Climate Climbdown: The Washington Post Changes its Tune

Here is what an editorial in the Washington Post says today:

THE EARTH is warming. A chief cause is the increase in greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. Humans are at least in part responsible, because the oil, gas and coal that we burn releases these gases. If current trends persist, it’s likely that in coming decades the globe’s climate will change with potentially devastating effects for billions of people.

Contrary to what you may have read lately, there are few reputable scientists who would disagree with anything in that first paragraph.

But that first paragraph is very interesting, both for what it says, and what it does not say.

The Earth IS warming. And it has been, ever since the end of the little ice age in 1850. Actually, it is better to say that the earth has been warming for the last 10,000 years, with time outs when it gets cooler for a while. But the overall trend is a warming trend.

But when we look at the last 10-15 years, the Earth has stopped warming. There has been no discernable warming trend during that time. So we may be in a cooling trend again. So to say “the Earth is warming” is highly misleading. Remember what one of the climategate emails said: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”

When looked at over the last 30 years, the warming that we have seen is no different than the warming we saw in the early 1900’s. The earth is warming – Slowly, gradually, wonderfully.  

A Chief cause is the increase in greenhouse gases…Wait a minute. They have been telling us for years that THE chief cause is greenhouse gases.And wait – they used to say CO2 is the cause, not the more vague “greenhouse gases”. “Greenhouse gases” includes water vapor – which is far and away the most potent greenhouse gas – and which we do not control. Suddenly, they are climbing down from the shrill admonishments of years past. And what a strange sentence. In the English language, the phrase that is used is “the chief cause”. What led the editors to change it to “A” chief cause. Well, they are trying, for once, to be more accurate. When they say “a” chief cause, they leave room for natural cycles – something that was strictly verboten up until very recently.

Humans are at least in part responsible, because the oil, gas and coal that we burn releases these gas. A large climbdown: “in part responsible? What happened to the good old days, when we were solely responsible? It appears that the WaPo has decided, ever so slyly, to start telling some of the truth about this whole business. The big question, though, is HOW MUCH are humans responsible for? For 1%? For 99%? Now that we have uncovered what they did not want us to hear, suddenly humans are only partly responsible.

If current trends persist, it’s likely that in coming decades the globe’s climate will change with potentially devastating effects for billions of people. But what is that strange comment based on.?They link to the IPCC report. The IPCC WG II report is the one that predicts the impacts of global warming. And yet, that is where most of the mistakes have been found. That is where magazine articles from Climbing magazines, student research papers, and out and out freaky goofs have been made. It  is by far the shoddiest portion of the report. It is clear that a bunch of environmental zealots produced the report. Not sober headed scientists.

So give me a break. What a trickily worded statement. What fundamental misunderstanding.

The post goes on:

First, climate science is complex, and there is much that we still do not understand. Politicians, advocates and scientists who have claimed a level of certainty unsupported by evidence — about exactly how climate change will unfold or is unfolding — have not helped the cause.

But the Post was telling us they had this all figured out and that the science was settled. If the science is “Settled”, then you don’t say things like “there is much that we do not understand”  And the Post was one of the ringleaders of over-stating the case. We were told we could not discuss the IPCC report, that it was perfect and given from above.

But now they are changing their tune. Before, they told us that every single thing in the IPCC report had been gone over so many times, by so many of the world’s greatest scientist that nothing at all could be wrong. In fact, here is what the London Times said after the report came out:

Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times

The IPCC’s ‘uncharacteristically robust’ conclusion means the debate on climate change is over

Like all groups that decide policy by committee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is naturally prone to conservatism.

Every line in its Summary for Policymakers is fiercely contested, and must be approved by a consensus of more than 300 expert scientists before it is included in the final document.

The panel’s uncharacteristically robust conclusion that global warming is “very likely” the result of human activity is therefore cause indeed to declare the debate over, as David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, has done this morning.

Back to the Post editorial:

Second, as in any research effort being conducted by thousands of scientists across many years and many countries, mistakes will be made in the research or in its collection and reporting. The mistakes that have been revealed recently — about, most prominently, the likely melting rate of Himalayan glaciers — need correcting. But in the overall picture, they are trivial

Trivial? The government of India does not think it a trivial mistake to tell a billion people that their water source will dry up – all based on some vague speculation of one scientist – not even a published paper – that was reported in a science magazine. We have just started looking into the conclusions of the IPCC and everywhere there are sloppy mistakes and goofy conclusions based on the slimmest of evidence. India has pulled out of the IPCC, by the way.

No, you can’t explain away the multitude of mistakes that have been found. They are far from trivial. They reveal that the IPCC report is virtually useless.

The Post goes hysterical:

What’s the right response? It seems to us there are two key arguments that can provide some shelter for politicians who want to do the right thing. The first is to acknowledge a level of uncertainty in the predictions and make the case for taking out an insurance policy, as would any prudent homeowner. It’s true that we don’t know for sure how many degrees warmer the Earth will be, on average, by 2050 or what effect this will have on the ferocity of storms or coastal flooding or starvation-inducing drought. But it’s also true that, as the science has progressed, the predictions have become more dire, not less — and that they are still as likely to be too optimistic as the reverse. If there is action that can be taken, now, to begin to reduce the dangers, why would we not do so?

Previously, it was almost illegal to acknowledge a level of uncertainty. Now “we don’t know for sure how much” warming will take place. That is right, because for the last 10-15 years things have been cooling a bit. Why take out an insurance policy in a cooling world? Also, all that crap about storms and floods was just pure crap. As I lay out  in my post below.

The simple fact is this: They had no idea what they were doing. They had no idea what they were saying. They pretended that they knew everything, and they knew nothing. They pretended their report was perfect, and their report was fatally flawed. They pretended that some trends would continue for all time, and they never do. They have twisted and magnified and hidden the evidence, and no one should rely on what they have to say.

Climate science is in its infancy. It is a baby, starting to walk, stumbling and falling as it learns.

Don’t bet trillions of dollars on a baby that can’t even walk yet.



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