Monday, April 09, 2007

The only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes

"...the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes." Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is writing in Newsweek magazine. The alarmism we are hearing constantly is based on the misunderstanding that the climate would be fixed, never changing, if we humans weren't messing it up.
Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperature-wise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
And should we welcome warming?
A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

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