It must be the weather. As heatwaves and blackouts produce a perfect storm on Capitol Hill, the lamentation of climate alarmists becomes ever shriller. An anxious chorus of atmospheric Jeremiahs and renewable energy (RE) capitalists are more determined than ever to spin every meteorological "event" as a harbinger of doom. With apocalyptic angst again reaching dangerous levels, medical experts expect more cases of "climate-fatigue".
Expect more rhetoric about "energy security" too, as the bi-partisan RE public policy experiment continues to cannibalise itself; increasing retail prices, penalising "liable entities" (energy retailers), driving coal-fired power generators out of the market and destabilising grids in the process. Yet any roll-back or termination seems unlikely, especially if a legal liability time-bomb is lurking somewhere in the RE architecture.
Midsummer madness:foolish or reckless behaviour, considered to be at its height at midsummer; acronym: MM. Includes (i) prognosticating wildly about complex natural systems in a state of constant change, such as a planet's climate, and believing one's pseudo-predictions; (ii) legally requiring an entity to acquire in the future something that does not exist in the present, such as a specific amount of renewable energy; (iii) using public funds to try to ensure its existence by a specific date, whatever the cost; and (iv) ignoring compelling evidence undermining the legitimacy of the whole exercise. (Summer is the period from 21/22 December to 20/21 March, based on the astronomical calendar.)
To kick off the MM season, Canberra recently hosted a four-day conference: "Australasian weather, climate and oceans: past, present and future". The mood was not cheerful. (See Joanne Nova here.)
Our "best climate brains" are "fed up, sad and frustrated, as extreme weather becomes the new norm," reported weatherzone's Ridley Stuart.
Dr Andrew Glikson: "There's definitely what you would call 'climate fatigue' on the part of scientists. There's a fatigue when it comes to arguing in public. It's definitely a concern. There are people who don't think in scientific terms and don't want to accept the basic laws of nature, or have some vested interest. Yet it just hits you what we're doing to our planet."
Another attendee with a "heavy heart" was ANU climate scientist, Professor Will Steffen. In the last talk of the conference he stole much thunder by launching the Anthropocene Equation. A brave attempt to quantify the unquantifiable, this intriguing construct was soon swallowed whole by the media.
The World Today's Eleanor Hall assured listeners the "new mathematical formula" showed humans are driving global warming 170 times faster than natural forces. Derived by scientists in Australia and Sweden, the AE apparently "assesses the impact of human activity on the climate, and compares it to events such as volcanic eruptions and changes to the planet's orbit."
A seven-fold increase in global human biomass in the past two centuries - to over seven billion people today – clearly has affected local and regional environments. It seems perversely anthropocentric, however, to put such a precise number on it. Can one quantify nebulous concepts? Here's how it's done.
Will Steffen: We have estimates of how temperature has shifted through the Holocene….And climate was shifting very, very slightly to a cooler state at about one hundredth of a degree per century. But since 1970, temperature has been rising at a rate of about 1.7 degrees per century, and when you compare those two, since the 1970s, the climate has been changing at a rate 170 times faster than that long-term background rate.
Dr Walter Starck, a distinguished marine scientist and frequent contributor to Quadrant, has a different perspective.
That this kind of wild speculation dressed up in pseudo-scientific sophistry can be authored by persons widely deemed to be leading experts, be approved by peer review, published in a respected academic journal and broadly accepted as serious science would seem to be surreal nonsense were it not in fact actually happening. Even more bizarre is the fact that while polls indicate that a majority of the public now consider the threat of catastrophic climate change to be untrue or exaggerated, most politicians appear to remain committed to engaging in some kind of hugely expensive measures to "do something about" this phantasmagorical danger.
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