Global-warming hysteria was launched 25 years ago this month. On June 23, 1988, James Hansen of NASA testified before a congressional hearing and the world that "the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate now." His confidence, sincerity and humble demeanor captured political and environmental opportunists in a big way.
Here was a man and a cause that could propel up-and-coming politicians to new heights and fill eco-activist coffers to overflowing.
From the beginning, the fix was in, and theatrics took center stage. Then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, Colorado Democrat, and his staff left the hearing-room windows open the steamy night before the proceedings to make sure the room's air-conditioners were chugging away against the heat during the momentous event.
Soon after the hearings, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change took over, and the rest is history.
For climate-change followers, celebrations are in order. Let's review their "achievements":
Hundreds of regulations are on the books, and more are coming down the pike to spike industrial growth and economic advancement;
Thousands of hours of political grandstanding about human exhausts have fueled funnel-cloud fears, hyped hurricane histrionics, and otherwise monkeyed with the meteorological mechanisms.
Billions of taxpayer dollars have been shoveled into bottomless pits of "free"-energy project subsidies, redundant Keystone XL oil pipeline and fracking environmental-impact studies, vacuous eco-activist indoctrination curriculums and crazy carbon-sequestration schemes.
Billions of people around the world remain in poverty who could easily be lifted out by access to abundant, low-cost, readily available fossil fuels.
To be sure, real-world global temperatures were on the rise, and climate modeling was improving to the point where consistency between that rise and the science that simulated it was fairly good. Throughout the 1990s, climate modelers were able to match and roughly predict global temperature changes using the assumption that carbon dioxide had a steroidlike impact on an otherwise feeble climate system.
Yet reality has a way of humbling even the least humble. For more than 15 years now, the global average temperature has been stubbornly uncooperative with the predictions of research climatologists and the wishes of environmental religionists.
The accompanying graph, recently prepared by climatologist John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, displays temperature response to greenhouse gases. The plot indicates estimates and predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's climate models for the tropics against actual temperature measurement results.
The top line in the graph represents what the U.N. panel considers to be the best estimate of global warming. Such an estimate is being used to encourage scientists and politicians to promote dire consequences for the planet and its people.
However, the plot clearly shows that predictions are not successful in matching real-world global average temperatures, which are traced by the two lower lines for satellite and weather-balloon measurements of the lower atmosphere. According to Mr. Christy, the disagreement between predicted and actual temperatures suggests that the models "are significantly wrong compared with the real world."
For the sake of humanity, the next quarter-century will hopefully be marked by not only a continued level-temperature trend, but also by more evenhanded approach to our ability to understand and predict the global climate decades ahead.
Such a temperament would be a refreshing humility fitting to the scientific profession and truly worthy of a silver-anniversary celebration.
Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of "In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic's Guide to Climate Science" (Telescope Books, 2012).