Send an Icebreaker to Tennessee

This morning I fired up the weather app on my laptop and saw that at that moment it was -0.0 Fahrenheit in my town in Tennessee. Not just zero but NEGATIVE zero.

The current (really) cold snap has provoked a lot of jokes about global warming on social media. I’ve noticed that global warming advocates don’t have a sense of humor about it at all. Reading their helpful comments, I have discovered that the problem is apparently I am an ignoramus who doesn’t believe in science. As a matter of fact apparently I am ANTI-science.

This has come as quite a surprise to me. You see, I hold three degrees in engineering. As you may be aware, if you are not an anti-science ignoramus, engineering relies on a little bit of scientific knowledge. So I cant’ decide whether to get mad or be amused when liberals (with liberal arts degrees) accuse me of being anti-science.

Apparently, liberal-arts science experts also have a deeper understanding of logic and reasoning than me as well, because I can’t make sense of their arguments about the weather. In the summer when things are really hot, they tell me that really hot weather is proof of global warming. Then, in the winter, when we have a record cold snap, they tell me it’s proof of, er, global warming.

Now I know all about volatility arguments, that global warming is causing more extremes. But I also know about averages, and if it’s getting warmer on average, then that should mean that temperatures are usually, you know, higher. But for about the last 15 years, the average surface temperature has remained about the same, defying computer models which predicted significant warming increases by now. And the weather volatility? Yeah, we have had pretty cold weather the last few weeks, but the number of hurricanes has been very low the last few years, the opposite of global warming predictions.

Another indicator of higher temperatures on average, would be less ice on average. One of the more famous predictions of global warming promoters, such as Al Gore, is that the polar ice caps would be melting away by now. Last week, a ship of scientists, intent on taking measurements of decreasing Antarctic ice levels, got stuck in the increasing Antarctic ice. Then the icebreaker rescue ship got stuck as well. This did not help global warming proponents successfully argue their case.

The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of data, some of which supports the warming argument and some of which contradicts it. But the climate computer models pretty much without exception show more warming than we see today. I do a lot of computer modeling for my work, and the cardinal rule is that real data trumps modeling. Modeling can be very instructive to learn about the system and gain insights into how a system behaves, but ultimately you must believe the data.

All of this would be just a rather interesting technical exercise, if not for the fact that believers in global warming want to impose some pretty drastic policy impacts on the rest of us. Some of these are so serious that they represent a major threat to the global economy, such as large taxes and restrictions on coal and oil use. It is not unreasonable to ask for Global Warming proponents to show that the benefits of drastic CO2 reductions is worth the economic losses that would occur. That’s not being anti-science. That’s asking for good policy decisions.


  • 3 years ago