Due to his respected position, as climate scientist at the University of California, San Diego Institution of Oceanography, Richard C.J. Somerville’s recent “Cold comfort” column was published in newspapers throughout the country.
In it, he grouses that the public doesn’t take the “consequences” of climate change seriously—pointing out that they are “here and now.” He cites: “only 54 percent of the public sees it as a global threat to their countries—and only 40 percent of Americans do.”
Somerville suggests: “people either are scientifically illiterate or reject science when it conflicts with their core values or religious convictions.” He posits: “the medical profession and communication experts may have much to teach those climate scientists” because “Priming patients to appreciate the value of medical diagnostic tests has been shown to make them more likely to take these tests and then act on the results.”
What Somerville misses in the analogy is that the data backs up the medical case. For example, getting a mammogram catches breast cancer early and increases survival rates. The data has shown that medical science is correct.
On the contrary, the data doesn’t support the claims made by climate scientists — but they just keep making them. Apparently they believe the “big lie” propaganda technique used so effectively by Adolf Hitler.
In Somerville’s column, he offers several familiar, easily disproven statements:
- “Low-lying areas are threatened by sea-level rise” which will result in “millions of environmental refugees,” and;
- “Major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts and other weather extremes worsen.”
Because my expertise is in communications not climate, I reached out to someone who could help me: Robert Endlich — who does in fact have both the education and experience. Endlich, who served as a USAF weather officer for 21 years and holds a BS in geology and an MS in meteorology, offered me pages of data and documentation, which I’ve summarized for my readers.
If the threat of “environmental refugees” sounds familiar, it should. The 2005 UN Environmental Program forecast 50 to 100 million climate refugees. A UN report by Norman Myers: “Environmental Refugees, an Emergent Security Issue,” presented at the 13th Economic Forum, in Prague, May 23-27, 2005 predicted: “The environmental refugees total could well double between 1995 and 2010,” and “When global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” His report was accompanied by a map, indicating areas to be impacted by sea-level rise.
In early 2011, Gavin Atkins asked: “What happened to the climate refugees?” In his Asian Correspondent post, he used census records to show that the populations in the low-lying areas predicted to “flee a range of disasters including sea level rise” had actually grown—including no fewer than the top six of the very fastest growing cities in China.
Based on both in-person observation and historic evidence from Western Europe, Endlich has made a study of sea level rise. Citing geological features such as stream meanders upstream of Pisa on the Arno River and new shorelines on the coast of the Ligurian Sea, and history, he told me:
What may be news to many is that there is widespread evidence in the Mediterranean Basin and the English Channel coast that sea levels in Roman and Medieval periods were significantly higher than at present. The Roman port of Ostia Antica, the port at Ephesus, now in Turkey, and Pisa have histories showing the Mediterranean Seas significantly higher than today’s sea levels.
In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Less well-known is when William landed, he first occupied an old Roman fort now known as Pevensey Castle, which at the time was located on a small island in a harbor on England’s south coast. A drawbridge connected castle to mainland. Pevensey is infamous because unfortunate prisoners were thrown out this ‘Sea Gate,’ so that their bodies would be washed away by the tide. Pevensey Castle is now a mile from the coast—further proof of higher sea levels fewer than 1000 years ago.
The glacial-interglacial temperature data from the past 400,000 years shows each of the previous four interglacials significantly warmer than at present. In fact, a careful analysis of the ice cores from East Antarctica, published as a letter in Nature, shows that maximum temperatures from previous interglacials were at least 6C/10F warmer than present-day temperatures, with CO2 values then about 280 PPM, and today’s values near 400 PPM. Leaving one to ask: “if CO2 is such a strong cause of warming, why is it so cold today?”
Worsening weather extremes
Somerville stated: “The consequences include major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts, and other weather extremes worsen.” Endlich shared the following with me:
Heat Waves: Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology offered Senate testimony on January 16, 2014. She showed an analysis of 982 stations from the U.S. Historical Climate Network for the 48 continental states with more than 80 years of record. The data show a strong peak of record maximum daily temperatures occurred in the 1930s, with no increasing trend in the post-WWII years when CO2 started its modern increase.
Of the 50 states, the number of state maximum record temperatures obtained from NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, by decade, shows that in the 1930s, 23 states set their all-time high temperatures, by far the largest number of such record highs. There has not been a single state record maximum set in the 21st Century.
Droughts: The most-often used indicator of drought is the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Curry’s testimony included a PDSI chart, showing the most severe droughts in the 102-year record 1910-2012, were in the 1930s and a lesser maximum in the 1950s. Data show no indication that drought severity has increased as CO2 has increased.
Floods: Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., from the University of Colorado, testified to the Senate EPW Committee on July 18, 2013. With respect to floods, he provided data from the US Geological Survey, which show in the U.S., floods have not increased in frequency or intensity since at least 1950, and that flood losses, as a percentage of GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940, based on data from NOAA’s Hydrologic Information Center.
Somerville says that increasing CO2 will harm plant productivity, but the opposite is true. First, realize that both plants and animals, including humans, are carbon-based life forms. With increasing CO2, there is an incredible array of beneficial effects spelled out in the book, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, by Craig Idso and Sherman Idso. The benefits include: increasing water-use efficiency; increasing biomass in roots, stems, flowers and nectar; larger seeds; avoiding human starvation and plant and animal extinctions; stimulating early plant growth; and resistance to plant diseases. The carbohydrates we consume when we eat are derived directly from CO2 in the atmosphere; carbohydrates are the source of the energy we need to survive and thrive.
Climate scientists, such as Somerville, do have something to learn from the medical profession: if you want people to heed your warnings, they need to be backed up by the data.
Somerville’s climate refugees cannot be found. In the recent past, interglacial periods were at least 6C/10F warmer than the present with a lot less CO2 in the air; and the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm periods were significantly warmer than at present. By historic accounts, sea levels were many feet higher as recently as 1066 and 1300 AD. His claims of heat waves, floods, drought and agricultural disruption are easily disproven by looking at real-world data.
Somerville’s argument points out: “climate change does involve serious threats.” The serious threat is the Obama/Podesta partnership pushing the executive order pen to punish people with new policies that kill jobs and increase energy costs all in the name of supposedly saving the planet.