Trump’s tweets highlight contradictory climate claims, shoddy science

By H. Sterling Burnett, Heartland Institute | Feb 18, 2019


As a polar vortex held much of the nation in its icy grip with record low temperatures recorded in many locations, President Donald Trump tweeted, “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!” 

Immediately, Obama-era holdover climate hypesters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responded with a tweet of their own, claiming “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn't happening.” 

Of course, the fake news media quickly parroted NOAA’s response, noting no single cold spell or winter storm is proof humans aren’t causing global warming. After all, the talking heads say, there is a difference between weather and climate. 

This is certainly true. But climate alarmists and their lapdogs in the mainstream media fail to remember this fact every year when they breathlessly claim a single flood or hurricane, or a busy hurricane season, or a large wildfire provides evidence humans are causing dangerous climate change. Guess what? Those events are weather, not climate, as well. 

A region’s climate is its geology, topography, and weather patterns and history accumulated, measured, and/or averaged over long periods of time. We have had record setting polar vortex events three of the last five years— could it be a trend? Indeed, NASA recently noted record low sunspot activity could portend a decades long period of below average temperatures. As reported in the American Thinker, but not so much elsewhere, “Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center reported in September: ‘High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.’” 

Although winter storms don’t prove global warming isn’t happening, they do contradict predictions made by many of the same climate change charlatans just a few years ago that human caused climate change would make snow non-existent, or nearly so, in the near future. In February 2014, The New York Times ran an article titled, “The End of Snow,” yet less than a month later the U.S. East Coast got pounded with record cold and snow (some of those records were broken during in a 2017 cold spell). 

As a 2014 Daily Caller article reports, in 2000, scientists in the U.K. said global warming would make snowfall a very rare and exciting event, quoting one scientist saying “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Since then, several regions in the U.K. have experienced several seasons of deep snow and record setting cold, as have many other places across Europe. 

Concerning hurricanes, the media uncritically reported claims made by some scientists that the busy 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was consistent with climate model projections of more powerful hurricanes. Yet, the same stories failed to note that before the 2017 season, the United States had gone through the longest period in recorded history—more than 14 years—of no Class 3 hurricanes or higher making landfall. That 14-year hurricane hiatus was completely inconsistent with climate model projections. 

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion the hypothesis of human caused climate change is really more akin to a religious belief—a revealed truth about human sins (fossil fuel use) and their consequences (all manner of calamities)—rather than a testable scientific theory. 

Albert Einstein once said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Einstein’s words express a foundational principle of science intoned by the logician, Karl Popper: Falsifiability. In order to verify a hypothesis there must be conditions which could prove it false. A thousand observations may appear to verify a hypothesis, but one critical failure could result in its demise. The history of science is littered with such examples. 

A hypothesis that cannot be falsified is not science. The current hypothesis on anthropogenic climate change should be no exception to this principle, but it is. 

No matter what the climate phenomenon, if it can in some way be presented as being unusual by climate alarmists, it is argued to be “further evidence humans are causing climate change,” even if it contradicts earlier phenomena pointed to by the same people as evidence of anthropogenic climate change. 

In the realm of climate change research, different models looking at the same phenomenon applying the same laws of physics with the same inputs produce dramatically varied results. Thus, one model says we can expect the polar ice sheets to melt, while another predicts the coming of the next ice age, or one model will forecast long-term drought in the Southwest, whereas another model predicts increased precipitation. 

How does one test or disprove a theory that is predicted to cause both an increase and a decrease in the water levels of the Great Lakes, or whose proponents warn it will both cause the polar ice sheets to melt, which would raise sea levels, and bring about the next ice age, which would cause sea levels to fall dramatically? 

When confronted with inconvenient facts or evidence that calls into question one or more aspects of the theory of human caused climate change, or by arguments that the way climate science is being practiced violates the scientific method, climate alarmists revert to ad hominem attacks—calling the researchers’ raising such questions childish names or questioning their motives rather than addressing the substance of their arguments. This response also a hallmark of doctrinaire religious zealots, not of scientists engaged in the back and forth exchange of ideas in pursuit of knowledge and truth, which is what the best tradition of scientific discovery is. 

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hburnett@heartland.org) is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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