Throughout history, at least back to 2800 BC, the world has had more that its share of apocalytics. Nostradamus was perhaps the most famous but he had a lot of good company—google A Brief History of the Apocalypse.
Now the apocalyptics rely on sophisticated computer models to convince us that life as we know it is nearing it end. In the early 1970s, the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth that predicted the world would run out of natural resources and experience mass starvation because population growth would exceed the earth’s carrying capacity. This was all based on a computer model developed by two MIT professors. The Club of Rome predictions failed miserably because it didn’t understand how markets work or the role of innovation. For example, they completely ignored the biological research of Norman Borlaug, who created the green revolution that is attributed to saving a billion lives through agricultural innovation.
No sooner had the Club of Rome fallen into disrepute, then its promoters created the global warming/climate change hobgoblin. And since the late 1980s, we have been routinely treated to pronouncements of impending doom unless we abandon our use of fossil energy that has been our engine of economic growth. In 1988, James Hansen predicted that global temperatures would increase 1 degree C every 20 years and 6 degrees C by 2100. After that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) became the mechanism for predicting catastrophe from unprecedented warming unless the world drastically reduced its use of fossil energy.
Just recently, the IPCC released another assessment report that concluded that the world had only until 2050 to make major reductions in CO2 to avoid an apocalypse in 2100. The IPCC predictions have become the equivalent of approaching the horizon; they recede as you approach them. Not only has the IPCC over predicted the decadal increase in global temperature; it has gradually reduced those predictions with each successive assessment report. But, the predictions about the future remain just as dire.
In 1990, it predicted that temperatures would increase between .2 C- .5 C per decade. In the second through fourth reports it made gradual reductions in its estimates. In the most recent report it predicted that temperatures up to 2050 would increase between .1C and .23C per decade. Based on satellite data, warming since 1990, almost a quarter of a century has been .34C which equates to 1.4C per century. And, for the past 16 years there has been virtually no warming.
In addition, since the IPCC has been wrong on the increase in warming, it has also been wrong on climate events that are supposed to be driven by a warming planet—drought, extreme weather, etc. Professor Judith Curry at an event at the George C. Marshall Institute in September made the following observation–“In the US, most types of weather events were worse in the 1930s and even in the 1950s that in the current climate, while the weather was overall more benign in the 1970s and 1980s. This sense that extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense is symptomatic of “weather amnesia.””
Since past predictions of dread have been as erroneous as its predictions of warming, why should anyone pay any attention to what the IPCC says about the future? And why should societies around the globe forego the opportunities to improve their standards of living and be better able to accommodate growing populations by foregoing the use of abundant and affordable energy for higher cost, less reliable energy? The fact that the climate establishment has resorted to claims that the science is settled and that 97% of climate scientists believe that human caused climate change is a serious problem may reflect the loss of credibility and a tuning out by more of the public.
In the 16th century, Francisco Guiccardini, a Florentine historian, offered the following advice, “ Excessive forethought and too great solicitude for the future are often productive of misfortune; for the affairs of the world are subject to so many accidents that seldom do things turn out as even the wisent predicted; and whoever refuses to take advantage of present good from fear of future danger…often discovers to his annoyance and disgrace that he has lost opportunities full of profit and glory, from dread of dangers which have turned out to be wholly imaginary.” That was wise advice then and its wise advice now.
This article appeared on the FuelFix website at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/11/06/the-ipcc-nostradamus-reincarnated/