Sunday, March 16, 2014

Crying wolf like a professional

My life, like most people's, has heard news of impending disasters since day one, and without exception not one of them has ever happened. There have been plenty of disasters, but these were all sudden and had no possible way to foresee in advance. I also had many periods in my younger life where I was unaware of the news, so until our lights went out in the 70s wasn't really aware of recessions, inflation, and most government policies generally, knew there were wars in places like Vietnam but didn't touch our lives here, and was basically going about my life the same every day and year whatever did or didn't happen on the news. In fact, apart from the power cuts and petrol shortages I wouldn't have known virtually any of the news if I hadn't read it or seen it on the TV.

Some people have gone to the effort of listing the media-led impending disasters since time or newspapers began, the millennium bug, SARS, swine flu, the third world war (still waiting), acid rain, the coming ice age, basically anything either based on what was happening on a small scale they were unable to control, so assumed it would all go out of control, or worse something based on whispers from interested parties whose stock and power would rise sharply if people thought their oil was running out or they would run out of sugar so have to stock up in case. Whatever the cause, from trivial media led shortages due to saying the Finnish wood crop had failed and there would be no toilet paper left in a week, to scaring the shit out of everyone imagining they were all going to die, the single element they all had in common was nothing more ever happened. Not once. The 2008 financial crash of course will be costing us for decades, and no one at all (except Vince Cable and a stockbroker who got sacked for spooking the market) who saw lending rise from 7 to 40 times the total held, and company borrowing, with mortgages rising from three times annual income to 10X plus, along with mass marketing of credit cards gratefully accepted by most householders who mistook the plastic coming through their doors unrequested for actual free money.

So, when our world temperature has risen less than a degree in 160 years, which is pretty standard really, while the CO2 has risen 50%, which as far as we know (we haven't measured it long enough to be certain) hasn't been standard, it's still assumed this will be many times worse in the future, and as they know the rate of CO2 rise, set the danger point so far ahead we can't know either way anyhow so a totally void experiment. But of course they were saying this in the 90s, so surely by now in 2014 people have seen the temperature stopped rising in 1997 overall and the CO2 did not, and new data on things like cloud cover show the sun is being blocked by evaporating oceans thus cancelling out any effects from CO2 on the downside.

But unlike every other scare story, this is a long term one. By setting the end point at 2100, even though anyone with a brain can tell the experiment cannot ever be completed, it allowed the governments and media never to let it go, even when 25 or so years later the expectations of the 90s were proved to be utter bollocks. The sea level rise has crept up the same rate at 7 inches a century, proving beyond all doubt it can never break a foot let alone a yard as without a few degrees of temperature rise there's nothing to melt the Greenland ice shelf (the Antarctic is below -40C so can't join the party) or expand the ocean to make it rise any more than that. But instead of reminding themselves of every other disaster which never happened and working out this one's had far longer and hasn't happened either, because the consensus among not scientists, as hundreds of them (just the ones who published papers saying so) disagree, but politicians, the real 97%, has stayed so solid the people assume it's still going to happen, despite the evidence of their own eyes, although admittedly apart from one article last year in two papers they do otherwise have to take the effort to look themselves, nothing is happening, and I can say exactly why as the water evaporating from the sea has not created the humidity they relied on for more than a very minor warming.

Until people remember the past they can never understand the present or ignore the future as we never know what'll happen tomorrow, let alone a year or century ahead unless it's astronomical.