Dialing back the climate hyperbole

Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review Online refuses to make the false argument that global warming alarmists’ recent battle with Antarctic ice negates their statements about climate change. But Cooke still has some advice for the climate crowd.

[I]f Chris Hayes and the Guardian are wondering why, in Hayes’s words, “in 2006, 59% of Republicans believed that there is solid evidence the Earth is warming” but “a decade later, that number has dropped to just 50%,” they might look less to the supposedly sinister influence of an always nameless “industry,” and more to their own side’s habitual embellishment. It turns out that there’s an awful lot of “weather, not climate” these days, and while it is fair to say that it’s silly to see snow out your window and conclude that the world is cooling, there isn’t much of a broader warming trend for alarmists to fall back on either.

This is to say that the green movement’s longtime reliance on hyperbole has deeply weakened its case, and it is about time it recognized that establishing a parade of hostages to fortune has not been tactically profitable. Al Gore, who apparently continues to see himself as a put-upon Cassandra, likes to talk about inconvenient truths. Instead, he might do better to focus on inconvenient predictions — an abundance of which have marked the last 40 years of climate hysteria, and which continue to damage the case in the public’s eye. Gore and his ilk can paint skeptical Americans as rubes if they wish, but pattern recognition is a valuable human trait, and the pattern in Gore’s industry is one of failure and of obfuscation. What, pray, are the leery supposed to think?

No, the crack team on the Akademik Shokalskiy didn’t specifically say that they wouldn’t find any summer ice at the South Pole. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, most of the ship’s passengers are not climate scientists but researchers from other fields. Still, high-profile climate commentators did predict that the ice was going to disappear, and in a media age, that matters an awful lot more. In 2006, Gore himself argued that the breakup of the Antarctic ice shelves was imminent. He was wrong. And spectacularly so. By 2013, sea ice in the region had grown to a record level for the second consecutive year — a development that prompted the Washington Post’s Jason Samenow to observe drily that scientists were “seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.”

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