Logic Gets Sucked into the Polar Vortex
(Originally published in January 2014)
There is a new bogeyman in town. His name is Polar Vortex. He has been around forever, and has hitherto lived in obscurity as just another natural phenomenon. But against all odds, he has suddenly found satisfying new employment and fame as this year’s leading argument for tyranny.
North America is presently experiencing the kind of abnormally cold temperatures that can wreak havoc on computer climate models. (The same cold snap is not occurring in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, hence the value of polar vortex as a wandering catch-all Scary Thing, as we shall see.) The mainstream media is overflowing with headlines about coldness raging unexpectedly across Canada in January, Jack Frost nipping at people’s noses, and other signs of the Apocalypse. Naturally, then, it was only a matter of time before these media outlets—aka the global Ministry of Propaganda—let the other shoe drop, and explained how all this routine winter weather is the result of man-made global warming, and therefore can only be halted by international totalitarianism.
Polar vortex is not caused by climate change. It is an ominous-sounding name for a regular, naturally-occurring phenomenon. How do I know this? Because the agenda-driven climate change scientists and media have told me so. So, nothing to fear here with regard to our poisonous carbon footprint, right?
Wrong. For today’s new improved Ministry of Propaganda scientist is as transformed as Scrooge upon waking up Christmas morning, having learned three life-altering lessons during a long night of flat-lining global temperatures stretching back to 1995.
The Ghost of Climate Change Past has shown him all the humiliating failure and recanted predictions of previous globalist fear-mongering, summed up in the sad image of one of yesterday’s alarmists desperately attempting to save his findings by suing those who question his scientific acumen or motives.
The Ghost of Climate Change Present has shown our new improved warming cultist the conspicuous convergence, over the past eighteen years, of dramatically-increasing man-made CO2 and dramatically unchanging global mean temperatures, effectively blowing the essence of climate change theory right into the heart of the polar vortex.
And finally the Ghost of Climate Change Future has shown him the myriad predictions that even a Ph.D. in climatology is smart enough to see will not come true, and which will inevitably reveal the doomsayers for the liars and/or morons that they are—Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035, four more years to save the planet, submerged coastal cities any day now, improved gardening conditions in… oh wait, that last one’s from another list.
Upon awakening, our climate change propagandist is a new man, ready to face the world with a generous new dose of fabricated alarm. In fact, the new shtick is really just an enhanced version of a method climate change theory has relied upon since it was global cooling theory, which, for the young reader, was just before it was global warming theory. The method: specious reasoning. To be more specific, the scientist must present two possible causes of some weather effect, one of which causes must be man-made climate change, and the other a natural (i.e., real) cause. Then he must postulate that while climate change “may not” have been the cause this time, it could have been the cause, and therefore extreme political action must be taken to stave off future, more severe occurrences of this weather effect which could result from climate change.
Allow me to restate this in logical terms, where P equals man-made climate change, Q equals natural climate change, and X equals a climate outcome:
If P or Q is true, then X is true. Q is true, therefore X is true. Therefore, we must all be enslaved to prevent P from ever being part of a disjunction again.
Let’s see how this looks when translated into climate change scientific jargon (i.e., carnival barker-ese):
The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change…. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues…. Computer models tell us that there are many different factors influencing these [global weather] patterns, and as in all science, there will be continuing debate about exactly what is happening. But I believe the odds are that we can expect, as a result of global warming, to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes and some extreme warm in the far north. [John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor]
Let’s sum that up, then, in light of the logical form described above: there is no evidence that this polar vortex episode is in any way related to global warming—and of course it is known to be a common, naturally occurring event—but a growing body of computer models indicates that if the debatable premises of global warming are programmed into the model, and the computer is further programmed to produce polar vortex episodes from those debatable premises, then John Holdren “believes” that “the odds are” that “we can expect” to see polar vortices occurring in the future as a result of global warming, rather than merely as they usually do, i.e., naturally.
In other words, man-made climate change, if it were actually occurring, might, in theory, be able to cause a polar vortex, so you should give up your property rights, stifle your natural freedoms and your economy, and relinquish your national sovereignty.
“Ah, but who’s John Holdren?” object the climate zombies. “He’s not a real scientist, but merely the Ph.D. the Obama Administration hired to play Jeff Goldblum in their public service announcements.”
Okay, so let’s get the real version of the scientific argument from someone who isn’t just an Obama administration spokesman—from the horse’s mouth this time, as it were.
Here is a summary of the research into the relationship between polar vortices and man-made climate change, offered by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, who is suddenly a noted expert on how to invent silly explanations for natural phenomena.
We can’t say that these extremes are because of climate change but we can say that this kind of pattern is becoming more likely because of climate change.
For “we can’t say that these extremes are because of climate change,” read “there is no evidence whatsoever linking the occasional and common extreme fluctuations in the weather to man-made climate change.” For “this kind of pattern is becoming more likely because of climate change,” read “models built on the premise that man-made CO2 causes global warming suggest that polar vortices ought to happen more frequently, and so I would like to cling to the postulate that these events probably will happen more frequently—someday.”
Francis’ most recent co-authored research paper on this topic states this point more scientifically in its conclusion:
Can the persistent weather conditions associated with recent severe events…be attributed to enhanced high-latitude warming? Particular causes are difficult to implicate, but these sorts of occurrences are consistent with the analysis and mechanism presented in this study. As the Arctic sea-ice cover continues to disappear and the snow cover melts ever earlier over vast regions of Eurasia and North America [Brown et al., 2010], it is expected that large-scale circulation patterns throughout the northern hemisphere will become increasingly influenced by Arctic Amplification. Gradual warming of the globe may not be noticed by most, but everyone—either directly or indirectly—will be affected to some degree by changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Further research will elucidate the types, locations, timing, and character of the weather changes, which will provide valuable guidance to decision-makers in vulnerable regions.
A quick paraphrase of this conclusion seems in order.
Sentences 1 and 2: Extreme weather events occur every year in various places. We could attribute the recent instantiations of such common occurrences to natural causes, or we could throw Ockham to the wind and simply postulate that our new-fangled notion of man-made causation might have caused them. We tentatively choose to insinuate the latter.
Sentence 3: Though there is no evidence to support our hypothesis yet, if we stipulate that the recent loss of Arctic sea ice will continue indefinitely due to greenhouse gases, then at some point all that hypothetical lost sea ice has got to have some effect, hasn’t it?
Sentences 4 and 5: Nobody actually feels the Earth getting warmer (maybe because it isn’t?), but nevertheless if we presume that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming, then it’s likely that this might possibly be expected to cause “some degree” of change (which is not quantifiable now, but surely will be someday thanks to “further research”), which is why we climate researchers will always be needed by “decision-makers,” i.e., governments—so keep those grant dollars coming.
This is how you build a case for government environmental regulation without seeming to commit yourself irrevocably to anything that could become an awkward sticking point in future interviews, in the manner of past AGW gurus. You’ll know Jennifer Francis has really made it as a climate change expert when she’s taking out her frustration at the unwillingness of Gaia to accommodate her career-defining arguments by suing Mark Steyn.
And as always, the unspoken corollary, once again, is that on the basis of this kind of bet-hedging expected possibility of odds-on likelihood, mankind must submissively hand over its property rights; its light bulbs; its freedom to travel, drive a car and heat a home without government monitoring; its ability to enter into voluntary trade without suffocating restrictions, regulations, and aerial drone photo shoots; its ability to raise its children in a community unpolluted by international socialist propaganda; and its unalienable God-given right to live life without ever having to be condescended to one more time by another craven carbon-spewing jet-setting millionaire hypocrite—a life unbesmirched by Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Prince Charles, Raj Pachauri, David Suzuki, Jeffrey Sachs, and a hundred other dimwits for “democratic” tyranny.