Were Obama and Romney derelict in not discussing climate change during their debates?

That question was the subject of “yes-no” editorial pair in the Arizona Daily Star today. The way the two views were handled is revealing.

The “yes side” was written by Joseph Nevins is an associate professor of geography at Vassar College. His essay was essentially a rant about the evils of capitalism. He used emotive phrases such as “climate crisis” and set up straw men implications that drought, wildfires and hurricane Sandy were the results of human-caused climate change. He failed to present any supporting physical evidence.

The “no side” was written by Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. She said it was “a good thing because policies enacted to fight global warming hurt people. Anti-global-warming policies are crafted to raise the price of energy to deter its use. They cause inflation and kill jobs.” And, “Even anti-global-warming activists admit the policies they fight for won’t have a meaningful impact on global temperatures. Too little, they say.”

Ridenour points out that the major carbon dioxide emissions of the future will be in China and India – out of control of American policy.

Ridenour also provides some physical evidence that carbon dioxide forcing is not a major factor: “Data collected from 3,000 land and sea locations around the globe and jointly released last month by Britain’s Met Office Hadley Centre (HADCRUT) and the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia show that from early 1997 until August 2012 there was no noticeable rise in global temperatures.”

The-pause-temp-1996-2013I have added the graph of HADCRUT data. A version of this graph was published in the British Daily Mail here (The link provides a discussion of the reaction to these results).

This “pause” in global warming shows that forcing by carbon dioxide is very weak compared to the forcings of natural variation. This “pause” is also contrary to what climate models predict, indicating that the models are not programmed to reflect reality.

In my opinion, this point-counterpoint editorial pair was valuable because it shows the nature of the argument. The “alarmist’s” fact-free diatribe demonstrates the truth of Mencken’s admonition: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

The “skeptic’s” side is more akin to Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday who implored informants to provide “Just the facts, ma’am.”

See also:

A Perspective on Climate Change a tutorial

Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect

Humans and the Carbon Cycle

Droughts in the Southwest put in perspective

Hurricane Sandy in perspective