Snow in the east, no snow in the west: Eureka! Al Gore and Gordon Campbell see the connection
This past week has seen two wonderful examples of that psychological phenomenon known as “confirmation bias,” that is, interpreting whatever evidence presents itself as proof of what you believe. On Sunday, in The New York Times, Al Gore deemed it disgraceful that “deniers” were suggesting that this year’s East Coast Snowmageddon had undermined the Inconvenient Truth of man-made global warming. More snow was clear evidence of the pernicious hand of industrial man. The next day, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell told The Globe and Mail that the lack of snow at the Vancouver Olympics was due to … man-made global warming.
These deliciously inconsistent claims also spring from the growing desperation of policy entrepreneurs and politicians in the face of greater public skepticism, which is in turn based in mounting evidence of scientific manipulation by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC.
Premier Campbell has been coming under mounting pressure — ahead of yesterday’s provincial budget — to ditch burdensome carbon taxes. As for Mr. Gore, both his reputation and green investments are on the line, hence we can take his avowal that he would be delighted if the IPCC were wrong as pure baloney.
In his NYT piece, Mr. Gore dismissed Climategate, Glaciergate, Netherlandsgate, etc. as mere peccadilloes. Indeed, the main sin of the IPCC, he claimed, was to have underestimated how much worse things were becoming! He noted that January was the second hottest January on record. This may well be true. Most skeptics agree that the world is likely slightly warmer than it was at the beginning of modern record-taking, so any “second warmest on record” in no way implies either alarm or significant human agency.
When it came to snowmen in Central Park and on the Washington Mall, Mr. Gore claimed that ocean evaporation is causing more snow “in particular regions.” So presumably the absence of snow on Cypress Mountain during the Olympics had to be due to the fact that it just wasn’t one of those “particular regions.”
Heads I win. Tails you’re a denier.
In fact, the real weather issue with the Vancouver Olympics was the risk organizers took in putting events at Cypress, which has never been guaranteed consistent snow. Numerous international competitions there have been disrupted by lack of snow in recent years. Authorities always knew they might have to truck in the white stuff, and that this was particularly likely this year because of El Nino (a major recurring warming phenomenon in the Pacific which affects global climate). The fact that organizers were able to compensate for the anticipated mild weather is — despite the loss of much of the viewing area at Cypress — a tribute to human adaptability.
Alarmists have long claimed that man-made warming will decimate winter sports and suggest that the Western Canadian snow season has shortened by four weeks in the past fifty years. Again, this may be true. The key questions are: how much is this due to normal climate variation; is it likely to continue, and what — if anything — could be done about it that wouldn’t cause more economic damage than it is worth? Does it make more sense to try changing the global climate or to buy snow-making equipment?
From a B.C. policy perspective, the key issues are not even whether global warming — man-made or natural — exists, but whether provincial carbon taxes would have the slightest impact on the weather (not a chance) and whether other jurisdictions might follow B.C.’s hairshirt example to positive effect (grossly naïve).
The B.C. business community is up in arms, pointing out that carbon taxes, which are due to increase again in July, are inevitably rendering local businesses uncompetitive. Premier Campbell has been peddling the warmist party line that climate change represents an “economic opportunity,” but surely only for those skillful at exploiting government hand-outs and restrictions.
During the Olympics, Mr. Campbell had meetings with U.S. state politicians, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, about creating a “green corridor” down the West Coast. The main green characteristic of such a corridor might be the weeds springing up at abandoned factories. Mr. Campbell apparently hasn’t grasped that California’s self-indulgent environmentalism has been a key factor in bringing the state to the point of bankruptcy.
Meanwhile Mr. Gore’s New York Times piece pulls the rug from under Mr. Campbell when he writes “It is difficult to imagine a globally harmonized carbon tax or a coordinated multilateral regulatory effort” as an alternative to cap and trade. However, Mr. Gore himself is looking more and more like his famous movie’s animated polar bear club without an ice floe. President Obama has admitted that he may try to pass a “green jobs” bill that effectively dumps cap and trade as unworkable. In fact, both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade (which is really a Rube Goldberg form of taxation) would almost certainly provide far more costs than benefits, while numerous studies suggest that green jobs can only be achieved at a greater loss of non-green jobs — with zero climate benefits.
It is crucial to remember that weather should not be confused with climate, that climate science remains in its infancy, and that attempting to change global climate by a vast scheme to coordinate national economic policies is an impossible dream that in reality threatens both economic and political nightmare. And all this is quite independent of exposing the Climategate snow job.