Joe Bastardi / August 9, 2012

A Test to Aid in the Climate Change Debate

An objective test is needed in the Climate Change debate, and we now have a way to do that. By watching the global temperature via satellite in the next 20-30 years, as we have since 1978, we will have a good idea of what is truly driving the climate. Our nation has always been about confronting challenges for the common good, so this fits right in. But we need the freedom to search for the correct answer, not an agenda driven pre conceived notion. Because of the makeup of the planet, the earths climate system is never in balance, but it is always in search of balance. Most of the land is in the northern hemisphere, most of the ocean is in the southern hemisphere. This creates an imbalance in the earths reaction to the incoming radiation from the sun, which is the source of energy to heat the planet. Combined with changing seasons, the reaction produces large and varied swings in the climate. It is intuitive to see how these can, and in fact should, become quite volatile at times.

An objective test is needed in the climate change debate. By measuring the global temperature via satellite in the next 20-30 years, as we have done objectively since 1978, we will have a good idea of what is truly driving the climate.

Our nation has always been about confronting challenges for the common good, so this fits right in. We need the freedom to search for the correct answer, not an agenda driven pre-conceived notion that carbon dioxide emissions drive the climate.

Because of the makeup of the planet, the earths climate system is never in balance, but is always in search of balance. The majority of the Earth’s landmass resides in the Northern Hemisphere. On the other hand, most of the Southern Hemisphere is covered by oceans . This creates an imbalance in the in the earths reaction to the incoming radiation from the sun, which is the source of energy to heat the planet. Combined with changing seasons, the reaction produces large and varied swings in the climate. It is intuitive to see how these can, and in fact should, become quite volatile at times.

The climate cycle idea is that variances have to occur. Large oscillations develop in the oceans. The Atlantic and Pacific oscillate on multi decadal scale. The correlation between global temperatures and these oscillations is much stronger than the correlation between global temperatures and carbon dioxide. With water having 1000 times the heat capacity of the air, the rise and fall of ocean temperatures influence the air above them. The tropical oceans contain the most energy, and small variations in their temperatures will have largest effects on the weather. One of the reasons the Earth warmed from 1978 until 2000, at which point temperatures leveled off, is because the Pacific was in a warm phase. The warm PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) is accompanied by more and longer El Nino’s. The anomalously warm water in the tropical pacific that accompany El Nino’s increase global temperatures. Now that we have entered a cold PDO, we can expect more La Nina’s (colder water in the tropical Pacific). The point to be made is that there is natural variability in the climate. Keep in mind that only 15,000 years ago, the ice sheet covering North America extended to New York City.

But there is a very serious side of this debate that goes beyond science. Policy is being enacted that assumes mans burning of fossil fuels is altering the climate beyond what it should. In addition, the limiting of free speech, the demonization of those that do not agree, and the dismissal of their ideas without conclusive proof, runs counter to all our Republic was founded on. In fact, it is a soft tyranny that seeks the limitation of free thought and the destruction of foundational beliefs and their replacement with “new” ideas. In its own way, the current climate debate is akin to a high tech book burning.

The counter to this is a simple test. The earth’s temperature has been measured objectively by satellite since 1978, which is when the last cold cycle of the Pacific ocean ended. This means temperatures would naturally be colder then (some may recall the ice age scare of the 1970s). The climate cycle idea, would say a rise had to happen, and it did. The Atlantic went into its warm cycle in the mid 1990s. The earth continued its warming then leveled off. Why? Because once the oceans added their heat, the temperatures rose, and the atmosphere adapted. The Pacific changed its cycle to cold in 2007; the Atlantic should do so in about 2020. We have the objective tools to measure temperatures, the test (and challenge to both ideas) is in front of us, one that can provide answers. After all if CO2 is driving the planetary temperature, then why are we observing what we see in this chart (the IPCC forecasts (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and C02 rise versus the actual temperatures):

I am opened minded enough to consider, even though I don’t believe, that both sides could be right. Yet we will not know until, or if, temperatures increase again, and we don’t now what those time scales are. Nature has kept pace with carbon uptake, meaning the oceans and biological components of the climate system have absorbed and utilized anthropogenic or human-sources of carbon. But keep in mind carbon is essential for life, natural to the system. There is no evidence that there is some mysterious outside source in the universe that has been adding carbon to our planet.

My acknowledgement of the chance I could be wrong is a far cry from people who seek to isolate, demonize and destroy those that opine differently. My side, confident in our answer, seeks an objective test on a level playing field to find the correct answer while not paralyzing our nation with policy that is handcuffing the progression of society.

By the way, I am just covering the oceanic influence part of the climate cycle idea since the test I propose would demonstrate its influence as a major driver over CO2. The solar part of the equation is something I will touch upon in a later writing and can explain the rise in temperatures overall the last 2 centuries. It too may become very important in the coming years.

So here is the test:

I have forecasted temperatures by 2030 to return, via objective satellite measurements, to 1978 levels. With the cyclical idea at least casting doubt, and in my opinion, having more evidence of being correct at this time, why would we enact any policies that would discourage the advancement of our economic well being? The free market, not a government picking winners and losers, will take care of what we need, when we need it. Since temperatures are not going up, and I believe globally are starting to cool, there is no need to turn away from what has fueled the economic engine of our country, at the expense of our nations safety and well being. Instead, we must use resources still abundantly available to us while developing other sources that the free market will lead to.

In coming writings, I will offer many examples to back my up my points and show the linkage to what has become an assault on what this nation was founded on and is supposed to stand for. While it has been fashionable for the left to quote Eisenhower’s dire warning on the military-industrial complex, they leave out his all too true warnings on what we see today:

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy should itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.“

My belief is that this not about global warming or science. Instead, it is about the attempt to control individual freedoms by shackling the very fiber of what made this nation great. It is the tip of a bigger iceberg that can sink this nation and extinguish the light, that as Ronald Reagan so wonderfully called, "a shining city on a hill.”

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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