Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lady In Green

"[Obama's EPA Chief Lisa Jackson's landmark 'Endangerment Finding' on global warming 'pollution'] sets the ball rolling toward an incalculable new EPA effort to regulate energy consumption in the U.S. Yet one searches her lengthy finding and its associated Technical Support Document in vain for the specific evidence that CO2 is causing climate change. It cites the standard estimate that global average temperatures have increased about a 1.4 degrees (F) in the last century. It says, 'Eight of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2001' [yet] fails to note that there's been no net warming in the past decade....

"Most importantly, on the critical question of whether the observed warming is human-caused or natural, EPA offers only a consensus of unspecified computer models. It doesn't even say which computer model it finds most convincing and why. Dangerous warming in these models doesn't come directly from C02 -- it comes ultimately from various theorized 'positive feedbacks,' such as a wetter atmosphere, reduced snow reflection, changes in clouds, etc, etc. Warming, whatever its initial impetus, begets more warming -- so the theory goes. But these feedbacks aren't well understood, well measured or even cataloged (the problem of clouds is particularly sticky) -- and yet they provide the tiny net push toward accelerating warming in computer simulations to justify Al Gore-like climate fears. All this, by the way, despite the rough-and-ready intuition that negative feedbacks must prevail over time, since the biosphere didn't burn up long ago.

"No Nobel Prizes have been awarded for the science of global warming for good reason, but one has been awarded for the study of 'availability bias' -- the idea that abstract beliefs are held widely not because of their truth, but because of their social utility. Ms. Jackson obviously has no trouble rejecting nuclear power while embracing global warming, since both served the utility of making her acceptable as EPA chief in a Democratic administration. Her 'Endangerment Finding' is a scientific landmark all right. When scientists get around to a post-mortem on their role in the global warming hysteria, losing sight of the fundamental concept of 'evidence' will be the heart of their self-indictment."

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr., Wall Street Journal

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