It was exciting to see meteorologists excuse for their dire – and wrong – estimations of an freakish snow storm that they had claimed would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has witnessed lots of big snow storms before and will probably view lots of big snow storms repeatedly. That’s called winter.
Sadly, we are probably not going to hear any comparable apologies from those who happen to be promoting “global warming” hysteria, in defiance of data that fails to fit their climate models. What is at issue is not whether there is “climate change” – which nobody has ever dismissed – but whether the particular estimations of the “global warming” crowd as to the direction and magnitude of worldwide temperature changes are holding up over the years.
The greatest test of any theoretical model is not how loudly it is announced but how properly it fits the facts. Climate models that have an unimpressive history of fitting the facts of the past or the present are barely a rationale for us to depend on them for the future.
Putting together a productive model – of anything – is a lot more complex than determining which elements affect which outcomes. When many elements are involved, which is common, the challenge is to determine precisely how those elements interact with each other. That is a lot easier explained than done when it comes to climate.
Everyone can concur, for instance, that the heat of the sunlight is greater in the tropics than in the temperate zones or near the poles. But, the highest temperatures ever recorded in Asia, Africa, North America or South America were all recorded outside – repeat, OUTSIDE – the tropics.
No section of Europe is in the tropics, but record temperatures in European cities like Athens and Seville have been higher than the highest temperatures ever recorded in cities practically right on the equator, just like Singapore in Asia or Nairobi in Africa.
None of this disproves the scientific truth that sunlight is hotter in the tropics. But it does suggest that there are other elements which go into temperatures on earth.
It is not solely the heat of the sunlight, but its timeframe, that establishes how much heat builds up. The sun shines on the equator about 12 hours a day all year long. However, in the temperate areas, the sun shines more hours during the summer – almost 15 hours a day at the latitude of Seville or Athens.
It is also not just a question of how much sunlight there is falling on the planet but also a issue of how much of that sunlight is blocked by clouds and reflected back out into space. At any given time, about half the earth is shielded by clouds, but cloudiness differs greatly from place to place and from time to time.
The Mediterranean area is famous for its cloudless summer days. The annual hours of sunlight in Athens is practically double that in London – and in Alexandria, Egypt, there are more than twice as many annual hours of sunlight as in London.
How shocked should we be that cities around the Mediterranean – Alexandria, Seville, and Tripoli – have had temperatures of 110 degrees or more, while many tropical cities have not? Clouds and rain are common in the tropics.
American cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas often hit summer temperatures of 110 degrees or even more, because they are located where there are not nearly as many clouds during the summer as are common in most other locations, which includes most locations in the tropics. The highest temperatures on earth have been reached in Death Valley, California, for the same reason, even though it is not in the tropics.
Putting clouds into climate models is not easy, because the more the temperature rises, the more water evaporates, making more clouds that mirror more sunlight back out into space. Such details are well known, but reducing them to a specific and reliable formula that will predict global temperatures is something else entirely.
Meteorology has many specifics and many scientific principles but, at this stage of its development, weather forecasts just a week ahead are still iffy. Why then should we let ourselves be stampeded into debilitating the American economy with neverending restrictions developed by bureaucrats who pay no price for being incorrect?
Undoubtedly neither China nor India will do that, and the amount of greenhouse gasses they put into the air will overpower any reductions we might achieve, even with draconian restrictions at astronomical costs.