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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Climate professors and Rick Scott’s sphinxian agenda

Climate scientists finally got their audience with Gov. Rick Scott the other day, and even as such reliably evenhanded ­­— cough, cough — political sites as the Daily Kos hailed the event as a “school[ing]” for Florida’s chief executive, the scientists themselves reported dismay that their pupil failed to acknowledge the compelling genius of their presentations.

“This is not complicated,’’ David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College, told reporters ahead of the meeting. “We teach this to 18-year-olds every year and I’ve been doing it for 25 years. It’s not hard science.”

And yet, for two-thirds of those years — since 1997 — there’s been no measurable warming on planet Earth. None. Even former devotees within the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change have conceded this wholly unanticipated pause despite growing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, one of those scary greenhouse gases, as increasingly industrialized China and India raise their standards of living on cheap, abundant coal-fired energy.

Hmmm. What wouldn’t you give to be in Prof. Hastings’ class when he squares for those rapt 18-year-olds the not-hard science that can’t account for the divergence between what computer models predict and the factual flat-lining of global temperatures? It would be unfair to suppose he gets around it by ignoring inconvenient evidence, you know, sort of like what disciples of manmade climate change accuse Scott of doing?

Also meriting explanation: The maps of University of Miami atmospheric professor Ben Kirtman, which show South Florida swamped by a 2-foot rise in sea level he projects will happen by 2048 on our present course. Hey, who hasn’t seen those maps? Google “Florida sea level rise” and you’ll wind up chest deep in maps that show the state as it was when dinosaurs roamed the Appalachian ridge, like 70 million years ago.

One only wishes the governor’s staff had introduced contrarian charts produced by the National Oceanographic and Astmospheric Agency — NOAA — which indicate something slightly less than a rise of 0.09 inches per year since 1913. Asked to project through New Year’s Eve 2099, NOAA based its worst-case scenario — a whopping 6-foot rise — on flat, low-lying coast lands where the agency warns against risk-taking. Still, all its short-term charts indicate rates of rising will continue at their traditional pace during the foreseeable future.

In other words, NOAA wants us to at least mull a hockey-stick model of rising sea levels. But that would require also accepting the fantastical, long-busted global-warming hockey stick that emerged, guffaw-provoking, from Michael Mann’s Penn State University fable factory.

As noted above, global temperatures have stalled flatter than Rory McElroy’s putter — to broaden the sports-stick analogy — and there’s evidence ice packs at both poles have recovered from their recent shrinkage to the point that each is well within historical norms.

Armed with such facts, someone sitting in on the schooling, perhaps even the governor himself, could have asked why we’d want to risk Florida’s economy on a rush to unreliable and expensive energy alternatives that, in the grand scheme, won’t reduce global CO2 emissions (see: China and India, coal-burning industrialization of) that don’t seem to be affecting global temps as advertised in the first place, all on the extreme and as-yet unproven threat that failing to act will cause sea levels to spike at a pace eight times (0.71 inches vs. 0.09 inches annually) the rate forecast by NOAA that fits the best available data.

Ah, but then the governor would have wound up inhospitably debating his guests, and, anyway, he had a thing to get to. The professors, too, were eager to unload their scripted dismay into the notebooks of press stenographers, whose dutiful dispatches would hasten the moment Tom Steyer, the billionaire high priest of the First Church of Climate Hysteria (hat tip, Larry Thornberry) could stroke another check to his ad agency, which specializes in misrepresenting Scott and other Republicans immune to Steyer’s occasionally buffonish proselytizing against man’s premeditated assault on the climate.

By the way: Don’t come around slinging that “oh, yeah, well, 97 percent of scientists” nonsense. The Right Stuff documented the debunking of that weary appeal to authority back in May, although that doesn’t stop the smugly ill-informed from thumping it like their personal tom-tom. Plainly, we skeptics still have work to do.

Even so, sometimes it’s just better all around if everybody stays on schedule. Sort of like the microscopically incremental pace of sea-level change generally anticipated by Washington’s source authority on the topic.