- - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The New York Times has discovered peril in the Arctic. “Explorers and fishermen find climate moderating about Spitzbergen and the Eastern Arctic,” the newspaper reports, and seal hunters and explorers who sail those icy seas “point to a radical change in climactic conditions, and hitherto unheard of temperatures in that part of the earth.”

Many old landmarks have disappeared, and others have so changed as to be unrecognizable. “Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea, they have entirely disappeared.”

Woe is certainly us. True, this was on Page One of Feb. 25, 1923, which proves, among other things, that the more things change the more they stay the same. But this account might well have appeared today in The New York Times, though the language was more restrained and more persuasive for it. But the world, as the readers of that earlier century knew it, is still pretty much intact in 2017.

But today, among right-thinking folk, so called, conversations about why the climate behaves the way it does are taboo.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, proposes debates between staunch proponents of the widespread view that carbon dioxide discharged by human activity is causing global warming, and the skeptics who are still not persuaded that cause and effect of climate change is clearly understood.

A match with adversaries poking holes in each other’s arguments would be an entertaining return to authentic scientific inquiry. There’s more for everyone to fear from too little information than from too much.

This would be in sharp contrast to the immediate past, when Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency summarily proclaimed the human-induced warming argument as fact, and dared anyone to argue. The former president succeeded in shifting the center of gravity toward worldwide acceptance of environmental extremism as packaged in the Paris Climate Agreement.

It took a man with foolish courage to stand up in the sea of unanimity and ask why the United States should pass up trillions of dollars in economic growth to comply with a scheme that would produce no noticeable effect on global temperatures.

Now comes a new study concluding that nearly all global warming reported in recent decades is derived from “adjustments” to surface temperature data which was made by climate scientists, and not from actual readings. The study, by meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo, climate scientist Craig Idso and statistician James Wallace, tests whether temperature data compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the United Kingdom Climate Research Unit’s Hadley Center are “sufficiently credible estimates of global average temperatures such that they can be relied on for climate modeling and policy analysis purposes.”

They found that scientists almost always made “adjustments” to data that revised temperatures upward and seldom downward to produce a steeper warming trend over the years than what the thermometer actually showed. Their summary findings are sobering: “The conclusive findings of this research are that the three … data sets are not a valid representation of reality.”

The data from the three government organizations serves as the basis for the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health. And protecting people from the unhealthy effects of global warming — hotter and dryer summers, more severe hurricanes and rising ocean levels — was supposed to be the rationale for nearly 200 nations to adopt the Paris agreement and, for Americans, submitting to a thick rule book of EPA regulations governing nearly all life.

Given the flaws in official temperature data, Director Pruitt’s ending the taboo against challenging the conventional wisdom behind the causes of climate change is the right thing to do.

Let the debate begin.

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