through all the cool exhibits about Viking life and conquest back in their day. I was admiring their accomplishments despite the fact that it was as cold then as it was today.

And then I saw it. It was so offensive and wrong. Michael Mann had recently PROVED that this display could NOT be correct.

The exhibit showed three depictions of a non-descript “mountain” purportedly in Iceland circa 1000, 1400 and Today.

The 1000 picture showed this mountain (hill actually) lush and green from bottom to top. The 1400 picture showed this hill with a snow cap. The Today picture showed the mountain entirely covered in snow.

I fumed and seethed all the way home. Not having won this prestigious award, I had no say or power to effect the change required by the exhibit to show the true past.

Not long after 2003, I started hearing rumors about the fact that the Medieval Warm Period (WMP) may have occurred but it was a regional thing. Only the Vikings enjoyed the benefits or suffered the consequences of the MWP.

The “deniers” harped about how the MWP benefited the Vikings and today’s improving temperatures would benefit us. Thank God, er Gore, someone answered this with the “Tipping Point” of Arctic Methane (that is a proper noun isn’t it?) that would overheat the entire globe not just the Arctic.

WAAAIIIITTTTT. If I HAVE to accept that the Viking’s had perhaps experienced warmer temperatures than today, then wouldn’t the Tipping Point have occurred then? NO! The WMP really MUST be expunged…and all those warmer times before could NOT have occurred. We’ve never had a time when climate changed naturally—ONLY MAN can change a climate!

(Or was that ONLY MANN can create a Yamal Tree?)

Mike Hulme “Climate Change and Virtue: An Apologetic” (Quotations from his peer-reviewed article in Humanities, 2014, 3, 299–312.)

Tim Flannery closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “…if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth.”

In all the climate models I have examined, used and criticised over 30 years I have not yet come across a variable for love or an equation for calculating humility. The thermometer may have been essential to tell the story of a warming world, but environmental scientists have not yet invented or seen the need for a hope-ometer.

And there are those who still believe in this project [i.e., pinning hopes on The Consensus]. They excoriate others who obstruct and obscure this pure guiding light of rationality—a position adopted, for example, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their recent book Merchants of Doubt.

At the time [~1990] it seemed entirely reasonable that with one of the last “enemies” of progressive Enlightenment liberalism having been swept away (i.e., communism), a new irrepressible world order would emerge. And it would be one that would now fully exploit the predictive power of fruitful globalised science.

Far from the end of history, then, and the inexorable onward march of the secular project, we are witnessing an overdue reconsideration of the place of rationality in human knowing. There is a challenging re-examination underway of the role of religion in the public sphere.

In my pursuit of the idea of climate change I want to focus attention on the ancient idea of virtue, the possibility that the “wickedness” of climate change as a problem demands a flowering of human “goodness”.

But listen carefully to the new voices speaking in the desert—some of whom I mentioned at the beginning—and one will hear a new language emerging around the fringes of climate change research, discourse and action…the language of empathy, story-telling, trust, wisdom, humility, integrity, faith, hope and love [ellipsis original].

I need to be clear. A focus on human virtue is not a political programme. This is no techno-fix for climate change, no system for Earth governance, no exercise in social engineering.

[Yours Truly admits to being charmed by Hulme’s simplicity.]

6 Comments

  1. Medieval Warm Period (WMP) … WMP really MUST be expunged

    I was under the impression that WMP meant “Weapons of Mass Production” (i.e., the inverse of WMD). But I guess WMP=Medieval Warm Period if you are tacitly using Greek or Latin.

  2. Briggs

    August 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    DAV,

    Warming May Protect?

    There has to be something better.

  3. Nice essay, and very inspiring!

    Of course there’s not only climate change but also climate change solutions. I have been critical of those solutions, as I don’t think they are effective enough.

    Take biofuels for example, the art of growing food for the horsepowers in cars. This was much better done in older days, as the horse would eat the grass directly without the need for any costly and polluting processing and transport. The horsepower would even refills itself without any external assistance.

    And then there is windpower. This was designed to mill grain and pump water, jobs that the windmills still can take care of nicely. You just wait for your bread and your shower till there’s enough wind, meanwhile you can mount sails on your bike, your car and all those ships that plough the seas nowadays. No need to try and use those things for purposes they weren’t designed for.

    As for light, amazingly, you can use candles instead of those fashionable economy bulbs, they are both short-traveled and romantic.

    And why not use wood for the stove and whatever hot water you need, I mean, after all it grows by itself and is wonderfully sustainable!

    And then there’s the sun! Why waste thousands of bucks on solar panels, when you can become a climate refugee and sail away to southern shores and let it warm you directly. You can even live there until that day comes when you’re no longer a member of the great Consensus. You should then not let yourself be incinerated, because hopefully, when that day comes, you will be a fossil, and as such, a fossil fuel, because of the sack of barbecue coal pollution you carry around in this world and call your body. Instead, let that carbon be buried deep, so that it won’t rise up again and haunt future generations.

    Yoyr epitaph could read:

    He found the solution
    to carbon pollution.
    Stopped breathing out coal;
    – God bless his soul.

  4. WMP – What muddle-headed people

  5. WMP Warm Midieval Period (guess the reversal of the letters really didn’t bother me…..)

    Enjoyed both essays. Well done!

  6. (Yes, I consistantly misspell “medieval” so please overlook the spelling here…..)

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