Global Warming Hysteria: A Retrospective

At the Telegraph, Christopher Booker provides a succinct narrative of the rise and fall of global warming alarmism:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

They will be struck by the extent to which this scare relied on the projections of computer models, which then proved to be hopelessly wrong when, in the years after 1998, their predicted rise in temperature came virtually to a halt. But in particular they will be amazed by the almost religious reverence accorded to that strange body, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which by then will be recognised as having never really been a scientific body at all, but a political pressure group.

Booker notes how the IPCC’s Summaries for Policymakers–the only parts of the IPCC’s reports that journalists read–have been wholly unscientific, political documents:

Five times between 1990 and 2014 the IPCC published three massive volumes of technical reports – another emerged last week – and each time we saw the same pattern. Each was supposedly based on thousands of scientific studies, many funded to find evidence to support the received view that man-made climate change was threatening the world with disaster – hurricanes, floods, droughts, melting ice, rising sea levels and the rest. But each time what caught the headlines was a brief “Summary for Policymakers”, carefully crafted by governments and a few committed scientists to hype up the scare by going much further than was justified by the thousands of pages in the technical reports themselves.

Each time it would emerge just how shamelessly these Summaries had distorted the actual evidence, picking out the scary bits, which themselves often turned out not to have been based on proper science at all. The most glaring example was the IPCC’s 2007 report, which hit the headlines with those wildly alarmist predictions that the Himalayan glaciers might all be gone by 2035; that global warming could halve African crop yields by 2050; that droughts would destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest. Not until 2010 did some of us manage to show that each of these predictions, and many more, came not from genuine scientific studies but from scaremongering propaganda produced by green activists and lobby groups (shown by one exhaustive analysis to make up nearly a third of all the IPCC’s sources).

The warmmongers’ con game continues, but most people aren’t falling for it. If Gallup is to be believed, global warming is low on the list of Americans’ environmental concerns. That’s a good thing: the Democrats had hoped to ram cap and trade through Congress on the basis of hysterical predictions, and then, when those predictions didn’t come true, claim credit for having forestalled disaster. But that hope has been frustrated, and the models’ predictions have been falsified with no faux contribution from statist environmental policies.

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