Obama Clings To Climate Change Science That Now Looks Very Wrong

Commentary by H. Sterling Burnett

Source: Investor's Business Daily: Global warming is not the calamity that it has been portrayed to be, writes NCPA senior fellow Sterling Burnett.

Flying under the media radar largely due to the ongoing Syrian crisis and other news, President Obama has in the past two weeks signed three multinational climate agreements aimed at limiting greenhouse gasses and dealing with rising sea levels.

Meanwhile, elsewhere around the world, other countries are backing away from climate commitments.

The Australian people elected a conservative government, in part, based on its promise to dump the country's carbon tax, along with other costly, ineffective measures targeting climate change. And the Kyoto Protocol's time has passed, with no backup plan to replace it.

But how can these countries back away from climate-change legislation when scientists have told us that the world's ice is melting, hurricanes are multiplying, and temperatures are skyrocketing?

Because year after year, the world continues to confound the climate sages and their models. Despite dire predictions of a total loss of ice in the Arctic by 2013, the Arctic ice cap grew by 60% over the summer of 2013.

And rather than increasing in frequency or power, the Atlantic hurricane season is experiencing one of its quietest years on record.

Moreover, as the National Center for Policy Analysis' updated Global Warming Primer shows, these events are not flukes. Indeed, again and again, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's predictions have proven themselves to be wrong, and with each new report, the predicted harms either have had to be dropped entirely or scaled back dramatically.

Let's look at temperature. In 1990, the IPCC issued an estimate that a doubling of pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a rise in the Earth's temperature of 9 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2001, the IPCC had to change that prediction to just over 6 degrees. In 2007, we saw that same number drop to approximately 5.4 degrees. Now, according to early reports, the IPCC's latest estimate is only 2.4 degrees.

(This latter prediction, by the way, is in line with what a number of climate skeptics have been saying for years.) Even the IPCC admits that this is hardly the calamity predicted just a few years earlier.

The divergence between climate scientists' dire predictions and what has actually happened is not limited to miscalculations of temperature increases. What about the IPCC's other projections?

As mentioned, despite IPCC prophecies of more - and more intense - hurricanes, the actual number and intensity of hurricanes has declined on average for seven years and has never strayed beyond the natural range of variability.

And that sea level rise we hear so much about? Not much to worry about there. Sea levels are rising, yes - as they have consistently done since the end of the last ice age. But at just 2/16 of an inch per year, sea levels are rising at a far slower rate now than they have on average for the past 17,000 years.

And while droughts and floods have been much in the news, such instances of high rainfall or extended drought are not at all unusual historically. Since just 1900, the U.S. has witnessed periods of drought and high rainfall as long or longer than those we are experiencing presently.

Lastly, what about weather-related deaths? With everything that has been reported in the news about the great numbers of people dying during heat waves, surely human-caused global warming must be killing people in record numbers! Right? Wrong.

In fact, weather-related deaths are lower now than at any time in history, with fewer than 19,000 per year. Compared to 485,000 annual weather-related deaths in the 1920s or 74,000 weather-related deaths in the 1970s (when the next ice age was the weather scare du jour), this is a tremendous, felicitous decline.

With the IPCC numbers declining every time a new report is released, it is still unclear to what extent, if at all, humans are contributing to global warming. Certainly, President Obama should not be signing new climate-change agreements based on predictions that keep changing year-to-year.

And even if humans are the cause of the current trend, we can say this much: not Apocalypse Now, but Apocalypse Not. The Climate Armageddon, if it was ever in the offing, has been put on hold.