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The Politics of Weather

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You may not know this, but the weather is no longer the weather. Whether it is sunny or cloudy, hot or cold, snowing or raining, too dry or too wet, the weather today has become more than just the weather. The weather today is now political.

We’ve been hearing for about two decades that the planet is warming, the climate is changing and that man is the cause of it. Actually, animals too. You may not know this, but many countries have killed elk, moose, sheep and cows – to name a few – because of their ability to produce methane most often via flatulence (farting). It is believed by some that animal farts also contribute to global warming, err climate change.

Believe it or not, there was a time in which I was a global warming, err climate change, believer. For many years I covered the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (hvacr) industry. I attended countless conferences and trade shows in which global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer were prime topics. I’ve talked to dozens of refrigerant experts, and various industry and academic folks who attended many more conferences and meetings pertaining to global warming, err climate change that I would ever want. I’ve talked to pro climate change people and climate change dissenters. Over the years I became skeptical of the whole global warming, err climate change debate.

I’m going to get a little technical here, so please bear with me. It is important to understand all of this. More than 20 years ago, the Montreal Protocol came about to deal with the destruction of the ozone layer. Chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) were deemed the main instigator of the ozone layer’s destruction. So government folks, scientists, environmentalists and refrigerant industry experts all came together and created a process to eventually replace and ban CFCs. An interim refrigerant was created, called hydrocholoflourocarbons (HCFCs). Most were more energy efficient, and of course, more environmentally responsible. HCFCs, have one small problem though. Depending on the HCFC, they still have various amounts of chlorine in them; some more than others.

The research continued to develop refrigerants that left out the first C (chlorine), which are known as HFCs or hydroflourocarbons. These refrigerants are known in the industry as non-ozone depleting refrigerants. HFCs are generally good, though their global warming potential is not as good as some HCFCs. Some HCFCs, particularly R-22 (the most widely used refrigerant in the 1990s and into the 2000s) has negligible global warming potential, is very highly efficient but has that pesky first C in its name. However, it has very little chlorine in it and those chemicals don’t make it high enough into the atmosphere to damage the all-important ozone layer (and the ozone layer is very important to our survival). The main HFC refrigerant is R-134a and is a pretty good environmentally friendly product. The problem, though, is that developing countries have been exempt in switching over to the environmentally better refrigerants. Most developing countries still use the ozone-depleting refrigerants. So, while the vanishing ozone layer is a crisis, it hasn’t been a crisis for everyone, and which brings us to the other urgent crisis: global warming, err climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol also came about in the 1990s, which primarily targets global warming, err climate change. This international agreement was designed to save the planet. It sets specific goals and criteria that various countries must meet in order to cut down on greenhouse gases, which are believed to be the prime culprits in global warming, err climate change. Before I continue, I want to note that the planet is important, is worth saving and the less pollution in the world the better off we and everything else will be.

However, there are a lot of holes in the global warming, err climate change debate and holes in how we are to tackle the problem. First of all, the Kyoto Protocol exempts many countries from cutting down on its emissions, its carbon footprint and the like. Two of them in particular are India and China. While the U.S. has cuts its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent in the last 20 years, China and India have not. In fact, their emissions have increased. They don’t have to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol. They are deemed “developing countries.” At some point these “Third World” countries are to cut down on their emissions as dictated by the Kyoto Protocol, but not yet and not for many years to come.

So, I ask: We are constantly being told how dire the situation is. In fact, just recently, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that warns of “dire consequences” if we don’t do something NOW!!!!! The planet will become “uninhabitable” in many areas because of it and that we must do something NOW! Of course, China and India, two of the biggest polluters in the world, are still exempt. So, there is no NOW for them. Umm, if we face “dire consequences,” why are China and India still exempt? Why not do something NOW? We are doing something now and have been for decades. Same goes for Europe too. China, India, Russia and most others don’t have to do anything NOW.

One conference I attended in the mid 1990s warned that because of global warming, err climate change, the Great Lakes will cease to exist by the latter half of the 2000s (meaning in the next 40 years or so). Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was all hot about this just several months ago when the levels of Lake Michigan were near historic RECORDED lows. Of course, by the time Durbin got on board with that, the levels of the Great Lakes had begun to rebound and are now 12 to 18 inches higher than they were a year ago and are basically back to normal levels.

Over the weekend I happened to view one of the sessions online of Fermilab/WGN-TV Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar. This particular session was given by Dr. Donald Wuebbles, The Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth, Society, and Environment, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois. Sounds like a lot of good stuff and that this professor really knows his stuff. Certainly far more than little ole me. But as I watched this, many questions came to mind.

And again, I have sat through dozens – if not more than 100 – of these types of seminars. Here is an edited version of the professor’s program as shown on WGN’s website: “This presentation will provide an overview of draft findings from the 2013 U.S. National Climate Assessment report chapter on the science of climate change, including observed trends and projected future climate changes for the United States. Scientific analyses are indicating a strong link between changing trends in severe weather events and the changing climate. Every weather event that happens nowadays takes place in the context of the changes in the background climate system. Every event is influenced by many factors. Human-induced climate change is now a factor in all weather events. This presentation provides a discussion of the current understanding of climate change in the U.S. and severe weather in particular.”

Here is a link to the WGN-Fermilab seminar and Dr. Wuebbles' presentation is split into two parts. See if you can spot the various inconsistencies in his presentation: http://www.chicagoweathercenter.com/about/fermilab/

Two sentences really make me laugh: “EVERY weather event that happens nowadays takes place in the context of the changes in the climate system,” and “human-induced climate change is now a factor in ALL WEATHER events.” Really???

You see, that is how climate change believers can get away with saying severe cold waves are due to climate change. Heat waves are due to climate change. Floods, droughts, sunshine, clouds, warmth, cold, hurricanes, tornadoes, you name it is now all because of climate change. According to the good Dr. Wuebbles, ALL weather events are due to climate change.

Other alarm bells from Dr. Wuebbles’ seminar: just about all the charts show what models believe will occur from about 2080 to 2100. Why no information on 2020? 2030? Why was the concentration so much on 2080 and beyond? Could it be that most of us won’t be around then to know whether these predictions are true?

Also, the entire basis of this seminar was the impact of global warming has on severe weather. Yet, by even the doctor’s own admission, increases in tornado reports are primarily due to better detection. Today, radars can point out tornadoes that radars could not do 20 to 30 years ago. Population increases too mean more tornadoes will be spotted. More people are spread out too. The more land people cover, the greater chance a tornado will be seen. Yet, despite this the tornado level in 2013 was down. And, to date, 2014 is off to an especially slow start.

Tropical storms. There has been no increase in tropical storm activity throughout the world. Yes, from year to year numbers may increase and decrease, but there is no trend toward more tropical storms. And, close to home, the Atlantic Hurricane seasons have been relatively quiet in recent years. There were no major hurricanes in 2013 and the U.S. has not been hit by a major hurricane in nearly 10 years. Superstorm Sandy, you may say? Well, it was not a major hurricane. What Sandy was, or became, was a hybrid superstorm: a hurricane that also became a winter storm, a what is called “Nor’easter. These superstorms do regularly occur in the Northeast and most often in October and November. These are when a hurricane that form in the tropics and moves up the U.S. east coast and encounters a cold air mass (which happens in October and November as the cold season begins to make its move), and meets up with a cold air continental storm that merges with the hurricane to create a superstorm.

One final bit of history and context. Climate change scientists often use 1850 as an approximate benchmark for the beginning of man-made global warming, err climate change. Another even also occurred around 1850: the Little Ice Age ended. The Little Ice Age went from about the mid 1300s until the mid 1800s. The planet was cool during that time; hence, The Little Ice Age. Yes, the Industrial Revolution also began about that time. Even at that, a very small part of the planet was taking part in the Industrial Revolution. Not enough to really matter. The main point is a cool period ended so in my view it stands to reason that means temperatures will rise. And they have: about 1 degree. However, worldwide temperatures have pretty much flatlined in the last 10 to 15 years. Model projections from the 1990s showed a warmer planet than it is today. Model predictions this past Fall also showed a near normal winter for much of the U.S. How did that work out?

I know: I’ll be called a “flat earther” because of my stand. Others will say, “97 percent of scientists say climate change is real,” which is not true. The reality is the climate on Earth always has been changing. We’ve had warm spells and cold spells and with any of them there is nothing we can do about it. This is not to say that we should not be as good stewards of this beautiful planet as we possibly can be. And we are getting better, or at least some of us are.

But we need refrigerants for cooling and refrigeration. We need heating. Both are vital to our well being. We need energy. We do not need wind energy, which is about the least energy efficient and an environmental hazard itself with the millions of birds killed by these wind turbine monstrosities. We need a logical and common sense balance between manufacturing needs and the environment. We need to stop with the Chicken Little dire predictions. Sorry Dr. Wuebbles, but not every weather event is due to climate change. There always have been heat waves and polar vortexes. There always have been big, bad hurricanes and nasty F-5 tornadoes. There always have been floods and droughts. The weather is the weather. It’s been that way since the dawn of this planet.

But yet we hear the situation has become dire. Something must be done NOW or we’ll never recover. It will be the death of almost all life on the planet! But wouldn’t it be great if China and India and even Russia were on board too to tackle the dire consequences of climate change? Wouldn’t it?

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