NYT: Unidentified “Scientists” Predict “Human Extinction” Absent Climate Treaty

by William Yeatman on December 2, 2014

in Blog

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Yesterday, the top right fold of the Grey Lady was given to ongoing efforts by jet-setting (and, therefore, carbon spewing) diplomats to craft a global climate change mitigation treaty. According to the Times, “scientists” agree that the doomsday clock is ticking, as is imparted in the article excerpts below:

  • “Without a deal, they [“scientists”] say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.”
  • “While a breach of the 3.6 degree threshold appears inevitable, scientists say that United Nations negotiators should not give up on their efforts to cut emissions. At stake now, they say, is the difference between a newly unpleasant world and an uninhabitable one.”
  •  “Without a deal, scientists say, eventual human extinction is possible.”

Remarkably, the Times failed to identify the “scientists” who’ve warned of global warming- induced “human extinction,” absent a legally binding treaty to control global greenhouse gas emissions. The only scientist interviewed in the article was Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor of geosciences and international affairs, and who previously spent two decades working for the green advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. Below, I’ve reposted his full reported comments.

“I was encouraged by the U.S.-China agreement. [However] What’s already baked in are substantial changes to ecosystems, large scale transformations. [Still, absent a deal] Things could get a lot worse. [Beyond the 3.6 degree threshold, the aggregate cost] to the global economy—rich countries as well as poor countries—rises rapidly.”

Professor Oppenheimer’s reported comments make no mention of human extinction. Moreover, he’s the sole scientist identified in the piece, which would seem to contradict the plural use of “scientists” who supposedly agree that human extinction is likely absent a climate change mitigation treaty.

So who are these “scientists”? Undoubtedly, alarmism is the “newsiest” element of the story; that’s why its title reads: “Optimism Faces Grim Realities as Climate Talks.” As such, one would think that identifying the “scientists” warning of climate-caused “human extinction” would qualify as being among “all the news that’s fit to print.” In any case, if these unidentified pessimists are indeed correct, then buckle your seat belts for the apocalypse, because the anarchic nature of the international system precludes the possibility of a climate treaty, as I explain here.

Will Haas December 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

The reality is that the climate change we have been experiencing is caouse by the sun and the oceans and Man does not have the power to change it. There is no evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. Eventually our current interglacial period will end and another ice age will begin and there is nothing that man can do to change it. It is a total waste for us to expend money on trying to do the impossible. Our real problem is out of control population and we can to something about it.

Iron Maiden December 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Oh no! Not the extinction of the human race… again!
Quick! Here’s all the money I have! It’s yours to spend and ensure I don’t go extinct! I have no good use for it anyway and don’t even have a right to it. In fact, take whatever rights I have away! Do whatever you have to do to save… THE PLANET!

Sam Pyeatte December 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Such crazy absolute statements only show how insane the NY Times is.

GoFigure560 December 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

The physicist Richard Feynman said that it doesn’t matter how smart or powerful you are, if your hypothesis is contradicted by the empirical data, you need a new hypothesis. The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis claims that the increasing level of carbon dioxide (co2) due to human activities causes global warming. However, there is no evidence attributing co2 increase to global warming. During the past few decades, as co2 continually increased, there have been both cooling and warming periods. In fact, with co2 now at its highest level in a very long time, there’s been no additional increase in global temperature for almost two decades. The co2 level has been steadily increasing since the mid 1800s, but the science is clear that co2 capability to contribute to warming diminishes as its level increases. An old experiment which showed an increased temperature by adding more co2 to an enclosed container is hardly adequate for making assumptions about co2 influence on weather related activities in the open atmosphere.

“The seas are rising!”. The seas have been rising for the past 18,000 years, since the last (real) ice age began melting (except possibly for a few hundred years of reversal during the more recent Little Ice Age). Sea level has risen 400+ feet. The current annual sea level rise is a miniscule 1 to 3 mm per YEAR! (1 mm = .0393701 inches.) The rate of annual increase has actually been dropping for the past several thousand years.

The Antarctic ice extent has been growing since satellite measurements began. While the Arctic lost some of its ice earlier it has regained most of that in the past couple of years, continues to increase, and is now within 2 standard deviations of its long term average.

Some perspective helps. There have been 13 ice ages in the past 1.3 million years, average duration of each being 90,000 years. Each ice age was followed by a warming period, (commonly called an interglacial period, such as the one we now enjoy) average duration 10,000 years. When there is no further increase in sea level and when glaciers are no longer shrinking, it’s a good bet that the next ice age or, at least a Little Ice Age, is underway. (Cooling is much less desirable than a modest warming.)

Actual data clearly demonstrates that extreme weather events (typhoons, hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts) have been less frequent and less severe during the past few decades. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that weather is more pleasant when the earth is warmer. Even most scientists who otherwise back AGW are embarrassed by the un-informed folks who continue to blame these common weather events on human-caused global warming. The UN’s IPCC, (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in its most recent report, admitted there is no indication that co2 level has any impact on our climate insofar as bizarre weather events.

The IPCC has also now (once again) recognizes that our global temperature is at a record level over the past 800 years. That declaration is a back-handed admission that the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) was both a global event and warmer than now. No surprise, since there have been numerous studies from around the globe confirming this. Also, watch out for significant variations between the IPCC actual report and the “summary” report it supplies to politicians and the news media. This should not be surprising once you understand that the IPCC is basically a political organization and its funding would instantly disappear if it admitted that our current warming was mostly due to natural climate variation.

Clearly human activity was not responsible for climate during the MWP. At that time the co2 level was constant (and lower, around 280 ppmv.) What’s more, the warming periods during this interglacial before the MWP were at even higher temperatures. Clearly our current warming is well within the bounds of natural climate variation.

The beginning of our current warming (such as it is) is invariably associated with the beginning of the industrial revolution (mid 1800s) and the associated rise in co2 level. But there is no justification for that cherry-picked start-date. Our current warming actually began, by definition, at the bottom (the low temperature) of the Little Ice Age, which took place during the mid 1600s. That implies two centuries of natural warming BEFORE the industrial revolution and before co2 began to increase.

The only known correlation between global temperature and co2 variation is over geologic periods and during that era temperature variations always occurred first, and were reflected hundreds of years later, by similar variations in co2 level. That is the carbon cycle at work. Because of oceans’ much greater heat capacity than the atmosphere oceans cool and warm much more slowly. Oceans outgas when warmer, and absorb gas when cooler. Notice that the two recent periods of cooling or flat temperature both cover significantly longer durations than was needed for alarmists to claim the warming is due to human activity. Nonetheless those same alarmists now argue that two decades of temperature “hiatus” is not long enough to refute the AGW hypothesis. There is no indication that increasing co2 has ever had any impact on global temperature, and in the more distant past co2 has been 10 to 20 times higher than now. Co2 has also been much higher during two ice ages and going into once ice age, so neither does there appear to be any nearby “trigger”.

Is the greenhouse gas theory applicable to our atmosphere? The barriers in a real greenhouse confine heat much more effectively than our open atmosphere and satellite measurements show that heat is escaping to space.

All the computer models projecting global warming assume that the real greenhouse gas culprit is water vapor. Water vapor, according to the models’ authors, supposedly provides a positive feedback, bringing on temperature increases 2 to 3 times greater than was brought on by increasing co2. But this feedback assumption is speculative at best because NO ONE yet understands climate feedbacks. Cloud cover, one aspect of water vapor, likely provides a negative (offsetting) feedback. Sufficient time has now passed to show that practically every imaginable computer model scenario has grossly over-estimated actual temperature increase. In any case, computer model output is NOT evidence of anything apart from demonstrating the understanding, agenda, or confirmation bias of its authors!

Co2 is a trace gas, and represents 4/100 of one percent, by volume, of the atmosphere. This is also referred to as 400 parts per million by volume (ppmv), or .0004. The recent average annual increase in co2 is about 2 ppmv (.000002). The administration is promising to reduce US emissions by 17% over the next several years. But the economic analysis, using the alarmists’ own numbers, indicates that the cost to our economy (which does not take into account the impact on other countries) would be enormous, and, even assuming success, would have an impact on temperature too miniscule to even measure. Such a policy is likely to lead to a massive disruption – hundreds of billions (if not trillions) in cost and NO IMPROVEMENT! This has to be obvious to everyone but rent-seekers.

There has not been even one coherent attempt at rebuttal of the issues raised herein. In fact, many of the alarmists still deny that global temperature has stalled or that bizarre weather is still natural climate variation. So far the only response to questions or criticism of AGW involve circular logic, name-calling, “appeals to authority” (hardly relevant when it is “authority” which is in question), “consensus” claims, or that the science is “settled”. Michael Mann (infamous “hockey stick graph” author) responds to scientific criticisms by ignoring the facts presented, and instead asks whether the reader prefers to have their gall bladder taken out by a dentist rather than a surgeon. Science is never settled and certainly not decided by votes. The “consensus” claims are invariably based on completely debunked surveys. In any other situation such ‘consensus” studies would have long-since been exposed as major embarrassments for both the authors and the involved institutions.

When defenders of any theory supposedly based on science will not debate the science, instead attacking the skeptics, or providing irrelevant “rebuttals”, BEWARE !

It is clear that human activity is contributing to the increase in carbon dioxide. However, some perspective, again, is needed. By 2099 the co2 level is projected to reach 600 ppmv (this assumes a continuation of the annual increase of 2ppmv per year). A crowded gym with poor venting is likely to be at 1,000 ppmv. Submarine crews work, for months, in atmospheres of 3,000 to 5,000+ ppmv. Plants LOVE the increased co2 level and, in that environment, require less water and will provide more oxygen. Scientists have also acknowledged that lifeforms not unlike our own survived in co2 levels which were many times higher than now. Some scientists have concluded that the optimum level for co2 would be about 4 times higher than it is now.

Skeptics of these alarmist claims are at least as interested in saving the planet as the alarmists – we have grandchildren too. There is time, and technology will likely come up with sensible solutions long before the co2 level becomes a problem. In the meantime, we will all enjoy a healthier environment. Invoking the “precautionary principle” to address an implausible hypothesis would likely bring on catastrophic economic results. Do not permit the politicians and alarmists to foist this hobgoblin on us!

Joseph Bookstein, MD December 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

No, I don’t believe that global warming will lead to total human extinction. But it will lead to progressively smaller pockets of habitable lands, progressive retreat of civilization, wars over food, water, resources and energy, deterioration of medical systems, retreat of education and scientific progress, and innumerable other disasters. Fortunately the deniers of climate change will be among the damned.

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