Who could want to endure another summer like last, with drought-stricken crops, fish kills and ozone alerts? Some environmentalists, that’s who. They hope it will ”galvanize political opinion” and make Congress pass legislation to combat the greenhouse warming of the earth’s atmosphere.
One trouble with this calculation is its false premise. Even another sweltering summer won’t mean the greenhouse warming has begun. Droughts are part of the climate’s natural variability. The danger in asserting they prove greenhouse warming has arrived is obvious. Come the next cool August, Congress will assume that neither the greenhouse effect nor its proponents need be taken seriously. A plan to avert the greenhouse effect needs a firmer basis than the state of the weather. It requires persuading Washington to act on uncertain information.
James Hansen of NASA is the only climatologist to have told Congress that the greenhouse effect is already here. He is a respected scientist but on this point very few of his colleagues agree with him, as Richard Kerr noted recently in Science. The Office of Management and Budget drew criticism when it heavy-handedly made Mr. Hansen qualify testimony to Congress last month. But its caveat, that his warnings ”should be viewed as estimates from evolving computer models and not as reliable predictions,” was scientifically impeccable. The computer models of the greenhouse effect are indeed ”evolving” -they’re somewhere around the amoeba stage.
Environmental lobbyists are tempted to emphasize the threat of the greenhouse effect because it reinforces so much of their other agenda.
Crying wolf on greenhouse warming will not work.
But since the remedies will be far more costly, the case for preventive action needs to be argued with care and precision. Congress won’t be rolled by a summer’s heat wave. The case for preventive steps against the greenhouse warming, uncertain though it still is, can better be made with the cold facts.
In 1989, the United Nations said we only have ten years to save the planet from global warming.
Now they say we only have ten months.
And the New York Times says it is time to panic.
via Real Climate Science