Wednesday, April 3rd 2013, 10:28 AM EDT
Like most of you, I yearn for shorter winters, more shirt-sleeve weather, less lashing from frigid winds. As a confirmed New Yorker, I’m not willing to do what millions have done: move to the sunbelt. I want warmer weather here in the Big City.
But I’ve grown old waiting for the promised global warming. I was 35 when predictions of a looming ice age were supplanted by warmmongering. Now I’m 68, and there’s still no sign of warmer weather. It’s enough to make one doubt the “settled science” of the government-funded doom-sayers.
Remember 1979? That was the year of “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, of “The Dukes of Hazard” on TV, and of “ Kramer vs. Kramer” on the silver screen. It was the year the Shah was forced out of Iran. It was before the web, before the personal computer, before the cell phone, before voicemail and answering machines. But not before the global warming campaign.
In January of 1979, a New York Times article was headlined: “Experts Tell How Antarctic Ice Could Cause Widespread Floods.” The abstract in the Times archives says: “If the West Antarctic ice sheet slips into the sea, as some glaciologists believe is possible, boats could be launched from the bottom steps of the Capitol in Washington and a third of Florida would be under water, a climate specialist said today.”
By 1981 (think “Chariots of Fire“), the drum beat had taken effect. Quoting from the American Institute of Physics website: “A 1981 survey found that more than a third of American adults claimed they had heard or read about the greenhouse effect.”
So where’s the warming? Where are the gondolas pulling up to the Capitol? Where are the encroaching seas in Florida? Or anywhere? Where is the climate change which, for 33 years, has been just around the corner?
A generation and a half into climate change, nee global warming, you can’t point to a single place on earth where the weather is noticeably different from what it was in 1979. Or 1879, for that matter. I don’t know what subliminal changes would be detected by precise instruments, but in terms of the human experience of climate, Boston is still Boston, Cairo is still Cairo, and Sydney is still Sydney.
After all this time, when the continuation of industrial civilization itself is on the table, shouldn’t there be some palpable, observable effect of the disaster that we are supposed to sacrifice our futures in order to avoid? Shouldn’t the doom-sayers be saying “We told you so!” backed up by a torrent of youtube videos of submerged locales and media stories reminding us about how it used to snow in Massachusetts?
Climate panic, after all, is fear of dramatic, life-altering climate changes, not about tenths of a degree. We are told that we must “take action right now before it’s Too Late!” That doesn’t mean: before it’s too late to avoid a Spring that comes a week earlier or summer heat records of 103 degrees instead of 102. It’s to fend off utter disaster that we needed the Kyoto Treaty, carbon taxes, and Priuses.
With nothing panic-worthy–nothing even noticeable–ensuing after 33 years, one has to wonder whether external reality even matters amidst the frenzy. (It’s recently been admitted that there has been no global warming for the last 16 years.) For the climate researchers, what matters may be gaining fame and government grants, but what about the climate-anxious trend-followers in the wider public? What explains their indifference to decade after decade of failed predictions? Beyond sheer conformity, dare I suggest a psychological cause: a sense of personal anxiety projected outward? “The planet is endangered by carbon emissions” is far more palatable than “My life is endangered by my personal evasions.” Something is indeed careening out of control, but it isn’t the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, those of us who long for warmer weather will have to give up the dream–or move south.
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