Predictions of climate gloom and doom have gotten more confident and dire with each passing year. But the passing years have not been kind to the certainty of their fruition.
As a new academic semester gets underway at the beginning of this new decade, the college campus is where catastrophic climate change has actually happened over the most recent decades. Like the inception of a violent storm, the destructive change had small beginnings.
The field of climatology in the 1970s, when I was a student of meteorology at Penn State, was rather cloistered, engaged in the tedious work of compiling facts and figures from decades of weather. The science was focused on collecting, analyzing and disseminating data from local, regional and global observations. Weather trends at the time indicated the potential return of ice-age conditions.
In the early 1980s, when the popular notion of an ice age from the 1970s was changing to machinations of the enhanced “greenhouse effect,” some of my university meteorology professors had their serious doubts about the new fervent forecast.
However, their challenges to the envisioned hothouse Earth faded as the fresh disaster paradigm quickly took hold. A new air of superiority was advancing. And with the atmospheric-science spotlight focused on climatology, climate scientists gained popular attention, including those in schools of higher learning, where groupthink can thrive and nurture intolerant stalks of “knowledge.”
Bad vibes from the hollow halls of academia result from perhaps the largest echo chamber on the planet. Still, without the financial fertilization from the deep pockets of Uncle Sam via opportunistic politicians — who can help grow a rudimentary prognostication into an absolute certainty — the runaway greenhouse effect hypothesis would not have gotten too far beyond the parochial greenhouse.
The college campus can be fertile ground for the production of biased views devoid of helpful added nutrients. Researchers whose entire knowledge tree is grown from grade school to grad school to professorship without leaving the schoolyard overlook the perspective found in real world working conditions. They seem to develop a mistrust of, even an adversarial attitude toward, work-a-day scientists who are off school property.
A significant departure from the qualms over out-of-school contributions can be found in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s triennial air quality modeling conferences that are required by the federal Clean Air Act.
The 12th modeling conference held last October in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina showed an example for cooperation. I along with dozens of other air quality modelers from government, consulting and academia all had the opportunity to offer input to the federal government’s efforts to identify the best techniques to represent simulated relationships among pollution sources, dispersion conditions and receptors.
And, yes, scientists who represented industry concerns were treated with the dignity and respect so often signaled, but not practiced, in collegiate circles.
Elsewhere, in private meteorological consulting, Joe Bastardi, an extraordinary weather forecaster and historian that I have known since our student days at Penn State, has demonstrated that so called extreme weather events — events that are promoted as exceptional — can be predicted in advance based on their natural occurrence in history. Joe has shown how understanding of such inclement weather from the distant past (i.e., historic analogs) can lead to more accurate forecasts of the imminent future.
And, if these events can be predicted from their previous occurrence, doesn’t that call into question the claim that these events are somehow unusual and now based on human excesses?
Nonetheless, the promotion of “extreme weather” is a brilliant strategy by those pushing disastrous climate change. After all, everyone experiences such weather.
Weather extremes can become personal proof of disastrous climate change, especially to children who have a limited history of such events. No wonder kids skip class to air their angst in protest and even become passionate enough to be awarded “Person of the Year” recognition.
Fanning the flames of future futility are arrogant academicians along with science gurus, politicians, the media, Hollywood and all sorts of pious personages (holier-than-thou virtue signalers and sanctimonious scolds).
Regardless of the brand of climate crusaders or source of any current turmoil in the troposphere, imagined or real, the actual global climate is likely to change for the better long before the climate brightens on college campuses.
• Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of “In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stairway Press, 2016).