A theme of my environmental coverage here and elsewhere is that most environmental problems are overestimated, partly because of the neo-religious fervor behind the Malthusianism-uber-alles methodology of environmentalists, and partly for the closely related reason that serial crises are the best means by which the political class gathers more power to itself. In the fullness of time we’ve come to recognize that environmental problems are not world-ending potential apocalyses, but normal problems that we manage as well or badly as other normal human problems like crime, education, health care, and so forth. We’ve noted here the collapse of the population bomb crisis, the resource scarcity crisis, and, just yesterday, the species extinction crisis.
So I’ve been patiently and confidently waiting for the climate crisis to begin it cycle of receding into a moderate and normal problem that we handle like everything else. It’s already been going on for a while on the policy side, with more and more nations saying “never mind” to the emissions reduction pledges in their grand speeches at the UN. (The latest is Japan, which announced this week that it is likely to abandon formally its interim emissions reduction targets under Kyoto. For the last decade, Japan has held those targets sacred in part because the treaty was named for one of their major cities. Guess that doesn’t even cut it any more.) But the collapse of the scientific case for the catastrophic scenario has been slowly withering for quite a while too, as we’ve also noted here from time to time.
Yesterday the Research Council of Norway—that would be one of those national research bodies that the climateers relentlessly tell us we should pay attention to—issued the conclusion that global warming is likely to be much less severe than the “consensus” estimate of 2 – 4.5 degrees C. The Norwegian body thinks it will top out at 1.9 degrees:
Professor Berntsen explains the changed predictions: “The Earth’s mean temperature rose sharply during the 1990s. This may have caused us to overestimate climate sensitivity.
“We are most likely witnessing natural fluctuations in the climate system – changes that can occur over several decades – and which are coming on top of a long-term warming. The natural changes resulted in a rapid global temperature rise in the 1990s, whereas the natural variations between 2000 and 2010 may have resulted in the levelling off we are observing now.”
Of course, you can expect environmentalists to cling bitterly to their narrative of climate catastrophe, as it still remains the best game in town for their relentless drive to acquire more power over people and resources—always the end game of environmental politics. But it’s okay now for the rest of us to adopt the head-patting attitude of “There, there; I know it’s hard when your narrative falls apart. You’ll get over it some day.”