Environmentally conscious undergrads beware: some of the same people warning of the dangers of global warming now were predicting an ice age back in the 1970s. These luminaries include Steven Schneider from Stanford and the then-reigning powers-that-be at the EPA and on the New York Times editorial board who either hired the people or hired the people who hired the people who man, or person, those institutions now.
Still, though the globe’s temperature has, by all accounts, heated up a bit in recent decades, the rhetoric of the global warming doomsayers has far outpaced the science. “It strikes me that the Weather Underground of the 1960s could come back and they wouldn’t even have to change their name,” Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute said recently, making reference to a famous revolutionary group of that long-ago decade.
Hayward writes and edits the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators for PRI. “There has been a six degree Celsius increase in the last 150 years and particularly in the last 20 but it hasn’t been uniform,” Hayward said in a December 14 appearance at the Heritage Foundation. “It has mostly occurred in the polar regions.”
His reference to the North and South Poles is no accident. Hayward is filming a documentary for PRI in which he gives a power point presentation on global warming, not unlike a former U. S. Vice President on the college lecture circuit.
“Al Gore claims there will be 20-30 foot tidal waves covering Manhattan,” as a result of polar ice caps melting. Conversely, “The IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] predicts a sea level rise of less than three feet” worldwide.
The IPCC computer models are what writers and policymakers usually refer to in stories and speeches about the imminent danger of global warming. Yet, this much ballyhooed forecasting software has its own quirks.
“Climate models for the IPCC have 40 different variables, all hypothetical,” Hayward explains. “When you feed in past data in the climate models they didn’t perform very well so they had to change the models.”
“It has to be hypothetical because they are predicting the future.” Hayward is also a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Back in the 1970s when we still had Keynesian economics all the banks would have these econometric models but they could not predict interest rates or other trends even six months in advance,” Hayward recalls. “I’ve asked whether you can, in light of this, rely on these computer models to predict global warming and I’ve gotten different answers on that.”
“Some say yes, others say it’s totally different.” Hayward also wrote The Age of Reagan: The Rebirth and Triumph of the American Spirit.
Added uncertainty, at least outside of most college classrooms, surrounds the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the past quarter century. “Two physicists from Duke say that the sun may have contributed to 50 percent of global warming,” Hayward points out. Looking at historical trend also proves problematic. “There was a warm period from 1000-1500 which followed the Ice Age,” Hayward said. “How did the medieval warm period happen with no SUVs?” he asks.
“Scientists arrive at different conclusions because they are looking at different periods of time,” Hayward states. For example, “The 1880 loss of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro happened before global warming,” Hayward argues.
“All available data show that global sea levels have risen 400 feet since the peak of the most recent ice age 18,000 years ago,” climatologist Fred Singer points out. “In recent millennia, the rate has been 18 cm (7 inches) per century — and there is good argument for this rate to continue until the next ice age.”
“Tidal gauges around the world show no acceleration during the 20th century but only a steady rise—in spite of strong global warming before 1940.” Singer, who once headed the National Weather Service, is a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.