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Global Warming To Cause New Crisis. What Will It Be?

Seems the Arctic ice sheet has refused to do what it was told by computer models. The models “conservatively” insisted the ice would be gone entirely by 2013, yet the darn stuff is back.

It’s not clear whether its majesty Science itself or just a fawning press made the original prediction—though it could have been both—but back in 2007, it was said the ice would have melted entirely by now.

Imagine the embarrassment faced by both institutions that its prediction was not only wrong, but backwards.

Now there are two kinds of people. Those beholden to truth and the smitten. A person beholden to truth would conclude that the theory which predicted the disappearance of ice was false or at least very badly flawed. This person would abandon the theory and find something useful to do with his time, perhaps endeavouring to fix what went wrong. He would have learned the lesson that next time he makes a prediction to be more circumspect and not run about like Chicken Little mainlining Red Bull.

One who is smitten would say his beloved theory is right and that the world itself if wrong in some way. He would say he is even more confident in his failed prediction than he was before, even unto the level of 95%. Nothing would induce him to abandon his chérie, an ideal model created by his own hand. To do so would be ungentlemanly and callous. It would cause him grief. It could mean financial loss.

Evidence that there are more smitten than truth seekers is in the phrase, “Global warming has paused since 1997.” Paused, which means global warming is still out there lurking, ready to strike. It has only put on hold its nefarious activities. It has not ceased, but is held in abeyance. Global warming, the sneaky creature, is in hiding, perhaps in the oceanic abyss. In short, the theory is still true and the world is wrong.

Time for predictions. It is too much fun to claim that the observed changes in the world are caused largely by us. This attribution will continue. Yet the “pause” must needs be explained. I don’t know how other than it will be us. Perhaps tiny bubbles (particulate matter) released into the atmosphere by capitalists.

Global warming will still increase, but negatively. Meaning the globe will cool slightly, or that it will bounce around some harmless average. These fluctuations will not be benign, but will be said to evince a humanity at war with itself, cooling pollution battling heating carbon dioxide. Now this side will triumph, now the other. Whichever side bests the other, success will be claimed.

It is too embarrassing to say “We were wrong”, especially by politicians, so you won’t often hear it. But since most scientists are truth seekers, the edges of climatological doom theory will be chipped away.

And now the real purpose of this post…

Don’t forget that the fever was raised roughly thirty years ago back in the 1980s. The peak of frenzy was maybe five to ten years ago. This implies we still have ten to fifteen years of this stuff in the press. Or longer, since it is easy to keep putting the end off.

We’ve lived through pollution scares before (mainly affecting our food) back in the 1970s, acid rain in the 1980s, nuclear winter in the 1990s, and overpopulation has played out. Doesn’t seem likely activists would return to these same wells. Something new, then. But what?

Eugenics, I think. We are “polluting” ourselves (see this and this). The “best” aren’t breeding and the “worst” are going at it like rabbits. Perhaps “chemicals” or “hormones” will be the cause of this. They whither sperm and crack eggs. Or whatever. The solution will be genetic engineering and increased abortions.

I’m not convinced, of course. Might be hard to get people in a panic. Would the UN need to meet? How could donations be applied? What laws need be passed? All good questions.

Your guess?


(Actually, to tell the truth, this fractured, unfocused post was written only as an excuse to feature Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles, a song I was reminded of last week.)

58 thoughts on “Global Warming To Cause New Crisis. What Will It Be? Leave a comment

  1. The BBC made the prediction in 2007. This site has others who
    https://fp.auburn.edu/sfws/sfnmc/web/bet5.html.
    I can’t find the name at the moment, but one scientists actually stated all the ice would melt this summer (or at least he was blogging as a scientist!)

    I love the Chicken Little mainlining Red Bull term!

    I would say that GMO is next. It’s one of the last “bogymen” of science fiction and it involves huge sums of money made and huge sums of money spent by evil capitalists. The only ones that may be exempted are those in the medical field, but if we socialize medicine, that will become a small issue any way–the funds will be gone and those wonderful cancer cures we were expecting will go by the wayside. The GMO food products will be protested and burned, usually in starving countries.

  2. It will have something to do with fracking since that is their biggest threat. But then again something totally unexpected may sweep all these petty concerns away.

  3. All,

    If it doesn’t or can’t lead to a headline of the sort, “World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit” then it can’t be a truly global panic.

  4. For a great example of ones who are smitten: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/09/climate-change-arctic-sea-ice-delusions

    I have always been curious if their statistics are “real” or a variant that serves to prove what is being predicted. Skeptics apparently know nothing about statistics, according to the smitten.

    My prediction could lead to such cool headlines as “Women give birth to alien-looking babies after ingesting GMO corn”, “wicked strain of GMO wheat takes over much of the farm land in Indonesia” and maybe even “GMO crops accidentally released into the wild, cross-breeding and infecting people everywhere with new horrible illness ‘GMO syndrome’, half the planet could die”. Is that scary and global enough!

  5. The models “conservatively” insisted the ice would be gone entirely by 2013, yet the darn stuff is back.

    Doesn’t the conclusion of “the ice would be gone entirely by 2013” seems strange to you? Wouldn’t you want to know what models/real climate scientists predicted it? Reference please. Let’s discover the truth… not from Mail Online or BBC or The Guardian or The Telegraph.

    It’s not clear whether its majesty Science itself or just a fawning press made the original prediction—though it could have been both—but back in 2007, it was said the ice would have melted entirely by now.

    Not clear! I think it would worth the efforts if you could help your readers find the answer, don’t you think? Anyway, I just happened to have read the following links. If you had read them, you might have written something different.
    http://www.realclimate.org/
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  6. JH,

    What’s your guess of the next crisis after global warming fades from memory?

    (As for Silver, see the header to the blog which has been up since Saturday.)

  7. My guess of the next crisis? What crisis?

    (Sorry, I agree with L. Wassermann and other academic statisticians on Gelman’s blogs.)

    Broken link.

  8. JH,

    Nothing like academic statisticians to agree with!

    What crisis? Why, that’s the question. We’re trying to guess what it might be. Scotian thinks fracking, Sheri says GMO. But those seem easily “fixed” by legislation. What’s your guess?

  9. Pandemics. Because they have historical precedent, an air of mystery, plenty of space for conspiracy theories and urban legend, and actually could be a real problem. What more could an activist want or need?

  10. JH,

    There is no data, except our experience with human history, politics and the like. Look at Gary’s entry. Seems to me a pretty good entry. But maybe lacking that special something that makes fundable.

  11. This as but one of numerous examples of the psychology of belief–a perpetually occurring illogical and ever-manifesting aspect of human nature. There’s LOT’s of such examples & the phenomena is one of endless fascination: http://www.amazon.com/When-Prophecy-Fails-Psychological-Destruction/dp/0061311324

    The behavior has formal nomenclature:

    1.Confirmation bias, which causes us to pay more attention and assign greater credence to ideas that support our current beliefs. We cherry pick the evidence that supports a contention we already believe and ignore evidence that argues against it (“ignoring” includes talking about the contradicting evidence without actually confronting it — a self-delusion that one really confronted & disproved something without actually doing either).

    2.Disconfirmation bias, which causes us to expend disproportionate energy trying to disprove ideas that contradict our current beliefs.

    WHY does this occur? Nobody knows. But the recurring patterns–IN ALL OF US–are so routinely observed it is a part of the HUMAN CONDITION.

    THE BIGGER ISSUE–especially for those who endeavor to be morally upright is how easily it leads to HYPOCRISY:

    “But if we look down upon people who seem blind to evidence that we ourselves find compelling, imagining ourselves to be paragons of reason and immune to believing erroneous conclusions as a result of the influence of our own pre-existing beliefs, more likely than not we’re only deceiving ourselves about the strength of our objectivity. Certainly, some of us are better at managing our biases than others, but all of us have biases with which we must contend.”

    Some wise guy cleverly addressed that latter point using an eyeball speck & a log/plank analogy (Matthew 7:3-5).

    The issue isn’t one more example, on an endless list of such examples, of someone’s or some group’s failure to acknowledge facts disproving a false belief…

    …its that this is something we are ALL prone to in some area or other…and need to be vigilant against that, not arrogant we’re different & immune to it.

  12. RE: “…guess?”

    THE NEXT ISSUE: The epidemic of hostile phantasmagorical entities haunting homes. The evidence is accumulating, scroll thru cable/satellite television programs, on shows where such problems are already manifesting everywhere. The problem is clearly getting worse; humanity is being systematically invaded by malevolent phantasmal entities. Clearly its just a matter of time before some “Ghost-Busters” Government agency (“Agency for Exorcisms”?) will be needed because an other-world-based invasion of this sort is just the thing a government is positioned to address.

    IF NOT THAT…then something having the following broad features:

    – Capitalism, if not identified outright, is a fundamental instigating issue
    – Needs government, perhaps the United Nations, to address, coordinate a response & resolve
    – The Issue and how it is being addressed will include various contradictions/contradictory policies, etc.
    – Whatever the solution is, it will mandate personal sacrifices of deprivation (of the lowering one’s “carbon footprint” sort) and giving up freedoms/quality of life …
    – …probably via force (but if only “someone” would do “something,” which won’t actually really happen)…
    – The issue will be discussed, reported on, protested about…but after all is said & done, much much more will have been said than done…

    Eric Hoffer neatly identified the temperament of those inclined to endorse such issues in his book, “The True Believer” (http://www.amazon.com/The-True-Believer-Movements-Perennial/dp/0060505915 ).

    Dr. Rossiter has addressed the psychology of the temperament in his book, “The Liberal Mind; The Psychological Causes of Political Madness” available dirt cheap as a download at: http://www.libertymind.com ; the website provides a lot of insights as well.

  13. People will be the next big problem. Yes, I know, scary overpopulation threats have come and gone a few times, but most of our current ‘problems’ would go away with a 50% reduction in humanity. So I predict a call for population control measures. It’s just prudent!

  14. If you look at the history of climate change there were predictions in the 1930s that the central US was going to beecome a desert and the Artic icecap would melt allowing ships to freely navigate across the North Pole. We know how that prediction turned out.

  15. Climate hysteria like everything else related to the climate is cyclical

    New Ice Age!!!! It’s all our fault!! Everyone will die!!!!

    Global Warming!!!! It’s all our fault!! Everyone will die!!!!

    Rinse, repeat….

    Climate change is a catastrophists wet dream. The hysteria never ends, it just changes directions with the climate.

  16. It is too embarrassing to say “We were wrong”, especially by politicians, so you won’t often hear it.

    Agreed, I once heard a professor to reply “I don’t know” to a question a student posed, up to this day I remember him with utmost respect for doing so instead the usual “This question is not for this course” or a often ridiculous best guess not to lose face in front of everybody (just in case you don’t know once you have a PhD it seems you’re supposed to know everything).

    Of course politicians have strategies what work well in elementary school, yes, I am thinking in Bart’s Simpson “it wasn’t me.

    e.g. I didn’t put a red line the world did.

    and soon

    I didn’t say 97% the scientific world did.

    and the template just in case you need it:

    I didn’t say [embarrassing statement] the [scapegoat] did.

  17. Sherri,

    Scholarly references please.

    Mr. Alvarez,

    Thank you for fixing the link. Nope, there are no models claiming that “the ice would be gone entirely by 2013” in the provided link. The presentation states that “recent decline of Arctic sea ice cover is more rapid when ice thickness is considered,” which clearly is not a prediction.

    So, Mr. Briggs, why did your reference the (once-broken) link?

  18. JH,

    You’re apt not to read well when excited.

    For one, I never referenced that paper.

    For two, there are lots of statements in that presentation (e.g. “Modeled reduction of sea ice thickness is well supported by limited data and it is most pronounced since the late 1990s (~ 9cm/yr during 1997-2004). Limited observations suggest accelerated decline of ice thickness through present.”) which can be taken as predictions.

    For three, you ignored the BBC report, and the links others provided, showing at least one scientist did in fact predict shrinking ice (which anyway was widely bruited in the press).

    For four, you missed in my piece where I acknowledge the whole thing could have been a “press prediction.”

    For five, you have never answered which crisis will be next after global warming.

    For six, “scholarly sources” are not always to be preferred, especially when it is the output of the scholars which is under question, an obvious logical point.

    For seven, if there is one thing we know from reading this blog, scholars are not to be always trusted. Especially when politics are involved.

  19. JH:
    My reference was “scholarly”–what someone who teaches in a university says on a blog reflects his teachings, unless he is a total hypocrite. I keep getting the same comment about Hansen saying the oceans would boil. Those were his exact words and he is the climate genius, so we have to believe him, right? Anyway, here’s more on the guy who started the 2007 BBC line:http://www.sciencepoles.org/news/news_detail/maslowski_and_team_offer_new_estimate_summer_arctic_sea_ice_disappearance/

    You will note that he moved the date to 2016 with a margin of error of 3 years. Cute.

    It’s not over yet–new estimates in “scholarly” papers put the ice free date around 2050 now. So hang on and wait for the melting to start again.

  20. Briggs,

    Ah, you know me the best! Could it be that I was in a hurry so I didn’t read carefully?

    1. No, you didn’t reference that paper.

    2. A lot of statements? What is “a lot”? Anyway, none of them said that “the ice would be gone entirely by 2013.”

    Whether limited observations suggest accelerated decline of ice thickness through present” is a prediction would depend on what the “present” is. Try to make a prediction with “through present” in your statement!!!

    3. “At least one scientist did in fact predict shrinking ice (which anyway was widely bruited in the press). I can see why at lest one scientist predicted shrinking ice if the data on the link are the one they use. Still, Shrinking ice is not the same as saying “the ice would be gone entirely by 2013.”

    4. Gee, my daughter, who happened to be in my office this morning, must have written the 1st comment by JH. She evidently noticed the second paragraph and asked for further investigation.

    5. Sorry, no guess from me at all. I am not even bothered to guess what you meant by “nothing like academic statisticians to agree with!” What is the purpose of making up new crises that global warming would cause? DAV is a smart man.

    6. True. But, I prefer scholarly sources and rather trust my own judgement.

    7. See 6.

    5. Sorry, no guess from me at all. I am not even bothered to guess

  21. Like the beloved poet laureate said:

    “Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.”

    Fire and Ice
    Robert Frost

  22. To be truly politically useful, that is, in order to justify wholesale control over people’s lives, the next crisis has to be some new property or statistic made up regarding some common, everyday material or process, one that varies over time, so that it’s variation can either be attributed to mankind or can be claimed to be significantly affected by mankind, appended with the phrase, “…, and if this continues, it will kill us all.” With today’s global warming crowd, it is “Carbon dioxide is a pollutant, is increasing in our atmosphere, is warming the earth, and if this continues, it will kill us all.” So perhaps the next crisis could be about the percentage of some other component of our atmosphere, say, nitrogen. Or perhaps it could be about the salinity of the ocean. The precession of the earth would be useful if there were some way to blame it on capitalism. I’m sure the progressives will think of some way to link the two. Maybe they could blame it on all the satellites that we send into orbit. I can see it now: strict laws and high taxes on your smartphone or other GPS-enabled system, necessary to stop precession and save the planet! Time to start applying for funding for a study …

  23. I like Ken’s phantasmagorical entities because whatever it is it won’t be real. Curiously, they never are. There is a real threat to life on Earth and that’s near-Earth objects. One big enough asteroid and we all die. More likely is a not-quite-big-enough asteroid which only kills poor people as rich people can afford counter-measures. But NASA’s budget for this is piddling. But combining the impact probabilities published by NASA for 426 NEOs we have about a 1 in 24 chance of a hit between now the end of the next century. But where’s the hysteria? Even after people in Russia actually died recently from an actual asteroid strike, no hysteria. We only get hysteria when the threat isn’t convincingly real.

    (Data here: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/)

  24. JH said:
    2. A lot of statements? What is “a lot”? Anyway, none of them said that “the ice would be gone entirely by 2013.”
    Please see transcript/listen to podcast posted 24 March 2008,
    At the site “Beyond Zero Emmisions Posted on 24 Mar 2008
    during a pod cast hosted by Matthew Wright, Dr Wieslaw Maslowski said:
    “Dr Wieslaw Maslowski: I think the media is definitely getting much more interested and the society is trying to understand what is happening out there, not only in the Arctic but also the ice shelf around Antarctica and so forth. So, definitely the interest and demand for information is much higher than couple years ago. My statement you quoted and was printed in The New York Times of 2013, my first presentation where I actually had this projection stated exclusively was about 4 or 5 years ago in San Francisco, at American Geophysical Union poll meeting. So, I’m not actually upgrading my projection, I’m just saying that it may happen sooner but we were one of the early people who were saying that it might happen within the next decade, instead of by the end of this century.” Link
    http://bze.org.au/media/radio/dr-wieslaw-maslowski-predicted-2013-ice-free-summer-arctic-five-years-ago-now-he-says-ma

    or On, Wednesday, 12 December 2007, the BBC published an article entitled…
     Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’  
    “Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. 
Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.”
    Professor Wieslaw Maslowski was quoted as saying…
    “Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” “So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”
    link, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7139797.stm

  25. Yawrate’s on to something. Sure it’s another pollution scare, but the 60’s generation is dying off. Those coming to power won’t remember that far back.

    Heck, some of us can’t even remember when headlines blared that Arctic ice would disappear (sources please!).

    Besides, plastic is a good “pollutant.” It is ineradicable, a necessary component to a good scare. That’s why I can’t see GMOs. If you don’t like those, you ban them and they stop. But plastic? It’s everywhere, as Yawrate says.

    Unless somebody comes up with something better, this is the winner.

  26. Briggs: I’m sticking with the GMOs. Outlawing does not mean getting rid of–it just means the evil corporations create them in a back room and release them in the wild. Maybe outlawing them gets some places to consider them gone, but any savvy apocalypse believer knows the danger is never really gone, only gone underground. Plus, if they are banned, we have to go back to pesticides and starving people, so it’s a win-win from either direction. Starvation/blindness or GMO syndrome running rampant.
    (Plastic may be a good choice, though, since evil petroleum makes it. Come to think of it, evil petroleum is in pretty much everything…….Especially things made in China……)

    Rich: How many times has an extinction level asteroid hit occurred in the 4.5 billion years the earth has been here? Sure, little hits, but nothing worldwide. Maybe that’s why people aren’t panicking.

  27. Sheri, I never had you down as an asteroid impact denier!

    But seriously, it doesn’t have to be a global extinction event. It only has to kill a significant fraction of the population to warrant alarm. And if you’d followed my link you could have argued that the estimated impact of most of those objects is pretty low too.

    Oh, I nearly forgot: “Sure, little hits, but nothing worldwide.” – Scholarly references please! (Only joking.)

  28. Rich–You have no idea how many things I can deny!
    Yes, the link lacked any of those really scary red bars. However, I guess I felt that most people have watched enough movies and science fiction to believe we actually could send Bruce Willis to save the planet! How many people believe statistics over Bruce Willis?

    As for “over” populated, the earth is not full yet, so we have not yet gone and “filled the earth” as directed in Genesis, I think. I can’t decide if it’s case of “I have mine so who cares if you get yours” or if these people just loathe the human race. It’s interesting that people who preach evolution so rarely think it applies to humans–every other species expands to the limit of food and area, except humans. So we are special, right?

  29. Sheri,

    Other animals did not invent artificial birth control which is a game changer. There are two errors of logic that can be made: that the past is a good guide to the future and that it isn’t.

  30. Scotian:
    How did humans inventing artificial birth control become a game changer? We evolved. We can limit our population (but only for the last 50 years) but animals can do the same to some degree by refusal to mate. Evolution still says we expand to maximum food and area. We just slow that down some using artificial birth control. I would also note that part, if not much, of the “problem” with over population is due to lack of infant mortality. Again, we were clever in overcoming this, but now we “risk” using up our food and area more quickly.

    I’m not sure what you meant with the errors in logic.

  31. I have to agree with Scotian that Fracking and contamination of ground water is the up and comer to capture the hearts and minds of the media scaremongers. Heaven forfend, the child can drink fossil fuel right from the kitchen sink? Something must be done! I see this repeatedly in the news as a gotcha story but never with a proven root cause.
    But I ask, what’s the most hidden world wide crisis that is being ignored? I am guessing it’s a possible shortage of phosphates for fertilizer. Maybe I can stockpile some as a retirement hedge instead of bags of silver dimes.

  32. Two hippopotamuses are relaxing in a pool under the hot African sun. After a while one turns to the other and says, “I keep thinking it’s Tuesday”.

    It’s a famous cartoon and I think it’s funny. It’s funny because we know it could never happen because humans really are special and in more ways than we have yet realized. If any species really does save the planet from a major asteroid strike it won’t be the hippos. Or the polar bears.

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