The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.
The next is by Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, Richard Lindzen, writing in the Wall Street Journal. Here's the first part:
There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?
The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.
But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.
All of which feeds my inclination towards getting a better handle on the "problem" of human-induced warming, if any. All the squawking about anthro-centric global warming conveniently ignores those climate trends that existed on this planet in historical and pre-historic times...long before there were any SUV's.
I'll offer a sop to the global warmists: If their computer models can explain past global temperature variations — specifically the warming of Greenland to the degree that the Vikings had dairy farms there (today they're covered by glaciers) and the cooling of northern Europe and America in the 1700s such that the Thames, Zuyder Zee, and the Hudson froze over in the winter — then I'll believe they've got something. Until then, however, I cannot condone setting draconian environmental policies on Western nations (most especially, the U. S.) based on computer models and street marches.