Exploring the Political Climate of Climate Change

"Average" and "normal" are not synonymous

Using polling to discover not only what percentage of voters believe in man-made climate change but also how much they know about related scientific facts could prove worthwhile. Survey questions might include asking voters if they believe greenhouse gases exist and, if so, whether they think that — if possible — all greenhouse gases should be eliminated.

One wonders whether most voters realize that without greenhouse gases in the atmosphere life on Earth would not be possible. Even man-made climate change advocates don’t dispute this fact. They admit that water vapor is by far the most plentiful greenhouse gas; while conspicuously refusing to represent water vapor on their charts.

The results of such polling could be fascinating. For instance, what if polling revealed that a marked difference in the level of scientific understanding exists between those who believe in man-made climate change and those who don’t? 

Or, perhaps the polling might show that voters in general have so little understanding of the science involved that their opinions tend to be based on factors outside the realm of science.

Man-made climate change dogma has been built on a mix of misinformation, mistruths, the threat of withholding research funding from scientists who publicly proclaim their skepticism, refusal to peer review and publish the studies of nonbelieving scientists, the labeling of nonbelieving scientists who have the guts to speak their minds as not being “reputable,” and most important of all — political and other self-serving advantages of perpetuating the myth.

During some recent internet surfing, this columnist watched a governmental hearing in Washington state that displayed another tactic of those who promote man-made climate change dogma. It is the use of trick statements.

The hearing featured a scientist who argued that man-made climate change was a hoax. An apparently sincere lawmaker read a statement to the scientist and asked him to respond. The statement was basically that: “Soon, no living person on Earth will have experienced — at any moment of their lives — a normal climate.”

Possibly believing the statement didn’t deserve a response, the scientist ignored it. This was unfortunate and represented a missed opportunity for a teachable moment. The scientist should have answered the question and done so in detail.

The point is that the statement was laced with double-layered deceit. First, the proper term should not be “normal,” it should be “average.” Substituting the word “normal” for “average” can be either a commonplace mistake or willful manipulation. The classic example is that for decades the “average” family in the United States had 2.5 children; but obviously the number of families that actually had two and a half kids was zero. Average and normal are not synonymous.

Therefore an accurate answer to the question would have had to be: “Yes, that’s true, but strictly speaking no animal or plant that ever existed on the face of this planet has experienced a “normal” climate, because there has never been such a thing as a “normal” climate.

OK, so for the term “normal climate” let’s substitute the term “average climate.” That will make the statement relevant.

If the time period used for comparison was limited to the past 600 years, which was dominated by roughly 500 years of a relatively colder climate — referred to as the “Little Ice Age” (a bad name because it wasn’t exactly an ice age) — then the answer would be that the people presently on Earth have lived during a warmer than average climate.

But if the time period used for comparison was the past 3,000 years, the people presently on Earth have lived during a cooler than average climate. If the time period used for comparison was the past 9,000 years — dating back to the retreat of the glaciers, the people presently on Earth have still lived during a cooler than average climate.

If the time period used for comparison covers the past 2.6 million years (our current era), the people presently on Earth have lived during a much warmer than average climate, because most of those 2.6 million years consisted of a series of glacial ages, during which time where we are sitting right now was usually under a mile of ice. If the time period used for comparison covered the past 115 million years, the people presently on Earth have lived during a drastically cooler than average climate, because about 110 million of those years took place in a different era during which there was no permanent ice cap on Earth, not even in Antarctica.

Meanwhile, climate predictions of scientists across the world who use the solar activity (sun spot) theory are proving more reliable than those of the man-made climate change crowd. But, possibly because little political advantage can be gained by admitting climate change is beyond man’s control, most of these scientists honor the “scientific method” and call their theory “just a theory” rather than proclaiming it an undeniable fact.

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(Editor’s note: Jack Spencer is Capitol Affairs Specialist for Michigan Capitol Confidential. He is a veteran Lansing-based journalist. His columns do not necessarily represent the views of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy or Michigan Capitol Confidential.)