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Climate change certainties?

| Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

So the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is now 95 percent sure the climate has changed and some of the change is due to mankind.

It should be 100 percent certain. Since the climate is the average of local weather, and weather is the sum of behavior of the surging gases around us, and mankind moves through and modifies these gases, as does every other animal and plant species, it is certain humanity influences the weather, hence climate. The only real question: How much?

The IPCC says it's lots. Theory insists the bulk of the observed temperature changes over the past several decades were caused mostly by people.

There's one thing seriously wrong with this. The temperature lately hasn't been changing in the direction theory said it would. Temps have stayed still or bounced around with no preferred direction.

In olden days, when a theory made consistently poor predictions, people concluded it was wrong.

But we're postmodernists now. It's not the truth of the theory or the accuracy of predictions based on it that count. It's what in your heart that matters. Love and caring trump reality.

If the IPCC's theory that mankind is viciously changing climate is false, then nothing need be done. But doing nothing seems uncaring.

Then there's the love. The IPCC scientist cherishes his work, has told the world of his ardor. He can't very well publicly abandon his inamorata now.

But there's a bigger problem. Assume the IPCC's 95 percent estimate is correct. The natural response is, “So what?”

Climate change is of no real interest to anyone except climatologists, because nobody experiences climate. We experience weather and the phenomena it affects, such as crop yields. What's important is what the changing climate does to weather and what changing weather does to everything else.

The IPCC's claims about these things have been thoroughly refuted by the recent report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, which cites nearly 5,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles that contradict the IPCC's claims.

Now, no matter how certain the IPCC is that the climate will change, we must necessarily be less certain that the climate will change in any particular way and, further, that various things will change in predicted ways because the climate changed. On top of that, we must be more unsure of claims we won't be able to adapt to the presumed changes that will be caused by the predicted changes in climate. That's a lot of uncertainty. Translated into plain English, it means the original 95 percent certainty has no application at all to complicated, real-world events.

Finally, I have reviewed an enormous number of papers that purport to show the evils that await when global warming finally strikes. There is a curious similarity in these works. If a species is warm, cuddly, cute, delicious or photogenic, researchers have discovered global warming will strike it down without mercy.

But if the species stings, bites, pricks or stinks, scientists have found global warming will cause it to flourish amazingly. Sharknadoes may become common.

Nobody has yet figured out why this asymmetry exists.

William M. Briggs has a Ph.D. in statistics and a master's degree in atmospheric science from an Ivy League university, so you know whatever he says is true. He is a policy adviser to The Heartland Institute.

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