Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

May 23, 2014

STUMPTALK: The mind of the climate hypochondriac

CROSSVILLE — OK, let me get this straight. President Obama wants to spend a lot of our money on some theoretical, unprecedented dire global crisis that has never happened before. Humanity is doomed. Oh no! Oh no! What is it?

That’s just it, they don’t know what to call it. It keeps changing. First it was Anthropogenic Global Warming. Then it was Climate Change. Now some guy in the White House (John Holdren) thinks it should be called Global Climate Disruption. Before all of this, in the 1970s, it was Global Cooling, heading for a new ice age. I remember in the 1950s severe weather was attributed to “The Bomb” because of atmospheric testing of nuclear devices. The global cooling of the '70s was going to create drought, severe winters, flooding, more severe storms, reduced food production, and uh, wait one … isn’t that global warming? No, no, in the '70s some of these same guys (NASA, CIA, NOAA, others that I don’t recognize) were warning that we must prepare for a new ice age and, wonder of wonders, climatologists were generally agreed that we must prepare for the next ice age (Science Digest, 1973).

A 1975 NYT article reported, “Sooner or later a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable.” A-ha! Consensus! Settled science! The recommendations were rather familiar and absurdly extreme, but familiar. Arnold Reitze of Case Western University suggested it could become necessary to outlaw the internal combustion engine and exert strict control over other forms of combustion, new products would be forced to demonstrate limited pollution potential, we might initiate population control where the number of children per family would be defined with punishment for exceeding the limit, and so forth. Welcome to China.

On the other hand, some scientists saw soot and coal dust as our friend and recommended spreading it over the arctic ice to increase solar heat absorption to promote melting. The phrase “tipping point” is part of the politically popular climate crisis vocabulary. As I write this, it is being reported that the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, in a joint meeting with another climate expert John Kerry, warned the world that we have only 500 days to avoid climate chaos. He failed to tell us why or what would happen then.

The problem we confront, ladies and gentlemen, is that we are expected to believe that we are confronting an impending crisis of major, even apocalyptic proportions, but the so-called experts are not credible. They keep changing their story, and rely on the changing narrative to justify their income. Those who challenge the global warming, climate change, climate disruption narrative are accused of being deniers, heretics or flat earthers even though the experts are not able to provide a believable scientific basis for the impending cataclysm. They have changed their story multiple times over the last five or six decades. The only thing they’ve got going for them is a little bit of CO2, computer models that haven’t been accurate in over 30 years, and Gore’s cute power point lecture to justify investment in his Generation Investment Management company dealing in carbon credits. Stoking climate fears is part of his business model.

In the final analysis, the believers suffer from meteorological hypochondriasis, or climate anxiety disorder, a condition I have identified that is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with weather conditions. It involves a conviction that any unexpected change in temperature, rainfall, snowfall, storm patterns and so forth is evidence of the early stages of climate catastrophe that will ultimately result in the death of humanity, not unlike a medical hypochondriac for whom the sniffles portend terminal pneumonia. Satellite measurements indicate no global temperature increase for almost 18 years, but the believers persist in anxiety about global warming, climate change, climate disruption. Like medical hypochondriasis, no amount of information will alleviate climate anxiety. The next inevitable bout of severe weather will elicit cries of “I told you so” from the believers.  I am reminded of a cartoon showing an elderly hypochondriac’s gravestone with the inscription “See? I told you I was sick.”

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